Michigan rockers Cheap Girls play Bozeman

by Brook Gardner-Durbin

The power-pop trio Cheap Girls doesn’t look like most rock bands. Composed of brothers Ian, 28, and Ben Graham, 30, and Adam Aymor, 27, the group pulled into Bozeman on Sunday, March 1, after a twelve hour drive from Fargo, North Dakota, with sore voices and tired eyes. Dressed in loose jeans, T-shirts and flannels with missing buttons, nothing set them apart from the crowd until they took the stage, and nothing indicated they were one of the Midwest’s favorite simple-but-not-boring rock groups.

They had driven more than 1,700 miles to get to The Filling Station from their native Lansing, Michigan in three days, stopping in Minneapolis and Fargo along the way. The group is on the front end of a three-week tour that will take them west to Seattle, south through California, and back home through Utah and Colorado.

As soon as they pulled up, they began unloading their equipment, bumping shoulders with tourmates and friends, grateful for the chance to stretch. With paint worn away from use, the gear matched the group perfectly: maybe not the flashiest or most obvious around, but not concerned with it either. “We were never a band that sold records,” laughed Ian, while Adam claimed there’s “no such thing as selling a million records.”

Instead, Cheap Girls is focused on other priorities. “We wanted to just get back to the roots of what a simple three-piece [band] could be,” Ian said, “and record some simple pop songs.” Their do-it-yourself, do-it-fast work ethic has led the band to producing most of their own albums, often recording songs in a single take. The group feels recording the first try helps them “capture the energy” many bands only have in a live performance.

Their latest album, 2014’s “Famous Graves,” followed this model. The group announced they were on “day one” of working on their new album in late February, and by May it was released and they were touring to promote it. Like their 2008 debut “Find Me a Drink Home” and their sophomore effort “My Roaring 20’s,” the album was self produced. It earned favorable reviews and solidified the group’s place as one of the most promising independent rock and roll groups in the country.

Despite playing on a snowy Sunday night, Cheap Girls drew an eager crowd to the Filling Station. Many were clearly longtime fans, singing along with Ian Graham line by line. Others were MSU students taking a night off of studying or fellow musicians. Members of Bozeman group Rose Gold showed up as did members of Panther Car. “This is so great for Bozeman,” said Scott Merenz, Panther Car’s lead singer, of the concert. “Bozeman needs more of this.” MSU student Chase Templet agreed: “Having stuff like Cheap Girls and Restorations [a Philadelphia group touring with Cheap Girls] come through is huge for a place like Bozeman.” He had been looking forward to the show for some time, as he felt Cheap Girls are “extraordinarily unique” and “have kind of perfected that specific in-your-face yet humble and melancholic garage rock sound.”

 

The Filling Station can be found on Facebook, and Cheap Girls can be contacted at cheapgirls.net or on Facebook at facebook.com/CheapGirlsMusic.