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Exclusive Interview: Rena Lovelis from Cherri Bomb
They took the most prestigious European festivals by storm last summer. They opened an arena show for the Foo Fighters in Germany, played with Camp Freddy and Filter and toured with the Smashing Pumpkins before they even had a record deal. At Reading, Leeds, Rock En Seine, Oxegen, Highfields and Lowlands, and most recently at Australia’s Soundwave festival, the all-girl rock band from Los Angeles not only held their own, but they won new believers at every stop. Cherri Bomb accomplished this when the average age of the four girls was 14.
Managed by ex-Hole drummer Samantha Maloney, Cherri Bomb have won the hearts of rock enthusiasts of all ages. The girls will be hitting the road in support of the album, including a string of Warped Tour dates starting in Darien, NY on July 17th.
I had the opportunity to talk with Rena Lovelis, Cherri Bomb’s bassist. The youngest of the group, Rena turned 14 this past April. I’ve never interviewed anyone that young before and was curious how the conversation would go. Rena spoke with complete confidence, comfort and a true knowledge and passion for music. We spoke about her role in Cherri Bomb and the amazing experiences she’s been able to share with her fellow band mates on the road.
Let’s talk about how the band got together. At first you were kinda sitting in the background watching your sister put it together, right?
That’s right. Julia, the lead guitar player, had wanted to start an all girl band since she was about six years old. With the help of her dad she put up ads on Craiglist and flyers around LA hoping girls would reply. She eventually found Nia (drums) and they were a perfect fit. They played together really well. Then they found Miranda (guitar, keyboards). She was actually in Florida at the time visiting family but she sent in videos and they could tell she was going to be perfect. They still needed a bass player and at the time I was still playing guitar. They asked if I would be a temporary fix on bass until they found somebody and I said “Sure, why not?” I wasn’t in a band and I didn’t have any commitments to anybody. I picked up the bass and it was really big – I was used to the smaller guitars. It ended up working out. Nia and I are sisters and we got to practice together as a rhythm section. They said I was a perfect fit and that’s how I got to be a part of Cherri Bomb.
How long had you been playing guitar up to that point?
When I was about six years old I started taking drum lessons with Nia. That went on for about a year and then I figured drums really wasn’t my instrument. I moved on to guitar. A few of my friends were playing guitar and I could jam with them. I started taking guitar lessons and that went on for about a year. I really like playing guitar but I think bass is the true instrument for me.
It’s cool that you were encouraged so early to pick up instruments and appreciate music.
It’s kinda funny because my mom and dad didn’t want us to get in the music business. They said it was heartbreaking and really hard. We told them we really wanted to do this and they completely support us. They help us through whatever we’re going through or our problems. They’re really supportive of what we’re doing.
Who were some of the bands you remember listening to that made you realize you wanted to play music?
There were so many. A few I really remember are Marilyn Manson, Alanis Morissette, Nirvana, Genesis, Foo Fighters. The list just goes on and on.
You’ve got pretty cool parents! A lot of parents wouldn’t let their kids listen to Marilyn Manson at such a young age.
I know! My mom remembers us singing “The Dope Show” in the car and she’ll tell us now “You guys had no idea what you were doing back then but it was just so cute!” We laugh about it now.
Who are some people you see as influences on your bass playing?
We did an acoustic performance the other day and I actually got to use Flea’s bass. I love Flea and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He’s one of my influences. Nicole Fiorentino from Smashing Pumpkins and Veruca Salt. Tony Levin. Victor Wooten.
What was the practicing like before you did your first live show with Cherri Bomb?
Now we practice four, five, maybe six times a week. We used to only practice once or twice when we were younger. That was so much to us. We worked really hard – hours at a time – for our first show. My first show with them was on July 4 at Warner Park with about 40,000 people watching us! That was shocking!
You’ve played to several huge crowds before. What goes through your mind when you’re up on stage in front of thousands of people?
Our adrenaline is pumping and our excitement is over the top. We get really crazy and then go on stage and do our thing. We get off stage and THEN we’re like, “What the hell just happened?!?”
You’ve had the opportunity to open for some really cool bands. Who has been the coolest?
Actually, our first ever tour together was with Smashing Pumpkins. That was really cool. It was our first tour and we were in this little minivan. We ate Subway the entire time. When we’re on the road playing to our fans it honestly feels like home. We opened for Foo Fighters in Germany. That was amazing. We had dinner with them right before the show – the catering was amazing, by the way. They made us feel so special. It was like we’d known them for 20 years – even though we’re not even that old!
Has anyone from those bands told you any good advice that really stands out?
I asked Pat Smear how he found the energy to go out on stage every night and just give it all he had. He said sometimes you don’t. Maybe it shows up five songs in but it’s about giving your energy to the audience and making that show on stage.
Cherri Bomb’s debut album This Is The End Of Control is out now. What was your experience in the studio like?
It felt like one extremely long day. Everything was crammed together and it felt like a really long, crazy experience. There was music in every room. I actually came up with a song in the bathroom because there’s a piano in there! The whole experience was really great. There were ideas flowing constantly.
What does the name of the album mean?
I think it’s about the four of us in Cherri Bomb coming into our own and taking control of what we want to do, which is making music and inspiring other kids.
I guess the only battle you really have to face is being home schooled. Is it hard to be a rock star one minute and a student the next?
It’s really difficult. It gets difficult because there’s always the balancing of both of them. It gets hard to do school sometimes when you’re out on the road. We have our school on the internet so it’s better than going to a public school. It gets difficult but we’re still going to do it.
What is your vision for Cherri Bomb? Where do you see the band going?
I hope we’re around forever. We’re doing Warped Tour and that should be a really great experience. You get new experiences every time you go out so I hope we keep touring. I want to inspire millions of kids. It feels great that we can send our message out there and know that it gets to people.
Maybe you’ll inspire kids to pick up real instruments! It’s not always about Guitar Hero and how many buttons you can push.
That’s funny you said that. When Julia was putting up flyers and ads on Craigslist, people actually replied that they were really good on Guitar Hero if that’s what she was looking for! That was funny. She wanted real instruments, you know?
Rena, thanks for taking time out for this! What would you like to say to wrap things up?
Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do what you really want to do!
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