Thu, Nov. 21

Punk’s not dead in Verde Valley

If you’ve ever passed Clark’s 10/12 Lounge in Clarkdale on a Tuesday night and wondered what that faint, or not so faint, sound of ear-splitting guitars, rumbling drums and frenzied singing coming from the bar was, well friend, you just got an ear-full of The Cheaters.

Known as one of the most rambunctious bands in the Verde Valley, The Cheaters have been gaining recent popularity and adding to its growing fan base.

The Cheaters, whose band members like to be referred to by their stage names, Pablo Cheater, Poncho Cheater, A.J. Cheater and Nathan Fabulous, are musically steeped in hard rock and punk but also incorporate other styles and musical genres into their sound.

"We’ve got a really good mix in there of all the different sounds," guitarist and lead singer Fabulous said. "We play stuff that goes from surf to punk to straight out metal, even out to country you know. We like honky tonk. We’re all Johnny Cash fans and we listen to that a lot. Its got everything in there."

Fabulous describes the band’s style of music as, "surf, psycho, metal, punk, pop, power rock."

But whatever you call it, most who have seen the band perform agree that The Cheaters rock hard, rock loud and take no prisoners.

"The thing I’m so proud about our band is we rock hard every time we play, Fabulous said. It’s guaranteed will rock your butt off. As hard as we can play, we’re going to play."

The cheaters, four long-time friends with a common musical bond, formed in 1998 and played their first gig a year and a half ago at Kactus Kate’s. Recently, the band has played biker rallies and become a staple at Clark’s 10/12 playing sets every other Tuesday night.

In August, original bass player Jason Benatz quit the band to focus on college and was replaced by Memphis, Tenn., native A.J. Cheater.

"We lost him (Jason) about 4 months ago and that’s when A.J. stepped in" Fabulous said. "We auditioned a couple of people and A.J fit right in."

The band took a short hiatus after Benatz’s departure to rehearse and write new songs. On Nov. 16 the band returned to Clark’s 10/12 for its regular Tuesday gig with 25 original songs to pick from.

"Nathan’s the song writer," guitarist Pablo Cheater said. "The guy’s got a gift for writing."

Though each Cheater adds his own flavor to band, Fabulous writes most of the songs and brings them to rehearsal where different arrangements are worked out.

"Once he’s got a song together, we play it a lot and come up with a riff and when Poncho Cheater (drummer) gets going and both guitars come in the songs just come naturally, Pablo Cheater said. We’ve never said ‘o.k. this is written down, this is how we’re going to do it’. We play and we’re like wow, hey, you know that was real good. We remember it and next time we play it it gets better and better and before you know it we have a polished song."

Lyrically, the band’s songs reflect its lifestyle and blue collar roots.

"All of our songs are just about life and things we’ve all gone through," Fabulous said. "You know, women, cars, partying, just things that everybody does. We write things from the heart, things that people can identify with. We’re dedicated to what we’re doing and we don’t compromise the music."

The Cheaters are currently putting together a five-song EP which is expected to come out early next year, Fabulous said. The band is scheduled to play Clark’s 10/12 Dec. 12 and Montezuma’s in Prescott Dec. 29.

"Really what it comes down is the Cheaters, as a band, play hard and party hard," Fabulous said. "If you like hard rock and punk rock, come see us because we’ll play for your and we’ll party with you. If you want to come see a good show that you won’t find anywhere else in this valley and you really have to go search for it, we’re right here man, right here in Cottonwood playing punk rock."

So lock up your daughters and hide your wives, gentlemen, The Cheaters are in town.

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