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Cheerleader: A Reason to Cheer – Hazy Electro Pop

July 16, 2014

CheerleaderOnPage01Text by Dave Miniaci. Images by G.W. Miller III.

The members of the band Cheerleader haven’t been doing this long. Two started making music just a couple years ago, and other members have only been with the band for mere months.

But just observing them interact for a few minutes makes it seem they’ve been doing this forever. They finish each other’s sentences. They grab each other’s french fries. They lob inside jokes at one another.

“We didn’t know each other and now we’re sharing beds,” jokes bassist Paul Impellizeri.

CheerleaderOnPage02Cheerleader formed in Connecticut with longtime friends, singer Joe Haller and guitarist Chris Duran, but they moved to Philadelphia to gain greater exposure. That’s when they added Impellizeri, guitarist/keyboard player Josh Pannepacker and drummer Carl Bahner.

The band’s togetherness even comes through in its name. The members’ love for playing with each other made a friend take note during an early practice.

“Joe and I would be working on something and we’d be like ‘Oh that sounds cool!’ or ‘That’s a great melody,’ and our friend was like, ‘You guys are such cheerleaders for each other,’” says Duran. “We were working on [the song] ‘New Daze’ and I was like ‘This should be a Cheerleader song.’ It just made sense and we became Cheerleader.”

Now the band is hitting the scene. They played a well-attended show at MilkBoy in April. They played several gigs in England in May. They’re looking forward to a show this month at Boot & Saddle.

Cheerleader is also fresh off a trip to SXSW, where they played four shows. Their unanimous favorite was with Diarrhea Planet. They agreed it was the experience of a lifetime and a ton of fun – minus the parking.

“You hear parking is a nightmare and then you get there and you realize, shit, parking actually is a nightmare,” says Impellizeri as he described the hassle of going back and forth to the bus while playing and going to see other bands perform.

“We were on in 20 minutes and two members are parking the bus,” jokes Haller.

They’ve been praised in the pages of NME, the Philadelphia Inquirer and elsewhere, including And yet, the band is still growing as a whole and still refining its tunes and performances.

“One of the biggest things we’re taking away is playing live,” Haller says. “In the past, when Chris and I recorded together, it was, ‘Let’s make this sound as cool as we can and who cares how we play it live.’ Now we have to figure this out.”

What they’re also figuring out is new music. Cheerleader has a three-song EP that has been making waves, with its “hazy electro-pop” sound, as the band describes it. Recently, they released a new song, “Perfect Vision,” off the band’s upcoming debut album. The track is a catchy indie-pop tune that sets the tone for the record.
The band members sit up in excitement when talking about the new album, detailing the mixing and work involved and all the emails sent out to each other since recording, but they admitted when it comes out is still very much up in the air.

“Before the year’s over?” jokes Duran when asked about a release date.

“Give us three more years,” adds Haller.

Whether it is three more years or in just a few short months, the album could be a big break for Cheerleader.

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