There are some people in this world who are destined for particular paths in life. For Connor, lead singer of Irish four-piece Cast of Cheers, his road to music became clear at the tender young age of 6.
Speaking from Cast of Cheers HQ in North London, Conner reminisces about his first foray into music, involving Queen and a cassette tape. “I remember I recorded a version of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ with just me singing all of the parts. I thought I’d done an amazing job so I showed it to my Mum who just said ‘It’s a bit out of tune, but with practice you could be alright!’” Connor is laughing at the memory of being shattered by her less than glowing praise, and at his own lack of knowledge. “I couldn’t understand why there was no music playing behind me when I sang. I kept thinking ‘where the hell’s the music?’ Despite not understanding, from that day on I was like ‘ok, I definitely want to do this.’”
While that may not make Connor a young Mozart-style prodigy, tackling Queen’s famously epic track is no mean feat for a youngin’. Since that time, Connor has mastered singing in tune and now fronts Cast of Cheers. Joining Connor is his brother Neil Adams, John Higginson on bass and Kev Curran on drums. Their first record Chariot (2010) was released when the group were virtual unknowns, so they offered it as a free download – a savvy move in the age of file sharing and downloading. This way, the group were able to control the spread of their music and monitor the reach and growth of their initial fan base. In doing this, they got their name out there and gave music fans a taste of what they have to offer.
It would be easy to assume that the band were fairly confident that they’d find success with the album and be able to follow it up with a strong, second collection. “Surprisingly, we didn’t really think about any of that. It’s not like we’re mad business gurus!” Connor says. “We were surprised that anyone even liked Chariot, but it made us realise that people might be into this upbeat stuff. So we decided to make another equally upbeat record.”
The record in question is Family (2012), a ten-track bundle of high energy, peppered with staccato guitar riffs, shoulder-shaking melodies and boisterous, punchy melodies. This music is pure, unadulterated fun. Part Bloc Party, part the Police, part The Maccabees, fully sick. Mirroring the hoopla of their sound is their onstage energy.
“We all tend to spaz out a bit about 10 minutes before we go on. Then we just go bananas on stage. The more bananas we get, the more so the crowd gets as well.” Friends for over ten years, the band appears to be a tight unit. While Connor writes most of the tracks, he insists that the others put their stamp all over each of the tracks. “It’s not a one man show what-so-ever.”
So is being in a band everything that this former 6-year-old busting out to Queen thought it would it? “Oh yes, and more!” he enthuses “It’s quite mental, surreal. You get to see so many places and meet so many people that… it’s just brilliant.” He genuinely seems to be in awe of the success the band have found so far, even embracing some of their weirder fans. “Where do the creeps come from? The cult of the creep?” he wonders. “But still, I’m appreciative that even the creeps bother coming to our shows. If the creep likes our music they can’t be that creepy, really!” The foursome is heading to our very own sunny shores to reveal in the splendour that is Splendour, and they’re excited. “We’ve heard the Australian sun never really goes away!”
Well here’s hoping Byron puts on a display for our new Irish friends, because you are guaranteed to get a show and a half from them. Catch them, kicking around and going bananas onstage!
Cast of Cheers will be on stage Saturday at Splendour in the Grass. They’ll also be supporting Django Django for their Groupie Presents Splendour in the Grass Sideshows.