Julia Pierce’s resume is the kind that any up-and-coming rock band would love to have.
She and her band Cherri Bomb have opened for the Foo Fighters and the Smashing Pumpkins among others, played the Reading and Leeds Festivals in United Kingdom, plus the Rock En Seine, Oxegen, Highfields and Lowlands Festivals as well as Australia’s Soundwave festival, not to mention the Warped Tour.
Cherri Bomb is a group of four rockin’ girls based in Los Angeles. Their debut album, This is the End of Control, is a great mix of rock, punk-and pop. Julia and her band have been playing since 2008, so they’ve already got a couple of years of playing live and a tour or two under their belts.
Oh, and did I mention they’re all between 14 to 16 years old?!
When Julia was just 13 she was on stage with Billy Corgan singing a duet of Landslide.
But make no mistake – while the girls are getting attention in part because of their ages, this isn’t a case of them “being good for a 14 year old.” They’d be considered really good if they were 24.
The real reason Julia’s age is worth mentioning is because in an age of pop princesses and young teen girls trying to achieve fame through reality TV shows, Julia and Cherri Bomb did it the old fashioned way: they learned to play instruments and went out and rocked.
Saturday night, Cherri Bomb will open for Buckcherry and Lit at The Depot. Ironically, they wouldn’t even be able to see the show if they were just fans because it’s 21+. In similar situations in other cities, the girls haven’t been allowed inside the club’s main area, being forced to stay in a green room or backstage area until it was time for them to play, then escorted immediately back to that area when they were done.
Following in the footsteps of the likes of The Runaways, The Go-Go’s and The Donnas, Cherri Bomb are on their way to being the next trailblazing all girl band. But while they are already getting many comparisons to The Runaways, in part because they’re girls and one of the Runaways biggest hits was “Cherry Bomb,” Julia says their musical influences come from the music of their generation. The Foo Fighters, Paramore and My Chemical Romance were the biggest musical influences of the band. And for “old school” inspiration, Julia looks to the music of Nirvana. The band’s name was not taken from The Runaways’ song.
The incredible story of Cherri Bomb started in New Jersey when Julia was taking piano lessons. Only when she went to her lessons each week at the local music store, she couldn’t help but stare at the guitars.
“As I walked in and out from my lesson, I would always see the guitars hanging up on the wall, and it fascinated me, and I was so little I could barely reach up to even grab them. But I just fell in love with them, I loved how they looked, I thought they were beautiful and I really wanted to get my hands on one,” she told the Deseret News this week.
After begging her parents for a guitar, she got one at age 8. At that time, she was listening to a lot of her parents’ music such as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Music was always playing in their house and at full volume in the car.
Julia picked up the guitar quickly and singing quickly.
“It’s something that came to me so naturally, I really don’t know what it was,” she said.
Julia’s talent and dedication were so evident that her parents took the gutsy step of moving to Los Angeles to give her a chance of pursuing her dream of starting a band.
“I just thought (starting a band) was something that seemed right,” she said.
Once in L.A., Julia started posting fliers in music stores and ads online everywhere she could. But it wasn’t just any band she was looking to start. Julia wanted to put together an all girl band.
“I wanted to have girls in my band because, it was really empowering to me. I just thought having girls my age that could play instruments and wanted to be rock stars was kind of the dream come true,” she said.
But she admits finding girls her age who wanted to be rock stars was a challenge.
“It was pretty difficult, at that time, it was hard to find anyone in general who could play an instrument at that age or wanted to be in a rock band. So the process of finding the band took, I think about a year,” she said.
Nia Lovelis was the first to join the band on drums. Next came Miranda Miller, a classical piano prodigy who switched to guitar. Nia’s sister, Rena, was eventually chosen to finish the quartet on bass.
On their debut album, with songs like “Let It Go” and “Too Many Faces,” the girls are playing music that sounds far more mature than what one might expect from a group of young teen girls. Their music is aggressive and gutsy for a teen girls. But make no mistake, they play their own instruments.
Starting off, the girls were talented, for sure. But having a key connection to the industry certainly didn’t hurt.
Nia and Rena’s mother had actually played in a band previously with drummer Samantha Maloney (Hole, Motley Crue). After Maloney was introduced to the band, a connection was immediately made and she took Cherri Bomb under her wing.
“As soon as she became our manager she helped us so much. She got us on our first tour, which was with the Smashing Pumpkins, and I think that’s a pretty good deal,” Julia said.
The girls also recorded a cover of the Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender.” The song now than 500,000 hits on You Tube. As soon as it was released, it landed in the hands of Dave Grohl. He was so impressed that Cherri Bomb soon found themselves opening for their idols in Germany in front of 25,000 people.
“Playing that day in Germany with the Foo Fighters, I can’t even explain what it was like, it was amazing,” said Julia.
Turning a group of teen girls loose in Europe and with touring rock-n-roll bands in America isn’t without supervision. Julia said at least one parent is always on the road with them. But she said it was cool because they usually help out by selling merch. The girls also have a tutor on the road with them, so being in a touring rock band doesn’t excuse them from missing school.
The debut release from Cherri Bomb is This is the End of Control, a lyric from their song, “Shake the Ground.” Julia said it’s an empowering message that even though they’re just minors, they’re going to make the decisions that are best for them.
“As teenagers, as a band that really doesn’t fit the mold, we don’t want people trying to control us or tell us to be something that we’re not,” she said.
The way these sassy girls are going, they won’t ever have to worry about that.