At just 22, Clementine Creevy has been releasing albums for seven years and fronting Cherry Glazerr since 2013. Along the way, she’s created a distinctive band sound and a guitar approach that relies on spare phrasing, backbone riffs, dynamic shifts, and sonic contrast.
“You know what’s funny?” asks Clementine Creevy, in a way that reflects a self-awareness and self-assuredness that seems to transcend her years. “I think for the first time ever, I actually wasn’t surprised when I heard the music that I’d written.” Creevy is referring to the songs on Cherry Glazerr’s new album, Stuffed & Ready, and she adds that the process of writing and recording music was much easier than on previous releases. “I realized that I’ve developed a good ear over the past few years. So, that helped me a lot. I know what I want in the studio now.”
Listening to Stuffed & Ready, it’s evident that the Los Angeles native has evolved and matured musically by leaps since she first wrote, performed, and uploaded a small batch of post-punk, garage-rock songs to SoundCloud in 2012 under the moniker Clembutt, when she was just 15. Those songs quickly caught the attention of Burger Records cofounder Sean Bohrman, who would later release Creevy’s full-length 2014 debut, Haxel Princess, under the moniker Cherry Glazerr, a name inspired by KCRW/NPR radio reporter Chery Glaser, because Creevy thought she had the perfect band name. “It just has a great flow to it,” she says.
Apocalipstick followed in 2017, on indie label Secretly Canadian, and included Creevy’s current drummer Tabor Allen, replacing her high-school friend Hannah Uribe. The album further developed the dark, often-chaotic-yet-melodic sounds unleashed on Haxel Princess.
Pitchfork praised Apocalipstick’s “shredding jams, furious howls, and self-aware swagger”—an apt description for a work by a young, self-empowered, professed feminist eager to share her point of view with the world. Despite the outward heroics, internally, there were growing pains to endure, culminating with the departure of original bassist Sean Redman (now with the Buttertones), who has been replaced by Devin O’Brien. Lineup changes obviously present challenges, but it’s been evident from the band’s inception that Creevy’s confidence, vision, and fiercely idiosyncratic personality are the primary creative forces helming Cherry Glazerr.
For Stuffed & Ready, Creevy started compiling songs while on tour in support of Apocalipstick. “Because we played 200 shows in 2017, I was often writing little bits and pieces on the road,” she explains. “Some stuff came to me in hotel rooms. I’m always playing, on and off the road. And so, I was saving all of these little bits and pieces, all of these weird little links, that were going to become songs.”
When it was time to track, Creevy, Allen, and O’Brien first went to San Francisco, where they cut a batch of songs with producer John Vanderslice at his analog Tiny Telephone Recording. They then took those tunes to producer Carlos de la Garza’s Music Friends studio in Eagle Rock, California, where they really started to hone the material that would become Stuffed & Ready. De la Garza also worked on Apocalipstick, so their familiarity seemed to inspire Creevy. “We work closely with Carlos,” she explains. “And we have similar melodic tendencies, so that comes in handy a lot. We agree on melodies, and that is hard to find.”
“Daddi,” which is in heavy rotation at indie-rock satellite radio channel SiriusXMU, and “Wasted Nun” represent the culmination of those agreed-upon melodic tendencies. They possess a vivid, almost cinematic, intensity forged from Creevy’s musical ideas. Lyrically, Stuffed & Ready is the lens through which Creevy seeks to reconcile her own confusion and anger—an admitted response to the contemporary political climate. “With Apocalipstick, I was an over-confident teenager trying to solve the world’s problems,” she admits. “Now I’m wearier and more cynical. You need to figure your own self out first.” PG recently caught up with Creevy, who was at home in L.A. getting ready for her upcoming tour—which kicked off in Bristol, England, on February 2—for a fast-paced chat that covered a lot of ground, including lessons, gear, and the leitmotifs of her craft.
“It was certainly competitive, because I was the youngest, by like five years, and I was one of only two women in a class of 100.”
How do you develop your song ideas?
I always start with a melody that pops into my head. I put it into voice memos, and then I translate that onto the guitar. That’s why I think a lot of our music is kind of riff-oriented. It usually doesn’t happen to me while I’m fiddling around with the guitar. Sometimes it does. But mostly these melodies just pop into my head first, and then I put them down on the guitar. That’s how a lot of my songs started out.
Is there a song on Stuffed & Ready that came out of fiddling around on guitar?
I was in Ohio, and we were doing soundcheck, and the riff from [Stuffed & Ready’s] “Ohio” just came out of me. I bet the venue wanted to fucking kill me, because I made everybody come onstage and play it with me for like an hour. I was just vibing it so hard and just loving it. So, that riff means a lot to me, because I came up with it on the road. It was this very euphoric moment. It starts on this one note, and then it ends at the octave of the same note.
It sounds like there’s a bit of a Black Sabbath influence in there, and in “Distressor,” as well.
I was listening to a lot of Black Sabbath when I wrote those songs—especially “Ohio.” I love playing that riff, because there’s a lot of movement there. It’s killer. I came up with the verse chords after that, which is generally not how I write. But that’s how I did it for “Ohio.”
Did you go into the recording studio with complete songs?
Sometimes it was just a verse and a melody, and Carlos and I would work together on arranging the full song. Then we would put down the vocal melodies and stuff. I think what was cool about this process was how we wanted to keep it simple. Keep it good and keep it simple. So, that’s what we mostly did with the music on this record.
Is Carlos a musician himself?
He is, yeah. He’s mostly a drummer, but he rips on the bass. He’s a shredder.
TIDBIT: John Vanderslice and Carlos de la Garza both worked on the production of Cherry Glazerr’s latest. Of de la Garza, Creevy says, “We agree on melodies, and that is hard to find.”
This is your third album. What have you learned about the recording process?
I think one of the biggest things I learned was how to communicate in the studio. I had picked up so much language throughout my time, both at Carlos’ and at John’s, and at some other studios, but most importantly, I just developed a better ear. I have a better sense of tone and a better sense of production. And so, it really was very exciting. It was like when you learn something new and the world breaks open. That’s what it felt like.
I love when that happens.
It’s so cool. It’s why I play guitar, because it happens all the time with my relationship to the guitar.
When did you start playing guitar?
I got my first guitar when I was 10. My uncle gave it to me. It was a half-size Fender with nylon strings—an acoustic guitar. And I never played it or practiced it [laughs]. So, it didn’t do anything for me for a little bit. And then my mom made me start taking lessons because she thought I had a great sense of rhythm and I was singing all the time. She really wanted me to learn the guitar, because she knew I would have fun with it, and she was right.
What about electric?
I picked up the electric when I was 14. I was listening to a lot of rock music at the time, so it was appropriate. I was also inspired by a lot of funk music that I was listening to. I had just gotten into Bootsy Collins and Sly Stone and Funkadelic. Eddie Hazel was a huge inspiration to me, too.
The funk influence maybe explains why your rhythm playing is so tight. It is a very strong component of your music.
Definitely. I love rhythm. When I started the band, I had this idea that I would be the shredding guitar player in the back, and I would put a singer at the front. I would be like what’s his name, from fucking Radiohead?
That’s who I would be.
So, what happened? What changed that trajectory?
Well, it didn’t work out. I realized that I really liked how the music sounded with me singing. So, it became clear that I had to be the singer. The voice that matched up to the music best was when I was singing. But I had my friend, Sophia [Muller], singing in the band early on, and she would sing with me. But then it was sad, because I was like, “Don’t sing it like that, sing it like this.” And that was not good for her or me. So, I had to become the singer. And then I realized that I love singing, and that it would be sad if I weren’t singing [laughs].
Besides Radiohead, did you have any other specific guitar influences when you were first learning to play?
I was really into angular punk, too. I love Fugazi, and I would go see No Age and Battles all the time in L.A. I love those two bands.