Local Indie Rockers Cereal Banter Rely on 'Intuitive Chaos' For Their New Album

click to enlarge Local Indie Rockers Cereal Banter Rely on 'Intuitive Chaos' For Their New Album
Brad Williams
Inspired by the Flaming Lips’ album Embryonic, multi-instrumentalist Joseph Joseph formed the psychedelic rock band Cereal Banter in 2010. With the group’s debut single, “Edible Confetti,” a song that features squiggly guitar riffs and echoing vocals, the band set out to show just how off-kilter it could be.

A decade on and several lineup changes later, the group continues to push boundaries, and the band has just released its latest long player, Dethtrep, which it recorded in two stages.

The even numbered tracks were recorded at Tri-C last spring. 

“We were offered a chance to record a few tracks for free,” says Joseph in an email exchange. “We had a bunch of riff ideas and hummable melodies, but no real song structures. After a few days, we chopped and mashed the best takes together, structured how they should segue together, and we came out with three sturdy rock songs. 'Death Trip '94' has a total '90s rock feel straight out of Lollapalooza, which ostensibly sets the tone for the conceptual approach, and the visual aesthetic for this era."

The odd number tracks were recorded during quarantine at Joseph’s home studio, Busted Utility Studio. One of the best of these songs, album opener "Tour de Farce" starts with rattling percussion and slowly builds with Sonic Youth-like intensity.

“This is Cereal Banter at its quintessential core: uninhibited and fierce performances without form or fear,” says Joseph. “There's many of these types of recordings all over the CB catalogue, and they always seem to represent a side of us that resonates with real music fans, jazzheads, and people that appreciate 'guys that can play' among all the crashing cymbals and sounds of the cosmos. This is the 10th year CB has been making music — it's good to finally realize why we're doing it, mostly for ourselves, and how we're doing it in such a way that makes us an anomaly in the rock scene; with the least amount of planning possible.”

Cereal Banter remains an acquired taste, and that’s not likely to change with this email. But Joseph remains committed to the group.

“The thing that keeps me and [singer-bassist] Nick [Gunzburg] doing Cereal Banter is the unspoken language we have while playing together,” he says. “Once we kick on the power, we just go for it — very few details are discussed about when moments shift, shape, or when sections go from destructive vs. delicate. So what you hear in 'Tour de Farce' and 'Bubblegum Grunge' are improvisational, one-take, zero-overdub rippers. After hearing those two tracks especially, and 'Apocalympics (prism 2),' I knew they were strong enough to anchor the album into place. This is mostly how all our records are balanced: some planning with mostly intuitive chaos."

Joseph says the next album, which he hopes to release in early 2021, will likely have a "'live' freeform feel across the board and into the void.”

Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.
Like this story?
SCENE Supporters make it possible to tell the Cleveland stories you won’t find elsewhere.
Become a supporter today.

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
Scroll to read more Music News articles

Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.