Published in the Deli Philadelphia – Thursday, April 14, 2011
– by Annamarya Scaccia and Q.D. Tran
When Cheers Elephant first came on to the Philly music scene, the media instantly gravitated towards the young quartet with their big riffs and psychedelic rock sound. But then there was a bit of lull as fans and critics waited patiently for the band’s sophomore effort. Cheers Elephant took their time refining and crafting songs readying themselves for their journey to reach the masses. Well, the masses are starting to come check them out, and what they’ll find is a tight, charismatic and more mature unit not afraid to leave it all on stage. And with maturity, comes confidence in what you are doing as you will see from our recent interview with Cheers Elephant’s lead vocalist/guitarist Derek Krzywicki.
The Deli: This Thursday marks your debut at the TLA, opening for UK’s The Go! Team. Have anything special planned for your set in honor of your debut?
Derek Krzywicki: Well, we have a few tricks up our sleeves, and we will also be playing with a very special guest.
TD: How did you land on that bill?
DK: We had been sought after by The Go! Team and a local promoter.
TD: What does playing the TLA mean for Cheers Elephant as a Philly band?
DK: A venue like the TLA provides us with a great opportunity to “go the extra mile”. We have a lot more tools at our expense, and we intend to have a very engaging performance.
TD: Speaking of shows, your January CD release party for your second album, Man is Nature, at World Cafe Live was a soaring sold-out success. Did you expect it to receive such a reception?
DK: Our intention was to have a sold-out performance, and we’re glad everything worked out in our favor. We have great fans; there is no doubt about that.
TD: The show was this fun wonderment of visualizations and dancers. Was putting together such a grand coming-out party for the album difficult?
DK: It was a large undertaking and a lot of people pulled a lot of weight to make the night a success. Preparations began many months in advance, and it slowly evolved into a night of choreographed dancers, synchronized visuals, special guests, outer space photo booths and more. It was one hell of a time and a sign of things to come.
TD: As for the album, it’s also receiving quite the response and is currently on Heavy Rotation in the iTunes Indie Spotlight section. When you started on the album, did you think “let’s just see where this will end up” or did you go into it with the attitude that, “Yes, this will be a massive hit”?
DK: Our intentions are always very high, and we are happy to see where it has gone thus far and where it will go from this point.
TD: Man is Nature has been described as a more “mature” effort while still calling on the Brit-tinged folk rock Cheers Elephant is known for. In terms of maturity, was that just a natural progression from your debut album or was it a deliberate change?
DK: There wasn’t an “effort” to be doing anything but writing music we enjoy. I firmly believe each song we write is always a step in the right direction, and yes, a band should always be maturing and perfecting their sound with every track they record. This album and every one that will follow it will have something brand new to offer and as we grow so will our music.
TD: The Kinks seem to be the one band most cited when describing your music. While you can hear the influence, does it bother you as a band that comparison is often made or do you see it more as an honor?
DK: Of course, comparisons are inevitable but we are very happy to be compared to people of such caliber. However, anytime you make a comparison on the “Cheers sound” you are bound to fall flat on your face at some point. We stopped describing ourselves a while ago and summed it up as “Chew It Up, Spit It Out Rock & Roll”. It’s raw, pop, dirty and clean. We love harmonies, tapping our toes and getting freaky.
TD: Speaking of influences, there’s a song on Man is Naturetitled “6th & Girard.” How influential is the city of Philadelphia on your music?
DK: Our time and place plays a huge part in our writing. “6th and Girard” was written on 6th and Girard in very early spring last year, and we wanted to write about that first time of the year when you get in your car and it’s been warmed by the sun. It’s that special feeling you get once a year.
TD: Could you imagine Cheers Elephant living and rocking in any other city?
DK: We don’t have a ball and chain and can’t predict what opportunities come our way and where they could take us, but we are Philadelphians thru and thru. It’s funny because, as a band, if you’re from Philadelphia, everyone will preface you as a Philadelphia band, and that’s because the Philly scene is something to be proud of and a badge you can take anywhere you go.
TD: 2011 seems to be the year for Cheers Elephant. You have the TLA debut, you were featured on Reverbnation’s main page and iTunes’ Indie Spotlight, appeared on Y-Not Radio, and were the musical guests for a NBC Philadelphia talk show pilot. And it seems like the only direction continues to be up for the band. Are you excited or cautious about this success?
DK: We feel very far from cautious. We’ve got our hand on the steering wheel and the throttle is set to ludicrous speed. We’ve already begun recordings for our next release and are planning a European tour while touring the east coast this spring and summer. There is a lot that lies ahead, and we are not looking back.
TD: What’s your favorite thing to get at the deli?
DK: A Turkey Reuben.