Cologne isn’t necessarily known as the centre of the Hard Rock and Metal universe (though things have been getting better here lately). Still, it pays off to take a closer look at what is going on in Germany’s fourth-largest city – you may come across Cherokee, who definitely belong to Cologne’s youngest and finest!
Lead guitarist Simon gives some insights into Cherokee’s still short history: “The band was founded in the summer of 2014 by me and Beda. We both played in Speedbreaker at that time. First songs were written pretty soon, but finding the right members (especially a good singer) wasn't easy. Albert joined on Bass (He and Beda had met at a Morbid Insulter show five years ago) and another guy, an old friend of Simon’s, did the drums. After a few months of searching for a singer Beda got Kathi’s phone number from a buddy who had just started playing in Galactic Superlords.” So the singer was found, but the line-up wasn’t stable yet: “In January 2015 our drummer quit the band, so Kathi called a friend of hers so that we at least could jam. This guy was Fabian, and he completed our line-up.” Most of the folks in Cherokee earned their spurs playing in a couple of other bands before. Simon gives a detailed account: “Kathi is also the singer in Galactic Superlords. As I already said, Beda and Simon used to play in Speedbreaker, which split up just a few month ago. Before Beda joined Speedbreaker, he played in The Red Pussy Liquor together with Alex Miller who plays guitar in Galactic Superlords right now. Albert played in a Death Metal band called Hunger of Humanity a few years ago. Kathi had some projects going on before, e.g. The Torpedo Family and the Diamonds For Breakfast where she played drums. Fabian used to play in Jazz and Funk and the legendary Frauen die Rauchen, who sadly never released anything. One can see that we have different musical influences but we all do love hard rock from the 70s."
That can be clearly heard in Cherokee’s own music: First thing that springs to mind is Thin Lizzy, especially when listening to “Ridin’ Free” with its laid-back rhythm and guitar work that leaves a lot of space for the vocals. Then “Warriors of the Rainbow” reminds me of a more recent band, namely Christian Mistress, though they have a more metallic edge. But what does the band say? “Thin Lizzy are definitely one of the main influences for Cherokee. They are Simon’s and Kathi’s favourite band. But we draw influences from all the great old bands from the late 60s to the early 80s, like UFO, Rainbow, Scorpions, Blackfoot, Wishbone Ash and the underground heroes like Winterhawk or Ashbury.”
What Cherokee themselves play is usually labelled Hard Rock, and Simon is quite contented with that: “Just Hard Rock is okay. Actually I don't like it when people label their music by creating ‘new genres’. What we do is simply Hard Rock, nothing more, nothing less.”
Both the band name and the song titles on the 7’’ are dead giveaways to what the lyrics are about... Where does this fascination with Native Americans come from? “It's just something that started growing in our minds when we started the band. We only knew Winnetou and the other Karl May books, but we all somehow got into that theme. We found out that the GDR did a lot of western films with a focus on Native Americans which are very impressive, and we've read a lot of other stuff on the topic.”
What about the spoken and sung interludes, especially “Daganogeda” – are these original recordings of Native Americans talking and chanting? Yes, indeed: “The interludes are recordings from Rosebud Sioux from North Dakota which were made for the movie ‘A man called Horse’. The movie is about a rich white man who gets kidnapped by Indians and becomes one of them learning their language, their rituals and so on.”
The two tracks on the 7’’ were originally released in MC format and distributed by Ván Records – was this your very first release with Cherokee, and how did people react to it? “The tape, or as we called it, the ‘Ridin' Free Demo 2015’ is our first output, and yes, it was self-released. I guess people like it! I mean, we sold nearly 100 tapes and many people downloaded it from bandcamp. I know that people like our shows – okay, we only played 5 shows so far, but with none of the other bands I played in before did I get so much positive feedback after a show from complete strangers, and that just feels great.” Sounds like we are witnessing the early days of a very promising band – all the better to have them on our roster! Cherokee tell us how this came to pass: “Franz from Division Speed gave our demo to Melle from High Roller, they liked it and contacted Simon. We knew Franz from a Speedbreaker gig a while ago in Bitterfeld.”
Cherokee’s demo will be released as a self-titled 7’’, especially remastered for vinyl by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony. The cover artwork was done by Albert’s girlfriend Nina, who will also be doing Cherokee’s future artworks and designs.
As things have been starting off so well for Cherokee, where do they want to go now, what are their plans for the future? “Doing a tour would be very nice, but getting gigs isn’t easy for small bands like us. So our next step is to go back to the studio and to record our new album. We really like to work in the studio since we have a found a very cool place where we can do analog recordings. Besides, the fact that we do live recordings helps us to improve our overall perfomance at our gigs as well – we just want to play as many gigs as possible, so book us now!”