As the temperatures continue to drop even further, Kittyhawk and Cherry Cola Champions ignite some warmth with an advance listen to their upcoming split for Flannel Gurl Records. Formed from Chi-town groups Dowsing, Joie De Vivre, The Island of Misfit Toys and Pet Symmetry, Kittyhawk follows up their recent releases for Skeletal Lightning Records and Storm Chasers LTD with a continuation of their indie pop parade-party. Joining the festivities, Cherry Cola Champions tame the fuzz, scuzz, filthy and fury demonstrations with dizzying displays of angst exported from Cleveland, Ohio.
The Kittyhawk talent collection of Kate Grube, Mark Jaeschke, Erik Czaja, and Evan Loritsch have packed together a three song treat to welcome the winter. “The Green” brings a kind of outsider wisdom of unbound and unwound charm, that takes off with infectious affection expressed in lyrics like, “but we're passing the match and we're hoping you'll be just fine, crimson and cashmere, the red in your cheek, the lavender fingers, the loss of heat, is it you that you see?” Organ tones bring some light in the dark on the brief interlude of “The Rot” that segues into the upbeat melodic but melancholic “The Red”. Remembering old friends and the ongoing search of shared somatic heat are described as items of desire and hunger, like Kate's poetics of “and every night when we stuff ourselves silly I'm always hungry just to hear them say I'm there one and only.”
Bringing the “Noise”, the duo of Cherry Cola Champions arrive on the scene with their squall and fury. Jesse Sloan and Anthony Robinson function as a synergistic force that has plenty of fun with arranging the sonic ire sound around their shouted outbursts of “I can't tell the difference between what I think I need and what I really want.” While “Noise” gets the amps and gear sound-checked and started up, they check the traditionalism at the door to sing, speak, shout and slice through society's severance packages from other's entitlements, “that's all noise in a world of static.” Jesse and Anthony's songs seek to create a new form and a get a new deal outside the dead fish gesticulations, motions and manufactured posturing of, “sign on the line and shake hands, yeah.”
Kittyhawk caught up with us to talk about everything from colorful inspirations, the Chicago scene beat, comics, and more.
Colors play a large roll in your catchy tracks “The Green” and “The Red”. How do they inform your music?
When we finished writing these songs, I had just gotten through DC's Animal Man and Swamp Thing collab. I'm not dedicated enough to call myself a comic book fanatic, but I know what I like, and what Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire did together is pretty exciting and fantastic. In the series, the worlds of Swamp Thing's The Green, being plant life, and Animal Man's The Red, being animal life, merge. I suppose that, thematically, all the split songs deal with acceptance into your own world in whatever form that takes for you. In “the green,” my grandma turns 90 and I wonder if she feels proud of her grand kids as we all grow. In “The Red,” an antique dealer gives me two human ponytails as a bonus when I bought some deer antlers for my boyfriend's and my taxidermy collection.
What was the animal combining story behind your name that combines cats and birds as one?
Full disclosure, our name actually comes from Kittyhawk, North Carolina, the place where Wilbur and Orville Wright flew the first biplane. So, there's no mystery. However, if there did happen to be some actual hybrid of a cat and a hawk, we'd like to take it on a tour.
Latest reports from the indie Chicago, IL scene?
Chicago is a pretty great place to be as far as DIY goes. We're excited to see what our friends in Oshwa have been working on, Bedroom Sons has a new record out and there are some new Cut Teeth tracks that are really legit, but I think you'll have to wait for them.
Cherry Cola Champion vocalist-guitarist Jesse Sloan also joined our little discussion party to talk about the split release, bucking the conventional song structure trends, the Ohio landscape, the persistence of “Noise” and “Static”, pedals, and so forth.
Between instrumental buildups and portions of pointed lyrics, sung and spoken; what guides CCC's arrangement choices?
It's the feeling behind a new riff or jam that Tony and I are working on that lays the “Guts” or framework out for the rest of the song. We usually start with a guitar riff and then Tony brings his drumming in and we feel it out together from there. The lyrics come either in the middle of the process, determining how long we stay on specific parts, or they close out the writing process, but there is usually always a theme that works itself out lyrically in the instrumentation. I guess we have just evolved into that style as a band somewhat by trial and error and somewhat from personal influences. Bands that opt to write in movements as opposed to more traditional song structuring seem to just get under my fucking skin, I dunno, [i.e.] Drive Like Jehu, Faraquet, or the record Static Prevails by Jimmy Eats World, etc. Also, because we are a two piece, for now, the samples and guitar looping are a big part of filling out certain areas and guide how we groove. I just said groove.
With your featured cuts, “Noise” and “Static”, what is it about these squelching motifs that drive and inform your music?
I am stuck on “Static” as a theme as of lately, or maybe I'm stuck in “Static,” I'm not sure. It's like this fucking space to fill but then again it's not empty, just void as fuck that just continues blurring on and on. “Noise” and “Static” as themes seem very similar to me and that's just where I have been mentally and even lyrically in these songs. We actually ran these together as one piece on the record. But digitally we wanted to break them apart to give people better stop and start points if this is the first time they hear us. Also, the riff that hits hardest in the song 'Noise' reminded me of what static sounds like on a guitar, which is weird.
Latest reports from the indie Cleveland, Ohio scene?
I would say that the Ohio indie scene is solid and continually growing and diversifying. Cleveland is flourishing artistically, and it's still a very affordable city to live in, Columbus is booming, Akron holds it's own, and you have bands that come out of small college towns like we did in Kent that are solid, too. No complaints here. I feel like local scenes recurrently build off of past local bands. I sit here looking up to bands like Six Parts Seven, Harriet The Spy, and The Party of Helicopters who all are actually from Kent, and are bands who paved the way for younger bands like us. Hopefully it will be our turn someday. But members of those bands recorded our records, [like] Tim Gerak from Mammoth Cave in Denver, and other members founded an awesome guitar pedal company called EarthQuaker Devices that are doing great among other musical projects. I actually just got a new pedal from EarthQuaker Devices not too long ago and I oscillate out the fucking wazoo in “Noise”. Anyhow yeah, it's a good time to be in Ohio, but then again it's a good time to be in the indie music scene in a lot of places, which is great.
Kittyhawk and Cherry Cola Champions split will be available November 19 from Flannel Gurl Records.