CHEAP TIME INTERVIEW FOR ROCK ROCK
I discovered Cheap Time about a year ago based on a friend’s recommendation and immediately became obsessed with their single “Another Time” off their 2012 LP, Wallpaper Music. The entire album has a great dirty glam rock vibe. It’s a drink whiskey, smoke cigarettes and make-out with strangers kind of record…my favorite kind.
I was finally able to see them live at Macrock back in April and then again more recently when they played an in-store at Steady Sounds here in Richmond. They were passing through town opening for Social Distortion — such an unlikely pairing! I had to know more. So luckily, Jeffrey and Ryan were ready and willing to answer some questions for Rock Rock!
Who’s in the band?
Jeffrey Novak- Guitar/vocals
Jessica McFarland- Bass/Vocals
Ryan Sweeney- Drums
How did Cheap Time form?
JN: I want to answer this question, by explaining how the current line up came together. I met Ryan when I was 16, he’s 4 years older than me, and we’ve been playing together for 5 years. He’s the longest running member next to me! I met Jessica around 4 years ago, when she was living at the Snack Palace, before her band, Heavy Cream, started, I think. I tried helping Heavy Cream with their 2nd album and failed, but Jessica and I ended up becoming even better friends. She’s from Paris, TN, and I’m from Henderson, TN, both located in the dregs of West Tennessee, about an hour apart from each other. She even saw me play a show in Paris when she was 16! Ryan’s from Danville, VA, which isn’t much bigger than where Jessica or I grew up, but we all ended up moving to Nashville and eventually joining forces.
RS: Yeah, I met Jeffrey after going to a Lost Sounds show in Memphis with his sister. We crashed at the Novak house and I slept on the floor in Jeffrey’s attic bedroom. We saw each other here and there through the years and really reconnected at a basement show my old band, Protomen, were playing. He asked me to join in 2008, and I’ve been here ever since.
What’s the rock and roll scene like in Nashville? How have you seen it change over the years?
JN: Kind of patchy. It’s become a very youth driven scene, thanks mostly to the late Ben Todd and Nashville’s Dead promoting things. All the most exciting fun bands are the new teen bands that want to play punk, then there’s slightly older more mid 20’s bands that are into a more country/bar band sound that just sounds boring to me.
RS: I’ve lived in Nashville for quite some time now and have seen the rock and roll scene evolve quite a bit. When I first moved to the area over a decade ago, there were a few punk bands playing shows at dive bars, but nothing was really thriving. We couldn’t even get decent touring bands to come through town. People just weren’t going to shows after the late 90’s scene that surrounded Lucy’s Record Shop collapsed. It remained pretty stagnant for a long time until the all-ages basement show scene that Ben Todd and Nashville’s Dead helped get together. Once all the younger kids were able to go to shows, then the shows got a lot more exciting and a ton of bands started popping up. Right now, I feel like it’s kinda slowed down a bit and Jeffrey’s right, it’s all about those younger bands that wanna play punk. There’s too many people here trying to pull from Country and Americana and mix it with their rock and roll.
How did it come about that you’re opening for Social Distortion on their tour?
JN: It was something that came out of the blue from our booker, Todd, at Leafy Green.
What has the experience been like?
JN: Surprisingly great! You never know what you’re going to get into when you tour with bands you’ve never met before, but everyone in the Social D camp, including Mike Ness, were so nice and encouraging to us.
RS: Definitely my favorite tour we’ve done as a band. Social D and their entire crew were great to us and were all very cool. They all seemed to know how difficult it can be to open up for a band with such a dedicated following.
If you could tour with any band/musician (living/dead), who would it be and why?
JN: I’d pick John Cale, but if it were back in his 70’s heyday, he’d probably be a real pain to tour with, with his drug use being so out of control back then. I’d just love to watch his set each night.
RS: I would’ve loved to tour with the early Who, just to watch Moon and Entwistle every night. I’m sure their backstage was a madhouse, which may be a bit much to handle, but it’d be worth it.
What are some new bands you’re excited about?
JN: Locally, The Paperhead, D. Watusi, and Crime Wave.
RS: I’d say the same 3 bands locally. Other than that, I’m into Livids and Ex-Humans from New York.
What’s next for Cheap Time?
JN: Our 4th studio LP, Exit Smiles, is coming out in October, and we have a single on Total Punk coming out next month. We’re going to start working on a new album before our tour in September with Mudhoney.
Beatles or Stones?
JN: Both are pretty equal in my book, but the Beatles have better solo LP’s, like the Wedding Album! I’d rather listen to the Kinks or the Who, or the Move or Idle Race!
RS: I’d have to go with the Stones on this one. I like more of their post-Invasion material. I’m such an “early Beatles” kinda guy, but I can get into Stones stuff all the way up to the 80’s.
Tell us a (band) secret…
JN: More of a fun fact than a secret, Steve Mcdonald, from Redd Kross and the Tater Tots, offered to be our drummer early on. He gave me a Sparks demo he played the drums, bass, and guitar on, called, “Lighten Up Morrissey,” and his drumming was really solid, but it just didn’t work out.
RS: Along those same lines, before I joined, Jack Oblivian also offered his drumming skills for a tour, but when asked how much he would need, I believe he answered “$700.” I told Jeffrey all I needed was $300. So there ya go. I’m cheaper than Jack Oblivian.