Chicago Singles Club

November 2015

The Cell Phones

Minimalist Motown metal. Or maybe post-punk pop. It's difficult to affix a label to The Cell Phones - while they have created a singular sound in their six years of playing together, they defy categorization. Maybe if E.S.G. reformed to collaborate with Napalm Death, you'd have an approximation of what The Cell Phones are doing.

But the simplest way to describe their sound is LOUD. The music’s foundation comes from bassist Ryan Szeszycki, who runs an acoustic-electric through heavily distorted guitar and bass cabs, switching between and combining them to create novel textures that range from abrasive fuzzy leads to crushingly heavy chords. His omnipresent, propulsive and surprisingly lyrical counter-melodies are the glue between Lindsey Charles' classic pop vocals and drummer Justin Purcell's technical rhythms. Besides the massive walls of distortion, Justin's drumming is where the Cell Phones are at their most metal; his beats are polyrhythmic and precise, and punctuated on occasion with blast beats - speedy bursts of rhythm originating in virtuoso jazz drumming that were picked up by grindcore bands in the 80s to maximize their sonic impact.

The element of the trio that makes the band truly unique, however, is the vocals. Completely forgoing the growling extended techniques of other bands of comparable heaviness, Lindsey's powerfully melodic singing is practically a master class in pop; as indebted to doo-wop as it is to contemporary indie rock. Her well-crafted hooks work to draw listeners into the band’s uncompromising sound, providing an oasis amidst her bandmates’ chaos. This improbable combination tempers the heavy whirlwind of their music, making it more fun and danceable.

The Cell Phones is

Lindsey Charles
Justin Purcell
Ryan Szeszycki

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Video Interview

  • Engineer Jeff Kelley
  • Assistant Engineer Kevin Claxton
  • Photographer Kerri Hacker
  • Director / Interviewer Iris Lin
  • Editor / Camera Operator Kelsie Hardison