The Cell Phones
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The Cell Phones

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Rock Pop




"A hyper-local gander at the sonic season to come: The Cell Phones"

The Cell Phones have been together for a half-dozen years. But the group has gained considerable momentum since the release of its self-released debut full-length, "Get You Alone," in the spring of 2013, a boost due in large part to the band's blistering live sets. The trio is comprised of bass, drums and vocals — mercurial frontwoman Lindsey Charles is perfectly matched here — she is one of the few singers in town with a big enough voice to match such a ferociously loud band. What truly distinguishes The Cell Phones is the curious hybrid quality of their sound. Contorting elements of girl group sweetness (Charles' dynamic voice) with blast-beat drumming (Justin Purcell) and heavily distorted bass (Ryan Szeszycki), the songs are dynamic, precise, angular and beautifully confusing. That The Cell Phones have composed a soundtrack for a haunted house is fitting — Charles' bellicose lyrics have plenty of tongue-in-cheek drama ("Dirt Biking With Satan" is both punishing and downright silly). The group is presently writing its second record, which is hopefully more, more, more of the same. - Jessica Hopper - Chicago Tribune

"The Cell Phones stand alone"

Just last week I was moping about THE SAD STATE OF ROCK in 2013 (thus far) and then all of a sudden THE CELL PHONES from Chicago ILLINOISE toss this fan-fucking-tastic thang named Get You Alone out there for all the world to hear and single-handedly save everything. SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP, FALL OUT BOY.

Look, this isn’t a perfect record, but it’s close. The only thing I have problems listening to on this is the sometimes off-the-rails drumming of Justin Purcell (seriously, there are moments when he’s hitting things so fast it sounds like a recording or mechanical malfunction of some sort) but that’s a minor matter. What really is important here is how fantastic front-and-center-woman Lindsey Charles is with both her ideas for songs and they way that she’s BELTING them out. Lindsey Charles can sing, people. She would sound great singing stupid Sammy Hagar rock and roll songs, but she can write as well as she can sing AND… she’s sexy, frank, funny, daring, vulnerable… she’s all girl.
Any woman who can rock an opener about her period and hilariously give it a title like “Heavy Flow” has my attention. Any woman who can totally nail the exhilaration and uncertainty of new relationships and then wail mercilessly on a brash chorus like “Work this body, crash this party to get you alone” has my adoration. I heard about The Cell Phones last summer after they played a show at the annual PRFBBQ bash in Chicago and regretted missing them. After hearing Get You Alone, I will not make the same mistake again. - Jeff Moody - Urban Milwaukee

"The Cell Phones"

The kind of music The Cell Phones make depends on who you ask. On their Facebook, the local trio (consisting of vocalist Lindsey Charles, drummer Justin Purcell, and bassist Ryan Szeszycki) claims they’ve been called everything from “Post Punk Funk-a-Dunk” to “Mathy Grindcore” to “like Death From Above 1979 and Karen O having sex.” It’s certainly a multifaceted sound with noticeable strains of noise, power punk, new wave, and 60s girl group soul, to name just a few. The band itself tends to simply describe itself as “loud,” which is appropriate because that happens to be the name of the single they recorded for Loud Loop Press. Recorded by our own Damian Wiseman, you can find the track as a free download at the bottom of this page. Before that is a brief conversation with two thirds of the band. They discuss how they came together, their evolution as a group, and how loud sex and intrusive reggaeton inspired their LLP single. - Dan Henshaw - Loud Loop Press

"Rocking Out and Hanging On With The Cell Phones"

“I thank the band for just about every good thing that’s happened in the last five years,” Lindsey Charles confesses. Reached via phone during her band’s tour of the southeast and Mid-Atlantic states, the lead singer’s excitement for her energetic combo is palpable and contagious.

The Cell Phones are a threesome of Hoosier 20-somethings who have found their way to Chicago through some sort of magical magnetic attraction. On record, most recently on the full-length, self-released Get You Alone, the group sounds like a chaotic splattering of potter’s clay flying from an out-of-control wheel. If that’s hard to imagine, they describe themselves variously as “girl-pop meets grindcore” and “garage mathy dance grind metal pop post-punk funk-a-dunk punk Chicago.”

Her final performance in college musical theatre was in the “pretty intense” rock opera “Hedwig and The Angry Inch,” and she sang a set of songs from the ’90s before the curtain opened. “That’s when Justin first heard me sing, and I think that’s where he got the idea. I realized that I liked doing it—I was a closet singer. I can sing the crap out of anything in the shower,” she laughs. “I remember moving to Chicago after college and thinking … I totally fucked that up, I’m never gonna be able to sing in a band now, I’m an adult and I can’t be in a band anymore.” But then fate intervened. Charles bumped into Purcell, who didn’t realize she had moved to Chicago, and when he called her later and asked if she wanted to be in a band, she couldn’t pass up that opportunity.

Arriving at her first rehearsal for The Cell Phones, Charles met drummer Purcell’s friend and the third member of the trio, bassist Ryan Szeszycki—who’s known Purcell since middle school. Not only had he also attended IU, but he had dated a girl who lived in her dormitory a few years before she enrolled. Now that Charles and Szeszycki are getting married, she likes to joke that her fiancé lost his virginity in the exact same dorm room she lived in, but that “we have not confirmed that,” she giggles. “That’s part of our invented bio … I think it’s kind of funny.”

Composition-wise, the other members of The Cell Phones give Charles maximum latitude in the lyrics department, for the most part. “I remember being very shocked that anyone was going to give me the freedom to write my own lyrics … it’s kind of fun but it’s also kind of terrifying.” She overcame her initial intimidation and realized that “you have to write what you know, you have to write what you feel, so I write a lot about personal stuff: I’ve written about my period, being loud during sex, I wrote a song about my older brother (“An interesting kid, kind of handful for my mom to deal with,” she says), Ryan’s into racing cars, so I wrote a song about a woman getting hit by her lover’s car in a race.”

Of course, once Charles and Szeszycki started dating, all she wanted to do was write love songs about how happy she was, and the bassist was a little uncomfortable with their personal life being shared in such a way. But then, “there was a song that was particularly hard to write, I just didn’t know what to write about, and I thought it would be really silly to write a song about how he doesn’t want me to write any songs about him. That’s super-meta, but once I finished it and told him what it was about he laughed at me and rolled his eyes,” which he seems to do frequently and gave the qualified blessing: “Alright, whatever.” On “Lyrical” Charles sings, “I know it gets you mad, you don’t like the attention like I do, but my life’s an open book, and you have an entire chapter, and I know every word by heart.”

“Lyrical” appears on To Get You Alone, along with eleven other tracks, only two of which exceed the three-minute mark, so in addition to addressing personal issues, The Cell Phones like their songs loud, fast and brief, and they have worked up a few new ones on the road they’re excited about too. “We’ve been experimenting with the process of songwriting, and what we enjoy doing. We’ve been trying very hard to keep moving,” Charles says earnestly.

As with everything else about The Cell Phones, even though Charles is talking via cell phone from more than 700 miles away, her excitement about being involved comes across as clear as crystal, as does her enthusiasm for where she finds herself today, singing and writing for one of Chicago’s best and most innovative rock trios.

Listen to The Cell Phones’ music, including their most recent record, two earlier EPs and the 2010 recording celebrating their favorite holiday, Halloween, and look for them in costume on a Chicago stage on October 31, 2013. - Craig Bechtel - Pop 'stache

"Chicago Singles Club: 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. - CSS - Engineer Jeff Kelley Assistant Engineer Kevin Claxton Photographer Kerri Hacker Director / Interviewer Iris Lin Editor / Camera Operator Kelsie Hardison

"The Cell Phones: Get You Alone"

Get You Alone is the new album from Chicago post-punk band The Cell Phones. The trio of Lindsey Charles - Vocals, Justin Purcell - Drums, and Ryan Szeszycki - Bass, are minimal, raw and dynamic. On the band's Facebook they have been described as sounding "like Death From Above 1979 and Karen O having sex." That pretty much describes The Cell Phones music. Heavy and true to a punk aesthetic, the 13 tracks stay in your face and push you up against the wall. This is an album you must hear. Stream and buy Get You Alone at the link below. - Floorshime Zipper Boots

"The Cell Phones: First Band on the Moon?"

I rarely venture out in public on Valentine’s day. This past February, however, I did manage to get myself to the Beat Kitchen in Chicago to see a band that never showed up. (For the record, they had a very reasonable excuse.) But any potential for disappointment was quickly quelled as The Cell Phones took the stage.
Only a three-piece (drums, bass, and vocals), what The Cell Phones lack in numbers, they make up for in technique and sheer power. Ryan Szeszycki’s bass playing is so intricate that it has the sonic impact of at least three musicians. And, when it’s paired with Justin Purcell’s drums, who needs a guitarist? Then there is vocalist Lindsey Charles, whose onstage persona belies any small club, vaulting any performance well beyond epic to nearly legendary status. Despite the understandably anemic Valentine’s night crowd, the Cell Phones’ performance would have been perfectly suited for any arena show.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Cell Phones won a city-wide battle of the bands in 2009 (hosted by Down Beat Studios and The Elbo Room). The Cell Phones are a band set to take off. At this point, it’s only a question of time and opportunity. And, should they ever achieve their goal of playing on the moon—well—let’s just say, I’d make the trip. - Eric Robertson - The Indie Handbook

"A Sinister Take on Hardware"

"...Then there’s our old friends from Chicago, The Cell Phones who’ve always had a flare for the darker side of life. They’ve got their own Occultish Halloween epic making the rounds. The only thing missing here is an altar of naked virgins. And, if that’s not enough, they’ve also done a 27-minute haunted house soundtrack (which you can find here) and a brand new EP (Hospital Spaceship) which includes the gruesome, Phil-Spector-does-in-the-Ronettes closer, ‘Husband’." - Eric Robertson - The Indie Handbook

"Blast Beat, Baixo e a suavidade brutal do Cell Phones!"

Really scared of these guys from Chicago doing a fine sound crazy, whoever is lover traditional grindcore certainly will not like this post on the band Cell Phones. Looking for something new so I came across this beautiful people that puts a blast beat, a bass and the vocals of Lindsey Charles who carries all the graciousness no scream but putting the brutality smoothest I’ve ever seen.And amid this flurry of band that picks up and tries to put grind with anything electronic and ends up being very bad or an imitation of any Crystal Castles, these guys take and do a job well structured, with only bass and drums sync happens so well fuck.

In 2011 recorded an Ep titled Hospital Spaceship with few songs but now giving the opinion that it would be badass. In 2013 this record is the beautiful thing Get You Alone.

Enjoyed vocal and compare Debbie Harry vibe of darkness. This CD has 13 tracks of drums and bass strafing and arranger. Hear the sound of the guys who is very good and I do not know if it looks like yeah yeah yeahs or lärm. - Paulo Dias - Aquario Aquario


Argyle EP (2010)

It's Halloween! A Haunted House Soundtrack (2010)

Hospital Spaceship EP (2011)

Get You Alone LP (2013)

No LP (coming soon FALL 2016)

All are available at



Ryan and Justin have been playing bass and drums (respectively) together since middle school in various bands, their most recent before The Cell Phones being Good/Bad. Together they created a high-technical, brutal sound that rendered guitars obsolete. But due to their joint love of early 60's girl groups, they wanted to experiment with a vocalist. She needed to be up to the challenge of singing soulfully, passionately, and effortlessly over their complex music, and Lindsey fit in like a puzzle piece. Together, they've played the Chicago area for 8 years, and tour the Midwest  frequently. 

Band Members