Volume 96, Issue 75
Thursday, February 12, 2003

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Cheerleader tries to bring cock rock back

By Benjamin Mills
Gazette Staff

"Our mission is simple: play the ugliest and baddest rock 'n' roll this side of the millennium, and if you don't like it, go listen to your lame radio rock shit and stay the fuck away from us!"

This is Cheerleader.

A rising act in the North American music scene, Cheerleader is a group of high school dropouts intent on taking over rock 'n' roll, making it cocky again and putting it back where it belongs.

With names like Dallas McKinnon, Ethan Cawke, Cobra and Jimmy Nova, it would appear that the band members' names are more fitting for an X-rated cartoon. What could possibly have prompted these unusual names?

"Our parents were on some heavy drugs," singer and bassist Ethan Cawke laughs.

Indeed.

Strangely, Cawke compares Cheerleader to other emerging Canadian groups, such as grassroots rockers and Pearl Jam-worshippers Nickelback and Nickelback clones, Default.

"Those bands are influenced by the grunge of the early '90s. We're more influenced by '80s rock 'n' roll, like Motorhead and Guns 'N' Roses," he says.

But for some, comparing Cheerleader to Nickelback is like comparing Iron Maiden to Yanni.

"We're bored of hearing neo-grunge. We're sick of that sound, and the kids are sick of that sound, so we're here to bring back the old style of rock," Cawke enthuses.

Alternative Press
magazine recently listed Cheerleader as one of 25 bands to take over North America, alongside some other much-hyped names, including newfound garage rock gods The Hives.

In addition to that recognition, the band recently had the honour of opening for Judas Priest.

"Opening for [Judas] Priest was cool. They have this singer called the Ripper who looks like Fred Durst, so it was pretty weird seeing a Fred Durst look-a-like singing 'Breaking the Law' and other classics," Cawke reveals.

But the praise for Cheerleader doesn't end there. Lemmy, the whiskey-voiced lead singer of legendary rockers Motorhead, gave the band perhaps its highest acclaim when he announced, "They are the best rock 'n' roll band since Guns 'N' Roses."

"I used to pray to Lemmy's poster when I was a kid. So when he said he liked us, it was pretty awesome," Cawke says.

Cawke presents further controversy when he discloses why the band's Web site (www.cheerleader666.com) displays Satan's favourite number.

"The deal is, we sold our souls to Satan, and in return for all the songs he gives us, we give him the 666 on our Web site," Cawke jokes.

Still not odd enough for you? How about the fact that the director of their first music video, "Go," specializes in gay amputee porn?

Here, Cawke delves into the details of this particularly raunchy video, which will not be divulged here, in an effort to avoid the need for readers to attend therapy sessions to eliminate some rather disturbing mental pictures.

For their next video, "Rock and Roll," the band has hired renowned Canadian music video director George Vale (apparently the gay amputee porn thing didn't work out). Vale has directed the likes of Our Lady Peace, Edwin, The Tea Party and Alice in Chains.

As for the future of Cheerleader, the band is currently concerned with enjoying themselves to the fullest. If by chance you happen to stumble upon a Cheerleader show and want to chill with the band in order to be close to "the rock," they have merely two simple guidelines for you to follow:

"If you want to come backstage, you have to either bring us drugs or take off your clothes," jokes a rather flaccid Cawke.

Alright, that was way too obvious.


Cheerleader played Call the Office on Friday, Feb. 7.

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2002 THE GAZETTE