At a PVRIS show, crowd surfing and spontaneous mosh pits are the norm. Shows like this pack a punch and fans know what they’re getting into. You’d expect the opening band to play to this audience, to fizzle your eardrums with loud and fast alt-rock. And when Cherry Pools opened the show at Starland Ballroom, they certainly delivered. But in lieu of face-shredding riffs, they blasted fans with their brand of pink-tinted indie pop. Sonically, the Canadian band is the lovechild of The 1975 and All Time Low. Their tracks are rife with bouncy bass lines and power cord hooks that would make seasoned pop-punk fans cry. Their music has a glimmering pop veneer with a solid rock backbone, and it’s utterly irresistible.
Cherry Pools really shines, however, when it comes to their commitment to their aesthetic. The group is incredibly fresh (their first single premiered in December of 2017), but unlike many new bands, there’s no fumbling for identity here. They’re all about creating visually pleasing, can’t-look-away content. A blinding neon color palette dominates their social media and music video presence. Visually, they utilize stark contrast or monochrome, with some flowers, sprinkles, and blue lipstick for good measure. At Starland, frontman Martin Broda’s teal shag shone purple against the band’s neon logo and mic stand as he hopped to the opening chords of their newest single, “Are You in Love.” By the end of their set, the whole crowd was head-over-heels.
I was able to catch up with Martin mid-tour, and even over the phone his pure enthusiasm and passion were contagious. As he sped to the next gig, we chatted about the band’s origins, his aesthetic vision, and his penchant for Chick-fil-A.
First of all, how did Cherry Pools get started?
I was transitioning from my previous band to this band, and I was kind of taking a break from music. I was sitting back and really thinking about what I wanted to take on next, what kind of venture. I’ve always been an avid pop listener, and I tried to incorporate that as much as I could in my previous band. But due to the genre, I couldn’t really do that to the best of my ability. In 2015, I started a band by the name of Curses, and that took off. We did one single EP, we did a full North American tour, and we got some label interest, one of those being Weekday Records (which we are currently signed to). So in the midst of that, we were going through some member issues, and we were aware that we had to change our name due to legalities and stuff like that. My manager and the label and I just kind of discussed doing a full rebranding– coming out of the gate with a fresh label signing, aesthetic, basically a new sound. Everything just fresh, you know? We’d been hiding since summer 2017 until the top of the new year, and we just put this whole project together. It’s all fairly new! I basically found the members online, like Instagram, Youtube, and whatnot, which is kind of crazy. Technology is an amazing thing, it’s come a long way, and in order to find the proper members, it served an awesome purpose. So we technically formed at the end of 2017, and it’s been great ever since. We’ve been getting an awesome response from the two singles that we have out, and we’re about to embark on an American tour with PVRIS. We’re very stoked on that.
I saw that a fan got your logo tattooed! For such a new band, how does it feel to have such hardcore fans already?
I’ve been in a couple projects, but to see Cherry Pools take off this quickly, where people are tattooing it on themselves and there’s already some fan accounts… it’s a super positive sign of what’s to come in the near future. And we get little to no hate. Like our Youtube videos, the like to dislike ratios are insane and all the comments are super positive. I’ve got nothing but love, it’s very humbling to me.
And especially for the internet, where people can be really cruel, it’s a definite accomplishment!
Seriously! The internet is a super dark place, but to see love from it is awesome. And we’re probably gonna see more of that love on this tour.
Are you thinking you’re gonna do meet-and-greets and make those in-person connections with fans?
Honestly, that’s been my number one favorite thing to do on tour. Obviously performing is great too, but to interact and build relationships with fans, and to build that fanbase, is super important to me. We’re gonna be at the merch table from after we play until the end of the night, just to hang out, meet people, and get people interested in us.
What’s your typical songwriting/recording process?
I have a co-writer in Toronto that I mesh with super well, and he’s one of the best songwriters I know. He and I vibe really really well, and in a typical songwriting session, we start with a melody of some sort, or one of us sends the other a song idea, and we just build from that. Literally, there’s no proper recipe. We just find a certain melody or instrumentation that we really like, and we build from that. It’s hard to find musicians that are on the same page as you, and we just get each other. Once you hear the whole EP I think you’ll have a better understanding, but for the two singles that are out, they’re definitely… I mean in my opinion, I might be biased, but I think they’re fantastic songs.
How do you get inspired to write?
Um… some wine helps! [laughs] Some sort of alcohol, definitely. It’s all about separating yourself and getting into that mentality. I gotta just not look at my phone for a night and just really dive into the sound that I want to achieve. Especially when I’m demoing vocals. I start with a melody, like let’s say a chorus melody, and just dissect it, “I don’t like this, I don’t like that.” I just redo it until I’m super happy with it. And it’s the same thing for my co-writer. We just bounce off of each other, in that regard.
You recently premiered the video for “Are You in Love” on Happy Mag, and they called your genre “pastel pop.”
I honestly love that! I messaged the group chat, like our band chat, and I was like, “From this point on, I think we should classify our genre as ‘pastel pop.’” I think that’s so dope. I’m always one for starting trends, and starting a genre would be one of those things.
How would you describe this pastel pop sound?
That’s a good question. I don’t know! [laughs] It’s a combination of everything, like 80’s synths to new wave guitars to catchy hooks. To be honest, I never wanna pigeonhole myself in a certain genre. Whether we wanna write a song that’s more poppy or more synth-driven or whatever, we always wanna push ourselves to write what we want to write. I think the fans can see that. You can definitely hear it on this EP, each song has its own diverse sound, they each have their own entity. I don’t wanna limit ourselves to one single sound, I guess you could say. But if pastel pop is that genre, then so be it!
Since you’re starting over with this homemade genre, it eliminates those restraints.
Yeah exactly, nobody really knows what this genre is. If it’s our sound, then so be it, which is cool. I feel like there are no limitations at this point in time, and that’s the beauty of starting a genre, right?
You strike me as a band that’s all about the aesthetics, and your recent video for “Are You In Love” demonstrates this more than ever. How did you come up with the concept?
Me as a being, I like aesthetics all the time. I love thrifting, I love vintage fashion, I love all that kind of stuff. We have an American manager by the name of Matt Arsenault, he hooked us up with a director by the name of Raul Gonzo. He and I hopped on a phone call and went back and forth, and he’s all about that whole pastel kind of vibe. Like if you go on his Instagram, he’s already shooting that kind of style. I saw it instantly and I was like, “Yes, this is the dude we’re gonna shoot our videos with!” I made a storyboard and I pitched it to him and he loved it. We went to California this December and we shot two music videos, one of them being Are You In Love. And it’s been the easiest process cause it’s so hard to find somebody within this industry that you vibe with and who understands your vision, and he’s definitely one of those guys. So I feel like we’re definitely gonna work with him more in the future. Cause we’ve seen such positive results online so far, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had with a director. It was great, he’s super talented. And I think the video came out great.
Your Instagram is also extremely curated and beautiful. When you started the band, did you already have the concept for your band’s visually appealing vibe?
I actually did! 100%. I definitely wanted that aesthetic before we met Raul, and he just kind of enhanced that, and brought it to life. I’m also very inspired by David Bowie, the power behind his work. I think his art is something you can appreciate throughout history, and I tried to embody that as much as I could. I take from him, and from artists like Andy Warhol– just those very vibrant, pastel, simplistic-but-super-effective aesthetic.
Are you excited for this tour with PVRIS? Do you have anything special planned for your set?
Yeah! I’m crazy when it comes to building a live show. I go too far extremes. I feel like I wanna embody my aesthetic vision as much as I can with everything that’s tied to this band. So we got a Cherry Pools LED neon sign for the live show and just little things that. I don’t want to really overproduce the live show because I don’t wanna offend the other acts, cause we’re one of three bands, so I just had to adjust to the point where it gets the vision across. There are little things with the show that I think the fans will appreciate. Even our guitars have the pastel effect. It’s crazy that, being a band for such a short time, our first show is gonna be playing to 1500+ kids in Atlanta… it speaks volumes.
Who are your favorite bands/artists at the moment?
My favorite artists at the current moment would be… Pale Waves is one of those artists.They’re unreal. I’m super into Lany, please give them a spin. They’re sort of similar to us but more dream-poppy. And I’ve always been a huge fan of Paramore, I think their new record is awesome.
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Ooh, that’s a good one. Chick-fil-A. [laughs] I literally just had Chick-fil-A an hour ago! We don’t get it in Canada so every time we’re in the states, I indulge! I stock up on so much Chick-fil-A sauce, I’m gonna come home with a shopping bag full of it, hopefully.
What are your main goals as a musician right now?
My main goal, to be honest, is just to put on a great live show. I want to play to a large number of people, and I hope that watching us onstage can help them through whatever they’re going through. I’m an advocate for helping people, whether it’s talking at the merch table, or them enjoying our live show, I’m all for the fans. I love showing my appreciation for them, and I hope they see and feel that. That’s pretty much my main goal for all this. I hope my art is translated to the masses.