Cherry Chérie’s Take a Tarantino Approach to Music

Photo by Leda St-Jacques

What began as a retro cover band has morphed into a stylized beast of a rock band that knows how to emulate the classics sharply. Harnessing everything that made their favourite artists great while telling deep stories in their music, Montreal's Cherry Chérie craft songs that feel cinematically charged. We had a chat with songwriter Alexandre Craigh ahead of their January 17 show at the Shenkman Arts Centre to discuss their strange school beginnings and why their producer compared them to Tarantino.

Ottawa Life: How did you want to set Adieu Veracruz apart from you previous albums?

Alexandre Craigh: The biggest difference was our last record was really focused on sounding like the sixties. We did everything in that sound, and recorded it like we would back in that time. With the new record though we wanted to keep the vintage vibe, but add a big production and keyboards to make it sound real and new. That was a big challenge for us, we needed to find the right producer for it. He took our songs that blended surf, vintage vibes and make something authentic out of it. We like to think it's our best album yet. 

How did you producer Pierre Duchesne shape that vision?

We really wanted to find the right person for us, who would understand where we were coming from. We started as a rock n' roll band in bars, playing classics from the fifties and sixties, Chuck Berry and Elvis. We wanted him to understand that but push us further, while still keeping the right vibe. Pierre knows about playing live and he's a real geek about music and tone. We kept our old guitars but made something real and new. We put all our money into this album so it was a gamble, but we managed something great with it.  

What inspired you to craft this record as a concept album, and was there any challenges you ran into that hadn't appeared on your previous records?

It was definitely a challenge. With the previous album, we fell the songs were very different, so we really wanted to have something where all the songs fit together, even though there were too writers. We decided to follow the concept album by telling the stories we had after travelling on the road for the past few years. Even though one person would write a song, we were all there for the story they're telling. There's a film noire feeling to the whole thing and our producer kept saying there was something that kept emulating that aesthetic. He said it was like Quentin Tarantino tried to make a movie out of your life. It's an album about our lives, we don't know if there will ever be a movie, but with that in mind we got one of the best photographers in Montreal to capture that for our cover art. 

What did you learn from you previous experiences at the Francouvertes contest, and do you plan to enter again?

We've learned a lot from that and some other contests. You get twenty minutes to capture people's attention in a moment, so we learned how to speed-date with our music. When you're doing a show that small you have to make a real impression, and you have to be really good. That's why we've hired someone to do projections, and we've gotten new suits and haircuts. We did everything to feel good about it, so hopefully its very punchy.

So how exactly did you guys start from meeting in Italian class to where you are now?

Well me and Paolo are both half-Italian, so we met in an Italian class in university and started talking about music. He was going to see Bob Dylan at the Bell Centre, and I was going to see James Taylor, so we were talking about the sixties and our love for that era. We started as a duo playing those old songs, and rockabilly stuff, we did a lot of classics. Then we met Gabriel and Étienne, Étienne actually left the band a month ago after seven years in the band. After playing all the covers for years just like the Stones and the Beatles did at the start, we moved towards our French songs because there were so few bands doing that kind of rock n' roll in French. Our mission is really to spread our love for rock and French music around the world.