When the Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs banded together in the mid-90s, they did so with the plan to tear up the Los Angeles music scene one unapologetically full-throttle, high-octane show at a time.
Stage diving, breaking beer bottles and, if you were so lucky, even the occasional mouthful of spit to the face courtesy of frontman Frank Meyer—this was rock ‘n’ roll, baby, and if you weren’t up for anything, then best stay home. This was the Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs the first 10 years touring across the U.S. and Europe in dive bars, venues and festivals before they disbanded.
But the siren’s song to play reeled the band back together in 2014 and now the Cheetahs have released a full-length album together, the first in nearly 20 years. “One More Drink,” which dropped March 19 on Cleveland-based label Dead Beat Records, is an 11-track tread through hard rock, punk, power pop, and new wave sounds, revealing a matured and refined Cheetahs both longtime fans and new listeners can appreciate.
“We sort of made a conscious effort to just indulge ourselves and, you know, put a bunch of songs that reflect all the different influences that we have,” founding Cheetahs member and bassist Dino Everett said.
Everett, said by Meyer to be the “true punk” of the band (partly because he may or may not have slept in a dumpster the first few nights he moved to California in the 90s) hammered out anthems “The Rejected” and “Scorpio Rising.” Guitarist Bruce Duff helped flush out the hook-laden rock jam, “Bad Vacation.” The album’s single, “We Are the Ones (We’ve Been Waiting For)” is an ode to Meyer’s love for power-pop and new wave, replete with harmonies and melodic hooks that give the single a pensive but hopeful tone.
“I wanted to make a memorable record with earworms, songs that have multiple hooks, interesting chord changes and lyrics that just grab you and don’t let go,” Meyer said, noting that songs “Ain’t It Summer,” “Bad Vacation,” “Let Me Out” are shining examples.
Now sure, there are those stubborn listeners who might balk at an album like “One More Drink,” with all its sonic variety, and think this isn’t the music they seek the Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs out for. But after 20 years, that’s kind of the point. The five-piece outfit which features founding members Meyer, Everett, and Mike Sessa (drums) with newer additions Bruce Duff (guitar) and Geoff Yeaton (sax) aren’t the same musicians. They’re better, with a lot more life experience to work with.
“A lot of our older records tend to sort of be like B-movies—lots of car crashes and knife fights and stick ups and you know, people getting punched in the face and bottles getting thrown and love affairs,” Meyer said by phone from his home in Long Beach. “But this album, a lot of it is based on, like, divorce, and loss and death and addiction, real life stuff, because we’re not kids anymore.”
“One More Drink” is an album 10 years in the making, Meyer said. Once the band reformed in 2014, and began playing more regularly in 2015, Meyer started writing new works for the group. By 2020, Meyer said the band had nearly 30 demos ready for the album. All they had to do was pick their favorites.
After the pandemic dried up live music and touring opportunities the Cheetahs pivoted toward a more visual direction. Their song “Warzone,” the 10th song on the album, was written in response to the pandemic and police brutality protests. The music video premiered online July 2020. Their newest video “We Are The Ones (We’ve Been Waiting For),” is a nod to the bright and dark sides of the ‘80s with retro video games, stop-motion puppets and intravenous drug use.
Meyer said the band will soon be filming a music video for their song “One More Drink,” a track featuring Dramarama frontman John Easdale.
“It’s almost like a twist on their song ‘Last Cigarette,’ but it’s more about booze than cigarettes,” Meyer said.
The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs take their name from a line in the Stooges’ song “Search and Destroy,” and, similarly, paying homage to the bands and artists that inspired them is a common theme with the Cheetahs’ repertoire. For instance, “One More Drink” is a Dramarama nod, while “The Rejected” is an ode to The Adolescents. It happened organically, Meyer noted, but once he and Everett recognized the similar sound, they reached out to Adolescents’ founding guitarist Rikk Agnew, who agreed to play guitar on the track.
“He knocked his part out,” Meyer said.
Though the Cheetahs won’t be performing all together live anytime soon—live music still has a way to go before it can return in full fashion—you can catch Frank Meyer every Thursday at Dipiazza’s playing acoustic sets incorporating Cheetahs hits. Plus, on Saturday, March 27 catch Meyer performing with Eddie Spaghetti and the Supersuckers at Alex’s Bar, click here for more info.
“One More Drink” is available on all digital platforms and on vinyl and CD you can purchase, here.
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