"...it is possible that The Cherry Valence is the greatest rock band around today."
Or so says Terry Eagan of ink 19, at least...
By some bizarre turn of events, it was sometime around 1997 that Portland, OR let out a rock-and-roll sirens' call that managed to draw just enough talent away from the Triangle to form the most hard-rockinest, body-movinest quintet ever by which your ears will bleed.
After meeting in Portland and deciding that the world was ready for their particular flavor of kick your ass rock, the five of them (being guitarists Cheetie Kumar and Jamie Williams, bassist Paul Siler, and dueling drummers/vocalists Nick Whitley and Brian Quast) returned to the tobacco road neck of the woods. It was there that they really got the band off the ground, and opened a nightclub called kings, among other things.
I first saw The Cherry Valence play at this real dive called The Caboose, maybe three or four years ago. I had never heard of them, except that some friends of mine knew Nick and that he'd recently formed a band; the trailer trash crowd filling the dark and musty cave of The Caboose kept my expectations a little on the low side. I did, however, suffer a chuckle at a flier for some high school punk project that was pasted to the front of the bar: the band had named itself "20,000 Leagues Under My Nutsack." I was ready for the night to be a real drag.
Needless to say, when Kumar let her "anti-riff" (to lift Quast's term) bleed from her fingertips, each aggressive lick fighting the room for accoustics that just weren't there, I was as surprised as everyone.
Feeling groovy, I eased into the trademark Chapel Hill indie dance--you know the one: arms crossed, one foot slowly tapping to the beat, head nodding in time ever-so-slightly, jaw set and clenched for maximum cool. It became apparent, however, that this show was no ordinary college rock and roll petting zoo.
As the over the hill biker wannabes that lined the bar groaned ever louder (they had only come to The Caboose that evening, it turns out, because it was one dollar PBR night), I noticed that my minimalist's excuse for rhythmic body movement was surely shifting to something more full-tilt and balls-out; when they hauled out the second drum set and both Whitley and Quast laid down a syncopated hard rock beat-fest, I could feel the rock within my soul aching to go ape shit berzerk.
Their rock-fire burned long, bright and hard that night; when the embers cooled enough for the audience to clearly see just what it had been that fueled those flames--five sweaty, bloodied and hoarse motherfuckers--applause just wasn't good enough. But what more can you do when the harsh reality of a nasty, stinking hole in the wall piss-bucket rips you violently from the higher plane that is pure rock.
That show ended and the tours began. Since that time, The Cherry Valence seems to have spent more time on the road than off, truckin all over the nation in their A-teamed-out Prison Van. They have, though, managed to put out two kick ass records in that time: Cherry Valence (2001) and Riffin (2002).
Perhaps Zach Hanner of the Triangle's Independent Weekly says it best, this from his review of Riffin': "Goddamn it! Every time I feel like I've gotten over my addiction to crunked-up, Busch Light-drinking, Merit-smokin', put-your-fist-through-a-plate-glass-window rawk, a band like Raleigh's The Cherry Valence comes along and cracks a cold one under my nose."