the AU interview: Dan Crannitch of Leader Cheetah (Adelaide)

2011 has treated Adelaide's Leader Cheetah incredibly well. With their second album Lotus Skies gaining favourable reviews and their live shows going down brilliantly across the country, the four-piece have decided to wind down for the year with an intimate show at The Grace Emily.

I give Leader Cheetah's frontman Dan Crannitch a call to find out more about the show, which will be band's last for the year but their first in this acoustic style.

Hey Dan, how’s things?

Pretty good, pretty good – it’s good to be chatting to you on this fine day.

Yeah, it’s pretty nice today, isn’t it?

Yeah, well it’s a bit overcast but there’s... there’s a nice, gentle feeling in the air!

Well thanks for taking some time out to chat; you’ve got a show coming up this week, how’s the band feeling about it? It’s been a few months since we’ve seen Leader Cheetah live, much less headlining the show.

Well yeah, in Adelaide, it’s been awhile. It’s going to be very much a stripped back affair, we’re not actually going to have Dan Pash the guitarist, but Tom (Spall), our violinist, taking his spot. It’s going to be myself, my brother (Joel Crannitch), Mark (Harding) and Tom.

It’s very much going to be stripped back and is going to be more about the lyrics and stories of the songs. There’s probably more violin there than we normally would, more fiddle, more to really flesh out the sound. I think it’s going to be interesting, it’s going to be an interesting little experiment. I think it’s going to be really nice.

I was just thinking, when I saw it was at the Grace Emily, I was wondering how the band was going to fit on that tiny excuse for a stage.

Yeah, it’s definitely going to be more intimate…really, really stripped back and quiet. …Well not too quiet!

Do you prefer/more comfortable the more intimate settings or the larger stages?

We’ve never played the real intimate shows. I’ve done a few solo shows, which I’ve enjoyed, but we’ve not done anything like this before. It’s going to be interesting. I mean, the full band generally, I mean we always thrive on the bigger stage, like at the festivals and the big halls and stuff. But sometimes in smaller venues when it’s the full band with electric guitars and stuff, sometimes it sounds…I don’t know, like there’s not enough space for everything. When we’ve got more space, we can get that nice kind of wall of sound.

You were saying before that sort of show is going to be an ‘experiment’ – was that the main reason you decided to take the stripped back and acoustic approach to the show?

I think it was more so just the end of year thing…Matt, our manager, had the idea. I think it’s got a certain kind of Christmas-y feel about it, a little intimate kind of show; end of the year at the Grace Emily, you know. I guess, for people who are really into the band and that are really interested in hearing the songs in a really simple and pure way, I think it’ll be a nice and special night.

The Grace is a venue that a lot of Adelaide musicians and music fans in general particularly favour. Have you done many shows there before?

My old band did, I don’t know if Leader Cheetah have ever played there. Let me think…no we haven’t. I’m good friends with Symon and George who run the place and Symon, for years, has been trying to get Leader Cheetah in there and now we’re finally going to be in there!

Thinking back to the Fowler’s gig you did back on the Lotus Skies tour; that pulled a huge crowd. What did feel like to see such a strong response from your hometown?

It was amazing, that was definitely one of the highlights of the tour. It just felt like a really good, positive, lovely energy was in the room and there was just a lot of love for the hometown crowd. It was really nice. I felt great about it.

The ad for the show says you’ll be sharing some stories behind the songs you’ll be performing during the gig. In terms of Lotus Skies, what sort of influences drove the songs featured?

I think I always tend to write emotionally, even if I’m not feeling incredibly emotional at the time. I find I’m always drawn to emotions and experiences and life stuff when it comes to songs. I’ve never really been that…not that I’m not interested in it, but whenever I write music and lyrics, it generally…there’s an emotion to it.

I guess I just enjoy hearing music with a real kind of soul feel. I guess, musically, it’s a pretty eclectic record. There are hints of kind of mariachi and flamenco on there and of course, there’s a bit of alt-country on there… I think on the whole, to me, Leader Cheetah is just classic song-writing in a funny, slightly unusual filter. It doesn’t sound really straight-laced. Ultimately, most of the songs are written on an acoustic guitar in a pretty straight up way, but when we take them to the band and we do our thing with them, they end up sounding unique, you know?

Do you think the audience will be given a taster in to what Leader Cheetah’s been working on since you’ve been back in town?

I can’t guarantee anything; I’ve got to finish off some lyrics and stuff, because I have been working on a lot of new stuff. I don’t know if any of it’s 100 percent ready to be unveiled, but there will be definitely a few things that people haven’t heard before.

I guess it’s fair to say that it’s sort of fitting for the band to finish the year with this style of show, considering that 2011 has been quite big for you all in terms of the acclaim Lotus Skies has garnered and the gigs you’ve scored?

It feels like that, it has a warm fuzzy feeling about it. It’s going to be perfect. It’s good, in a way that it’s on a Thursday night as well; it’ll have a bit of a different feel than a Friday or a Saturday.

Thanks so much for taking some time out to chat!

It was a pleasure and I’ll see you on Thursday!


Leader Cheetah play The Grace Emily on Thursday, December 15. Tickets are still available through Moshtix.