INTERVIEW: Cheap Lunch | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Fuzzy three-piece Cheap Lunch have been turning heads in the local music scene of late with their mind-bendingly brilliant racket. The trio, consisting of Jamie Oliver on lead vocals and guitar, Andrew Jones with bass and background vocals and Alex Nicholson on drums, throw a whole host of sonic ingredients into the melting pot to crushing effect, from post-punk and psychedelia to surf and garage rock. With the band about to release their Self-Titled EP via new independent label Imagination Engine, there’s no better time to pick their brains.

“Our sound wasn’t particularly cultivated, it just came out like this,” says Oliver. “We each have varied musical tastes and influences. Maybe it’s like a Venn diagram, what meets in the middle is our sound. We pretty much write what we want to listen to and I think people notice that and dig it.” “I think we’re not shy about playing something a bit daft, but it’s not hidden behind irony either,” explains Jones. “We interact with the audience more than just flogging merch at them. Although now we have an EP coming out that could all change…” “I guess we bring something different – I like to think it’s schadenfreude,” adds Nicholson. “The main thing is probably that we don’t really stand for anything – including nihilism, or not standing for anything. It’s just music that’s fun to play.”

Not only is it fun for them to play, it’s a trip to listen to. Self-Titled’s five tracks worm their way into your brain, equal parts hypnotic and jarring, slightly sinister but irresistible. Opener Weak Juice catapults you straight into the Cheap Lunch cosmos. Perhaps the most post-punk flavoured of the tracks, it’s urgent and taut with a rumbling bass line and razor sharp guitar hooks. God of Chill is heavy and lurching with huge doomy riffs, while Lizards is a menacing slice of slithering psychedelia. Ominous instrumental Chernobyl Playground offers a moment of reflection before I closes the proceedings in a murky cacophony. Lyrically, Self-Titled is dark but in a playful, tongue-in-cheek sort of way. “Musically, we take influences from extremes in things, and not because we necessarily like them. Outside of that it’s all subliminal I reckon,” explains Oliver. “While the music holds the mood and supplies energy, the lyrics give the EP its intent. They’re dark and fun.” “For me, it’s all about really big important stuff: Gods, lizards…stuff like that,” adds Nicholson.

Watching Cheap Lunch play live is a visceral experience, so it was vital they captured that spirit on record. “We play off each other a lot so trying to replicate our live sound was very important,” says Jones. “We set up everything to play it all together in one take, back to back until it was right. We were on a budget as well and couldn’t afford to spend more than one day in the studio, so we rehearsed the EP over and over at our practice room until it became second nature. Fortunately, Chris (McManus) over at Blank Studios got us straight away and looked after us.”

If you haven’t experienced Cheap Lunch live yet, they’ll be celebrating Self-Titled’s launch at Little Buildings, Newcastle with No Teeth (their label mates) and Okay Champ on Sunday 3rd September. “We’re having a ‘Scran for a Can’ service where people get beer if they swap them for any non-perishable goods and/or sanitary items, to be donated to the local Trussell Trust centre.”

Cheap Lunch release the Self-Titled EP on Friday 25th August via Imagination Engine. They play Little Buildings on Sunday 3rd September with No Teeth and Okay Champ.

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