Frank Meyer of The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, The TVD Interview

If you’re into punk rock at any level, you probably know of Frank Meyer. Frontman for The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, his name is synonymous with the LA punk scene and has been so for over 20 years. He’s a legend in punk circles and continues to get better as time moves on. 

The Vinyl District recently sat down with Meyer to discuss all things rawk ‘n’ roll including his early beginnings in music, his greatest influences as a guitarist, and the Cheetahs’ latest release, One More Drink.  So, fill your glass and drop the needle.

What are your earliest memories of music as a child?

My earliest memories of music are probably The Muppet Show and subsequently The Muppet Movie. That soundtrack was one of the first records I can remember asking my parents to buy for me.  I loved “Can You Picture That?” by Dr. Teeth & Electric Mayhem, the hard rock group of the Muppets. So dope!

So, The Muppets we’re kind of a gateway drug to your affinity for rock and roll?

Yes!  As a result, I began listening to rock and roll radio here in Los Angeles in the early ’80s.  I loved The Knack’s “My Sharona,” Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and that whole first Go-Go’s album. Those were the big ones on the radio at the time and that stuff really, really, really hit me hard. These bands really sparked my interest in music, and as you can tell became my lifelong obsession.

As a child of the ’80s here in LA, were you a Van Halen fan?

The very first time I heard Van Halen on the radio I was blown away.  I couldn’t even understand the sound I was hearing but knew at that point I wanted to start playing guitar. Then I saw pictures of Van Halen and was floored.  They just looked like rock gods. I was like, “Whatever that is, that’s what I want to do as a career.”

As a youngster, did you grow up on vinyl or cassettes?

Vinyl and cassettes were all the rage when I was a teenager. I was a little too young for 8-tracks, but as a kid I’d buy stuff on vinyl. It was a blast to open the albums, read the liner notes, and marvel at the killer artwork and photos.  I also had TONS of cassettes too!

Share with our readers your first experience performing live on stage?

The very first time I remember performing on stage was I was up in Monterey visiting my friend Mahryah. He was a kid I went to highschool with and one that I formed a lot of my early bands with. He was staying at his dad’s and he told me that there was an open mic night that I could just show up to with my guitar and play. It never occurred to me to actually play on stage before that, and I didn’t really have any songs I could sing, but I could play guitar and I had a few flashy things I could do. So, I grabbed my guitar, jumped on the bus, and traveled up to Monterey to do this gig. There were probably only six people in the audience, but I remember being sort of dazzled by the whole thing.  I was hooked.

One More Drink was released on March 19—give us the lowdown on the band’s first release in almost 20 years?

We formed The Streetwalkin’ Cheetah’s back in 1995 and ended up calling it quits around 2000. It wasn’t like a big, bloody break up—more just that we weren’t making a lot of money and all the business stuff became a giant headache. We all stayed friends and continued to play in other bands together, but eventually after 10 years or so it occurred to us that we should just do the Cheetahs again. All of us except our original guitar player Art Jackson were available, and we ended up replacing our him with Bruce Duff—who was an old friend of the band and actually was the A&R guy that signed us to XXX Records back in the day.

When that initial hiatus came to an end, we came back and did a little reunion tour opening up for Cheetah Chrome from The Dead Boys. It was a blast.  At that point, we collectively decided to keep the Cheetahs open-ended and play whenever we wanted to play. Along the way, we continued to write new songs even though we really didn’t know when—or if—we would ever release a record. We did however like the idea that if the band were going to be moving forward, we should have a handful of new songs available so we wouldn’t be perceived as a nostalgia act.

When we finally decided to release an album, we wanted to make sure there’s was a little bit of old-school Cheetah-style punk on there for our lifelong fans. Beyond that, we wanted every single song on the album to be a winner. That mantra became our barometer for anything that ended up on One More Drink. There’s some hard rock, there’s some power-pop, and there’s some ferocious punk-rock. Catchy hooks were a must on all these tracks! When it was all said and done, we were incredibly happy with the record which came to life over a five-year period.

What’s your favorite track on the album?

Good question. As far as songs on the album go, the one I enjoy listening to the most is “One More Drink,” the title track. I’m a big fan of Dramarama, and we got vocalist John Easdale to do a duet with me—that was a big honor.  It’s also a catchy song with funny lyrics and I every time I hear it I go, “Boy, I’m proud of that song. It just works on every level.”

Are you a big vinyl guy and do you have a collection?

I’ve always loved vinyl and never gave up on it. I am a vinyl junkie. It was a big deal for me that One More Drink came out on vinyl—not just digital or CD—because I wanted different pressings and colors because I’m such a huge collector. And if my band is going to be putting out products, I want to have them stand up and stand out.

For the kind of stuff that I collect as a music fan, vinyl sounds the best. Even when it gets all scratched up, it’s kind of charming. And I’ve always been a guy that’s always had a record player a gigantic collection of vinyl.

There was a period, maybe 15 years ago, where people were like, “Digital’s everything, vinyl’s over.” I was like, “Nope, you’re all wrong. It’s going to come around.” And here we are.  I’m so glad to see that vinyl has withstood the test of time.

What’s your most prized possession?

Probably the rarest thing I’ve got are two original pressings of Mötley Crüe’s Too Fast for Love on Leathür Records, which was their initial record company before they signed with Elektra.  It’s got a different mix, different track listing, and two different songs that aren’t on the newer release remastered through Elektra.

I’m also a big fan foldouts and gatefolds. That said, I collect a lot of Alice Cooper records. School’s Out is one that folds into a desk, Muscle of Love came in a stained cardboard box. I’ve got an ELO record where there’s a giant cardboard cutout of the ELO spaceship and a killer a Steve Martin record with a rare pull-out poster. One of my favorite albums is Van Halen’s Women and Children First which originally came with a Helmut Newton poster of a chained David Lee Roth. I’m sure you get the picture—literally!

Favorite local record store here in Long Beach?

There’s a bunch of good ones. Fingerprints is certainly the most comprehensive record store in Long Beach. That’s kind of where I tend to go if I just know I want to find something or just want to flip through vinyl.  I love Third Eye Records—those guys have a great collection and are simply good people. Dex Records is a newer one. They are small but mighty and located in this tiny little schoolhouse. You wouldn’t think it could be so good because so small, but that guy has great collections, and every genre has the best shit.

A few questions from our readers—if you could take the stage with a once-in-a-lifetime musician, who would it be?

Buddy Guy is my favorite blues man, my favorite Chicago blues man, my favorite lead guitar player in that genre, period. Following him over the years, it seems like he would be the nicest, coolest guy to hang out with. I love the blues, I love playing the blues, and I just can’t think of anything more fun than playing blues with the legendary Buddy Guy.

Alex’s Bar or The Pike Restaurant?

Well, that’s like asking me to choose between my children. We shot the album artwork and photos for our album, One More Drink at The Pike so obviously I love the Pike. However, I have played Alex’s Bar maybe more than any other venue, certainly more than any other club in Long Beach. I just can’t choose between those two places as it would put me in a politically awkward position. I’m going to answer this by saying, “I’ll take Alex’s Bar and the Pike over everywhere else combined.”

Ramones, The Clash, or the Sex Pistols?

That question is not that tough. I love The Clash but never been one of those guys that worships at their alter. I like them a lot—don’t get me wrong—I’m just not a super fan, so they’re off the list for me. The Sex Pistols are probably my favorite “punk band” if you want to just go by the authentic definition of punk. Their one album is just the greatest thing ever. However, im my book it’s the Ramones all the way. They helped define punk and their influence went far beyond punk. In my opinion, the Ramones are the greatest pop band of all time and they made Rock and Roll High School. So, Ramones, Ramones, Ramones, Ramones.

Who are your favorite guitarists of all-time?

EVH—Eddie Van Halen—is my hero in the sense that he’s the one that made me want to initially pick up a guitar.  Unfortunately, I don’t sound anything like Eddie Van Halen and I never have. He was just the guitar wizard that made me go, “Oh my God, that instrument is just everything to me.”

That said, I’d also put Frank Zappa right up there at the top. He might even be my all-time favorite lead guitar player more so than Eddie. My playing is actually a lot more Zappa inspired on so many levels. I’d put Andy McCoy from Hanoi Rocks right up there as well. He’s a guy that had a tremendous influence on my guitar playing and sound.

MVP Burger or In-N-Out?

I live like a block from MVP. If we’re just going burgers, I have to say In-N-Out because I really think they’re probably my favorite fast food type burger ever.  If we’re going anything beyond burgers, I’d say MVP’s because they have a great menu, tons of salads, and a much more diverse menu. So, if I was feeling like anything but a burger, I do MVP, but man as far as burgers go, In-N-Out is my jam.

Who would win in a fight, US BOMBS or SWC?

The U.S. Bombs would win in a fight for sure.  Those guys are ruthless dirt-mongers. And I mean that as a compliment—and out of fear.

Any final thoughts?

The Streetwalkin’ Cheetah’s new album One More Drink, was just released on Dead Beat Records on vinyl and CD.  There’s some cool limited edition rainbow splatter vinyl available, which I think is dope, and it’s also available on all digital platforms. We’re really happy with the record.

In addition, I’ve also been up to all sorts of musical wackiness. Eddie Spaghetti from the Supersuckers and I have united and have an album coming out called Spaghetti & Frank. It’s exactly what you would expect if the Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs and the Supersuckers had a baby.

I’ve also been writing with Kory Clarke of Warrior Soul.  I played all over their last record and I’m writing and playing all over their new one as well. It’s a band I’ve been a fan of since the ’90s and they’re finally getting some play—which is dope.

One More Drink, the new full-length release from The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs is in stores now—on vinyl.

The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs Facebook | Instagram
MEYER PHOTO: STEVE ALLEN | BAND PHOTO: SARAH REMETCH

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