There’s a common shortcut teenagers can take to adulthood, and it often involves taking in some grown-up experiences or, particularly if you’re a rising pop star, taking off your clothes. There are no such aims in the work of Cherry Glazerr, a fast-rising rock trio fronted by two 17-year-old students from the posh Westside high school Wildwood.
The 10 songs on the band’s debut album, “Haxel Princess,” are concocted from a mix of attitude, silliness and garage-born guitar haze, and Clementine Creevy’s raw, often witty point of view comes through fast. One track mourns the loss of a family pet with anger and confusion; another struggles to maintain a brave face while managing cramps and feeling like “a turd.” Occasionally, Creevy simply dreams of afternoons watching “Powerpuff Girls” and eating pizza.
“I saw so many singer-songwriters who would just play a G and an E chord on an acoustic guitar and sing about the ocean,” says Creevy, who keeps her leather jacket on during an interview on a warm day at a Silver Lake restaurant. “I was like, ‘That is lame.’ I wanted to sing about stuff I thought was cool, like sandwiches.”
Hence the song “Grilled Cheese,” a slow-strutting number in which the humble lunchtime fixture becomes means for a taunt.
The everyday directness of Creevy’s songs caught the attention of Orange County’s hot underground rock label Burger Records, which released Cherry Glazerr’s debut earlier this year. An initial run of about 2,000 vinyl albums is on the verge of selling out, and a second CD pressing is on the horizon. This fall the band was handpicked by Odd Future’s Tyler the Creator to be the sole rock ‘n’ roll act to perform at the rap collective’s Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival, headlined by Pharrell Williams and Rick Ross. (Cherry Glazerr will open for pop singer Sky Ferreira on Thursday at the Belasco Theater.)
“They’re fun and funny and not in a cute way,” says Burger co-founder Sean Bohrman. “That sets it apart. Most things that are trying to be funny are cute-type music, and she is not making that type of music. This is a darker kind of cute. People connect to it. A grilled cheese? I had one of those yesterday.”
But Cherry Glazerr isn’t solely about having fun with adolescence, And yes, the name was inspired by KCRW-FM radio personality Chery Glaser (“You have a great name,” Creevy told the “Morning Edition” host on the air earlier this year).
“Teenage Girl” takes aim at the so-called female youth experience projected by mainstream pop culture and finds the typical imagery — “milkshakes and cat eyes, lipstick and French fries” — to be an offensive joke. “Don’t make us feel belittled, world,” Creevy slowly sneers over a pin-pricked guitar that turns jangly and fast without warning. She’s partly singing, partly speaking, but her voice is soft and patient as if giving a lecture.
“I came up with ‘Teenage Girl’ in response to being a young female in the music industry,” she says, even though she hadn’t had much experience at the time of writing it. But she does recall being the only girl in guitar lessons, and soon grew wary of what she saw as a male-controlled pop world. So the then-14-year-old Creevy began to consider ideas for a band as a response.
“I wanted to break certain conventions for female musicians,” she says, adding that her vision for what would become Cherry Glazerr first included a male lead vocalist, one who would not be allowed to play guitar or write. The singer was to be essentially a puppet maneuvered by an all-female backing group.
“I can’t think of one band with that setup,” she says.
But it wasn’t to be. After Burger heard Creevy’s recording of “Teenage Girl” — which was championed by Rookie, the pop culture destination-turned-sensation started by teenager Tavi Gevinson — the label investigated the rest of Creevy’s SoundCloud page, where the singer-songwriter was posting bedroom recordings under the moniker Clembutt.
Burger urged her to record a cassette, but Creevy hesitated because she thought it embarrassing for her mother to take her to the label’s home (she had no driver’s license at the time). After investigating Burger’s roster of artists, she relented, eventually persuading pal Hannah Uribe, whose father owns Boyle Heights bar Eastside Luv, to play drums in the band. Bassist Sean Redman, 23 and originally from Seattle, asked to join later.
If at this point you’re wondering why a 23-year-old is hanging out with a pair of teenage girls, Creevy is way ahead of you. “We’re dating,” she says quickly, and though that admission may raise eyebrows, Uribe breaks the awkwardness. “We’re all dating, actually,” she jokes.
Redman describes Creevy as “the anti-Disney Channel poster child.” He heard early demos of songs such as “Grilled Cheese” when the two first met while taking music lessons in Hollywood. He was smitten instantly.
“It was attitude, but there was not any, like, direction for the attitude,” he says. “That was addicting.”
There’s direction now.
Creevy laughs when she admits having a “five-year plan” for the band. If she isn’t serious, she certainly isn’t kidding when she says she’ll be disappointing her parents — and advisors at Wildwood, a school that boasts that 98% of its graduating class goes to four-year colleges or universities — by ending her studies after completing high school next spring.
“College waits for you,” she says. “You need to ride this wave while you’re on it.”
Creevy has been managing the band herself and says the group is self-sufficient enough that she can afford to move out when she turns 18, though she intends to live at home and save money (the band’s publicist said the parents of Creevy and Uribe were unavailable to comment for this story).
This month, Cherry Glazerr can be heard in the trailer for “Insidious: Chapter 3,” for which the band recorded a rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” The fashion industry already beat Hollywood to the group as Cherry Glazerr songs have scored Saint Laurent videos and shows — with some edits. The group is amused, for instance, that its lyrical slam directed toward Rob Kardashian was spliced out of “Teenage Girl” by Saint Laurent (the song describes him as a “tool”).
“I was confused,” Redman says of the fashion interest. “Why does Saint Laurent want to work with us? I just stopped questioning why and started to appreciate that someone saw something authentic in us and decided to use us as an example of what is stylish. That’s surprising, but hey, it’s flattering.”
Creevy insists the commercial interest won’t change her approach, but she says future songs may be a little less goofy. Take “Bloody Bandaid,” which sees Creevy coming to grips with the confusing realization that a crush isn’t being reciprocated. After all, the boy likes all the same bands, and the two can even comfortably discuss flatulence — these are signs of a connection, even in adulthood, right?
But Creevy didn’t like all the compliments she heard.
“I heard so much of ‘Oh, your songs are so carefree! They’re so teenage-y! You sing about butterflies and love and grilled cheeses and boys.’ Really?”
As Creevy leans back with a lock of mock disgust on her face, Uribe steps in to get to the point. “We have progressed far beyond songs about poop.”
Kids, they grow up so fast.
Cherry Glazerr, opening for Sky Ferreira
Where: The Belasco, 1050 S. Hill St.
Tickets: $36.50, via Ticketmaster