The Cheetah Whores have endured. The Rochester band has endured the thankless hardship of being in a band. It's endured the senseless murder of one of its members, bassist Shalonda "Pearl" Simpson. And it's endured the Cheetah Whores — its own drunken antics, mania, and onstage volatility.
Despite the madness, the members of The Cheetah Whores are humble and glib. They're not self-aware or contrived. It ain't no put-on. This is the first band I've interviewed while the drummer breastfed the band's tambourine player (her infant son). The band pushes out real, tres cool punk energy and briny surf shake with a girl-group sashay and coo — like the Shangri-Las with brass knuckles. The arrangements are raw and comfortably loose. The songs are catchy rock 'n' roll little ditties that sound as at home blasting out of a little transistor radio as they do thundering off a stage — where the band's lipstick-smeared sneer and walking-on-a-broken-stiletto-heel-bravado frequently threaten to derail the whole affair. Now that's entertainment.
And the Whores — Liz O'Brien, vocals; Therese O'Brien, steel guitar; Meg Austin, guitar and backing vocals; Joey Pitts, drums; Zeke Lightning, tambourine; and Gary D. Archer Jr., bass — have gone Hollywood. The Cheetah Whores have inadvertently wound up on a number of B-grade flick soundtracks starting with the title track for Roger Corman's "Sharktopus" in 2010.
By its own account, the band has grown up considerably, with a renewed focus on the music it plans on burning to tape for its upcoming second CD, "Whore Amore," to be released sometime in the fall of 2014. In the meantime, catch The Cheetah Whores live. Heads up: the shows are still potential slug fests where there's a good chance of getting hit in the head with a shoe or a flying drumstick. The fuse is always lit.
The Cheetah Whores popped in for a quick chat with City to discuss, soundtracks, busy versus lazy, and stardom. An edited transcript follows.
City: So what all's happened in the four years since we've talked?
Liz O'Brien: We got Joey pregnant.
Was this a career move?
Joey Pitts: Yeah, we need somebody to buy our stuff. When they're in high school, spread the word, get the kids to buy our music.
So you're pumping out fans, not band members? How many have you got planned?
Liz O'Brien: We decided to only have one. It was a big decision. We talked about it.
Liz O'Brien: Her uterus was the only one that wasn't a desolate wasteland.
Pitts: I'm the Navy Seal of the band, I'm the "toughian," the ruffian.
With your song getting placed in "Sharktopus," what did that do for your career?
Pitts: We got weird, dorky sci-fi fans from different countries contacting us, thinking we were like total rock stars.
Liz O'Brien: We still get kids from places like Norway asking us to send a signed copy of the CD.
Pitts: Meg's guitar solo was rated, like, the coolest guitar solo ever on this surf page, surfguitar101.com.
Meg Austin: They exaggerated.
So the soundtrack paid off?
Pitts: We're getting like $200 a year in royalties.
Gary D. Archer Jr.: And we're a foot note in B-movie history.
Since "Sharktopus," what other movies have you done at this point?
Liz O'Brien: We've done "Wrong Turn 4," "Wrong Turn 5," and coming out on DVD June 17 is "Joyride 3." I think we've found our niche.
What about playing live?
Liz O'Brien: We like playing live but we're selective ... some clubs are selective about hiring us.
But the band has mellowed some, right?
Liz O'Brien: Yeah, we've aged like a fine cheese.
Pitts: We care more about what we really sound like but we're still unpredictable.
Liz O'Brien: We're still really garage punk, we're just not so GG Allin.
Do you think this has cost you fans?
Liz O'Brien: No, I think more people like us now because we're not so...
Pitts: Bad ... drunk ... playing bad ... breaking stuff.
Liz O'Brien: We still get drunk and sloppy but we're a little more professional about it. We turned a lot of people off with our bad attitude, breaking equipment that wasn't ours...
Therese O'Brien: ... causing a riot.
Pitts: Like when we hosted this open jam ... the night ended with Liz walking down Monroe Avenue with a 2x4.
Did she find who she was looking for?
Liz O'Brien: The official answer is "No."
Liz O'Brien: They'll never find those bodies.
Are you actively pursuing more movie licensing deals?
Liz O'Brien: If someone solicits us, yeah, but we don't actively go after them. We're busy.
Pitts: We're lazy. If we tried we'd totally be famous now.