A year and a half after Cruel Summer’s conception in fall 2011, the band is finally gearing up to release their debut, self-titled EP in late March 2013, right in time to follow up their Noise Pop show at the Hemlock Tavern tomorrow, 2/27/13. Needless to say, Cruel Summer’s gears are turning quickly. Consisting of four members – singer and guitarist Thea Chacamaty, guitarist Josh Yule, drummer Sean Mosley and bassist Chani Hawthorne – Cruel Summer’s upcoming EP gives us just a little taste of what the band has to offer, a freshly brewed rock sound reminiscent of shoegaze and indie rock bands from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. With a near overdose of (albeit, super awesome) garage rock and psychedelic bands maintaining dominance in the Bay Area rock scene, Cruel Summer delivers a much needed breath of diversity.
I met up with Josh and Thea at Haus Coffee on 24th and Folsom (you know, that part of the Mission that still carries some wavering old school vibes) to talk about the new EP, the Noise Pop show, and the big year Cruel Summer has lying ahead in the remainder of 2013.
The Bay Bridged: How do you feel about the Noise Pop show on Wednesday?
TC: Pretty excited about it.
JY: It’s been a dream of mine since I moved to the city.
TC: We’re probably the rowdiest band on the bill for that show. Our new stuff especially is really loud and noisy, and we’re a really loud band in general when we play live. It’s going to be rad because we also have a record coming out soon.
JY: One of my best friends [Jay Howell] did our t-shirts and our album cover, and he also did the art for Noise Pop. Him and I do a night called “Smithsfits”, where we play only Smiths and Misfits records all night.
TC: It’s really amazing on Halloween, there’s a great costume contest.
JY: Jay moved to LA so we don’t get to do it that often anymore. For my own sanity we do it quarterly. It’s at the Knockout.
TC: He’s putting out our record too.
TBB: Tell me about the EP.
JY: We recorded it…
TC: Over a year ago.
JY: Our sound has changed a little bit. When we recorded the EP we had just became a band.
TC: I think the evolution of our sound is that it’s gotten a lot bigger, and more sophisticated.
JY: Our songs aren’t quite as poppy anymore. They’re kind of androgynous.
TC: Our songwriting process has changed a little bit. Now we’re coming closer to writing music as a band all together.
JY: It’s cool the way the songs come together now. I usually record them on a four-track the way I write them, but they always end up sounding different later.
TC: It’s an influence of Chani too.
JY: The direction is going bigger and darker but still pretty.
TBB: There can be so many different words tacked onto a band’s sound by listeners, so I always like to ask, if you could describe your sound in words what would that be?
JY: I definitely like to stray away from the word shoegaze. It’s kind of emo.
TC: It’s not that we wouldn’t want to be associated with that, because we love shoegaze obviously, but to me shoegaze bands are much more mellow, metered, more purposeful sounds.
JY: I would never, ever try to copy My Bloody Valentine. I mean, there’s no point. I’d rather just listen to it. But it’s fun to take a spin on the bands I like. For me, I learned to play guitar from listening to Echo and the Bunnymen, Sonic Youth, Robert Smith…
TC: David Gedge from The Wedding Present.
JY: I put all of the new wave I love together and all of ‘90s and late ‘80s indie pop stuff I love.
TBB: You touched on your influences, what’s playing on your record player right now?
JY: I just cleaned my house to Echo and The Bunnymen. As far as new bands, I like the new Tamaryn record, what else?
TC: Mac DeMarco. I really like his voice and his melodies.
JY: I can’t believe he’s so young.
TC: I really like the new Chris Cohen record, more good cleaning house music. Our friends’ bands too, we love Terry Malts.
TBB: How do you feel about the San Francisco music scene?
JY: I think it’s awesome. There’s a lot of garage bands out there, and shoegaze is another word out there. I work at the Knockout so I see a lot.
TC: I’m constantly impressed with what I see at the Knockout.
JY: Another band that just started playing together called Tiaras. Really like them.
TC: Permanent Collection, Young Prisms…
JY: We’re actually playing with Young Prisms next month. Hopefully our album will be out by then.
TBB: Tell me about the creative process of the EP.
TC: I’m really happy with it. It feels like a moment in time to me. And it’s kind of crazy to see how much we’ve grown. We’re going to try to play mostly new things at the Noise Pop show and a few songs off the EP.
JY: We worked with and would like to continue to work with Jason Kick from Maus Haus. He’s recorded us three times now.
TC: He’s recording our new material too.
JY: He has a spot at secret studios we go to.
TC: He’s really fun. We go into kamikaze band bootcamp.
JY: Try to squeeze everything into two or three days.
TC: We eat a lot of pizza and drink a lot of whiskey. He’s made our recordings sound really great because he has this very finely tuned ear.
JY: He not only records us but he also puts his two cents in. So this time we have a few tricks up our sleeve and we added some midiverb in there.
TC: We ran the guitar through the midiverb and my vocals too, so we can really hone my vocals and make them sound the same. There’s only so much you can say to a sound guy when you play live.
JY: They usually don’t want to pump it and we like to be really loud.
TC: Dreamy sounding.
JY: So we’ll now have control over our vocals at all times.
TBB: What’s next for Cruel Summer?
JY: We have a 7” with Mt St. Mtn and we already have a couple songs recorded for a full length. That’s our next thing, we want to do a full length and hopefully it will be done by the end of the year.
TC: Since we have this EP coming out we actually have to go on tour.
JY: This summer we’ll try to hit everything. It’s just hard to fit everything into my Honda Civic.
TC: We have to buy a van. I also have to learn how to drive.
JY: Visit the West Coast outside of San Francisco.
TC: And play with bands that we like.
Lovely Bad Things, Lake, Blank Tapes, Cruel Summer (Noise Pop 2013)
February 27th, 2013
8pm, $8 adv, $10 door