Nashville duo Cherub lets us inside their crazy fun world of electro love making

By Dana Getz

With a charmingly sarcastic sense of humor and a zest for the fun-loving lifestyle, it’s easy to see how Jordan Kelly and Jason Huber became friends. The Nashville-natives met during their college years and eventually formed Cherub, a funkified electro-pop group blurring the lines between 80’s dance music and contemporary pop. Combining risqué lyrics, silky smooth falsetto and synthesizer-rich production, their musical repertoire is a potpourri of psychedelic chillwave ballads and groove-heavy dance numbers. After landing a slot on Gramatik’s Age of Reason tour last spring, the duo booked gigs at festivals across the globe, including Bonnaroo, SXSW, Electric Forest and the upcoming Lollapalooza. The pair took time between stops on their European tour to discuss gray hairs, crazy fan antics and the importance of finding a good cologne.

Can you tell me a little about your backgrounds and how Cherub got started?

Kelly: Cherub started about three or so years ago, right outside of Nashville where me and Jason were going to school. So we went to school together. I liked Jason’s handshake—he had a firm handshake—and it went from there.

What went into shaping your sound as a group?

Huber: It’s really just an amalgamation of where we all came from musically. Jordan is our songwriter and you can hear all of his influences very, very strongly in the songwriting. He’s been producing for years before we started Cherub.

Let’s talk about your newest album, 100 Bottles. What went into the creative process?

Kelly: It was similar to everything else we’ve done thus far. The difference with 100 Bottles was that it was the least done when we brought it to the studio, so there was a lot added to it in the studio, whereas with the other two albums they were much more finished before we brought them in. With 100 Bottles there was a lot more emptiness that needed to get filled up.

Where did the name 100 Bottles come from?

Kelly: Sampatattillo.

Who?

Kelly: Sampatattillo is our buddy and if we took credit for coming up with 100 Bottles he would be fuckin’ pissed off. He would never stop talking shit. We were shooting a music video in New York for Monogamy and he got really drunk during the music video, and any time he would do anything he said, ‘100 Bottles.’ It was just something he kept saying. He would do something really dumb and be like ‘100 Bottles!’ It didn’t really make sense, and then sometimes it did make sense, so there was that New York trip where we were just saying that a lot and we just kind of called the album that.

Where do you usually draw inspiration from for your songs?

Kelly: Jason’s hair. That’s where we get all our inspiration from. I found my first gray hair in Paris. I didn’t think that I would get them until I was like 35 or something but I guess you get them whenever. It was like six in the morning and we were super hammered and we were in Paris. I couldn’t have found my gray hair in a worse place than Paris. My friend was saying he found some grays hairs when I went back to visit him, and I was like, ‘Dude, shut the fuck up. You’re like 25. You’re just being drunk and thinking that.’ And then I found one and I was like, ‘God damnit!” So I spent the whole morning whining to Jason about it.

A lot of your songs talk pretty openly about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Do you guys consider yourselves big partiers?

Kelly: We don’t go over the top with it but we party. We like to go have fun with it, yeah. Say, hypothetically, that I got drinks every single night on this tour so far in Europe. It wouldn’t be like I’m a big partier but I’m casually drinking with people. When I wake up I have a couple shots, and after lunch I end up having a couple shots. I like to change it up, so usually I wake up and drink a couple shots of whiskey, and for lunch I’ll do a couple shots of vodka. We always go on stage sober though, and then we end up not being sober later. So I’d say we’re medium partiers.

The last year or so has been a pretty crazy ride for you guys. What’s been the biggest surprise?

Kelly: We played a show one time and there was a cake on stage and somebody hopped out of it naked. That was a pretty big surprise.

What’s the craziest experience you’ve had at a show?

Kelly: Well there’s been a lot of those. The first one I can think of that came to my head is we were playing and in between songs this dude told me to come over so I came over to him, and he handed me like three or four hits of acid. He said to me to take them on stage but I was like ‘I’m not gonna do that,’ so I threw them in my pocket. And the whole show in the back of my mind I had this really dumb paranoia that I was gonna be so sweaty that they were gonna get wet and then soak into my legs, and then I’d be tripping during the show and have to run off stage. So that was funny. I’ve had somebody shove Molly into my face before I went on stage one time, which was really annoying because we go on stage sober, so I was freaking out like, ‘Dude, I’m gonna be fucked up during the show.’ So that was kinda shitty.

Huber: Jordan has hit me in the face with a cake a couple times.

Kelly: Also, there was a topless woman dancing around in Germany. That was pretty weird. She was beautiful on the inside.

Huber: People will take Jordan’s talk box, too, and decide to put it in their mouth. And that’s just weird. It’s weird and kinda gross. People take it upon themselves to get on stage with us every once in awhile and it always gets kinda crazy. In Tulane some girl took a selfie picture with me while I was singing a song. She expected me to smile and pose while I was singing, which was just not gonna happen.

You’re playing Lollapalooza in under a week. What are you most looking forward to about that experience?

Huber: We love Chicago in general. We’ve been lucky to come there a lot this summer. Chicago was actually the first city where we’ve ever had a sell out show with pre-sale, so we’re really excited to come back to Chicago and play for all of our friends in Chicago. Beyond that, Lollapalooza has been one of the festivals we’ve been most excited about because of all of the artists that are on it—the lineup is just incredible. It’s a very mainstream and broad-reaching lineup, and we’re honored to be a part of that. Also, our after party with Kendrick Lamar and Baauer—we’re really, really excited to be a part of that as well.

What other artists do you really want to see?

Huber: I really want to see Nine Inch Nails. I love Nine Inch Nails. I know for Jordan, Kendrick Lamar is one of his favorites, so the fact that we get to share a bill with him is a huge, huge honor.

This is your first European tour. What’s the experience been like?

Huber: This is actually our first time in Europe for both of us, so it’s been a really awesome, eye-opening experience. Everybody’s been really friendly and welcoming to us. We had an amazing time in Paris and an amazing time in Amsterdam because that’s where both of our days off were. In Paris we ended up dancing in this club that was on a boat on the Seine River, and we were dancing ‘till like five in the morning to trance music. That was crazy. And Amsterdam is Amsterdam. We sang karaoke in a karaoke bar. It was awesome. It’s just been a really exciting trip for us, and the fact that we get to make new friends in other countries is awesome.

What can we expect from you guys in the future?

Huber: Well we’re just finishing up in the studio now on another album. We don’t have any sort of release date or schedule to speak of yet, but we’re really excited about this new music and we’re gonna keep on touring until we can share that with the world.

Kelly: Better haircuts. More suits. I wanna start wearing more suits. I wanna find, like, a nice smelling cologne that I can call my own that no other guy wears. I wanna get a nice pair of glasses, so I don’t have to wear my contacts all the time because I pass out in them a lot. And I guess music. I guess a lot of new music, but that’s not important. The important thing is just the suits, smelling good, my hair and cologne. The future for me is becoming a man.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the new album?

Kelly: The new album is just basically building on the foundation that’s already been put in place as far as creating a sound that we can call our own, and hopefully having people catch onto it. At the end of the day I think me and Jason and everyone are just trying to build something that’s going to withstand the test of time, so 10, 20 years down the road the songs are still played and sound just as good and are just as catchy as they were when they were made. This album is just a continued from the previous ones, but we’re definitely trying some new stuff. There’s definitely some stuff on there that people will either be thrown off in a good way or thrown off in a bad way. There’s some really crazy sounding shit on this new one for sure, but it’s still dancey and it’s still got fuckin’ crazy lyrics, but we’re definitely trying to incorporate more genres and just trying to stay happy and excited with the music we’re making.

Is there anything on your bucket list as a band that you’d like to cross off?

Kelly: One day I wanna beat Jason in arm wrestling. We wanna party on a boat with Bill Murray. I wanna play Red Rocks as well. Actually, I wanna headline Red Rocks one day, and I wanna headline Madison Square Garden. That would be fuckin’ awesome. There’s epic venues all around the world that I know we’d die to headline or even open up for somebody, so there’s lots of stuff as a band that we wanna cross off and work hard at getting towards. Jason wants to play at the Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina ‘cause that’s where he grew up watching bands; it’s like a nostalgic thing for him.

Cherub

CHERUB WILL PLAY SATURDAY, AUGUST 3 AT THE LOLLAPALOOZA PERRY’S STAGE AND AGAIN AT ARAGON BALLROOM THE SAME DAY. THEIR SOPHOMORE EP 100 BOTTLES IS OUT NOW.