People Are Going Bananas: An Interview with Cherry Glazerr
Stuffed & Ready
1 February 2019
Up on stage, Clementine Creevy is a force of nature. She struts, she sways, she coos, she shrieks, she plays massive metal-ish chords, she bounces wildly in time to slash-and-burn strumming. Though only just recently broken into her 20s, she's been at the rock and roll game since her tweener years, and her new album, the break-out Stuffed and Ready, is drawing packed, sold-out crowds to a string of shows across America (and soon Europe).
"This tour has been incredible because we're playing bigger spaces that are sold-out shows," says Creevy by phone while en route to Detroit one mid-winter afternoon. "People are going bananas and that's really fun. It's mind-blowing. I feel like I never expected anyone to give a shit about my music. I did it because I love making music, and my version of success is making music. For myself. So, the fact that people are into it is really heart-warming and very cool."
And not just into it in some mild-mannered, chin-stroking, indie-approving way. "People know all the words," says Creevy. "They are jumping in time with the drums and screaming all the words."
Creevy started writing songs at the age of five. Her mom, a writer, kept the tunes on blast. "I just really liked to groove at an early age," she says. "And then when I was 11, I was that kid who was obsessed with music. My uncle gave me my first guitar. It was a half size Fender acoustic with nylon strings."
Three years later, he dad sprung for an electric, and Creevy was off. "That definitely started me ... that was the start of me starting Cherry Glazerr because I would get an electric guitar, I was listening to a lot of rock music at the time, and like going and seeing a lot of bands," she says. "My parents are actually both writers. Music was just my own thing really. But they were very supportive of me and were always supportive of me doing whatever I wanted to do. I was really lucky."
From the beginning, Creevy saw herself primarily a guitarist. Even now, she lights up most when asked about how she got the guitar tone on "Stupid Fish", (two amps, some compression, a little reverb and lots of trial and error). In a business where, still, women are often reduced to how they look and, if they're lucky, what their voices sound like, Creevy politely demands to be taken seriously.
"Even though I was singing and writing the words, I always thought of myself as the guitar player in Cherry Glazerr. And I think I still think of myself as that," she says. "It feels reclamatory to state myself as that first."
The first Cherry Glazerr album, Haxel Princess came out brash and punk in 2014 on the garage-rock label Burger Records. Apocalipstick followed in 2017. Pitchfork's Quinn Moreland called it, "sexy, juvenile, catchy, and above all, simply great rock'n'roll." Along the way, Creevy did some interesting side work -- her band made an appearance in the Jill Solloway series Transparent and she wrote a 20-minute long version of one of her songs for a fashion runway show.
Studio Rock Bangers
Cherry Glazerr's third studio album, Stuffed and Ready, came out in February to enthusiastic reviews. PopMatters' Cole Waterman called it, "their finest accomplishment yet". Creevy says, "I wanted to make an album of studio rock bangers. I could see them being played loudly in big theaters and stadiums."
Creevy is playing larger venues this time around, and her shows in most cities have sold out. But no one has told her that large-scale rock and roll is dead. She's got her eye on 1970s-style arena rock success. "My goal is to headline the Hollywood Bowl," she admits. "I like playing big places. They're fun, in my experience. I don't shy away. I find it very energizing and exciting and beautiful."
Cherry Glazerr's songs pair Creevy's soft, breathy, often little girl-ish voice with blistering guitar, to the point where reviewers sometimes toss around the term "metal". "I've always had metallish tendencies, the whole time I've been with this band," Creevy says. "I think what's different on this album is that I've gotten better at guitar and I've developed a better ear. Something about those more metal-y songs seems fun to me. I like the juxtaposition of a soft voice while wielding really aggressive guitar stuff."
For example, "Daddi", starts in a girlish coo, as Creevy asks permission for a litany of things. But then, at the chorus, the guitar slams down and the drums explode, and the singer takes charge of the song. I asked Creevy if she found it challenging to take control of her art, her band, her life, and she said that for her, control was not really the issue. "It can be such a self-defeating prophecy if you try to control everything," she says. "I've learned recently not beat myself up and trust myself, and that has resulted in a lot of great things."
She adds, "'Daddi' is a satirical song about falling into subservience and weird roles where I felt like I wanted approval. That can be pretty soul-crushing."
"Wasted Nun" also considers power dynamics and self-acceptance. Says Creevy, "'Wasted Nun' is a character I made up in my mind, a woman who just wants to wield the power of the universe but has self-defeating tendencies. I don't know. I guess it's a side of me."
Creevy also got Delicate Steve to contribute some guitar to "That's Not My Real Life". She explains, "I'm a long-time Delicate Steve fan, and he messaged me on Instagram because he saw that we were making a record. He just like said, if you ever want some guitar magic on the record, let me know."
Creevy sent him a song, and he got to work. "He just shredded a guitar solo," says Creevy. "He does this solo and then he does this single-note drone on the verses." The two never met in person during the recording process, but they've since done some live shows together. Delicate Steve played with Cherry Glazerr at their most recent New York data at the Bowery Ballroom.
Stuffed and Ready balances sweetness with some unhinged abrasion, perhaps nowhere more so than in "Stupid Fish", where, at one critical juncture, Creevy shrieks, "I see myself in you, and that's why I fucking hate you." It's a dark moment, but utterly relatable, and I ask her about it.
"There was a powerful simplicity in that line and I wanted to shout it, because it felt like a great essence of the song," she says. "The song is about how none of us have answers to anything, even if we pretend like we do. We all wake up not knowing what's going to happen. We're all just talking monkeys shooting at the dark, hoping for the best."
Advice to the Kids
Growing up in a band is probably not the easiest thing, but Creevy says that, occasional bullshit aside, she considers herself lucky to have spent her formative years writing and playing and recording. Any advice for the kids behind her who are thinking about starting bands? "Don't think. Just start your own band," says Creevy.