Cheatahs frontman Nathan Hewitt and guitarist James Wignall met eight years ago while working in a Camden pub, and instantly bonded over their shared passion for music and Seinfeld. Nathan had just moved to London from his hometown of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, while James, originally from Leicester, had moved to the capital after studying in Leeds.
Fast-forward six years––each having played in various bands in between––and the friends finally began to work seriously together when Nathan asked James to collaborate on a batch of songs he’d been working on. The musical understanding between the two was instantaneous and they went about recruiting two friends to complete the lineup––bassist and producer Dean Reid, who had moved to London from San Diego, California, a few years before, and drummer Marc Raue, originally from Dresden, Germany.
Following a few tapes and seven inches on various labels, in June 2012 Cheatahs released their first EP, Coared, recorded and produced by Dean, on Marshall Teller Records, of which the NME wrote: “by pushing the hooks and melodies to the fore and not just relying on the “sound”, this new quartet are elevating themselves to be one of the best.” With songs written by Nathan and James beginning to pile up, the band decided to make a follow up EP immediately. Again produced by Dean, the quartet recorded the bulk of the music in their Hackney studio over a weekend in June. Shortly after, the band supported Milk Music in east London, a gig at which, as luck would have it, Mark and Ben from Wichita were in attendance. The duo were impressed by the set and asked the band if they had any recorded music they could listen to. After hearing Coared and the unreleased songs, Wichita signed Cheatahs and released the SANS EP, as well as a compilation of the SANS and Coared EPs outside the UK.
Since the start of 2013, the band have crammed in SXSW, Primavera, a six-week US tour with Wavves and FIDLAR, festivals, and support slots with iconic bands such as Dinosaur Jr. Somehow in between all this, the group also managed to write and record their debut album. In creating the album, Cheatahs headed first to the country, spending a week in an isolated, old stone-floored cottage in Cornwall, before coming back to complete the album at Dropout studios in Camberwell, home of friends Part Chimp, and Dean’s studio in Hackney. As with their previous work, all tracks were recorded and mixed by Dean and produced by the band. The album is first and foremost an exploration of the possibilities of modern guitar music. A blend of ecstatic noise, ambient drone and visceral, ear-splitting alt-rock, combined with lyrics that touch on the complexities of relationships, nature, the city, memory, dislocation and self-identity, the self-titled record displays a giant creative leap from the lo-fi fuzz of the band’s first two EPs. Cheatahs was released in February 2014.