The members of Vineland’s reggae and rock hybrid Cheezy and the Crackers seem to be living in a dichotomy of sorts, but it’s a dichotomy that has them laughing all the way to the stage.
The band is both silly and serious, and crosses over several seemingly incongruous genres with ease.
“We’re a jam band, but we’re also a tight, funky hip-hop group,” says Cheezy McNasty, the frontman for this colorful cast of musical miscreants.
With a stage presence that is cut from the same cloth as James Brown and George Clinton’s Parliament, the band strives to create the sense of musical chaos which implies everything could come crashing apart at any second, but never does.
“We change things on the fly, but it’s a super tight show,” he says. “Everything is off the top — everybody is dancing and having a good time, but we’re all also alert and working together.”
Seeing the band live is stepping into their world for the duration of the set. McNasty says their main message is audiences should enjoy the show “now” while you can. He hopes audiences can let their hair down for the evening. Expect to see props, liberal usage of duct tape, and shenanigans throughout the night. Although the band plays only originals, an ironic cover song can pop up from time to time, such as Eddie Murphy’s ridiculous 1980’s hit, “Party All the Time.” The tomfoolery is not always limited to the stage itself, as McNasty recently wandered out into The Quarter during a performance at the Tropicana Casino and Resort.
“Yeah, I really Springsteened it,” he confesses.
The Crackers’ first EP, released only four years ago, has already sold out of its first printing, prompting the “Bananas for Sasquatch” full length in 2013. The climate of the music business has changed exponentially in the intermediary years, forcing most local acts to rethink their options. Rather than roaring against piracy or other recent forms of distribution, the band decided to embrace this new technology.
“We actually took one of our albums and put it on a torrent site ourselves,” McNasty says. “It’s promotion — you can’t make money selling music. You have to keep touring, performing, and putting on a show.”
Though their stage presence and songs tend to reflect the more laid back, relaxed aspects of life, the band also pursues philosophical and social themes in their music.
“We want people to relax a little bit, but we’re also all about standing up for what you believe in,” says McNasty. “We’re always looking for original acts to jam with.”
Who are they: Cheezy McNasty: vocals and guitar; Mike Dreyer: bass; DJ Barely Sober: turntables and samples; Mike Norris: drums; Dante DeFeo: guitar.
Coming up: 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17, at Broadway Burger Bar at Tropicana Casino and Resort’s The Quarter.
Learn more: Like them on Facebook.