Although the words “glitter” and “punk” seem mismatched, the Texas-based band Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs proudly combines the two terms, self-identifying as a “glitter punk” band. With both the raw grittiness of hardcore punk as well as the hyperactive flamboyance of glam rock, SC&BB is at once dark and flashy.
“Scary Cherry,” the lead singer of the band, propels the music with a voice as powerful as Janis Joplin’s. Although at first glance Scary Cherry might be any lady in the cereal aisle at a grocery store, she quickly hits you over the head with her enormous personality as soon as she opens her mouth.
Her performances are commanding, unapologetic and explosive. She is a formidable leader of the band, which is made up of “Minx the Jinx” and “Tony Coke” on guitars, “Meatpie” on bass guitar and “Rockula” on the drums. In their full performance garb and makeup, the quintet seems to have just stepped out of the set of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975).
The opening track of their 2014 album GIRL, “Don’t Wanna,” begins with Scary Cherry yelling, “Is this mic on? Hey! I said IS THIS MIC ON?? OK! JESUS!” As the music begins, Scary Cherry emerges into the frame by ascending upward from the ground like Dracula rising from his coffin. The effect is well timed with the crescendo of sound from the first intense “YEAH!” This song is the band’s most viewed video on YouTube; perhaps listeners are attracted to this particular track because it crystallizes the overall attitude of the band: uncongenial yet also unpretentious.
Most of SC&BB’s music features a similar sound: a powerful lead vocal part from Scary Cherry, wailing electric guitars, heavy drums, a steady tempo and the presence of back-up vocals. Songs like “GIRL,” “Down,” “Let’s Go” and “Original Sin” all perfectly exemplify this style. Live shows by this band are sure to get some heads banging and hair flying from the audience.
There is, however, also a humorous side to SC&BB, as shown in music videos such as “Cut Off Your Head,” “Turkey Trot,” and “A Very Scary Bunny Rabbit.” Totally uncharacteristic of their usual sound, these songs feature cute, jingly tunes that parody cartoonish music from the early 20th century. Edited to look like grainy black-and-white silent films from the 1920s, the audio is also filtered to sound as if it were taped on recording equipment of that era.
In “Cut Off Your Head,” Scary Cherry is shown prancing around flirtatiously, batting her eyes like Betty Boop and attempting to dance the Charleston. It is a stark contrast to her typical fierce presence. Minx the Jinx plays the ukulele with an expressionless face reminiscent of Buster Keaton’s famous deadpan. This is all even more satirical considering that the topic of the song concerns beheading.
Similarly, “Mele Kalikimaka” is a parody of stereotypical Hawaiian beach music. During the gentle, cooing song, the band members appear on the beach quite violently tying up Meatpie with Christmas tinsel. He is dressed as Santa Claus, but he wears Halloween skeleton makeup. It’s a strange scene that seems to combine Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) and Victor Flemings’ “Hula” (1927).
Whether through sound or through imagery, Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs is simultaneously severe and whimsical. Indeed, the band seems most comfortable whilst fusing polarities. Too glittery for punk and too tough for glam rock, SC&BB has created a unique identity by unexpectedly combining opposites. After all, one can’t exactly predict the next move from a band with lines such as, “Take a look at Mismatch: She’s a boy!”
Cover Photo courtesy of Scary Cherry & the Bang Bangs’ Facebook page.