Cherym On Titanic, True Crime and 2000 Trees
“Do you want to know something about Titanic?” asks bassist Nyree Porter, huddled on hay bales with their bandmates under the beating sunshine of Upcote Farm. "[The iceberg] punctured so many rooms, and if it didn't puncture the last one, it would have stayed afloat. If they'd hit the iceberg straight on, it would have stayed afloat." They pause before continuing, "It didn't."
Pop-punk trio Cherym, sunglasses and bucket hats in tow, are fresh from their set at 2000Trees festival and fizzing with enthusiasm, voices overlapping as they excitedly fill me in on the ship built in Belfast. We’ve taken a roundabout route into the history of Northern Ireland's capital, delving into the city’s cultural hotspots as they point out there’s a Titanic Quarter and a Titanic museum too. "I don't know why they're so proud of it though, because it did actually sink” Nyree admits, their expression falling deadpan. “Belfast is like ‘Oh My God we had the Titanic’, and it's like, ‘I wouldn't be saying that too loud if I were you’".
As the group laugh, it’s clear they’re in high spirits, admitting "that's the first time we ever got a crowd that big". For an 11:30am slot, their tent was overflowing with eager fans, an enviable achievement for a band who have only recently joined the festival circuit. "What was that about?" Nyree remarks with a laugh.
Raised in Derry, the trio met through school and soon started playing shows in their local music scene. On its surface, it’s the standard story of a small hometown, but the group don’t seem to harbour the all-too-common disenchantment. “You could walk the whole place in like 40 minutes or so”, explains lead vocalist and guitarist Hannah Richardson, with an air of warmth. Despite a buzzing local music community, Nyree acknowledges there's an ever-present feeling of isolation. “The people that are on mainland UK don’t understand how cut off we are from what's going on. We definitely feel really underrepresented… like even Northern Ireland itself is very closed off even from like the Irish music scene, from like the South. We wouldn't really be amped this much as some Dublin bands would be.” Echoing their thoughts, drummer Alannagh Doherty agrees, “we’re like the unloved child of Ireland and Britain, we’re not loved by the Irish, we’re not loved by the British, so we just have to band together in Derry and Belfast”.
When asked what Northern Irish bands deserve to be breaking through, their answer is unanimous: “Cherym”. With that said, it’s hard to ignore the growing nods and accolades they’ve slowly been accumulating since the release of their debut EP Mouthbreatherz in 2018. Winning the 'Oh Yeah Contender' award at the NI Music prize in 2019, and receiving a nomination for best single ('Abigail') at the ceremony the following year, the group are fast garnering a devoted following. In March they performed at SXSW, before joining Aussie-pop-rockers The Beths on a UK/EU tour. “[SXSW] was amazing honestly, the furthest I’ve ever been away from home,” Nyree confesses with a grin, “my wee council estate ass is walking through Texas and I’m like, ‘this can’t be real”.
With their music firmly rooted in the soaring melodics and shouted vocals of pop-punk, they’re absorbing everything around them. Whether it’s personal experience or pop culture, their storytelling lyricism manifests as captivating earworms. “We actually have a song called ‘Listening To My Head’ that is about a murder,” Hannah explains, noting this one thankfully isn’t from personal experience. “It’s about a woman who killed her husband and her husband’s lover… I watched it on Netflix, there’s a show called Dirty John, season 2, and it’s about Dan Broderick, and he is horrible. ‘Danny Danny Danny’ is meant to be [him]”. There’s a playfulness to the group that keeps the mood light, even on dark topics. As the conversation winds its way back to the Titanic, Alannagh retells with indignation that they had a family member aboard the ship and no one thought to tell her. While there’s no Cherym tune about the vessel on the cards yet, though they swear down they're the powerhouses behind Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’, on what’s next for the group the band are remaining tight lipped. "We're going home" Nyree concludes as Alannagh agrees, “might sleep for a few days”.