Cherub talks inspiration, lyrical depth, new music and working with TI [Interview]
Jason Huber has been in the music industry for close to a decade now. In 2010, he joined forces with college friend and fellow music production major Jordan Kelley to form Cherub. “I consider myself the dork of the group,” he proudly admits, “I will be the one that will go into the studio three hours earlier just to get it wired all up, and then Jordan gets in and we will really follow his lead. That’s been the dynamic between the two of us.”
Jason was performing as a solo act that he describes as somewhere in between DJing and a live electronic show when Jordan approached him about starting a band. Enthusiastically, Jason jumped into the Cherub project about seven years ago. Since then they’ve released four full length studio albums, three EPs, and charted to Billboard’s top 25 alternative songs for “Doses and Mimosas.”
On the heels of a quick tour called “Your Girlfriend Already Bought Tickets” with the The Floozies, Jason reveals his love for the surprises and turbulence of touring. Where many artists are faced with nerves and stress during travel, Jason describes his feelings as an excitement, or eustress that he channels from the crowd, much like a sports game. He typically tries to go into shows without preconceived notions because, “once you think you’ve got it figured out, there will be some small town show that just ends up blowing you out of the water.” The recent tour with The Floozes was short and sweet, but a success in Jason’s eyes. Due to busy and conflicting schedules, both groups had wanted to get together in the past but here unable to until now.
Cherub’s most recent album, Bleed Gold, Piss Excellence, features a riveting collaboration with rapper TI that works surprisingly well considering the striking differences between the artist. How did such a match come about? “I mean that was literally TI’s doing,” Jason recalls, “He’s an incredible musician and incredible family man and all around great dude.” After a round of bowling with the Atlanta rapper and his family, the duo hit the studio with TI to record a yet to be released single. “Signs,” the track from their most recent album, came together in a later recording session. Jason recalls the rapper’s “incredible ability to multitask” and laughs at how he remembers TI talking on multiple phones in each hand, writing lyrics, watching sports, and sending an email while in the recording studio. “Signs” turned out as a catchy, funky, genre-defying track with vocals by both Cherub and TI, bolstered by a slow four-to-the-floor rhythm.
Many of their songs, including “Doses and Mimosas” feature indignant and passionate lyrics. While the title of the track is indicative of a blasé or fun-loving party culture dance music has become known for, a deeper look into Cherub’s message tells a different story. Vindictive and spiteful emotions are things many people feel but often limit expressing, and for Jason, one of the greatest aspects of Cherub is being able to magnify these emotions for people. “We can take some of these emotions and really focus on them,” he confesses. In response to a question about the “fuck you” attitude in “Doses and Mimosas” he says:
So it’s not like we’re walking around being like fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool, fuck you, fuck you. But it’s one of those things where its feelings that everyone has at one point or another. Sometimes its hard to say those things, but it’s much easier to sing along to a song and say “fuck you!” really loud. Sometimes you just got to do that. So I’m stoked that we get to be those guys for people.
Being the scapegoat or channel through which listeners can feel certain emotions that are forbidden or denounced in popular culture is inspiring for Cherub. Jason enjoys helping fans channel that emotion in a healthy way, through his music and the passion that comes with it. He admits many fans don’t understand this about many Cherub songs. Some fans don’t look past the surface or track title. The artist notes that while some fans are drawn based to Cherub based on their love of partying and getting wasted, others notice the deeper and darker side to Cherub lyrics. Huber says, “It really means a lot when people will share with us what the songs have meant to them” and appreciates those who can look beyond the fold into the more complex emotions in Cherub’s music.
Prolific in depth and temperamental in style, Cherub has released four studio albums and three EPs over the past seven years. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific genre in describing Cherub’s music, as their sound has evolved over time. Mostly produced through Reason, their earlier works, namely “Doses and Mimosas” reflect the aspirations of and challenges facing rising artists. Their first record, Man of the Hour, “was actually written on a computer that could only support like six instruments,” Jason recalls, “It really forced us into this beautiful simplicity of things,” he says. Over time though, as they got access to more studio equipment, their pallet grew. Jason says this growth fed into their most recent album, Bleed Gold, Piss Excellence, which took longer to produce than Jason would have liked. “After publishing that record we got back in the studio and immediately began writing and recording for… for something,” he says admitting there is nothing defined yet.
“We don’t know yet. We don’t know how it will be released, what it will be released as, when it will be released, anything like that. But we can be saying we’ve been working on a lot of new music and it’s been really refreshing, and it will not take us two years to put this stuff out. Keep your eyes pealed and we’ll be putting out new stuff real soon.”
A work ethic and dedication to craft like this does not come without inspiration. When asked what late artist he would have liked to collaborate with, Jason replies, “Immediately, I’m going to say Prince.” After seeing the artist formerly known as Prince in Madison Square Garden, Jason was blown away at his stage presence and ability to hold “the entire arena in the palm of his hand” despite its size.
“I don’t know if I’d want to jam with him,” Huber humbly admits, “go back to talking about nervousness, I wouldn’t even know what to do!” For Jason, seeing Prince at a small club or at his home venue, First Avenue, would have been an unforgettable experience. However, at the moment, Jason is listening to Umphrey’s McGee’s Mantis, a 2009 progressive rock album, that he admits is “way left field from what people expect.” As it’s hard to pinpoint specific genre in Cherub’s music, Jason says he doesn’t limit his personal tastes to genre as well. This amalgamation of tastes goes into “the Pupu platter of a style” that Cherub has created.
Cherub is set to perform the Hangout Music Festival Kick Off Party in Gulf Shores, Alabama is May. They are an act demanding attention and will continue to create unique sounds in years to come. Stream Bleed Gold, Piss Excellence in the player below.