Brothers Ben and Ian Graham, along with Adam Aymor make up the Lansing, MI-based alt-rock trio Cheap Girls. Formed in 2007, their first album, Find Me A Drink Home , was self-released as many bands’ first albums are starting out. Things took off from there as their sophomore full-length album My Roaring 20s (2009) was released via Paper + Plastick. Their third full-length, Giant Orange, was released on Rise Records in early 2012. Giant Orange was recorded and produced by Against Me’s Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel) in her Total Treble Studio in Florida.
Cheap Girls are currently on tour with popular post-hardcore band and Rise Records labelmates Make Do and Mend. While on tour, Ian Graham took the time to answer some questions for our readers. I was dying to know how they felt about the common label “90s” band they seemed to get stuck with online and how a band that doesn’t have a screaming “bro” or a gritty punk rock sound ended up on Rise Records.
Before we get started with stuff about the album and such, I wanted to ask how you guys feel when bloggers and/or writers refer to your sound as “’90s” ? Is that a good or bad thing to you? Why?
Ian Graham: I guess it’s not something that really bothers me a whole lot. I mean, I get it. I don’t necessarily think that it’s really all that descriptive or all-encompassing. I’d say it’s one of the lazier terms for describing a lot of current rock bands. I’m sure there are some people that jump right at anything tagged with it and I’m sure others run away. Obviously, it’s music and I’d like to think a term doesn’t give it any unnecessary disposability, but I guess that’s what a lot of easy branding exists for.
When I first learned of your band, I was surprised to learn you guys had your record Giant Orange released via Rise Records. You’re not uber-punk rock and lack a neck-tattooed screamer. Even your “look” is less Hot Topic and more Midwest college dude. How did you come to catch the attention of Rise and even get so far with them as to have a record released through them?
Graham: A couple years ago, I think Rise was doing really well and wanted to expand their releases into a lot of subcategories and what not. We talked a bit and found that they were into the band for a while and were willing to let us make the record we had been planning to make. We had already worked out the time frame, studio, personnel, etc. for Giant Orange so it was really a matter of finding someone who could release it to our liking. They were the ones who were most excited about what was happening and allowed us to continue with the plans we had.
Tell me about how your last couple of albums, the acoustic version of My Roaring Acoustic and Barely Alive in Grand Rapids. What made you guys want to put out those kind of records versus an album of new material recorded in the studio?
Graham: Well, the 20’s acoustic record was recorded 3 years ago with some friends over the course of a weekend and we’d really just been waiting for what felt like a good time to release it. I’ve been having some medical issues over the last couple of years so we decided we would release it for donations and what not. Barely Alive was done because we just fell into a really fulfilling live recording a few months back. With the ability to release things digitally, we’ve really found no reason to not make some various things available. They kind of exist for the people that already know about and/or like the band as just fun releases, stress-free as far as scheduling and promotion goes.
What new material are you currently writing, recording, etc that fans can expect in the near future? What is the name of the album or EP if it has one? Label or independent?
Graham: We have a large portion of what will be our next album already written. It’s been a very consistent year as far as touring goes so it’s been a bit difficult in recent weeks to lock in some time to continue working on it; but I’ve been adding to the songs as we have time off. We’ll work ’em out at practice, etc. Right now it’s a matter of having that time of separation between touring and writing. The plan is to make the record this fall. We’re still working out all of the fine print right now.
Are you playing any new material not currently recorded on any of your albums on this tour with Make Do and Mend?
Graham: We have a few new songs that we rotate in and out of the set. It really just depends on the day. I think we’ve managed to play at least one new song per night so far on this tour.
How is the tour with Make Do and Mend going? Your sound is considerably different. I’m assuming playing to a crowd that came to see them is fun and new?
Graham: Yeah, the crowds have been really great so far. We kind of take turns with who sits in the “headliner” spot each night and it’s never too drastically different or divided. There’ve been people each night and it definitely feels nice to be playing songs for those people. To be honest, I really don’t notice the crowd a whole lot when we’re playing because my glasses are really loose and the lights are really bright a lot of the time.
What specific plans if any, do you guys have coming up after this tour is over?
Graham: We’ll be going out in the Midwest and East Coast with our friends The Draft and Luther in July. Afterwards, heading to Australia with the Smith Street Band and Joyce Manor. In between and afterwards, just trying to gather as many songs as possible before we make a record.