Before their gig at the Cockpit in Leeds supporting Blood Red Shoes, I caught up with Kevin, John and Neil from The Cast of Cheers, Conor was recovering from an illness so he would be ready for the gig. The rest of that band told me it was scurvy but I think it was just flu.
Last night you played the legendary King Tuts in Glasgow, how was that? And have you recovered?
Kevin: Awesome! Just about, it was a long bit of recovery.
John: We ended up in a casino with half the Blood Red Shoes crew and Steve from Blood Red Shoes…in an empty casino drinking until about six or seven in the morning so it was a good night.
Did it live up to its reputation?
Neil: Yeah, the crowd were amazing and well up for it. Scottish crowds have been quite warm to us. We also got treated to in-house dinner.
Kevin: When you’re touring round you really appreciate that because often you don’t have time to get a bit of food when you’re loading in and sound checking.
Neil: Also you don’t want to be too full when going on stage it’s the most horrible feeling ever. So King Tuts sorted us out.
You are a couple of weeks into the tour with Blood Red Shoes now, how’s it all going?
John: This is definitely the best tour we have been on. Blood Red Shoes are awesome and they are showing us a lot of love.
Kevin: Showing us the ropes.
John: Exactly, we have learnt a lot because they have been going for eight years now. We were on the road for two weeks before this in Europe and we are going back to Europe afterwards, so they have well earned their chops and they are definitely teaching us a lot.
What would you class as the highlight of the tour thus far?
Neil: Venue wise I liked Manchester Academy 2 it’s like a big empty hall.
Kevin: There was a good young crowd there.
Neil: The gig in Heaven London was pretty cool.
John: Blood Red Shoes and the crew took us out for steak after the gig in Heaven and it was one of the most delicious steaks I ever had so that was definitely a highlight for me.
Neil: There’s been loads of weird and interesting stuff happened on the tour, can’t really think of a PG moment. On this tour we have been drinking quite a lot so everything’s a bit hazy.
Kevin: Getting the clothes washed today that was quite a highlight, clean socks….put them on there and then.
Neil: Oh, there’s a Playstation 2 in our van and we found Tony Hawks £3.
John: That was a bargain
Neil: But we can’t play it because it makes us feel sick.
How was the Germany leg of the tour?
Neil: Germany is our favourite place to play, because they have amazing beer and lovely big sausages. We went to Berlin and Hamburg. We have played Berlin before and we love that place but we had never been to Hamburg. I think we all thought Hamburg would be a worse version of Berlin but it wasn’t. It was different in terms of like…it wasn’t the same. But we really loved Hamburg.
Kevin: It’s like Leeds actually, it’s a real party town.
John: There was a promoter there call Phil, lovely dude, he was really eager for us to try this drink called Mexicana. It was like a mini Bloody Mary type shot with Tequila, lime juice and pepper. I know Neil didn’t like it but it was absolutely amazing. He brought two trays out with like 20 or 30 of these.
Kevin: We were playing at a club night so the DJ was on and we were behind this curtain. He is blasting away then it stops at half twelve and the curtain comes back and we play.
Neil: At 2.30am we were back stage drinking the cocktails John was talking about and the promoter comes running in and he’s like ‘quick guys they are going to play your video on the big screen and we want you to be there.’ So we go out into the middle of the crowd and they are playing the video on the big projector which was a bit bizarre. It was cool though. Everyone was having a party.
How did you guys all meet?
Neil: On a dating page. No we are all from the same town in North Dublin.
John: We are from a place called Swords in Dublin. It’s a small town area so if you’re into music you’re going to be bumping into the same people constantly, so we grew up knowing each other.
Where did the idea for your name come from?
John: Me and Conor were on a stag do and one of the lads bought some toothpaste and mispronounced the toothpaste as ‘Tickassa chers’ or something and Will was like ‘the cast of cheers?’ and it just became an in-joke.
What were your influences growing up?
Neil: We all loved rock music so like Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins. Myself and Conor are brothers so we would have listened to the exact same music growing up. We have an older brother, Paul, who was a massive Smashing Pumpkins fan and when you’re a teenager growing up you always just like what your older brother likes.
Kevin: Drummer wise I liked Mars Volta. ‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’ blew my mind.
John: At The Drive-In
Neil: I became obsessed with that album it blew my mind, it was the best I’d ever heard.
Kevin: I was really impressed when someone told me that ‘Relationships of Command’ was recorded live. That’s really impressive, there is so much energy.
Neil: They played in the Button Factory in Dublin when that album came out so I must have been 14 or 15 but it was an over 18s gig and we didn’t get in. We were so excited and had been waiting for months and the bouncer wouldn’t let us in and eventually we just walked away and my poor friend was in tears and I was on the brink of tears as well. It was the most depressing gig experience ever, but I heard the gig was amazing which made it worse.
Kevin: I think Presidents of the United States of America were another big influence on us all.
When you’re being creative is it a group decision or is it the responsibility of one member?
John: Conor writes the songs and lyrics. He comes to jams with fully formed ideas. We start playing them then it takes its own shape or they change slightly but Conor is definitely the main writer. I played with him in a band before and we were driving to practise and he wrote a song while driving the car. He was humming it and he had choruses and verses and vocal melodies.
Your videos are artistic, they look painstaking and time consuming to make, is this a process you enjoy?
Kevin: I think all videos are.
Neil: Ours have both been the ideas of directors so they have come to us with the ideas and we really liked them. The ‘Family’ video was pretty hard to do because that was all stop motion animation so it was five thousand photographs or something weird and 15 hours of video.
John: It was four or five hours of standing in front of this insane flash. When you closed your eyes it was inside your brain.
Kevin: There was no escaping it.
Radio 1 are supporting you in quite a big way, how does that feel?
John: Awesome! When Zane Lowe first had the exclusive with ‘Family’ we were at the record label’s Christmas party. We were drinking mulled wine and we got a call fifteen minutes before from our manager saying Zane Lowe is going to be playing ‘Family’ tonight. So we had Zane Lowe on the radio in the kitchen and he played it back to back. We were in bits. When he started playing it again for the second time that’s when we were like just on the floor in ecstatic shock. Huw Stephens, Nick Grimshaw, Fearne Cotton, Edith Bowman these are like big radio personalities getting behind us it’s just awesome.
Is it difficult to keep your feet on the ground after such exposure?
Neil: I don’t know if our feet are on the ground. Mine are up my arse at the moment.
John: I don’t think we have gone through any major changes really we are all still the same four guys who started the band.
Neil: I suppose you could really focus on the fact you are getting Radio 1 play and take that in your head to somewhere weird but I don’t think any of us are doing that. We like it when people say nice things but you don’t know what they will be saying in the future so just enjoy it for now and be nice to everyone. We are like big crusty hippies.
What does the future hold for you?
Neil: The album is coming out July 23rd, that’s what we are all geared up to now. There might be one more single released a week or two before that. After that we will just be touring heavily and doing festivals over the summer. The future just depends on how the album is received.