January 7th, 2012 | Published in Interviews
What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas…but when something happens in Chicago sleaze-rock band The Last Vegas, singer Chad Cherry isn’t about to keep it to himself. Dubbed “Best New Discovery” at SXSW three short years ago, the glam-punk outfit is poised to take it to the next level in 2012—and look good doing it.
Musician brothers Adam (guitar) and Nate Arling (drums) teamed with guitarist John Wator and bassist Danny Smash in 2003 to write and record new tunes in the vein of exalted denim-and-leather bands like AC/DC and Guns ‘n’ Roses. But they also wanted to incorporate the pop stylings of hit-makes like Aerosmith and Cheap Trick. Their low-key debut, Lick ‘Em and Leave ‘Em, was a good start. Seal the Deal and High Class Trash furthered the band’s testosterone-powered musical mission. But the addition of front man Cherry reinvigorated the group for its eponymous release in 2008 and its follow-up, Whatever Gets You Off, a year later. Indeed, the boys took first place at a Guitar Center battle-of-the-bands—scoring twenty grand in prize money, a truckload of music gear from Gibson, and a record deal with Nikki Sixx’s boutique label.
The Last Vegas is now prepping its next full-length with the Motley Crue bassist, touring Spain while engineers mix the as yet unnamed final product. Meanwhile, the guys have dropped The Other Side, an EP to sate its core fan base until Sixx green-lights the new album. A video for the title track features former B-movie hottie Sybil Danning (Airport ’79, Meteor, Chained Heat, Howling II) in another cutthroat role—and the EP itself is available as a free digital download via www.thelastvegas.com.
The Cleveland Sound’s Pete Roche caught up with Cherry a few weeks back at House of Blues, where the band opened for KISS guitarist Ace Frehley. Chad was relaxed before taking the stage, candidly discussing the past while sounding enthused about the future.
THE CLEVELAND SOUND: The Last Vegas has been around for eight years or so. How does it feel to be working on a major label release after so long?
CHAD CHERRY: Actually, we started out in 2005. The rest of the band is from Chicago. The bass player and I are Michigan boys. I moved in 2005 with my girlfriend at the time, who got a modeling gig. So I just kind of followed her there and was doing music in Detroit. Then I met The Last Vegas boys and we started rocking out, putting out records, and touring the world.
TCS: The band put out a couple self-releases before signing with the majors—after you won the contest at the Whiskey a Go-Go and got a chance to tour with Motley Crue. Was it gratifying to finally hit pay dirt?
CC: They were doing that before they met me. I joined them on the second full-length record, on a label called Get Hip Records, I believe out of Pittsburgh. It was just kind of a whirlwind. I met them, recorded a record and went on tour. And we haven’t really stopped!
TCS: The most recent album is on Nikki Sixx’s Eleven Seven label, and you’re doing another. What’s it like working with Crue’s badass bassist?
CC: Yeah, he’s the president. He co-wrote a couple songs with us. We wrote half the record when we were in Burbank. Then when we were in Chicago we released it as a self-titled record, and then we hooked up with Nikki he liked it so much that he wanted to put it all out on his label. So we ended up working on five different songs for the record. Three of them I wrote with him, and the other ones I worked on with Marti Frederikksen—who’s produced Aerosmith, you name it. And DJ Ashba was in on it. He did some of the guitar stuff with my guys. That was in 2009. We’re getting ready to release the new one in February.
TCS: Any title? Working title, perhaps?
CC: No title yet. But we released the first single from it this week, “The Other Side.”
TCS: That’s the one you did the video for, with actress Sybil Danning. What was it like working with a bona fide scream queen?
CC: I’ve known her for a couple years now, and we’d been toying with the idea for quite some time. We wrote the script for it, and the treatment just called for her. She was the first person I thought of. We had like a150 ladies trying out for the part, but I knew I just wanted Sybil to do it, and she agreed.
TCS: I saw you guys dressed up recently for a Halloween show, coming out in drag like Joan Jett and Cherie Currie from the Runaways.
CC: Usually for Halloween we like to go all-out. This year we did The Runaways. We dressed the part, played the songs. It was good fun.
TCS: Whose idea was that?
CC: That was my idea. I didn’t think anybody was going to go for it. I was like, “Hey—let’s dress up like The Runaways!” and I thought they were gonna be like “Sheesh.” But they went for it, so then of course I had to wear thigh-highs and a corset for Halloween, and get completely groped and molested by everybody there.
TCS: That could be a good thing, depending on the gropers.
CC: Right [laughs]! The attention! It was fun.
TCS: After touring with Motley Crue you did some other festival dates and got some impressive opening slots with a few other bands….
CC: We’ve toured with Buckcherry, Papa Roach, AC-DC. We’ve done stuff with Ace Frehley a couple times. Everybody!
TCS: So you’re a twin guitar band, drums and bass, and yourself on vocals. Not unlike AC/DC, the Stones…gritty classic rock bands of yore who are known for adding a little swagger to the music.
CC: Yep, two guitars. But Johnny, our other guitarist, couldn’t make it tonight [November 8]. So we’re a four-piece right now. He had some family issues going on. But typically we’re a five-piece. Two guitars, drum, bass—and the guy that sings. That’s me!