It was pretty hard to escape Cherub at this year’s Lollapalooza. The Nashville duo’s faces were plastered everywhere from street kiosks to the festival’s many beer stands thanks to fest sponsor Red Bull, which was touting Cherub as a band on the verge of stardom.
The guys–Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber–seemed to be a little put off by the whole thing when Radio.com talked to them hours after making their Lolla debut. “It’s all a little bizarre,” Huber said. “It’s cool, but it’s weird to see yourself everywhere.”
That being said, the weirdness of it all didn’t stop Huber from taking a picture next to one of Cherub’s Red Bull promos.
“That was the first thing the people I was with made me do,” he said. “And then immediately everybody started to look over and be like, ‘Ah! That’s the guy from the thing!’”
The band, who met while attending Middle Tennessee State University for music production, aren’t used to putting themselves out there in such an obvious way. Since Cherub started nearly two years ago, they’ve been releasing their music–a mix between ’80s funk and electropop–for free via their website, asking fans to donate a little money if they like what they hear. A bold move for a new band, but one Kelley thinks has paid off.
“The fact that people can find the music, stumble upon it somewhere deep in the Internet and can actually share it with their friends immediately. It’s not some thing where it’s like, ‘This is cool and it’s 15 bucks to check it out.’ Instead it allows people to pass it along,” he explained. “That’s really the thing that’s kept us going. The word of mouth of everyone around has been the best thing for us.”
Word of mouth and a surprisingly funny video helped make their song “Doses and Mimosas” a surprise hit. “I don’t know if it’s gone viral yet,” Kelley said. “But it’s got a lot of views on YouTube.”
On the song, Kelley calls out the b***cha** hoes and punka** f***s who are making his life a living hell, proclaiming, “Doses and mimosas/Champagne and cocaine help to get me through.” It’s all tongue and cheek, of course — something not everyone seems to get. “That’s actually a depressing song if you think about it,” Kelley said with a laugh. “It’s about being sad.”
Most of Cherub’s songs inject humor into honest accounts of past experiences. For one of the more absurd examples of this, listen to “Jazzercise ’95,” off Cherub’s 2013 EP, 100 Bottles. Though Kelley did spend his younger years being dragged to Jazzercise classes filled with women in scrunchy socks and neon, he admits that if song were a truly accurate account of the dance-based fitness program, it would be the saddest song ever written.
“There’s stuff that I want people to take seriously, but it’s like a catch-22 because I obviously write lyrics that are sincere to me, but it’s like either people don’t get the tongue-and-cheek or the people that do think everything is tongue-and-cheek,” Kelley said. “So it’s like I can’t talk about serious stuff.”
But the thing that makes the guys laugh the most is when they hear people say their lyrics are edgy, or even worse, offensive.
“It’s just cause I listen to so much rap music,” said Kelley, who started out in metal bands as a teenager before producing hip-hop records. “I think it’s mild. I don’t even think it’s that offensive. But I never want to be a shock value artist by any means.”
The two guys agreed that their motivation is never to offend any of their listeners. Instead they just want to have a good time and maybe get a few laughs.
“I mean, you can listen to any of Drake’s new records and the whole hook is like, ‘f*** all y’all’ over and over again,” Kelley said in defense of his band’s risqué nature. “It’s a double standard, man.”
“Yeah,” Huber piped in. “Dudes can take bubble baths. Why not?”
“Cherub: bringing back the bubble bath,” Huber suggested as a band motto.
“Whatever,” Huber added. “If it smells good, do it.”