by Lauren Rosier
There’s no denying that the full-length debut, The Sunshine of Your Youth (Bright Antenna), from Philly haze pop quartet, Cheerleader, was one of the most influential indie records of 2015. However, Philadelphia wasn’t always the only city that Connecticut natives Joe Haller (vocals/guitar) and Chris Duran (lead guitar) had on a list of moving to.
In the beginning, Haller and Duran had a list of cities, including Boston and New York, in addition to Philadelphia, where all three were within about a five hour drive of their native Connecticut.
“We toyed with the idea of New York and toyed with the idea of going across country to California, but ultimately both were pretty pricey,” Haller admits. Ultimately, the pair decided on Philadelphia. “We also felt that Philly has more of an intimate music scene. There is less noise, so we felt we could have a little more of an impact and a louder voice in Philadelphia. We’ve gotten to really like Philly. It’s a really cool town and it has a lot to offer. I like the fact that’s it’s not quite as crazy.”
Philadelphia’s music scene is undeniably unlike any other city. There are so many genres and artists that are making a name for themselves in the musically diverse city. Haller adds, “Mainly, when you see another band live, I guess that’s when the Philly thing comes into play. But we’ve seen other bands live and think ‘Oh, they’re doing something really cool.’ I guess bands like The War On Drugs or like Kurt Vile, we were already fans of those bands before we moved to Philly, so they were already influencing our music a little bit. Bands like Cruisr, Air Is Human, there are a variety of different bands who we know, and who we’ve played around with, who we inevitably have been influenced by.”
Once they finalized their move to Philadelphia, the pair added Paul Impellizeri (bass/vocals), Josh Pannepacker (keys), and Carl Bahner (drums) to round out the full lineup. Haller definitely feels that the move has altered the way they create and write now “probably pretty drastically.”
He adds, “Chris and I are the primary creators of content usually. We were very much a ‘bedroom recording’ type of project. We didn’t really think about playing the songs live and as performing has been more a bigger part of what we do, we realize it helps to write with the fans in mind. Our older stuff is almost impossible to pull off in a live setting.”
It’s now been about a year and a half since their debut album was released and it was definitely one of the most bright-eyed, indie releases of 2015. Despite that, things “haven’t changed too drastically,” Haller says. “We went on a few longer tours, I guess that would be the biggest difference. We went on one with The Wombats that was almost two months and one with Eliot Sumner, which was about a month and a half. We’ve been doing a lot more touring, but other than that not a whole lot have changed.”
Since those tours, the band has played some new material at shows, but ultimately, is looking at the rest of the year for more opportunities to continue writing.
The band’s “main goal right now is working on new material. We’ve played a few new songs live and we have a couple shows coming up and we’ll definitely be incorporating some of the new material into the set.”
With that said, the quartet was scheduled to hit the road with indie rock band, Caveman, but after a week, was cancelled for undisclosed reasons. With that disappointment, however, comes opportunity.
“We’re trying to work towards another full-length and tweaking our sound a little bit and moving things in a slightly different direction,” he explains. “A little less sugary pop, a little more true to our original influences. We felt like the first record got away from us a little bit, so it’ll be a little more psychedelic.”
The band’s hometown show at Johnny Brenda’s on Friday will reveal some of the band’s new material with “about 50 percent of the set being new stuff.”