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INTERVIEW: Cheeseburger

Courtesy Williams Street Records

Cheeseburger is a Brooklyn-based rock band that has built a following around in New York City with their classic sound and haphazard live shows. But it’s the band’s lack of polish that has earned them a diehard fan base since forming in 2005. Originally a trio, Cheeseburger recently underwent some personnel changes with the addition of guitarist Eric Dufresne, Christian Gordy on bass and must-see vocalist Jayson Green. The new members have fleshed out Cheeseburger’s hard rock sound with the release of their sophomore full-length, Another Big Night Down The Drain, a concept album that chronicles the journey of a “poor sap’s adventurous night on the town." Released through Adult Swim’s record label, Williams Street Records, the songs from Another Big Night Down The Drain have been featured throughout episodes of this season's Superjail! An ultraviolet cartoon set in an outlandish prison, Superjail! has been one of Adult Swim’s breakout shows for the past 2 years. SanDiego.com had a chance to talk with Cheeseburger guitarist Christy Karacas, who’s also the co-creator of Superjail! and discussed Cheeseburger’s 2011 tour plans, and found out what goes on behind the scenes at one of Adult Swim’s hottest new programs.

What’s a typical work day for you at Superjail! headquarters?
Christy Karacas: I’m technically supposed to be here 10 to 7, but sometimes I sleep here. Usually I come in anywhere between 8 and 10, and sometimes I come in at 11 if I have other stuff. People work late here, I kind of have to be here to answer questions and oversee everything. A lot of my duties on the show I get more time to do them before or after work. There’s been a lot of sleeping here this season. This place is really fun, we love making this show. This show is a ton of work, we do almost the whole show in-house, we don’t send any of the animation overseas or anything like that, but it’s kind of a really laid back attitude. It’s like, ‘Everyone, just get your work done and you can do whatever you want.’ We’ve got a pool table, we’ve got a keg. Sometimes around 5 we play pool and have a beer, then go back to work until like 9 or 10. It’s like, really intense but really fun.

Whose idea was it to make Another Big Night Down The Drain a concept album?
CK: It kind of just happened. We had these themes that we would always joke about or talk about, and when we started realizing that we new the record was going to happen and it just kind of happened by itself. We meet up at bars a lot before and after practice and we’re just always talking about stuff, like ‘Oh this song’s funny.’ It just came out of conversations and stuff.

So what you’re saying is all the songs were written independently of one another and weren’t formed at the same time.
CK: We’ve been a band a really long time, and some of those songs were written, before the other record. And our line-ups changed, we used to just be a three piece with just guitar, drums and a singer. Now we have bass and two guitars, and we were kind of like, ‘We should try that old one and add bass and guitar to it.’ Like “Tight Jeans” was the second song we wrote ever, before we even played a show. I feel like it’s the same with music and animation or whatever, I like stuff raw. Like the show looks very raw, like an untrained guy drew it, and our band is very sloppy and raw. I think there’s a naiveté to rawness that’s really real. We’re not a polished band, it’s a not a polished looking show, but I think they both have a real honest and intense feeling to them.

What was the impetus for “Good Time Charlie”?
CK: We used to joke about this drunk loser dude; you’ve seen that old image of kind of a bum with a top hat, and he’s drunk on the light post kind of thing.

Like a hobo or a tramp?
CK: Yeah, total that kind of thing. We’ve always just talked and joked about that kind of stuff with our band. I don’t know why? That song, “Deep In The Cups” is kind of that guy. I remember me and Joe were talking and Joe was like, “He’s the kind of guy who lives with his mother above a bar, and he wakes up and goes through the couch looking for change and then he goes down to the bar, like that’s the start of his day. Then the end of the day is him getting kicked out every night because he’s so drunk and annoying. The song is written like he’s going to hangout with his buddies and see his friends; he’s the kind of guy that nobody wants to be around but he doesn’t have a clue. It’s sad but it’s also annoying and kind of funny. It’s kind of like, we ride that line of its kind of sentimental and sad, but it’s also funny.

Do you guys have any tour plans for 2011?
CK: Yeah, we’re playing Sled Island Festival in Calgary. I don’t know what else we’re doing. I’ve got to talk to Adult Swim actually. I hope we tour, I was thinking if this thing does well, we’ll probably go tour. We tend to play festivals and parties where we can just be lazy and get paid to come out and play a party. We played some Colt 45 tour once and they just flew us from city to city, it was really weird. I’d like go on tour though; I think we’ll probably do something. We’re doing a big show May 22 at this place Brooklyn Bowl; it’s like a big bowling alley. They have tons of video screens, and we’re going to plan something for that. Then we’ve got another show coming up in June, but that’s at a dive bar, it’s more for our friends and stuff. We play New York a lot and we got a following here, and I feel like if we were young and hungry we’d be in a van making some fans. But we’re kind of old and grouchy. Not grouchy, maybe lazy. We’re like 36 years old and we’re like, ‘I don’t really want to get in a van with these 4 guys right now and drive to Chicago or wherever.’

Cheeseburger has a great advantage over a lot of bands because they’re plugging your new album during the Adult Swim bumps.
CK: We played a couple of [adult swim] parties before and people seemed really psyched. Sometimes I think of Adult Swim fans as being young, kind of cool kids; like high school and college kids. I feel like if they’re psyched to watch a bunch of 30 year-olds get drunk and play music then that’s awesome.

When you guys play live do you play through a full stack or a half stack?
CK: We both have full stacks and it’s funny, I feel like we were real naïve when we started this band, like we were, ‘We gotta get full stacks! We gotta sound really big!’ And you bring it to the clubs and they’d be like, ‘Oh you don’t have to turn them both on, it’s too loud for up here, we’re micing you.’ So we used to bring them in the beginning, just for the look, because it looked awesome. But then it got to be too much crap to put in the van, so now we do half stacks.

Do you know if there will there be a Superjail! panel at this year’s Comic Con in San Diego?
CK: I don’t know yet. No one’s said anything to us, but I would assume yes. Sometimes they tell us this stuff last minute. I haven’t heard yet, maybe I should ask. I’d love to go.

Does Cheeseburger have a message for the children?
CK: I’d tell them to go out and buy Another Big Night Down The Drain!

Another Big Night Down The Drain is available now, and Superjail! airs Sunday nights on Adult Swim.