Jamming their way to fame

Last updated 12:06 31/08/2012
FAMILY AFFAIR: Robin – made up of Katie (left) and Jemma Cheer.

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Acting like a slapper usually does not elicit positive comment from people, but for Palmerston North two-piece Robin it has worked wonders.

The band, made up of sisters Jemma and Katie Cheer, formed after a jam at The Stomach and played their first gig in November 2010.

But their first big break came when they started harassing Wellington act Beastwars for a gig.

Jemma says they managed to land an opening slot for the metal band "just by being a Facebook slapper really".

But Beastwars drummer Nato has a different story.

"Most emails we get asking for opening slots, [bands] give big sales pitches about being so awesome.

"They said it would just be fun."

Since then Robin have played with Beastwars plenty of times, including a fundraising show for the Wellington group's second album.

Beastwars has even put Robin forward as an opening act for international acts such as Pelican and Russian Circles, with the Cheers opening for the later band just days before their SwampFest show.

"They're just a really talented band and we just want as many people to hear them as possible," Nato says.

But guitarist and older sister Jemma says the band was not put together to be anything serious.

"I think it was during the summer, and we were bored.

"We just started jamming because I have been writing lots of riffs, and didn't have a band, and Katie is really good on drums.

"It worked, and now we're a band."

The sisters play post-rock, a style of music centred around painting massive musical soundscapes. It is well removed from four-chord pop songs, but still has hooks and melody.

Katie, who plays drums, says it was the natural style for them to play.

"It's the majority of what we listen to.

"There wasn't a plan, just unspoken post-rock intentions."

But post-rock acts are thin on the ground in Palmerston North.

"It's why we started, because there was no-one to make the music with," Katie says.

Jemma says post-rock is becoming more popular in New Zealand, with plenty of international acts now making the trip here. The influence for their music comes from visual art, along with things they hear.

Katie says she gets a buzz from going to exhibitions, while Jemma says transferring the world around them into music is not too tricky a process.

"We're both visual artists as well, so we are used to expressing ourselves in abstract mediums.

"Instead of writing or talking, we're used to turning that into visual things like paint strokes or guitar chords."

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Being sisters, they are not too concerned if people tag them as a family band.

"Family band isn't used to describe us, but if you describe as as that we wouldn't be offended," Jemma says.

"Two-piece seems to be the go-to."

Robin want to play more shows in Auckland after SwampFest, because it is where Katie is based while she studies.

They also want to follow in the footsteps of Beastwars and have their own beer made for them.

While vague on exactly what it would have to taste like, they do have one important criteria which must be met.

"It has to be hoppy," Jemma says.

Robin will play the Super Mega Ultra Party at The Regent on September 28. Tickets are $10, but entry is free with an all-shows inclusive SwampFest pass.

Tickets and passes are available from The Stomach. To hear Robin, see robin.bandcamp.com.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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