Cherry Overdrive - She Devils Of Freewheelin’ Fuzz!

By Jens Hellroute

This all-girl Copenhagen 4-piece has been giggin’ intensely during the last few years, evolving with each job to the present state; a lean mean juggernaut of raw yet catchy garage rock’n’roll. They draw influences from 60s psych, 70s hardrock, surf & stoner rock, and their excellent new debut album, ”Clear Light!”, perfectly captures their live energy. Cherry Overdrive is Cecilia Cresso (guitar, vox), Jirasol Pereira (bass), Jeanne Dahl Mikkelsen (drums) and singer/guitarist Foxy aka Lene Kjær Hvillum, who answered my questions about this and that.

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: First weekend of February saw a lotta Cherry Overdrive action. First there was the infamous in-store gig at GUF where some dickhead drew an axe?

Foxy: Wow yeah, quite some action there! Shortly after we started playing, these two Italian guys came in and started to pogo all over the place. One of them almost knocked out a friend of ours. Then the two pogo-guys started arguing and one of them drew an axe from his pocket – surprise! While playing her solo on the guitar Cecilia calmly asked both of them to bugger off, which they fortunately did without killing anyone... Later it turned out, that Cecilia didn’t see the axe and that’s why she had the courage to ask them to leave. How many Copenhagen all-girl bands can tell this kind of dramatic story from an in-store gig???

WC: Next up was your release party for the "Clear Light" album at Studenterhuset, where bands like Horn Of Plenty and Highway Child warmed up with covers of your songs. That was one crazy party!

Foxy: Yes! What a night! We’d invited J-Tex & the Volunteers, El Ray, The Horn of Plenty and Highway Child to make their own cover versions of the tracks from our album, and it turned out really cool indeed! Furthermore Pharphar (Bikstok Røgsystem) had made a remix of the opening song from “Clear Light!”. It was great fun for us to hear these very different interpretations of our music – and we’re of course very grateful that the guys wanted to put all this work into it. All in all, the release party was a great success – the venue being completely packed and the party going on till 7 in the morning...

WC: And then you were interviewed on Danish National Radio Sunday the 4th, hungover as hell?

Foxy: Then Sunday night Carten Holm from P3 “Public Søndag” had invited Cecilia and me in for an interview live on air – he doesn’t get to have that many girls in his studio, so both him and his technican were pretty up-beat in cheering us up... haha. Sure, we were still a bit hung over, but it was a nice experience and I even won a cd in his quiz that night...Haha.

WC: How are your feelings about "Clear Light"? I think it turned out great, with a very good production work by Ralph A. Rjeily.

Foxy: Yes. The production turned out great on the album. Ralph did a real cool job on the recordings to 2” tape – hence the warm and nice analogue sound. The mixing and mastering was done in Germany by a friend of us, the incredible Willi Dammeier, who probably has the best ears in Europe. This man can hear frequencies and details not available to the average human ear and he’s a perfectionist. He and Ralph were on the phone discussing microphones and other stuff a few times, while I was down there in Hannover joining the mix.

WC: To me, it's hit after hit that should be played all day on the radio (in a perfect world).

Foxy: Wow, that would be nice! We worked a great deal on the compositions of the songs and a lot on refining the details: backing vox, added guitars, organs beautifully played by special guest star Heinzz, percussions, variations etc, so it’s nice to hear that it payed off in your ears...

WC: Cherry Overdrive seems to be inspired by a mix of the 60s psych and pop, and the 70s more hardrockin' stuff. Is that a fair description?

Foxy: That’s quite accurate. I guess the inspiration comes from very different angles. Jirasol cannot escape her unique South American attack on the bass, and she’s a great free-styler! Jeanne is the one holding it all togehter with her kind of straight drums. Cecilia has a quite specific sound and twang on her old Burns guitar and she has a great flair for composing very catchy tunes. I’m influenced by 60’s psychedelia, by paisley and by hard rock and I can’t run away from my stoner rock past either...

WC: You design and sew your own stage clothes?

Foxy: It all started when we were invited to play at “Radiohuset Rocker” last year. We wanted to stand out and do something crazy to spice up the 15 minutes of rock’n’roll dinner we served to the audience. I made four dresses and it worked perfecty well... So why not make it a brand? I mean: Everyone plays wearing the classic rock-uniform and it’s much more fun to wear a polka-dot dress than a pair of jeans!

WC: How's the collar bone?

Foxy: Man, that sucks! I broke my collar bone in a bike accident summer 2006 and it’s still broken. I’m still waiting for an operation to have the two bits of bone nailed together again. Meanwhile, I’ve been on two tours, attending my two jobs and rehearsing 4-5 days a week with a bloody bone sticking out of my shoulder. Hurrah for pain-killers!

WC: The guys of Fuzz Manta tell me that you're a bit of a guitar nerd, with the brands and stuff?

Foxy: Haha... The female nerd! The guys keep asking me about specialized details about gear, tubes, amps, pedals and stuff. Well, I just like to do reseach on the gear-department and I seem to pick up a little knowledge here and there... We have some great conversations on sound in the rehearsal room. But I also discuss guitars, pedals etc with Cecilia who’s also a bit of a geek on gear like me...

WC: Heptown Records has signed few Copenhagen bands in recent years... what do you expect from the Swedish label?

Foxy: So far Heptown has been really excellent and we expect them to keep being a cool label of course. The guys are really devoted to running the label as fair and successful as possible and without compromising on the integrity. They are doing a great job, they are very supporting and they work litterally 24 hours a day! Respect! We were very lucky to meet Heptown Records, they are putting a great efford into making things work out for us.

WC: You've toured a lot in Germany, any crazy stories?

Foxy: Except from our van always losing the straps holding the exhaust cylinder so we’re forced to turn into ‘Mike & the Mechanics’ having fun on our backs under the van fixing it? On our latest tour we had some gigs with Peruvian spacerockers La Ida de Dios, and one night we were playing in a town called Freiberg, and that particular night turned out completely crazy. After 2000 beers and an after-party with a collective jam included, everyone went to sleep, but at some point during the night Jirasol woke up everyone by shouting out loud. It turned out that she’d seen a guy jump out the window, and we were on the first foor! A few minutes later the guy enters though the main door, goes directy to his mattress and lies down to sleep again. Totally bizarre! Next morning we ask him what the hell he was doing, and he tells us that he woke up in his sleeping bag and couldn’t find his mattress, so he thought he would jump out the window and enter the building again in order to start all over finding it! Now that’s a spaced out deduction, man!

WC: Pros and cons about being an all girl band (sorry, had to ask)?

Foxy: The pros are of course that we can wear dresses on stage without looking silly, right?! Well, I guess we get a bit more attention because we’re all girls in the band – that’s still a bit exotic. But once people get to know us they realize that we’re just as devoted and serious about our music as any all-guy band. While touring with La Ida de Dios the South American macho guys soon found out that we were not fragile flowers to be handled with care, and we were soon treated like “the guys”. I guess the sound produced by a an all-girl band is somewhat different from an all-male band too. It’s hard to tell exactly what makes the difference, but the way of working with the songs and the compositions is just something else. The cons are when we’re all PMS at the same time and start bitching... Haha!

WC: Future plans?

Foxy: We have some really good gigs coming up this spring – some of them still a secret... But Loppen 2. March with Causa Sui and Double Space is gonna be great. By the end of April we’re going to Germany again, and in June we’re playing in Paris. We just finished our first video, and we have a surf-rock version of a Burt Bacharach song coming out on an Italian surf compilation later this year. We’re working on new songs for the next album. Let’s see what the future brings – we’re willing to go for it!

Cherry Overdrive's Official Website