|The Cells are in a fix. Their songs are too catchy, smart and "pop" for them to be considered a punk band. On the other hand, they play way too loud and with too much wild abandon to be thrown in with the self-conscious crop of "pop" bands who can't seem to go five minutes without name-checking either Big Star or Brian Wilson. And don't call them a "pop-punk" band either. They hate that.
With their feet planted firmly in this century, the Cells play a clean, loud blast of rock and roll for people like themselves who can't find anything they like on the radio.
The Cells singer/guitarist Cory Hance's voice alternates between a weary deadpan and the snotty voice of a 15-year-old, sometimes all within the same song. Their melodic songs muse about doomed relationships, toxic celebrity lifestyles, bad behavior, the spooky corporate takeover of everything, finding beauty in strange places and hope in the face of disaster. The band's vocal harmonies soar over beds of angry guitars and pounding drums played by guitarist Pat McIntyre, drummer Randy Payne and bassist Rick Ness. Song after three-minute song captures the angry hum of urban life while making you want to throw your fist in the air like a kid at his first rock concert.
The individual members of the Cells all moved to Chicago during the 90's to be where some of their favorite records had been made. While they formed the band and honed their songs, the loud music that inspired them became the mainstream taste and diluted itself into something that, frankly, creeps the Cells out.
Fighting for their lives in a world where music, like food, is often genetically designed to hit its target market, the Cells present their first album, We Can Replace You.
* The album was recorded by Andy Gerber of Million Yen Studios. He's recorded Caviar, Local H, Million Yen, Ness.
* Features keyboard contributions from Doug Corella from the Verve Pipe.
* The Cells have played shows with Frank Black and the Catholics, Jonathan Richman (2 sold-out nights), 12 Rods, Ultimate Fakebook, Tommy Keene, Lotion, Verbena, The Apples In Stereo, The Kimball/Roeser Effect . Other Cells show-mates and fans include: Local H, Veruca Salt (who told the press across the country during last year's tour that the Cells were their favorite band), Caviar, Nash Kato (Urge Overkill), the Webb Brothers, Brian Liesgang, The Smoking Popes, The Cupcakes, Jonny Polonsky, Triplefastaction, Box-O-Car, Stingray U.K., Million Yen, Muchacha, Tsar, the Pulsars.
* During Randy Payne's & Cory Hance's stint as side musicians in Box-O-Car, they toured the country & played shows with Iggy Pop, Matthew Sweet, Cheap Trick, The Knack and The Church.
* Cory's played shows in Jonny Polonsky's backup band, and Jonny used to fill in for him in Box-O-Car.
* Bass player Rick Ness was a founding member of Figdish (2 releases - Polydor) and pioneered the use of porn stars in rock videos with the video for "When Shirts Get Tight." He also does touring bass duty for the Webb Brothers.
* Cory started the Cells 3 years ago with Norwegian bass player, Brede Hovland, who's now an LA movie producer (Mission to Mars, Big Trouble).
|Radio Play | College and Commercial (and other fun action on the album)
CMJ: #2 Most added (June 17/18) - 158 total adds.
CMJ: #106 at Top 200 (June 25)
CMJ: #75 at top 200 (July 2)
CMJ: #67 at Top 200 (July 9)
CMJ: #51 at Top 200 (July 23)
R&R: Debut for The Cells on the alt specialty show chart--in solid at #14!
Album Network: #10
FMQB: Debut on both single (#11) and album chart (#11)
Late Night with David Letterman: Load in track (played to audience, during sit-downs, set-up & breaks)
Radio Host Quote
"One of the most talked-about bands in Chicago ...for a good reason."
- James Van Osdol, The Zone, 94.7FM, Chicago (Former Host, Q101, Chicago)
We Need Your Help!
Help to get The Cells more exposure. Call your local radio station, commercial or college and request the song "Silver Cloud", call your record stores and ask them to carry the record "We Can Replace You" (Orange Recordings), tell your friends, download the MP3's - pass 'em around. Do whatever you can and if you want to join The Cells street team, email us here. Thanks and enjoy The Cells!
|If you dig The Cells you might enjoy Ultrababyfat and White Hassle.|
A great interview session with Cory Hance (of The Cells) here.
Illinois Entertainer | June 2002
A 2 page glowing Article about the boys here.
Here are some more reviews about the album. Click this.
CMJ New Music Report | June 10, 2002
Mention the Cells in Chicago and you're bound to get an earful. "The Cells write great songs and put on a phenominal live show," says Chris Payne, host of Q101/Chicago's "Local 101". "The Cells' music explodes out of your speakers," Richard Milne, host of WXRT/Chicago's Local Anesthetic," exclaims. Sensing a trend? So are we. The Cells' promising debut, We Can Replace You, boasts song after song of fun yet genuine pop-punk that rivals most major label acts attempting to do the same thing. The album's memorable opener, "Silver Cloud," clearly outlines what listeners should expect from the other nine songs on this album: hooks. Lots of 'em. In short, We Can Replace You is the type of album that begs to be listened to (loudly) on a summer day when you skip work, jump in the car and cruise to the beach with the windows down. There's no need for us to recommend tracks. You can pretty much hit the random play button on the CD player and let fate decide what song pops on; they're all equally good.
- Kevin Boyce
R.I.Y.L.: Green Day, Dandy Warhols, Fountains Of Wayne
Pop Culture Press (SXSW Issue)
Wonder if they named the record after their bass player (they have been through a few!). Regardless.Chicago guitar rock strikes again, following on the heels of recent personal faves Big Hello and Million Yen (whose Andy Gerber produced and mixed this record). By combining the power of a band like Green Day with the off-center pop song selection of Cheap Trick (speaking of Illinois), The Cells toss out big rawk hooks and score bonus points for not taking themselves so seriously. On the other hand, songs that seem funny on the surface ("Stupid Guy", "All Be Happy") are very cleverly written vignettes and not the throwaways that many bands think they can get away with. Those unconventional smarts may not bode well for the Billboard charts, but there are radio stations and rock clubs in every city in America dying for music like this. Cory Hance's vocals are perfectly suited for the variety of material, rough enough to rock when needed and smooth enough to cruise when appropriate. Hance, Pat McIntyre (guitars), and Randy Payne (drums) plow through We Can Replace You with controlled fury. Now if they could only find a permanent bass player. (Bill Holmes)
The Cells have balance. They know what pop should be -- smart, never too sappy, always loud. Lest their rock topple under its own weight, they fortify it with tons of hooks, and between the sandpaper guitars and bittersweet harmonies, they locate perfection. It's a miracle these guys aren't nationwide already - not one song on their debut falters, it's entirely sing-along-to-on-your-car-radio-ready - but in the best sense of the phrase. Because The Cells sound better than 99% of the new bands you'll hear on the radio, not to mention some of the ones you never will. Thankfully, they're just short of over-produced, the songs are short, and the lyrics are intelligent and funny, but not overbearing -- and never in comedy rock territory. At various points it appears that songwriter Cory Hance is vaguely addressing the state of the modern world. Dreary imagery such as nuclear war, global complications, radiation, and acid rain are snuk into seemingly upbeat, bratty songs. The lyrical thread running through We Can Replace You suggests a get it while you can / get in the van / you only live once / you could die tomorrow attitude that is apropos in our toxic, violent world. You wouldn't call The Cells a "political" band but it's nice to know they can take the personal focus of pop and contextualize it a bit more than, say, all those angry young white guys who like act like whiny victims and take out their frustrations (about mere bad parenting, no less) over the airwaves these days. In this vein, "All Be Happy" is strongest: beneath its harmless veneer is a critique of consumerism and what it takes to be "happy" as the protagonist waits in vain for this illusive goal. In the relationship category, "Stupid Guy" wins, hands down, for catchiness. Not to imply that The Cells are anachronistic, but a few years ago they would've been snatched up in the great Chicago Indie Rock Feeding Frenzy of the early-mid 90s (well, bass player Rick Ness was caught up on Polydor with his band Fig Dish for two albums). Still, their just right combination of smart/nerdy, rock and roll, and bubblegum is pure 2002 anyway, because there's bliss in this near-nihilistic bashing, exactly what pop should be in this utopian dream: The Cells, alongside Supersonic Storybook-era Urge Overkill, Cheap Trick, Local H, Weezer... you get the idea. If the masses don't want it, we'll keep it to ourselves. - Cyndi Elliot
The Cells' We Can Replace You is for folks who like walls of guitars thick, rich guitars. The group's music can, at times, fall roughly into the punk-pop or power pop spheres but, more accurately, this is urgent, hook-ridden hard rock with a wide appeal. The album storms out of the gate with the chest-thumping, clotted-cream riffs of "Silver Cloud," and then plunges headlong into the furious, hook-ridden attack of the Cheap Trick-esque "All Be Happy." The vocals of frontman Cory Hance have an appealing, adolescent quality, whether he's whining at you like your bratty little brother or snottily drawling extra syllables into words like early Liam Gallagher (particularly on "Fluff," which could be a first cousin to Oasis' "Supersonic" or "Acquiesce"). This is first-rate, muscular rock, and the only misstep here seems to be the anthemic (replete with acoustic guitar opening) rocker "Spaceman." But as long as the trio (and whatever bass player has been rented for the moment) keeps the guitars revved up and Hance keeps up the punkish whining, this is appealing rock of the highest order. - Erik Hage, allmusic.com
Entertainment Today | 7.5.02
We Can Replace You
Reviewed by Adam McKibbin [ July 5th, 2002 ]
Chicago DJs have been abuzz about The Cells for quite some time. Now, the Windy City boys are invading the rest of the country with their steady barrage of addictive hooks and good ol? fashioned pop rawk. A recent week at CMJ found We Can Replace You as the #2 most-added album at college radio stations (behind the neverending story that is Sonic Youth). It doesn?t take long to see what all the excitement is about. While their press material makes it clear that they pride themselves in existing outside of the Creed and Staind mainstream, the truth is that you can easily imagine We Can Replace You swimming in a quieter mainstream niche, namely the one carved out by the blasting rock of The White Stripes and summertime power-pop darlings like Fountains of Wayne. These are the types of songs you sing along to on first listen, especially infectious choruses like the one in the lead single, 'Silver Cloud'. In a perfect world, you'd hear the songs for the first time while cruising a convertible down the PCH, accompanied by old friends and a whopping cooler of cheap beer.
Maybe it's just the music I listened to when I was a teenager, but The Cells get me thinking about firsts: first kiss, first beer party, first big outdoor concert. For those of us forced to enjoy The Cells in more humdrum situations, there's plenty of anger and disillusionment lurking in the shadows of those massive hooks. Singer Cory Nance finds plenty of targets for his nasally whine. Drummer Randy Payne and guitarist Pat McIntyre sound equally pissed (and, alternately, punkily impassive). Producer Andy Gerber expertly flirts with the line between big noise and too-rough-for-radio.
Since founding bassist Brede Hovland ran off to Hollywood to produce terrible movies (Mission to Mars, Big Trouble), The Cells are currently touring with Nance serving as pseudo-bassist, employing pedals to give the trio the sound of a quartet. As a sidenote, we're happy to have the band's label, Orange, safely relocated to our fair city. You can check them out at www.orangerecordings.com.
Chicago Daily Herald | 9.26.02
Made in Chicago
A look at some of the best local music these days
BY MARK GUARINO Daily Herald Music Critic
The Cells, "We Can Replace You" (Orange Recordings) Following in the great Chicago power pop tradition, this debut full-length from The Cells slots alongside Cheap Trick, Busker Soundcheck and Figdish nicely with 10 songs that channel frustration and boredom with muscle and melody. Aside from the fire-stoked guitars and cheer-worthy choruses, this band stands out by the slightly glam vocals of lead songwriter Cory Hance. He channels Robin Zander plus vintage David Bowie on songs that wear their working class pessimism like a badge of honor. "Another hour we'll all be happy ... don't want to die alone," he sings ("All Be Happy"), making desperation sound like a reason to celebrate. There are no small deals on this album and the band commits to everything with enormity in sound and more so, fury.
Chicago Reader Spotcheck | August 23-29
On their new We Can Replace You (Orange) the local Cells render crappy feelings into ten burly chunks of feel-good power pop. Those giant power chords might be predictable, but Cory Hance's voice is an unexpected touch: he's so new-wave twerpy he makes Robin Zander sound like Ronnie James Dio. But that's what makes this kind of plain Chicago loud rock palatable -- the same sort of culture clash that takes place up on Clark Street when an all-ages punk show at Metro is opening its doors as a Cubs game is letting out. It's all about the satisfaction that can be derived from the weediest guys making the biggest noise -- and though no one in the Cells personally looks particularly weedy, the restless roar of overcompensation is definitely there.
THE CELLS (rock) This Chicago-based quartet's noisy, power chord-laden pop crackles as much as it pops. The Cells (including former Fig Dish bassist Rick Ness) mix chunky guitars with punky pop, underscoring it all with harmonizing vocals that emphasize their fondness for the ultimate hook.
Glamirific power-pop with a heavy nod towards RAWK (Chicago style, y'all). Singer Cory Hance sounds like the snotty little brother who annoys you by singing at the top of his lungs in the family station wagon on the 6-hour drive to grandma?s house. It's all good though, because secretly you know he's talented as shit. "Silver Cloud," "All Be Happy," "Say Hello" and "I Go Out" are bombastic radio hits in the making, too bad you'll never hear 'em there.
- Chip Midnight
Boldly solid chunks of Pop Melody. This sounds like a real fucking record!
Caustic Truths | Issue Number: 86
Reviewer: Scott Finnell
Partial Review: Call it snot-pop. This Chicago trio puts together aggressive punk-flavored guitars, solidvocal harmonies, and some truly addictive hooks. Frontman Cory Hance?s voice has that classic punk whine, a dead ringer for that 15-year old playing the basement party down the street. There?s not a lot of variation in these songs and you get to the point around track six where you wonder if maybe you had the first five songs on repeat.
Rating (out of 5): 2
Illinois Entertainer | June 2002
The Cells | Playing Dirty
The Cells are nice guys. And everyone knows the skinny on nice guys: about how they always finish last. About how women can't seem to ever meet one. About how they always seem to get stepped on by the real dicks who end up ruling the universe with said women on their arms. Blah, blah, blah. The truth is, I had known from years of drinking with them that singer/drummer/guitarist Cory Hance, drummer Randy Payne, and guitarist Pat McIntyre were nice guys. Great really. That's why it was such a relief to find out that their spanking debut, We Can Replace You (Orange) due June 4th, was often not nice at all.
"Our songs tend to be stridently angry," theorizes Hance over lunch at Bar Louie replete with huge, artery-menacing baskets of chicken tenders, french fries, and chicken vesuvio sandwiches. "A lot of stuff that's on the radio now is 'poor, little me' stuff, guys singing like Eddie Vedder, lots of seven-string rock guitar. Maybe we are following more of like a '60s pop writing tradition in that you can write about anything and you want it to be catchy and for people to remember it."
"They're not necessarily destined to be angry by any means," explains Payne, perhaps mindful of the proverbial "a-hole" of angst and anger the band could unwittingly talk themselves into. "All of the songs could be done as easily with a nice, pretty acoustic guitar and be as effective. But I remember making the record and constantly telling Andy to make it dirty, make it angry, make it big." Andy, it should be noted, is Andy Gerber of Million Yen Studios who has recorded "big" in the past with bands like Caviar and Local H and perhaps his greatest accomplishment with We Can Replace You is that it is tough to imagine some of these songs at one time as either nice or pretty.
"I think Andy likes the big wall of guitars too," says Hance. With a slightly twisted, dead-end whine that imagines a glue-huffing Blink-182 and a penchant for writing hooks that sink their teeth in on first listen, band founder Hance serves as The Cells' liaison to the masses and doesn't shrink from the challenge or affiliation. "I'd like to hear our songs on the radio, whereas a lot of bands may be like, 'Fuck radio!'" With We Can Replace You the band is able to seemingly play it both ways without compromise. "It's really catchy lyrically, but we also really wanted to rock. I mean a lot of times, we'd play back a guitar part and I would be thinking, 'can we make that uglier?'"
Never ugly, the result is instead the marriage of slick pop smarts and deliciously crude, hormone-charged guitar riffs that evokes both the established (Cheap Trick, AC/DC) and emerging (Idlewild, Muchacha) without overtly trying to sound like anybody. From the crunching roll call on the opening "Silver Cloud," the band leaves little doubt that volume will not be sacrificed for accessibility. "Don't want to die alone," Hance pleads on "All Be Happy," but rather than dissolving into self-pity, the song opens up into a head-bobbing sing-along. While not exactly offering a new design on the wheel, The Cells are suckers for detail and We Can Replace You is full of sly nuances, from the sad, Nirvana-esque refrains on "Hello" to the structural grace of "I Go Out."
We Can Replace You has a gradual, sometimes surprising momentum that mirrors the band's. Formed originally in 1998 by Hance and Norwegian bass player Brede Hovland and changing names at whim, the band settled on its name only after Hance and a co-worker at a temp agency brainstormed the day of a show. Veterans of local bands such as Dead Man's Wallet, Nine Day Wonder, and Box-O-Car, the band finally solidified with the departure of Hovland (now a movie producer) and the addition of Payne and "the quiet Cell" McIntyre. The question of a bassist is another matter altogether.
"That's a good freaking question," says Hance in somewhat mock exasperation. Payne's explanation is a bit more measured. "We decided a while ago that the band is essentially just the three of us and that's how it is," he says patiently. "We have about five different guys who all have slightly different styles. But they all play the songs basically the same way." And as Hance notes, "They're a hot commodity. It's hard to find a bass player who's able to play who's not already in another band." On the upcoming We Can Replace You tour dates, The Cells will travel sans bassist, with Hance playing an assortment of pedals to duplicate the sound of a quartet.
While acknowledging the universal appeal of the trio dynamic, Hance also votes locally, laughing, "It's the Urge Overkill effect." In fact, local music and musicians come up quite often in conversation with The Cells, not surprising given their network of friends (Local H, Caviar) and guest bassists that include Rick Ness (ex-Figdish) and Skid Marks (Box-O-Car). Are the band members fearful of getting lumped haphazardly in with the various other guitar-based Chicago bands? Au contraire, pleads Payne. "I don't think we ever gave it too much thought - of sounding too much 'Chicago.' If anything, I think we pride ourselves on being a Chicago band and having a 'Chicago sound.'"
Likewise, the band had seemingly no reservations with working with Gerber, despite his obvious ties to the local community. Perhaps fittingly, a possible conflict of interest results instead in a sound that sounds as much rooted in the punk/pop of Orange's native California as the ubiquitous homegrown Cheap Trick. "A nice compliment that I got after a show was that we didn't come off like a Chicago band," recalls Hance, also noting the telling decision the band made to choose a label outside of Chicago to put out their record. "It was important to us to find a label that wasn't in Chicago. I thought it would be interesting to be picked up by a label from a different town and be able to go to there and maybe get a different perspective. It's kind of interesting to have a bunch of guys from California listening to our stuff in a completely different environment, kind of processing it in their heads."
It's back to work, literally, as all of The Cells hold day jobs. No post-pubescent upstarts, The Cells have been in enough bands and on enough tours that fits them with grounded views and expectations of the upcoming months of the record's release and a subsequent tour. Still, they sound excited. Already, with limited press and publicity, the band has managed to create a mini-buzz via their great live show and word of mouth.
"I can't wait to get up in front of a crowd that doesn't know us and see what they think," says Hance with confidence. With any luck, they won't think that The Cells are nice guys.
- Marty Behm