Raising The Bar

24 July 2012 | 7:46 am | Brendan Hitchens

Adams admits their band name has raised its fair share of eyebrows, particularly online. "I have seen people on Twitter and YouTube going on and saying, ‘I thought this was going to be Ted Danson. Sorely disappointed.’"

Boasting the talents of Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley, Woody Harrelson and Kelsey Grammer, the cast of Cheers is a formidable ensemble. Just don't go asking the Irish lads who lift their band name from the lon-running sitcom about it. They've barely seen it. In fact, the story behind their name is as comedic as the show itself. “It was a joke,” says singer/guitarist Conor Adams. “I gave John, our bass player, an ultimatum. We had been jamming for two weeks and were without a name and it felt weird calling us 'The Band'. So I said to him,” he pauses, as if he's told the story 100 times before, “we're going to be called Skeleton Bellies if you don't come up with a name by tomorrow. That's such a crap name, so it pushed him to come up with something better. The next day he came back with a list of 50 names and they were all really bad, but right down the bottom in scribbled writing was The Cast Of Cheers. We thought it was funny and it was much better than anything else on the page so we kept it.”

Easier to remember than it is to Google, Adams admits the name has raised its fair share of eyebrows, particularly online. “I have seen people on Twitter and YouTube going on and saying, 'I thought this was going to be Ted Danson. Sorely disappointed.'”

Though their name may be tongue-in-cheek, and a let down to a select few, their approach to music is far from it. Calculated but still creative, their debut album Chariot (2010) was an internet only affair, offered exclusively on their Bandcamp page free of charge. Entering the blogsphere before stepping foot on a stage, they were soon being championed by all the right tastemakers. They had embraced the internet and similarly, the internet had embraced them. Blogs led to airplay, which steamrolled to festival appearances and record label signings. “It just kept escalating,” says Adams, the enthusiasm evident in his voice. “The way word spreads is a new phenomenon.” The album, a low budget, self-funded operation, certainly served its purpose. As the demand for the band's music and indeed their name rose, they quickly outgrew Bandcamp. “We put it up for free, because we thought it wasn't worth charging for. I mean we were a band nobody knew about. Within two weeks it had over 1000 downloads.” The demand was so great, in fact, they soon exceeded their download quota and had to find a new webhost. Only a minor complication, given the album was now circulating on blogs and file sharing sites.

As a demo Chariot had nothing to lose. There were no expectations. No contractual obligations, no media build up and to be frank, no fan base to impress. “It's not like we have to pander to the millions of opinions now,” Adams jokes, referring to the pressures of emulating its success. “I think we are more excited than nervous. When we released Chariot there was no pressure at all and zero expectations. This time around I suppose there are expectations, but if you pander to that you're going to collapse. So we get excited by the fact people are listening to us and that spurs us on to create something that we can enjoy.”

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With a new record now released, and a physical one at that, Chariot has since been withdrawn from the internet – via the legal channels at least. “The reason we took it down was that we thought it might detract from the release of Family,” declares the singer. “Hopefully we can get it remastered and put it online again one day,” he says of the album he likes to call the “ghost release”.

While Chariot has vanished into thin air for the time being, their attention is now firmly directed towards their second full-length release Family and they couldn't be happier. The hype may be intensifying but Adams remains as laconic as the day they released their debut. With no signs of ego the band haven't forgotten their local roots. Calling from their flat in East London, a temporary base while “to-ing and fro-ing between Ireland and most of Europe,” Adams remains patriotic to the music of his birthplace of Dublin, admitting his band draw more influence from the up-and-coming indie bands than the traditional sounds of The Pogues or pop-politics of U2.” There's so much going on in the music scene in Ireland at the moment that it's hard not to be inspired by it,” he says, before qualifying,” I wouldn't say so much the Celtic aspect of it, but the guitar bands have definitely inspired us.”

Possessing the same 'angular,' 'post-punk' and 'math' superlatives as many of their UK comrades, The Cast Of Cheers are often spoken of in the same breath as Battles, Foals and Bloc Party (they describe themselves as robot-rock). Family features synths and looped guitars, over a distinctive hi-hat groove. Adams confesses to being a fan of Foals and in particular the ambience that make up their recordings. He is also fully aware of the comparisons, to the point of being bothered by it. “We were all big fans of Total Life Forever [Foals' second studio album] and the soundscapes that it had, but we wanted something different,” he says, when pressed on why they enlisted Luke Smith, who also worked with Foals, to produce Family. “We have been compared to them and their guitar sound and all, but I don't see it anymore. I think we are varying away from that if anything.”

Sharing the stage with perhaps their biggest influence, The Cast Of Cheers will play an early set at Splendour In The Grass before Bloc Party headline later in the day. Adams also lists At The Drive-In, Jack White, Azealia Banks, Australia's own DZ Deathrays and his childhood heroes The Smashing Pumpkins as the bands he wants to watch side of stage.

As they journey to another new country for the first time, the band continue their rapid ascent. Recently signed to boutique British label Cooperative Music, with major label distribution courtesy of Universal subsidiary V2, their music is reaching worldwide audiences, this time purely on its own merits. Forming little more than two years ago and with their second full-length out this month, there are no signs of it wavering. To paraphrase the title sequence from the sitcom that shaped their moniker, it won't be long before everyone knows their name.