Steve Perry (Oregon musician)
Steve Perry performing with the Cherry Poppin' Daddies in 2009.
|Also known as||MC Large Drink
October 8, 1963 |
Syracuse, New York
|Genres||Rock, ska, swing, ska punk|
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, biologist|
|Instruments||Vocals, rhythm guitar, theremin|
|Labels||Space Age Bachelor Pad Records|
|Associated acts||Cherry Poppin' Daddies
White Hot Odyssey
Perry was born in Syracuse, New York to a physicist and a social worker, and raised in Apalachin, outside the industrial city of Binghamton. He described Binghamton as being "a poor, run down, loner class town", which would later serve as a significant influence on his songwriting.
After graduating from Vestal High School in 1981, Perry moved to Eugene, Oregon to pursue track and field and chemistry in the Honors College at the University of Oregon, where he befriended fellow student Dan Schmid. After being exposed to the Northwest punk and hardcore scene, Perry became inspired to follow a path as a musician, teaching himself guitar at age twenty. Finding himself more interested in "drinking beer and going to punk rock shows" than attending college, Perry dropped out in his junior year in 1983 and formed the punk trio The Jazz Greats with Schmid and drummer Tim Arnold. Perry was also briefly involved with Snakepit alongside Billy Karren, Joe Preston, Laura Mcdougall and Al Larsen before performing with the Paisley Underground-styled band Saint Huck with Schmid and Arnold from 1984 to 1987, after which the trio formed what would become the Cherry Poppin' Daddies in late 1988.
After emerging as a successful regional band and eventually becoming a consistent staple of the West Coast third wave ska touring circuit, the Daddies broke into the musical mainstream with their 1997 album Zoot Suit Riot, a compilation of swing songs culled from the band's first three albums. Despite selling over two million copies in the United States and helping launch the short-lived swing revival of the late 1990s which shot the Daddies into the limelight, Perry has often expressed contempt for the band's period of temporary fame, citing frustration over what he claimed was persistent and lingering media typecasting of the Daddies as a generic "retro swing band" at the expense of their dominant ska punk influences. Additionally, Perry has also talked about the socially alienating effects fame had on his personal life, claiming it to have negatively changed relationships with friends and even subjected him to occasional heckling from strangers who recognized him in public. In recent years, however, Perry has retrospectively called the success of Zoot Suit Riot "a blessing" for giving the band and himself the financial stability to continue; as he put it, "no more blocks of government cheese".
Following the critical and commercial disappointment of 2000's Soul Caddy, the Daddies went on hiatus as Perry temporarily relocated to Manhattan for the better part of two years to be closer to his family and "chill anonymously". Upon moving back to Eugene, Perry re-enrolled at the University of Oregon, pursuing an undergraduate degree in molecular biology, graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science. During this time, he was also active singing in the hard rock/glam rock band White Hot Odyssey, a side project he started with Daddies guitarist Jason Moss in 2002. The band released a self-titled album Jive Records in 2004 before going on hiatus in 2005.
Songwriting and influences
Since forming the band, Perry has served as the sole lyricist, primary composer and producer of the Daddies' music. According to Jason Moss in regard to the band's songwriting process, Perry writes nearly every aspect of the Daddies' music, first composing the basic chords of each song on his guitar and then working with each member of the band to build upon his ideas for drum beats, horn lines, bass lines, and lead guitar riffs.
In concert, Perry primarily played a Gibson Les Paul, but since the early 2000s has alternated with a Flying V, while in recent videos he can also be seen playing a Fender Jazzmaster. In late 2009, in promotion of the Rock Ridge Music releases of Susquehanna and Skaboy JFK, Perry teamed up with Gibson to promote the company's limited edition SG Zoot Suit guitar, appearing in several picture advertisements.
Perry lists a diverse field of influences. Having started out in punk rock, he has expressed admiration for bands including the Meat Puppets, Bad Brains, The Stooges, Suicidal Tendencies and in particular the Portland-based Wipers; in a 1997 interview, Perry listed the Wipers' 1983 album Over the Edge as his all-time favorite record. He has also repeatedly listed Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford and Fletcher Henderson as his biggest swing and jazz influences, as well as Elvis Costello, The Kinks, Fishbone, Captain Beefheart and Little Richard, the latter of whom Perry has described as his "first real idol". In a series of Twitter posts, Perry further listed his main artistic influences as Cindy Sherman, Bertolt Brecht, Luis Buñuel and Babs Gonzales.
- Cherry Poppin' Daddies
See: Cherry Poppin' Daddies discography for complete listing
- Ferociously Stoned (1990) - vocals (as MC Large Drink)
- Rapid City Muscle Car (1994) - vocals
- Kids on the Street (1996) - vocals, guitar
- Zoot Suit Riot (1997) - vocals, guitar
- Soul Caddy (2000) - vocals, guitar, keyboard effects, stylophone
- Susquehanna (2008) - vocals, guitar, keyboards
- Skaboy JFK (2009) - vocals, guitar
- White Teeth, Black Thoughts (2013) - vocals, guitar, washboard
- Please Return the Evening (2014) - vocals, guitar
- White Hot Odyssey
- White Hot Odyssey (2004) - vocals, guitar (as Le Count d' Monet)
- Siegle, Lisa (March 15, 1991). "The Daddies Are Poppin' Up from the Underground". The Register-Guard.
- Foyston, John (September 6, 1998). "Cherry Poppin' Daddies". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on June 22, 2001. Retrieved August 14, 2009.
- Steininger, Alex (1997). "Interview with Steve Perry". In Music We Trust. Retrieved August 11, 2009.
- Perry's 1980 Vestal XX race result.
- Kane, Laura (1998). "Pop Your Cherry". Lo-Fi Magazine.
- Chandler, John (September 20, 2002). "Take Five". The Portland Tribune. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
- Getlen, Larry (July 30, 1998). "The Dark Side of Swing". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved April 3, 2010.
- Koffman, Linda (June 20, 1998). "A Not So Cheery Cherry Daddy". www.virginmegamagazine.com. Archived from the original on May 17, 2003. Retrieved August 12, 2009.
- Feifer, Jason (October 2000). "Listen Up, They've Got Something to Say". Ink19.com. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- Taylor, Lewis (September 15, 2000). "Riotous Homecoming: Daddies return with new album, updated sound". The Register-Guard.
- "Steve Perry of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies: Songwriter Interview". Songfacts.com. October 8, 2009.
- duBrowa, Corey (2008). "Dropping In". Oregon Quarterly. Retrieved August 11, 2009.
- Salmon, Ben (July 11, 2008). "A different kind of revival: Cherry Poppin' Daddies are back, doing what they've always done". The Bulletin.
- Salvia, Vanessa. "Soul Daddies: Hometown boys play the Celebration Sunday". Eugene Weekly. September 14, 2000.
- Spectre, Rob 'Dream Not of Today - Steve Perry' www.dreamnotoftoday.com. June 20, 2008.
- Moss, Jason Cherry Poppin' Daddies Official Bulletin Board www.daddies.com, December 4, 2004. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- 'Gibson USA's SG Zoot Suit' www.gibson.com. September 10, 2009.
- Limnios, Michael (December 30, 2011). "Steve Perry of Cherry Poppin' Daddies talks about the Daddies, the Swing Revival and the Original Swing Area". blues.gr.
- "Influence list! Tweet #1 Cindy Sherman!!!!". Twitter. May 1, 2013.
- "Influence List #2 Bertolt Brecht!!!!". Twitter. May 2, 2013.
- "Influence list #3 Luis Buñuel!". Twitter. May 6, 2013.
- "Influence List #4 Babs Gonzales!!!!". Twitter. May 7, 2013.