Premiere: Pop-Punk Rockers Cheem Talk New Single ‘Mango’, Upcoming Album, 311 Cruise, & More

Drawing influences from the intricate instrumentals of hyper-pop, the harmonizing power of boy bands like NSYNC, and the attitude of 2000’s pop punk, Connecticut-based band Cheem refuses to adhere to anyone’s constraints. Their unique sonic blend is a perfect nostalgic treat, while also providing modern themes and lyrical content that relate to the present. 

And today July 15th, the band dropped their latest single, “Mango.”

With the new track, the listener gets a proper demonstration of the idiosyncratic sound forged by this band. With a rapid tempo, a mix of various vocalists, and crisp melodic guitar lines associated with pop-punk, the song is a true testament to the vision of the band. Teasing their upcoming record, Guilty Pleasure, which drops next Friday July 22nd, the album is described as a “selfish record with further emphasis on criticizing the current world of existing as a rock band.”

We had the opportunity to chat with the band to learn more about the new single, approaching record, their dream of playing aboard the 311 cruise, and much more.

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Alright- so who is Cheem and what’s the band all about? 

Cheem is a five-piece band from the Northeast. We formed in Connecticut, but now we’re kinda all over the New England area. Sam on vocals, Skye on vocals and guitar, Gabe on guitar, Nate on bass, and Sean on drums. We have a hard time explaining what genre we are because we mix a lot of stuff together, but “pop rock” is a good catch-all for our sound, even if it’s usually heavier than what most people think when they hear that.

Pop-punk music like this arguably reached its Zenith in the early 2000s. How do you feel the current state of this music is in 2022 and what do you guys bring to the table?

Pop-punk was making a comeback in the mainstream for a sec, but I think MGK might have done enough weird shit to single-handedly kill that momentum, especially now that he’s allegedly going back to rap. There’s always going to be amazing underground bands at the heart of any genre though, so the fact that mainstream artists who wore pop-punk like a trendy T-shirt are abandoning it doesn’t really bother me. If a kid gets into Cheem because they heard an MGK track and wanted more stuff with that energy, I think that’s cool.

The fact that we incorporate rap, R&B, electronic, dancehall, etc. keeps us from being lumped in with bands that are strictly pop-punk.  We have new and exciting sounds for the pop-punk fans, and then we still have elements that appeal to people who have no interest in pop-punk whatsoever.

So your new single, “Mango,” officially dropped today 7/15. What’s the backstory and influence behind this track?

Musically it’s pretty straightforward pop-punk with some pretty chords in the choruses, and the verses are straight out of a two-tone ska song. I think a lot of popular ska music kind of lacks those cool syncopated drum rhythms that bands like The Specials and The Beat use, so I really wanted to do something with that. There is one moment in the second chorus with this chromatic descending guitar line that was very RATM-inspired.

For me, the song is about my relationship with the music scene we’re a part of, and the chorus kind of creates a metaphor for that as a relationship with a person. But for most people, I think the chorus is more relatable when taken literally, so they can take the verses as a metaphor.

It relates back to that overall theme of the album, because on one hand there’s plenty of fun experiences that come with playing music.  Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of facets that push me to ask, “Why am I even still doing this?” And a lot of those come not just from the industry as a whole, but specifically from the scene we’re in.

And next week your new album, Guilty Pleasure, comes out. Is there an overarching theme or inspiration behind this collection of songs? And what might fans expect?

Expect a lot of vibrance. It’s a very loud record, there’s one really cool chill track, but overall it’s a live album with some really intricate electronic elements. The overarching lyrical themes revolve around feeling bitter and jaded about facets of your life, but simultaneously feeling an intense passion for those same things, and trying to maintain a balance in that inner conflict.  

There’s also a theme that you shouldn’t be ashamed of your taste or feel like there are things you have to like or dislike because that’s the popular opinion, which is what gave us the album title. If our music is a guilty pleasure for someone then I’m still glad they’re enjoying it, but it sucks that there are people in their life who make them feel like they’ll be judged or looked down on for wearing that on their sleeve.

How might it compare or contrast from any previous releases?

Recording-wise, this is the best we’ve ever sounded. This is peak Cheem. It blends the experimental stuff from our mixtape with the energy of our last album, Downhill. But there’s even more power behind it, and some of our heaviest riffs are on this album. At the same time, some of the most beautiful musical moments we’ve ever created are on here too.  

Where was it produced and who helped it come to life?

We started tracking drums at the studio over at the Hartt School in Hartford, CT. After this, everything was recorded within our guitarist Gabe’s home. We recorded all the guitar and bass in DI and spent a good year re-amping and perfecting our guitar tone on this record. It was an immense amount of trial & error, but we feel very excited with how they now sound.

Back in early 2021, we realized we wanted to add more songs to the release, so we quickly tracked more drums in Gabe’s attic and tried our very best to make them sound as close as the recordings we were able to acquire in the Hartt School studio. Gabe produced and mixed this release, with the assistance of Sam with some editing, and Skye with the intricacies of the mix. Mastering was done by Kris Crummett and he did a killer job.

What has been the most rewarding or most memorable part of making this album?

This is the longest we ever took to perfect a release. We started recording back in May 2019. Obviously, covid has a lot to do with why it took so long. But this was our opportunity to really hone in what we wanted to say with our music, take our time with the music, and really turn this album into something special. We are all best friends, so I really just value all the time we spend together making music that we all really believe in

What messages or feelings do you try to convey in your music?

The idea I mentioned before about embracing your style and who you are and not being ashamed of it, that’s really important to us. I hope that by expressing ourselves and spreading that message it helps at least one person be more comfortable with their truest self. Otherwise, I think as a whole we want to have as much fun as possible playing and provide a really fun experience for our audience. We’re always thinking about how the songs will translate live and what will make the show as exciting as possible.

What does a dream gig look like for Cheem? Dream collaboration?

We always joke about how our dream is to play the 311 cruise. Please help us manifest this. Other than that, I can’t really think what our ideal show is. We just love to play music, and we love to make music people are willing to move around to. We’re down to play house parties or some random club in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, as long as you’re not watching us with your arms crossed and no emotion. Let’s have fun!!!

What else might the band have in store for the summer and rest of the year?

As I am typing this, we are preparing to head to Fauxchella in Ohio, and we are playing a few shows around that. We have a release show in Brooklyn 7/22, and in CT 7/23. After this, we are preparing for our way down to the FEST in Gainesville in October, which may include a little tour around it. We also have some more m*sic we may be showing you this year, this is a big time to be a Cheem fan. Our goal after this is to also finally hit the West Coast and continue writing as many bangers as we want.

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