Cliffhanger first caught our attention way back in January with their latest self-titled EP (our review here) and to be quite frank, we can’t get enough of them. This five-piece are just one of the many hard working bands out of America’s third largest city, Chicago, and they’re joining the likes of Knuckle Puck, Sleep On It and Belmont in creating the next wave in pop punk. Their music froths huge Blink-182 vibes, and reminds us of the days when Take Off Your Pants and Jacket made us hit repeat on our shitty CD walkmans.
Still riding high off of the release of their EP, Cliffhanger are dropping their new music video for ‘Diane’ which we’re exclusively premiering for you today. Despite its upbeat tones, the song and video perfectly juxtaposes feelings of grief and loss with loneliness and isolation in today’s climate. We caught up with the band to get to know Cliffhanger and how they’re getting through these self-isolation times…
Hey guys! How’s iso-life treating you?
Hey! Thanks for having us! We’ve been staying safe, but we’ve also keeping busy during our quarantine! For example, our drummer Mike has been doing livestreams on Instagram (@mikelicari) performing songs from all his musical endeavours over the past 15 years. He’s also planning a roadtrip to visit his sister in Portland next week. The rest of us are keeping busy working at home and writing new music.
Your music is straight up so reflective of early 2000s Blink-182, which I love! In the lead up to creating your eponymous EP, what was your motivation behind the music?
Thank you! Our writing process usually takes a while because once we have a song, we continually critique it and find ways where we can improve upon it. Our goal is to write quality songs that we’re passionate about and that we would want to listen to. We always strive to incorporate catchy melodies, but we mixed up our writing process a bit with Cliffhanger. We were more cohesive as a band with our writing process than previous releases. Each member contributed more to each song to really help make it our sound.
When we wrote these songs, we didn’t go in to try and mirror early blink-182, but I guess that will subconsciously happen when several of us are hugely influenced by blink. As I mentioned before, we wanted to write songs that we were proud of. We had about 10-12 songs that we were demoing, so we narrowed down the 7 that we felt would make for the best EP. We were offered an opportunity to record this with aspiring sound engineers and that’s when we really started to critique our songs. We self-produced the EP and we’ve received amazing feedback from new and existing fans!
Your latest single ‘Diane’ is incredibly fast-paced and energetic. Can you tell us more about a moment you overcame from this track?
‘Diane’ is actually named after Matt’s late mother. She passed away at a young age and he had to grow up fast while learning to cope with this emptiness in his life. Keeping a level head during tough times is incredibly difficult while growing up.
This song is one of the first true songs that had collaboration from every single member. This song means a lot to us because we’ve struggled with our lineup so it was exciting to have everyone contribute on this song.
Our goal for the music video was to really emphasise separation as there are no scenes of the entire band together. While we shot this in 2019 before quarantine, we feel that even more people can relate to isolation, feeling alone, and coping with loss given the current global environment.
You guys hail from Chicago, USA, which seems to be buzzing with musical talent lately. Tell us what sets the Chicago music scene apart from the rest of the world?
Honestly, there are so many great people in the Chicago scene from bands to promoters to photographers to venues to fans. It’s a large but small scene so it’s easy to get to know each other.
I think that all the bands around here have seen other hardworking local bands like Real Friends, Belmont, Knuckle Puck, and Sleep On It make it and have seen what it takes. They all want to write real, genuine music that people can relate to and push each other to become better songwriters.
If you were to make a full-length album next, who would you love to work with and produce the album with?
We often talk about producers we’d love to make an album with. We all have mixed thoughts on this. Some of us would like to continue to self-produce, while some of us would like to go to John Feldmann (besides the obvious Blink-182 reasons). All our friends rave about Seth Henderson and Seb Barlow. We also have discussed returning to Mike Govaere who we previously worked on our earlier releases. I think what it comes down to is how we’re feeling with our next batch of songs and who would be able to compliment them the most.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Even though we can’t be on the road, we’re in the process of planning some Instagram live acoustic sessions soon so follow us at @cliffhangerpoppunk for more information.We’ve also been very busy since releasing Cliffhanger. We’ve been writing and demoing several songs. We had studio time booked to record a few songs, but when Illinois placed the stay at home order, we had to postpone our session. We’ve been playing it month by month to determine when we can get in there and get some newer songs out to everyone!
We were also in the process of planning several weekend runs in the US, but COVID-19 really complicated the situation. Once everything settles, we’ll be planning to play songs off Cliffhanger for more people!
Well, hopefully this Covid shitstorm ends sooner rather than later, and we can all go back to live venues! In the mean time though, keep your eyes peeled on Cliffhanger’s Instagram to check out their acoustic sessions!
Cliffhanger’s self-titled EP is available now. Support the band here.
Interview by Tamara May (@citylightstam)