INTERVIEW: Cheers Elephant
by Gregorio Vincent
Hailing from Philadelphia, PA is the pop rock band Cheers Elephant. Made up of two cousins and kindergarten friends, Cheers Elephant has been making a name for themselves in the Indie rock scene. After tearing down the stage at “The Circus”, I got a chance to speak with the band and learned why the heck they’re called Cheers Elephant.
You guys just performed with us last month. How did it feel performing for CMJ?
Any opportunity to perform is a guaranteed good time. However, CMJ provides an outlet for musicians to reach an audience that might not typically be familiar with your material. Playing a showcase for the Couch Sessions was a refreshing change of pace from our standard NYC shows because we were sandwiched amongst R&B and Hip Hop acts.
Tell me the backstory of the band. How did you guys meet and why make music?
Matt, Kinglsy, and I go back to kindergarden. We started our first band was together in middle school called “Instant Breakfast”. It was a Pop Punk thing, which was the popular music of choice and a good intro to song writing I suppose. We did a lot of things independent from another in High School and College. It wasn’t until after Freshmen year of college were we got together with the intent of Cheers Elephant. Over a summer we wrote and recorded an EP which caused me to move back to the east coast to pursue the music we were attempting. Jordan, who is Matt’s cousin, had recently moved into town and was the natural fit to be the 4th member.
So Like Wind Blows Fire is your third album. How do you feel the band has progressed since your self-titled debut?
Every new song is an opportunity to outdo yourself. If you’re not your own biggest critic, then you’re probably not a great band. Each album allows us a chance to come closer to what we hear in our heads and gives us new ways of challenging ourselves. We are suckers for a solid, “buttoned-up”, pop song. Something that’s familiar but fresh with an element of surprise. I think we are more and more refining that technique without defining our craft.
You guys are based in Philly. How has your experience been being from that indie scene compared to places like NY or LA?
Philly has a world class scene. I don’t believe it gets enough credit. Let’s just name a few indie “national” acts from the past 5 years Philly has created; Dr. Dog, The Spinto Band, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, The Teeth, Sun Airway, Reading Rainbow, The Extraordinars… and that only scratches the surface. We all, literally, bump elbows getting coffee in the morning. I don’t think it compares to any other city. It has its own thing going.
How did you guys come up with the name “Cheers Elephant?
The first Elephant that came to America ran out of water on the boat trip from Africa. So, they gave it barrels of ale to survive the remaining journey. When it arrived, it would no longer drink water. Therefore, it became a Coney Island side show attraction. You’d pay a nickel or so and hand the Elephant a bottle of beer and it opened it up and put it down. There you have it. America’s first Elephant was an alcoholic side show attraction. We also like beer and have a generally “cheery” sound, so it works.
What are some little known facts about the band?
Matt and Jordan are 1/4 Filipino.
Are you guys working on any new material and will you guys be going on tour?
Yes! We are in the beginning stages of organizing what songs to record for the next album. We have a lot of great stuff to work with and hope to record a good amount this winter. We will hit the road for a National Tour in March so we can hit SXSW.