by J. Fritz
Suddenly the house lights dimmed and went out. As the stage flared white, four musicians strapped on their respective instruments. With a nod from singer Sam Ireland, Die Cheerleader ripped into the first song of their set before the milling crowd had a chance to low as one and surge towards the main floor to shove their collective head into the meat grinder of sound pulsing from the house speakers. Their brains were rapidly cut to shreds on the fretboard of Rita Blazyca’s black Les Paul. Between them, drummer Andy Semple and bassist Debbie Quargnolo beat the song into bloody submission. When they were done with it’s battered husk, they kicked it off the stage in the general direction of the slack-jawed onlookers. The sudden silence was met more with astonished eyes and open mouths, than clapping hands. Whatever it was that people had expected from this band, getting sledged in the forehead it was not. The crowd didn’t realize that before the show was over, Die Cheerleader had every intention of knocking their heads the rest of the way off so that Sam could scream down their throats.
I caught up with the band’s token male, Andy, during an infrequent, but much-needed, tour break. I described the aforementioned shell-shocked audience to him and he had this to say:
Well, that’s good. At least they’re not going, “What a bag of shit.”
Do you see this shock effect happening a lot?
Every gig so far. We’re used to it because we’ve always gotten the same reaction, except from our own crowd in Europe. No one’s ever heard of us over here, so like every night, we have to go out and say, “Right, this is what we do. All you have to do is listen. You paid to get in. Enjoy it.” The crowds have been brilliant. People really go in for it.
Your latest disc, Son of Filth (London), was produced by Henry Rollins. Tell me about that relationship. How did it come about?
We got a phone call a couple of years ago in London when we just started playing out. “Do you want to support the Rollins Band at the Marquis in three days’ time?” Rollins liked it. He said, “Listen, I think your band is awesome. Have you ever thought about putting anything out in America?” Well, faxes went backwards and forwards, and he said he was starting up Human Pitbull (Publishing), and he’s like, “What do you think about me hawking those tapes around to people?” We were like, “Yeah, great. You’re not going to spend any money or anything, right?” He said London seemed cool because they’re connected with Polydor, which is a major, and we’d always been on independents. So we ended up on a major. We haven’t got any more money, but at least we’re here. We wouldn’t have gotten to America on an independent.
Will Rollins be producing your next album?
I don’t think so. You can’t keep using someone else’s name. There’s been a lot of coverage of us because we’re on his label, and he’s produced tracks for us, but it would be good to do it on our own, rather than getting a lift from someone else.
In ’93, you toured Europe with Iggy Pop. Tell me about that.
It was similar to the Rollins thing. “Iggy Pop’s playing Brixton in two nights. Do you want to support him?” I’m a massive Stooges fan. We all are. So it was like, fuck, yeah! It was just really cool. The whole of his operation looked after us. They fed us. They helped us with equipment. They helped us on stage, everything. For a band that no one’s heard of really, that’s unbelievable. It’s so cool that there’re people like him and Henry Rollins around that are going to put something back. They’re not just going to be rock stars and say, “Right, fuck everyone else,” and treat us like dogs. If more bands did that, it would be such a cooler scene to be involved in.