Tuesday, February 3, 2015

SALT LAKE HARDCORE 101: CHEREM

Trevor Hale
Salt Lake in the late 1990’s was pretty much a wasteland. Almost all of the great local bands had called it a day and their members had moved on to different projects—mostly outside the hardcore genre.

There were a handful of people trying to start something new, but it was a slow process. In the fall of 2000, Bill French, Jesse Lindmar and Tommy Green decided they wanted to start a heavy, mosh-pit-inducing band that actually had something to say. Over the last half of the 90’s, bands had begun to stray from addressing social and political issues, and Bill wanted to bring those discussions back to the forefront.



Bill was playing guitar, Tommy was on drums and Jesse was playing bass. The initial plan was to focus the majority of their efforts on veganism and asked local activist, Harold Rose, formerly of Screamin’ Semen, to handle vocals. They had a name, and had written a few songs, but things weren’t quite clicking all the way across the board, and Bill felt they needed to fill out the sound by adding another guitarist.
Tommy called me (Trevor, in case you were wondering) up one afternoon, asked if I was still vegan, still had a guitar and wanted to be in a band. I accepted, grabbed my guitar and drove down to the storage unit they played in. Harold hadn’t been to practice in a while, and Tommy was trying hard to convince Bill to sing instead so that Cherem could be a vegan-straight edge band. There weren’t many of those left, and both Tommy and Bill really wanted to spark some sort of revival.

Bill started singing and playing guitar, just to try it out, and classic Cherem songs like “Die At 55” and “The Slit Wrist of Humanity” were written in an outdoor storage shed in the middle of winter. My Squire Stratocaster and ice-cold hands spent most practices trying to keep up with Bill’s metal riffs and his 7-string (which I thought only Korn used). Tommy booked a show the first weekend in January, added Cherem and we all made the decision that Bill would be the best option for a frontman, and that’s how it started.


For the next few months, Cherem forced their way on to several bigger shows by just showing up with guitars and plugging in at the end of the opening band’s set. The promoters at Kilby Court were never happy about it, but were too timid to actually say anything. Eventually, Bill decided he should just focus on singing and the band recruited Nic “The Party” Hardy to play second guitar. The band wrote a few more songs and recorded the 4-track “Vegan Power” demo in Tommy’s unfinished basement.












When Tommy got married, he moved to California and Cherem was pretty much finished. After about 8 months of nothing, things slowly started coming back together and Bill and I put together a new lineup with Nick Lott, Chris Purkey and Clint Halladay. Cherem played a ton of shows around Salt Lake City, ventured off on one two-city tour and self-released the “In the Land of the Dead” EP.


Since it was a self-released album with only 200 copies pressed, the band included an alternate version of one song, that started as a joke. “I Hate George Bush”, with guest vocals from a local vegan-straight edge rapper named Foekus, would inexplicably take off as people started learning how to share music on the Internet (believe it or not, that used to be hard to do) and became one of Cherem’s most popular songs.

During our first midwest tour, Cherem met up with the band Tears of Gaia, whose singer happened to run New Eden Records. He asked if we’d be interested in rereleasing “In the Land of the Dead” on his label. Around that time, Chris and Nick both decided to leave the band due to fatherhood and opening a new business, respectively. Their spots were filled by Austin Kent on guitar and Dan Fletcher on bass. This was the most solid, and longest lasting line-up Cherem would ever have and the band embarked on numerous tours and recorded a full-length called “We Are the Revolution” that was released in April of 2006, via the Salt Lake City based label, Outline Records.



During 2006 and 2007, the band played numerous shows across the country and around Salt Lake spreading the mosh and information about veganism to all those who were interested.


Dan eventually left the band to finish school, play guitar in First Blood and take on various other projects. After he did that—and even a little bit before he "officially" left—Cherem became a revolving door of bass players that included Brook Aftermath, Kelly Green, Clinton Sawicz, Dan Fletcher (again), Danny Payne, Nick Lott (again), Oz, and a trusty fog machine on more than one occasion. Nathan Steele took over on guitar for the last few Cherem shows before Bill moved to New York City in 2007.



The band went out on one more tour with Giant (aka Braveyoung) that summer, but the distance between New York and Salt Lake was too much and the band was put on indefinite hiatus. Since then, all the members of Cherem have moved on to other things and only a few of them are still actively playing music.


Bill currently lives in Austin, Texas with his fiancee, and is doing woodwork.

Jesse Lindmar works as a photographer in Brooklyn, with his wife, Emily, and newborn daughter, Penny.

Nic Hardy is a hairstylist in Salt Lake City.

Tommy Green is a real estate agent and traveling pastor, but calls Salt Lake City home once again, along with his wife Krissi and their children.

Trevor Hale is a single, successful guy that still lives in Salt Lake City and is the breakout star of an extremely popular Manchester United podcast.

Clint Halladay, lives in Salt Lake with his wife, Ashley, and son Carter, and works as a custom fabrication designer and continues to try BMX tricks that he probably shouldn't.

Nick Lott lives in Houston, Texas and works as a skydiving instructor.

Chris Purkey works as an executive for BackCountry.com and lives in Salt Lake City with his longtime girlfriend and two kids.

Dan Fletcher works at an advertising firm that has very little in common with MAD MEN except the amount of liquor imbibed, and lives happily in Park City with his wife Kristin and son, Hudson.

Austin Kent works as a mortgage broker and lives in Salt Lake City with his longtime girlfriend and her 11-year-old son.

Brook Aftermath builds motorcycles and lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, Kyah and their daughter Raegan and is the owner of Este Pizza's downtown location.

George Delgadillo currently lives in Salt Lake City, but I have no idea what he's doing. 

Matt Mascarenas aka "The Rookie" lives in Salt Lake City with his girlfriend Emma and plays guitar in Heartless Breakers.

Clinton Sawicz recently moved back to Salt Lake with his wife, Ellen, and their daughter June. 

Nathan Steele works for Specialized Bicycles and races competitively while spending his free time traveling with his longtime girlfriend Christina and their dogs.

Cory Johnson is an audio engineer and lives in Southern California.

Kelly Green is the owner of Cakewalk, a vegan bakery in Salt Lake, and is on the defensive line of the Utah Falconz.

Danny Payne is a stage manager for The Used and member of a prominent Utah motorcycle gang.

Aaron aka "Foekus" aka "Foeknawledge" aka "Naj One" Hunsaker works as a yoga instructor and shop manager at King of Swords Tattoo in Salt Lake City, and spends his free time with his young son.

Punk Rock Matt lives in Los Angeles, California and works as a campaign manager for PETA, while neglecting his true talents as a magician. It's unclear if he's still afraid of driving on the freeway.

Oz hosts and produces the aforementioned Manchester United podcast, and builds, repairs and sells musical equipment.

Dominic Ayala books local hardcore shows and plays bass and drums for a number of local bands around Salt Lake City. Dominic's mom is the same age as Bill and Trevor.

The fog machine lived a productive life, but was donated to Deseret Industries sometime in the mid-2000's.

When Bill moved back to Salt Lake in late 2012, Cherem reunited for a few shows, but since then has been like an aging professional wrestler: not exactly retired, but not currently active either. However, some combination of the names listed above will be back together for at least one show in 2015.

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