Interview: Cheap Girls

Cheap Girls - Photo by Ryan Russell

Cheap Girls - Photo by Ryan Russell

Although Cheap Girls – a three-piece rock band from Lansing, Mich., – has toured throughout the United States and the United Kingdom, the band, which first hit the scene with 2008’s “Find Me a Drink Home,” is on its first tour through mainland Europe, and bringing its melodically raucous music with it, wherever it goes.

The five-week tour runs through more than half-a-dozen countries, and back in June, prior to hitting the road, lead singer and bassist Ian Graham said he was unable to narrow the trip down to any one thing he’s most excited about.

“At this point, this pretty, like, stereotypical touristy shit is exciting because I’ve never been over there at all,” he shared.

The band – which also consists of Graham’s brother Ben on drums and guitarist Adam Aymor – has now been on the road for a month, and when Cheap Girls return to the United States, the next item on the agenda will be recording a third full-length.

This time around, the band has brought Tom Gabel of Against Me! on board as producer.

“I’m excited to do it,” Graham said. “Ideally it’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be a very productive time.”

He explained that Cheap Girls also plan to write more songs than will actually make the record, in order to decide the best possible tracks to make it to the album.

“That was definitely, like, the thing about the first couple records, where it was just like ‘ah cool, we can make a record now,’ you know, once we’d had, you know, 12 songs or whatever. And then the second record was like ‘oh OK cool, we’ve got 10 songs, we can make another record,’” he said. “But then, you know, we began touring so much after that second record and, you know, putting out 7 inches here and there, things like that, where we were kinda like, we kinda realized that once we put out a record, it kinda keeps us busy for, you know, the better part of two years or something like that. So like, this time around we thought it’d be cool to…take our time.”

Additionally, the band plans to record multiple versions of some of the songs, allowing for more flexibility in choosing which songs make the final cut.

“I’m sure when we’re recording, and right up to the last minute, there’ll be things that’ll, you know, change, be shifted around,” he said. “That’s kind of the benefit of, you know, writing simple pop songs. Because you can do a lot of different things with them.”

As the primary songwriter for the band, Graham said he finds inspiration in everything, but that songs always come to him accidentally, and even end up surprising him.

“As a writer, do you ever find that, like, you’ve kind of made sense of something by the end of it that you weren’t really even realizing you were working toward when you started it?”

That tendency for songs to still catch him off guard or teach him something new is an experience he loves. But Graham also said that he is often now amazed with how well the three members function together in a band.

“We’re really comfortable playing with each other by this point, because we’ve done it so much,” he said, sharing how they can go years without playing a song and then “kind of just fall right back into it.”

Still he admitted that he can get on edge when it comes to performing live.

“I get anxious a lot playing. I think we all do to a certain degree. It’s more of the waiting around rather than the playing itself,” he said. “Like when you have to be somewhere five hours before and you’re like wandering around, and then you just start thinking about how you have to play, and things like that, that’s where most of the anxiety comes from.”

As a whole, life on the road is bittersweet for the band members, and Graham said touring is simultaneously one of the more difficult but also enjoyable parts of being in a band.

And although touring has afforded him and the other members to see a lot more of the world, ultimately he said it reminds him how grateful he is to come from and live in Michigan.

“To be honest, I wouldn’t live in Lansing if I didn’t travel all the time, you know,” he said. “[But] having a home base…”

He cited the perks of the area including the affordable nature of living, which in turn allows for the travel aspect. Additionally, Michigan homes have an advantage over many other parts of the United States, in that they all come with basements, which Graham said translates to a free, built-in practice space.

As much as he likes touring, Graham said he would rather spend his time writing music than traveling.

“To be honest, I like recording and making records and writing songs a lot more than I like touring and playing shows,” he said. “I mean, I like them both a lot, but making records and being happy with how they turned out and having that as something to kind of sum up, you know, X amount of months or years, or something like that, I guess is the coolest, kind of most lasting thing that I get from it.”

Cheap Girls play tonight at Lovelite in Berlin with Lemuria. The show begins at 21.00.

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