Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass with Cherry Poppin’ Daddies




For more than 10 years Steve Perry has battled the double-edged sword of commercial success. It was about that time that Perry and his band, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, used the strength of the swing music revival and their compilation album Zoot Suit Riot: The Swingin’ Hits of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies to soar to No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseeker’s chart and No. 17 on the Billboard Top 200. It earned them a nomination for an MTV Video Music Award and produced a parody from Weird Al Yankovic. It also pegged them as strictly a swing band, a fact that has gnawed at Perry ever since.


For more than 10 years Steve Perry has battled the double-edged sword of commercial success. It was about that time that Perry and his band, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, used the strength of the swing music revival and their compilation album Zoot Suit Riot: The Swingin’ Hits of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies to soar to No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseeker’s chart and No. 17 on the Billboard Top 200. It earned them a nomination for an MTV Video Music Award and produced a parody from Weird Al Yankovic. It also pegged them as strictly a swing band, a fact that has gnawed at Perry ever since.

“It bugs me,” says Perry, noting that it also irks him when critics judge their work from a commercial context rather than an artistic one. “Then again, you can’t argue for yourself either because then you’re an a–hole.”

So rather than argue, Perry lets his music represent his point of view. Their new release, Susquehanna, serves as the latest example of the Daddies’ preference for Pegasus over the proverbial one-trick pony. Like all of their previous releases, save the Zoot Suit compilation, Susquehanna taps roots in rock, metal, jazz, funk and winds in a few Latin licks in addition to swing.

“I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about what we are as a band because we are so weird,” Perry says. “People don’t look at it like I do. Even in the band there’s some difference in how we look at what we do. Every [album] is sort of its own little thing, but we built a way of expressing ourselves through the years. [Susquehanna] also continues the experiment of what the Daddies actually are, which is more on the artistic level of things, experimenting with different styles of music.”

Given Perry’s propensity to dabble in all corners of the musical map, devising a specific label to adhere to their nebulous song catalog is something of a challenge. Perry suggests this: “I would say body music. It’s really a dancey kind of body music. It’s just real physical, danceable music.”

Susquehanna, their first studio album since 2000’s Soul Caddy, opens with the mild-salsa overtones of “Bust Out,” then ventures on to the 1920s noir-like, head-nodding, snap-inspiring “The Mongoose and the Snake.” From there, the Daddies’ more recognized ska sounds (“Hi and Lo,” “Hammerblow”) mingle with pre-punk, glitter rock, David Bowie-ish compositions (“Julie Grave”) that inspired Perry when working with his other group, White Hot Odyssey.

The release prefaces a prolonged tour that brings the Daddies to the State Theatre in Falls Church, Friday, July 25.

In putting the album together, Perry says he didn’t place any particular emphasis on it in terms of the Daddies’ career and viewed it neither as a revival effort nor a send off.

“I wanted to do what we always do with our records and that’s to find different styles and not to be hemmed in by one particular genre,” says Perry, who’s already prepping songs for the next record. “It’s just the next Cherry Poppin’ Daddies record. In the most commercialist sense, it’s another attempt to try to introduce people to what it is we actually do.”

  • For more information, visit www.daddies.com. Tickets to Friday’s show are $20 and are restricted to patrons 18 and over.