Gone all summer
|By Rich Tupica|
Cheap Girls leads the pack of a new breed of Lansing rockers getting national attentionLast month, Ian Graham was preparing for an 18-hour drive to Florida with his band, Cheap Girls. The trip would serve as the first leg of the trio’s three-month national tour, which is now zigzagging its way through the Midwest on its way to Los Angeles. But just hours before the momentous journey’s start, Graham was decidedly relaxed. Which was puzzling, because he hadn’t started getting ready.
“I haven’t even packed yet,” said Graham, 28, the band’s lead vocalist and bassist. “It’ll be fine. I’m just excited to be (on the road).”
Graham’s laidback approach to highway life is hardly a surprise. Since 2009, the road has been the band’s second residence. After gigging locally in a few high school bands, Graham formed Cheap Girls in 2007 along with his brother Ben Graham (drummer) and long-time friend Adam Aymor (guitarist). They’ve released a handful of 7-inch singles, four LPs — including this year’s “Famous Graves,” its most sonically ambitious disc to date —and scored press from Rolling Stone and Spin Magazine.
Graham has lost count of how many American tours the Girls have embarked on (“maybe a couple dozen”), and keeping track of its international roster may also start to get difficult — three trips through Europe and a tour of Australia last fall have kept them busy. Cheap Girls leads a robust Lansing music scene that has seen a surge in local bands also making a play for national stardom (see sidebars).
Graham took some time out from not packing to talk about the Lansing rock scene, how a knee surgery can help in songwriting and why you may catch a random Adam Sandler reference in his music.
How do you like traveling?
Were you impressed with the national coverage the band has received?
Was there a specific point when you realized Cheap Girls was becoming a real job?
How does the band do on the West Coast? We do really well. The first time we went there was the end of 2009, and people were there to a surprising degree. We’ve been pretty fortunate on the West Coast, but it could also be that we don’t play there as much. There are a lot of states you have to go through, like Ohio, so we play there all of the fucking time.
Where do you stay
when you’re on the road?
What influenced “Famous
It actually does. I predominantly watch shitty, 90-minute comedies. I have borrowed lines from movies in a few songs. They aren’t these poetic lines, either. It’s more of a funny nod to the comedies we watch. All of the sudden there (will be) a “Happy Gilmore” quote out of nowhere. Adam is great at movie quoting.
You’ve said “Famous Graves” had some extra production work in comparison to previous albums?
Like a shitload. The first record was recorded in four 17-hour days in a cabin. The second record was done over a couple weeks on and off. The third one, “Giant Orange,” we had about three weeks of studio time. On “Famous Graves,” we spent 30 full days in the studio. It’s common, especially with rock bands, to just double things to make things full. This doesn’t have as many repeated sounds. There’s different instrumentation. There are more dynamics.
Describe a typical day in the tour van.
What bands are you into?
You’ve been in the Lansing area your entire life.
Do you enjoy traveling with other bands?
What’s your take on the Lansing music scene?
Ben and his wife recently had a baby. How’s that been?
Do you think real life will ever break up Cheap Girls?
What’s some touring advice you’d give to a new local band?
[Cheap Girls is on tour through the end of August and is booked for Midwest Fest in Mt. Pleasant Sept. 25.
For full tour info, go to cheapgirls.net.