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We recently sat down with Steve Perry, The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies frontman (pictured center in white) to learn more about the band. See their salute to music of the Rat Pack at The Northern Lights Theater on Friday, October 25 at 8 p.m.
Potawatomi Bingo Casino:
The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies have been around for nearly 25 years. How has your sound evolved over time?
We started off in 1988 experimenting with swing music, ska and punk funk, more specifically on the jazzier side. We were interested in “Race” records, viper jive and hot jazz. We wanted to make music that was kind of a modern hybrid of these sounds, something that had that spirit of physical/party music with also a darker, more elusive subtext in the lyrics. Over the years we have dabbled in world music as well as punk rock and rockabilly, but our main focus is the swing material.
Where do The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies gain their musical inspiration?
From the past, and the sort of nitty-gritty, hard-boiled world. You could say we are a cross between Quentin Tarantino, musically—in that we are inspired and intrigued by marginalized genres from the past, and John Cassavetes lyrically—in the respect that the lyrics are often hard hitting and psychologically brutal.
The band’s sixth studio album, White Teeth, Black Thoughts, was unveiled this summer. How has the album been received by your fans?
I think the majority of our fans are happy with it. Some of the more hardcore fans might like to see us do more crazy rockin’ stuff instead of an album that is all swing. But it was time to do an all-swing recording in my mind. I kind of had the idea that after the Great Recession it made sense to make a record that mirrored the depression era. White Teeth, Black Thoughts is our Brother Can You Spare A Dime record.
The band’s next release will be a Rat Pack tribute album in 2014. What was the inspiration behind producing a tribute album?
The Rat Pack have always been in our universe of influences. I just find the easy breezy, warm evening sophistication feel of that music very attractive. We used to do songs from the American Songbook in between our more intense punk rock songs for psychic relief. So this is just a nod to that side of us. It turned out fantastic.
Your upcoming show at The Northern Lights Theater is a salute to the music of the Rat Pack. What can your fans expect at the show?
It will be roughly half Cherry Poppin’ Daddies swing; danceable, up-tempo tunes and half Rat Pack tunes that we do our way. No pun intended.
The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies have played The Northern Lights Theater in the past. What are your thoughts on playing the theater?
We had a great time the two times we played there. The sound system is fantastic and the crowd got up and danced a bit so we have been happy to play there.
What else is on the horizon for the band?
We have been fiddling around with doing some remixes of our swing tunes in electroswing tracks and that has been interesting.
What are you listening to now?
Vinyl jazz records pretty much exclusively. A lot of Monk and 1950s tenor ballads… Coltrane, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins… the usual suspects I guess.