“If distortion cranked to the max and blasted out with all the subtlety of an Uzi is your idea of a good time, then this second chunk of aural shrapnel from Austin, Texas outfit the Cherubs will have you grinning manically.” – Kerrang
Although they self-destructed two albums deep into their career, Austin, TX Cherubs left quite a messy sonic trail behind them. As was the case with Big Black in the 80s, their album artwork and song titles were the first indication that the content within will not be easy on ears (and psyche, perhaps).
Most of their records came out on King Coffey’s (Butthole Surfers) imprint Trance Syndicate, although a couple of their singles also appeared on Austin, TX labels Unclean and No Lie Music.
Cherubs were formed in 1992 by Kent Whitley (Ed Hall), Owen McMahon and Brent Prager (Fuckemos, Sugar Shack), they released their first-full length “Icing” during the same year. While owing something to bands like Helmet and Unsane, it still stood apart from the rest – although just like most of debuts, its seen mostly as a good first step, but somewhat inconsistent effort given whatever followed.
1994 “Heroin Man” (which features an appropriately morbid cover) is seen as their defining moment. McMahon, who assumed vocal duties on “Icing” was replaced by Kevin Whitley and much of the album (as title/artwork suggest) is a dedication to a friend who had O.D.’d. Owing much to bands like Butthole Surfers and Husker Du, it combined pop structures with noise and distortion. It also became their final studio album.
Post-humous compilation – ironically titled “Short of Popular” (1996) – collected their singles, compilation tracks and rejected pieces from “Heroin Man”. “Short Of Popular” also included a cover of Blondie’s “Dreaming”, and it was not the first time that they did an unusual cover – they also covered songs by Frank Sinatra and Bow Wow Wow, although none of them were featured on this compilation.
Kevin Whitley is currently in Pretty Please, along with members of Cotton Mather and Sixteen Deluxe. Owen McMahon acted a touring member of Butthole Surfers for some time. Brent Prager was in Fuckemos (who covered “Shoofly” by Cherubs) and Sugarshack.