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Friday, April 23, 2021

The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs - One More Drink


Hailing from Los Angeles and swiping their name from the Iggy and the Stooges classic “Search & Destroy”, The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs are back and released their first album in 20 years. And the good news is that those guys have lost nothing of their bite and energy. 
The record kicks major ass! 
If you're either a MC5 fan or a Cheap Trick fan (or both, like yours truly) this record is gonna be right up your alley. Time for this blog to talk to Frank Meyer about spending years touring in a van and a sparkling return.

1) For the sake of the argument, let's say that a very young viewer stumbles upon this blog for the first time and doesn't know who The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs are, what would tell to introduce yourselves? How long are you guys together as a band?  Who is playing what instrument nowadays? Why did the band break up in 2002?

The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs are a high energy rock ‘n’ roll band in the spirit of the Stooges and MC5, but with a hard rock power-pop twist à la Cheap Trick. We started in 1995, made a bunch of albums, EPs and singles, and toured the world before breaking up in early 2000s. No real drama around the breakup, we just got sick of working our asses off, living in a van, and not making any real money after years and years of doing it. A decade later we got back together for a one-off tour with our pal Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys and have been going strong ever since. The current lineup is original members Dino Everett on bass, Mike Sessa on drums, and me, Frank Meyer, on guitars and lead vocals, plus newer members Bruce Duff on guitar and sax player Geoff Yeaton. We released a 7” single in 2015, and just put out a brand-new album called “One More Drink,” our first full-length in nearly 20 years!

2) About the latest released full length record 'One More Drink',  what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? 

We went into a studio called Kitten Robot in Silver Lake, CA and recorded the basic tracks live over a few weekends with Paul Roessler (The Screamers, 45 Grave) engineering. Then we went to our guitarist Bruce’s Duff studio, ToneDuff, and did all the vocals, leads and overdubs. We rehearsed quite a bit beforehand and had demo’d all the songs, so we were pretty prepared to knock it all out live with minimal punch-ins. We produced it ourselves with Paul’s help.

3) Do you use the nowadays recording technology or do you guys only work with analog machines in analog studios?

I like both for different reasons. I have a home studio and record digitally all the time, as it’s quick and easy and allows me to get my ideas down fast. But if it’s something I’m gonna release to the public I either go into a real studio with a live drummer and re-record it entirely or re-recorded elements of it. There’s nothing quite like a live drum kit in a nice sounding room, or a great sounding amp properly mic’d, and the rich sound of tape. So that’s always preferred, but I embraced digital a long time ago. The ideal situation is to be able to do it all and just use what works best for any given situation.

4) Is there a main composer in the band or is everybody involved in one way or another?

We all write. I probably write the most these days because I’m in a ton of different projects that I’m contributing to (the Cheetahs, James Williamson, Warrior Soul, Blind House, The Anti-Virals, Thor, my solo stuff, my new band with Eddie Spaghetti of the Supersuckers, and more). Plus, I’m always just writing songs anyways, even if it’s not for any specific project. I’ll write it, record it, then figure out what to do with it later. On “One More Drink” everyone contributed. A few tunes like “Warzone” and “Rumblin’ Train” were written out of rehearsal jams, Dino brought the ideas for “The Rejected” and “Scorpio Rising,” Bruce had the ideas for “Bad vacation” and “Switchblade Knights,” and I came up with the rest. It really was a group effort.

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

These days I’ve been writing more personal stuff than I used to. All the songs used to be about car crashes, girls, fist fights, shootouts, sex, drugs and so on. Fun, hedonistic stuff. But lately I’ve been writing material that is more personal. On the new album there’s a song called “We Are The Ones (We’ve Been Waiting For)” that is about my ex-girlfriend, the record store her late aunt and uncle owned where I met her, and her cat Master Minou (“master of the cats,” you can hear me calling him at the end of the song). “Scorpio Rising” is one Dino and I wrote about his divorce. “Bad Vacation” is about an annoying co-worker at my old job. Most of these newer songs are based on real life and not just crazy stories and wild antics.

6) Do you think it was easier to be in a rock'n'roll band way back 25 years ago, when "Heart Full Of Napalm" was released on Alive Records, than it is now?? 

It’s tougher than ever to play rock ‘n’ roll now At the moment, live music has been down for a year due to COVID and when it gets back up and running, it’s gonna be at less attendance (i.e. – less money for the performer), so much tougher to profit from being on tour. And before COVID it was already rough. Rock music ain’t exactly the voice of the kids anyways these days. Playing rock now is kinda of like being a jazz player in a way. There’s always an audience, but it gets smaller and more selective as time goes on, and the kids move into other genres. And on top of all that, you make like a penny a stream, which is the main way people listen to music these days, so it’s really difficult to make money off digital distribution. You really have to hustle your art on Bandcamp or platforms like that, and try to get a record deal if you can, and play live, and sell merch, and rock your social media. It’s a lot and it’s not easy, but we do it because we love it. I’ll never stop.

7) Do you have a new video on youtube featuring a track from the latest LP?? 

Since we haven’t been able to tour this past year, we’ve been really embracing making music videos. My job away from music is as a director (award-winning documentary film “Risen: The Story of Chron ‘Hell Razah’ Smith”) and writer (“On The Road With The Ramones,” “From Dude To Dad”, etc), so I just started doing it a lot more for the band this past year. We made a video for “Warzone” off the new album that is kinda political and topical, plus an insane video for “We Are The Ones” with puppets, animation, videogames, drugs, toys, and all around batshit crazy madness. We just shot a new one for the title track that John Easdale from Dramarama (who sings on the song) appears in that will be out by the time you read this.


8) What can concert goers expect at a gig of The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs? Are you playing any famous cover songs during the gig? 

We do a mix of older material from the first 6 or so albums, a rare track or two, some songs off the new album, and usually at least one cover. We often close with “Funhouse” by the Stooges or one of our own freakout jam songs that we can get into the crowd and get rowdy to. Our shows have always been very high energy, in-your-face, sweaty, and physical. Not sure how all that will work in this post-COVID world, but we shall see!

9) Are there any bands in the USA today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking?

The Supersuckers are probably the band we are closest with and most aligned with. Eddie Spaghetti and I started a band last year and have our debut album, Spaghetti & Frank, will be out this summer and we’ve toured with them many times since the ‘90s. Next would be Nashville Pussy, another band we’ve toured with many times and are very close friends with. And Fishbone. Those guys are legends, and we are hugely influenced by them in many ways, but have also been longtime friends and I love them as people. 

9) To what kind of music did you listen to as a teenager? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today.

Just like now, I listened to everything when I was a teen. I was a metalhead, a punk, a glam rocker and a classic rock aficionado all at the same time. I generally just liked my music to be loud, fast and hard, sleazy yet catchy. Still do. So when I was a little kid in the ‘80s it was Devo, Go-Gos and Joan Jett. Then Van Halen made me wanna play guitar, so I got into hard rock and metal. Then I heard The Ramones and Fear and that shit changed everything. And the Stones and Tom Petty were always big for me, and big songwriting influences. Then I had my Detroit phase of being obsessed with The Stooges, MC5 and Funkadelic. And I’ve always loved a lot of blues and jazz, so my musical taste is diverse, and I like to think (or hope) that my songwriting is diverse. Certainly, this new Cheetahs album is pretty damn diverse for a punk rock ‘n’ roll band.

As far as three main influences, I guess it would be the Stooges, Cheap Trick and Van Halen. An unlikely trio but, hey, here we are.

10) What are the plans for 2021 as far as The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs are concerned?

In 2021 we hope to get back to live shows, that’s for sure! In the meantime, we have a new music video out any day now for the song “One More Drink,” a beachy video for “Ain’t It Summer” coming soon, and I’m planning an epic video for the song “Let Me Out” that will be inspired by my favorite ‘80s sci-fi movie, “Trancers.” And we had so much fun making this new album, and have so many other songs written, we’ll likely start on another album by the end of the year. Other than that, keep a lookout for my album with Eddie Spaghetti, Spaghetti and Frank. There’s also a new single by The Dogs called “Under the Coast” that I co-wrote and perform on. You can score our album “One More Drink” on Dead Beat Records on vinyl and CD, or get it directly through us via our Bandcamp page 


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