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Leader Cheetah - Leaders Of The Pack

Author: Dylan Young
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Borne out of the ashes of indie noise act Pharaohs, Leader Cheetah are a very different band. For starters, they just supported elbow. 3D’s Dylan Young writes.
Perhaps it’s a benefit of the relative isolation of Adelaide, for when a musical act emerges from the City of Churches, they tend to be – like artists from Perth – more fully formed than their eastern states brethren: Sydney and Melbourne in particular, who have the unfortunate reality that whenever a sign of musical promise is shown the hype machine begins whirring into action. It’s not, generally, true in Adelaide – instead, acts as diverse as Cold Chisel to The Superjesus to Hilltop Hoods have excited the nation when they’re good and ready to do so.
It’s the same for Leader Cheetah. Emerging from the ashes of agit-rock group Pharaohs, the band are really beginning to make people sit up and take notice, but they’re doing so with the advantage of having an album ready to roll. Indeed, the group’s debut The Sunspot Letters has more or less been in the can since the group was barely 10 months old, according to frontman Dan Crannitch, at a time when he was still fronting his former group.
It’s interesting that Leader Cheetah would be borne out of Pharaohs; you couldn’t get two more disparate groups. Where the sound of The Sunspot Letters harkens back to the 1960s and 1970s, Pharaohs were very much of their time, emerging in the wake of the likes of Bloc Party et al, taking the sound of the likes of Gang of Four and PiL, and trying to do something different with it. Leader Cheetah are far removed from such concerns.
“It certainly wasn’t trying to do anything trendy,” Dan says of The Sunspot Letters, which has found a place in the hearts of folks who particularly dig ‘beard’ music, such as the likes of Neil Young, My Morning Jacket, Midlake, and Fleet Foxes. “I was pretty young, 22, when [Pharaohs] started, and had never sung before in a band, and just found that because of the jagged intensity of the music if I put a certain attitude in the vocals then I could get away with shouting melodies and it worked.
“As I got a bit older,” he continues, “I started writing a lot of songs by myself, and wrote Bloodlines and just knew it wasn’t at all Pharaohs.”
After that, he took it to Bad Girls of the Bible’s Dan Pash, whose guitar style he’d always admired and appreciated from afar. Recruiting his own brother, Joel, on drums and Mark Harding on bass, Dan explains that it just ‘worked’.
“We started rehearsing, and there was something about the sound that I really liked: the rawness of Dan’s guitar sound and then having a slightly reverb-y, delaying effect on the vocals helped to round out the sound.
“It’s one of those lucky dynamics where everyone in the band brings something special,” he believes. “I feel really lucky to have these guys as they’re pretty much all irreplaceable.”

WHO: Leader Cheetah
WHAT: The Sunspot Letters through Spunk / EMI
WHEN: Out now