The Cells
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The Cells


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"The Cells We Can Replace You"

Following in the great Chicago power pop tradition, this debut full-length from The Cells slots alongside Cheap Trick, Busker Soundcheck and Figdish nicely with 10 songs that channel frustration and boredom with muscle and melody. Aside from the fire-stoked guitars and cheer-worthy choruses, this band stands out by the slightly glam vocals of lead songwriter Cory Hance. He channels Robin Zander plus vintage David Bowie on songs that wear their working class pessimism like a badge of honor. "Another hour we'll all be happy ... don't want to die alone," he sings ("All Be Happy"), making desperation sound like a reason to celebrate. There are no small deals on this album and the band commits to everything with enormity in sound and more so, fury.
- Chicago Daily Herald, Mark Guarino

"The Cells-We Can Replace You"

Mention the Cells in Chicago and you're bound to get an earful. "The Cells write great songs and put on a phenomenal live show," says Chris Payne, host of Q101/Chicago's "Local 101". "The Cells' music explodes out of your speakers," Richard Milne, host of WXRT/Chicago's "Local Anesthetic," exclaims. Sensing a trend? So are we. The Cells' promising debut, We Can Replace You, boasts song after song of fun yet genuine pop-punk that rivals most major label acts attempting to do the same thing. The album's memorable opener, "Silver Cloud," clearly outlines what listeners should expect from the other nine songs on this album: hooks. Lots of 'em. In short, We Can Replace You is the type of album that begs to be listened to (loudly) on a summer day when you skip work, jump in the car and cruise to the beach with the windows down. There's no need for us to recommend tracks. You can pretty much hit the random play button on the CD player and let fate decide what song pops on; they're all equally good.
- Kevin Boyce: CMJ New Music Report Issue: 766 - Jun 10, 2002 - CMJ New Music Report, 6.02

"The Cells - We Can Replace You"

The Cells' We Can Replace You is for folks who like walls of guitars — thick, rich guitars. The group's music can, at times, fall roughly into the punk-pop or power pop spheres but, more accurately, this is urgent, hook-ridden hard rock with a wide appeal. The album storms out of the gate with the chest-thumping, clotted-cream riffs of "Silver Cloud," and then plunges headlong into the furious, hook-ridden attack of the Cheap Trick-esque "All Be Happy." The vocals of frontman Cory Hance have an appealing, adolescent quality, whether he's whining at you like your bratty little brother or snottily drawling extra syllables into words like early Liam Gallagher (particularly on "Fluff," which could be a first cousin to Oasis' "Supersonic" or "Acquiesce"). This is first-rate, muscular rock, and the only misstep here seems to be the anthemic (replete with acoustic guitar opening) rocker "Spaceman." But as long as the trio (and whatever bass player has been rented for the moment) keeps the guitars revved up and Hance keeps up the punkish whining, this is appealing rock of the highest order.
- Erik Hage, -, eric hage

"The Cells - We Can Replace You"

Reviewed by Adam McKibbin

Chicago DJs have been abuzz about The Cells for quite some time. Now, the Windy City boys are invading the rest of the country with their steady barrage of addictive hooks and good ol’ fashioned pop rawk. A recent week at CMJ found We Can Replace You as the #2 most-added album at college radio stations (behind the never-ending story that is Sonic Youth). It doesn’t take long to see what all the excitement is about. While their press material makes it clear that they pride themselves in existing outside of the Creed and Staind mainstream, the truth is that you can easily imagine We Can Replace You swimming in a quieter mainstream niche, namely the one carved out by the blasting rock of The White Stripes and summertime power-pop darlings like Fountains of Wayne. These are the types of songs you sing along to on first listen, especially infectious choruses like the one in the lead single, “Silver Cloud.” In a perfect world, you’d hear the songs for the first time while cruising a convertible down the PCH, accompanied by old friends and a whopping cooler of cheap beer.

Maybe it’s just the music I listened to when I was a teenager, but The Cells get me thinking about firsts: first kiss, first beer party, first big outdoor concert. For those of us forced to enjoy. The Cells in more humdrum situations, there’s plenty of anger and disillusionment lurking in the shadows of those massive hooks. Singer Cory Nance finds plenty of targets for his nasally whine. Drummer Randy Payne and guitarist Pat McIntyre sound equally pissed (and, alternately, punkily impassive). Producer Andy Gerber expertly flirts with the line between big noise and too-rough-for-radio.

Since founding bassist Brede Hovland ran off to Hollywood to produce terrible movies (Mission to Mars, Big Trouble), The Cells are currently touring with Nance serving as
pseudo-bassist, employing pedals to give the trio the sound of a quartet. As a sidenote, we’re happy to have the band’s label, Orange, safely relocated to our fair city. You can check them out at
- Entertainment Today (LA)

"The Cells - We Can Replace You"

The Cells
The Cells fit neatly into that nebulous category I like to call "super bubble." Equal parts glam, pop and metal, constantly shape-shifting like a damned Lava Lamp. Try putting this on random play with (their friends) Box-O-Car, Cheap Trick, Sweet, Slade, and Bay City Rollers. That's super bubble! The Cells are Cory Hance on vocals and guitar, McIntyre on guitar and vocals, Rick Ness on bass guitar, and Randy Payne on drums. "Silver Cloud" is immediately winning with a massive guitar assault and a slam dunk vocal hook in the chorus, courtesy of Hance and his engaging "c'mon, EVERYbody" voice, known to inspire mass sing-alongs at Chicago's hottest clubs. These songs come from their "For Humans" LP

"The Cells"

"The Cells evoke the best pop-rockers like Fountains of Wayne with well-crafted songs and lots of energy"
- Illinois Entertainer

"THE CELLS-Schuba's-8/24/02"

On their new We Can Replace You (Orange) the local Cells render crappy feelings into ten burly chunks of feel-good power pop. Thos giant power chords might be predictable, but Cory Hance’s voice is an unexpected touch: he’s so new-wave twerpy he makes Robin Zander sound like Ronnie James Dio. But that’s what makes this kind of plain Chicago loud rock palatable – the same sort of culture clash that takes place up on Clark Street when an all-ages punk show at Metro is opening its doors as a Cubs game is letting out. It’s all about the satisfaction that can be derived from the weediest guys making the biggest noise – and though no one in the Cells personally looks particularly weedy, the restless roar of overcompensation is definitely there.
--Monica Kendrick
- Chicago Reader

"The Cells -- Playing Dirty"

The Cells are nice guys. And everyone knows the skinny on nice guys: about how they always finish last. About how women can't seem to ever meet one. About how they always seem to get stepped on by the real dicks who end up ruling the universe with said women on their arms. Blah, blah, blah. The truth is, I had known from years of drinking with them that singer/drummer/guitarist Cory Hance, drummer Randy Payne, and guitarist Pat McIntyre were nice guys. Great really. That's why it was such a relief to find out that their spanking debut, We Can Replace You (Orange) due June 4th, was often not nice at all.

"Our songs tend to be stridently angry," theorizes Hance over lunch at Bar Louie replete with huge, artery-menacing baskets of chicken tenders, french fries, and chicken vesuvio sandwiches. "A lot of stuff that's on the radio now is 'poor, little me' stuff, guys singing like Eddie Vedder, lots of seven-string rock guitar. Maybe we are following more of like a '60s pop writing tradition in that you can write about anything and you want it to be catchy and for people to remember it."

"They're not necessarily destined to be angry by any means," explains Payne, perhaps mindful of the proverbial "a-hole" of angst and anger the band could unwittingly talk themselves into. "All of the songs could be done as easily with a nice, pretty acoustic guitar and be as effective. But I remember making the record and constantly telling Andy to make it dirty, make it angry, make it big." Andy, it should be noted, is Andy Gerber of Million Yen Studios who has recorded "big" in the past with bands like Caviar and Local H and perhaps his greatest accomplishment with We Can Replace You is that it is tough to imagine some of these songs at one time as either nice or pretty.

"I think Andy likes the big wall of guitars too," says Hance. With a slightly twisted, dead-end whine that imagines a glue-huffing Blink-182 and a penchant for writing hooks that sink their teeth in on first listen, band founder Hance serves as The Cells' liaison to the masses and doesn't shrink from the challenge or affiliation. "I'd like to hear our songs on the radio, whereas a lot of bands may be like, 'Fuck radio!'" With We Can Replace You the band is able to seemingly play it both ways without compromise. "It's really catchy lyrically, but we also really wanted to rock. I mean a lot of times, we'd play back a guitar part and I would be thinking, 'can we make that uglier?'"

Never ugly, the result is instead the marriage of slick pop smarts and deliciously crude, hormone-charged guitar riffs that evokes both the established (Cheap Trick, AC/DC) and emerging (Idlewild, Muchacha) without overtly trying to sound like anybody. From the crunching roll call on the opening "Silver Cloud," the band leaves little doubt that volume will not be sacrificed for accessibility. "Don't want to die alone," Hance pleads on "All Be Happy," but rather than dissolving into self-pity, the song opens up into a head-bobbing sing-along. While not exactly offering a new design on the wheel, The Cells are suckers for detail and We Can Replace You is full of sly nuances, from the sad, Nirvana-esque refrains on "Hello" to the structural grace of "I Go Out."

We Can Replace You has a gradual, sometimes surprising momentum that mirrors the band's. Formed originally in 1998 by Hance and Norwegian bass player Brede Hovland and changing names at whim, the band settled on its name only after Hance and a co-worker at a temp agency brainstormed the day of a show. Veterans of local bands such as Dead Man's Wallet, Nine Day Wonder, and Box-O-Car, the band finally solidified with the departure of Hovland (now a movie producer) and the addition of Payne and "the quiet Cell" McIntyre. The question of a bassist is another matter altogether.

"That's a good freaking question," says Hance in somewhat mock exasperation. Payne's explanation is a bit more measured. "We decided a while ago that the band is essentially just the three of us and that's how it is," he says patiently. "We have about five different guys who all have slightly different styles. But they all play the songs basically the same way." And as Hance notes, "They're a hot commodity. It's hard to find a bass player who's able to play who's not already in another band." On the upcoming We Can Replace You tour dates, The Cells will travel sans bassist, with Hance playing an assortment of pedals to duplicate the sound of a quartet.

While acknowledging the universal appeal of the trio dynamic, Hance also votes locally, laughing, "It's the Urge Overkill effect." In fact, local music and musicians come up quite often in conversation with The Cells, not surprising given their network of friends (Local H, Caviar) and guest bassists that include Rick Ness (ex-Figdish) and Skid Marks (Box-O-Car). Are the band members fearful of getting lumped haphazardly in with the various other guitar-based Chicago bands? Au contraire, pleads Payne. "I don't think we ever gave it too much thought - of sounding too much 'Chicago.' If anything, I think we pride ourselves on being a Chicago band and having a 'Chicago sound.'"

Likewise, the band had seemingly no reservations with working with Gerber, despite his obvious ties to the local community. Perhaps fittingly, a possible conflict of interest results instead in a sound that sounds as much rooted in the punk/pop of Orange's native California as the ubiquitous homegrown Cheap Trick. "A nice compliment that I got after a show was that we didn't come off like a Chicago band," recalls Hance, also noting the telling decision the band made to choose a label outside of Chicago to put out their record. "It was important to us to find a label that wasn't in Chicago. I thought it would be interesting to be picked up by a label from a different town and be able to go to there and maybe get a different perspective. It's kind of interesting to have a bunch of guys from California listening to our stuff in a completely different environment, kind of processing it in their heads."

It's back to work, literally, as all of The Cells hold day jobs. No post-pubescent upstarts, The Cells have been in enough bands and on enough tours that fits them with grounded views and expectations of the upcoming months of the record's release and a subsequent tour. Still, they sound excited. Already, with limited press and publicity, the band has managed to create a mini-buzz via their great live show and word of mouth.

"I can't wait to get up in front of a crowd that doesn't know us and see what they think," says Hance with confidence. With any luck, they won't think that The Cells are nice guys.
--Marty Behm - Illinois Entertainer

"The Cells - We Can Replace You (Orange Recordings)"

Wonder if they named the record after their bass player (they have been through a few!). Regardless.Chicago guitar rock strikes again, following on the heels of recent personal faves Big Hello and Million Yen (whose Andy Gerber produced and mixed this record). By combining the power of a band like Green Day with the off-center pop song selection of Cheap Trick (speaking of Illinois), The Cells toss out big rawk hooks and score bonus points for not taking themselves so seriously. On the other hand, songs that seem funny on the surface ("Stupid Guy", "All Be Happy") are very cleverly written vignettes and not the throwaways that many bands think they can get away with. Those unconventional smarts may not bode well for the Billboard charts, but there are radio stations and rock clubs in every city in America dying for music like this. Cory Hance's vocals are perfectly suited for the variety of material, rough enough to rock when needed and smooth enough to cruise when appropriate. Hance, Pat McIntyre (guitars), and Randy Payne (drums) plow through We Can Replace You with controlled fury. Now if they could only find a permanent bass player.
(Bill Holmes)
- Pop Culture Press

"The Cells"

"Thoroughly hard-charging power-pop--definitely worth checking out." - Chicago Tribune Metromix


"We Can Replace You" 1st CD released 2002 on Orange Recordings ( Garnered waves of good press, college/commercial radio play, and TV placement on MTV & ESPN, especially the single "Silver Cloud." "Silver Cloud" is currently featured and pre-loaded in EVERY DELL COMPUTER BEING SOLD, resulting in greater notoriety and web traffic for the band. Record is present on most store/download sites including iTunes, MusicMatch, YahooMusic,, CDBaby, etc.

"MAYDAY" ... the Cells' 2nd disc has just just been completed (Summer 2006) and is available from Old Reliable Records ( Recorded by Andy Gerber at Million Yen Studios Chicago and mixed by world-famous rock enginner/producer Robert Scovill in Phoenix, AZ. Label.



For a band with such exhilarating songs, the Cells are a tough band to label. They cobble together a 21st century sensibility with the sounds of 60s pop, '70s punk, glam, arena rock and new wave, as well as the plaintive jangle of Big Star and the ruthless crunch of AC/DC to create a clean, pure blast of music for people like themselves who can't find anything they like on the radio. Though the the Cells' lineup has shifted more times than the San Andreas Fault, the band's one constant has been singer/guitarist Cory Hance's ringing voice and steady stream of unshakeable songs. The Cells released their first disc, "We Can Replace You," on Orange Recordings ( in 2002. The disc garnered waves of favorable press and college and commercial radio play. The Cells toured the Eastern U.S. and played CMJ and the South by Southwest music festival. But by early 2003, the Cells lineup that recorded "We Can Replace You" (Hance, drummer Randy Payne, guitarist Pat McIntyre, founding bassist Brede Hovland and later bassist Rick Ness) had parted ways, with McIntyre and Payne re-forming into the band Cisco Pike. Hance decided to rebuild the whole Cells thing from scratch, recruiting drummer Mark Doyle (Woolworthy, Verbow, Loud Lucy) and bass player Johnny Furman (the Darlings, the Lupins, the Webb Bros.). The new lineup began performing and writing new songs together in mid/late 2003, incorporating a wider range of influences and creating the best Cells songs yet. Not long after, their song Silver Cloud landed a spot as a free music sample in Dell computers MusicMatch software. Its now available in almost every Dell computer being sold today, exposing the band to new fans from all over. The invigorated band recorded immediately went to work recording their second CD, "Mayday." It was recorded/produced by Andy Gerber at Million Yen Studios in Chicago and mixed by famed audio engineer Robert Scovill at the MusiCanvas Studio/Eldons Boy Productions in Scottsdale, AZ. The second Cells disc, "Mayday," is slated for a June 2006 release on Old Reliable Records ( Meanwhile, the Cells are rehearsing, working up songs for disc ..3 and chomping at the bit to play in your town! Stay tuned.