The five members of Cheena—Walker Behl, Margaret Chardiet, Keegan Dakkar, Logan Montana, and Eugene Terry—were all born and raised in New York City and have all cut their teeth in its musical underground. The band formed in 2014 out of their shared affinity for ’77 punk and a mutual respect for Mercer Arts-era NYC early glam and West Coast country punk. They were all friends playing the underground punk circuit, each with the desire to form a band outside of their own genre niches.
Appropriately, then, Cheena finds all five of its members stretching out of their usual comfort zones. Behl’s historically shrieking vocals are replaced with a more harmonious call, Chardiet trades the PE table for a fire engine Gretcsh Special Jet Fender twin combo. Montana taught himself to play slide guitar, Jeffrey Lee style. Dakkar tries out a thundering post-punk bass and Terry, a multi-instrumentalist, settles on drums, forcing himself to play at least two measures slower than any of his previous projects. Spectacularly, the result is a sonically coherent group who sound as though they’ve been playing together for years.
Citing wildly diverse influences—Gary Glitter, Slade, uppers, cartoonish depression, Iggy Pop, 70’s iron on font, Sex Pistols, booze, and Hawkwind—their unifying theme is defiantly one of late ’70s proto-punk. Eschewing the genre boundaries in which their other projects are so deeply entrenched, the band manages to channel a pre-internet spirit painfully non-existent in this age of Tumblr fashion and Discogs record collectors.