With big plans to get Australian audiences swingin’, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies are returning prior to the release of their upcoming new album. Kristy Wandmaker tries to wrap her head around a swing band releasing an anthological double-album with frontman Steve Perry.
The Cherry Poppin' Daddies were only out here last year. You probably didn't catch them though, seeing as they didn't visit Brisbane. Admit it - you felt cheated. After all, it was only the first time they'd been in the country for twelve years. But surprise! A new album, White Teeth Black Thoughts, is on its way, and so too are Steve Perry and the lads.
“This will be our third time [visiting] in total,” he begins. “We came first in early '99 and then it wasn't until like a year-and-a-half ago that we came back. We had a good time last time. It was really relaxing and the shows turned out really well. [This time] fans will get to hear some of the stuff from the new record, but the record is two CDs; there's 21 tracks on there so there's lots of stuff. Some stuff we don't even know yet. We played it in the studio but we haven't played it live, so…”
Wait, a double CD? A double CD that covers all of the usual themes of the 'Daddies, exploring the darker side of swing culture? A double CD that plays on the equality of swing as a genre, where it's impossible to dance by yourself and a good partner is worth their weight in gold? Wait wait wait. Is it a concept album? Is it the more 'experimental' stuff that the Daddies have strayed into since their Zoot Suit Riot salad days?
“The main record is a swing record, along the lines of but not exactly like what we did with Zoot Suit Riot. It's us just performing swing music – without any doubt that's what we're doing. The other songs have a swing beat mostly, they're kind of rockabilly, so you can swing dance to them, but they're more guitar-based. For the band it's tough to say which CD we prefer, because both of them really turned out well. The idea was to give people some B-sides and stuff like that to go along with our swing record, but it actually turned out that the extra record came out really, really well. We had some guests join in on a few tunes, like Zoot Horn Rollo from Captain Beefheart played on one song, and a zydeco song we do with Buckwheat Zydeco, who's like the king of zydeco here. Some very, very cool guest parts [are] on this second CD.”
Something old, something new; a balance that suits Perry to a tee. As he talks of the crowd funding process used to back the completion of the album, he is happy to have taken a chance allowing outsiders in on what is usually a solitary process. Little things like putting lyrics in the album sleeve and artwork that illustrates what the song is about are big steps towards opening up for Perry, who prefers to keep things a little mysterious and play his cards close to his chest.
But with the release of White Teeth Black Thoughts at least four months away, why tour again now? Why not wait until we can hear all of the new tracks? “Well, we're already playing a few of the songs from the record, but not all of them. About 18 months ago we played in Australia last and it seemed to me the time was right to come back.”
After missing out on a tasty bite from the Cherry Poppin' Daddies last year, news of their return is glorious. Best of all, it sounds like this isn't the last we'll here from the lads. “By the time we get the new record out, I'm guessing it will be like February or March, then there will be time to promote that in the US and by the time another year and some change goes by, we'll go back and promote it in Australia.”
Cherry Poppin' Daddies will be playing the following shows:
Thursday 1 November - Tempo Hotel, Fortitude Valley QLD
Friday 2 November - Factory Theatre, Marrickville NSW
Sunday 4 November - The Gov, Adelaide SA
Monday 5 November - Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC