While still in high school, pianist Thymme Jones was browsing the racks at a Hallmark greeting card store when he noticed a category of greeting cards labeled "CHEER-ACCIDENT." Since then, six lineups have passed through Jones' band Cheer-Accident, and it has endured the loss of one of its members. The group, which plays pop songs with off-kilter chord progressions, has released numerous albums and a handful of singles for labels such as Complacency, Pravda, Skin Graft, and, in 2009, Cuneiform.
It was during the first few moments of 1981 at a New Year's party when Jones, vocalist Jim Drummond, and drummer Mike Greenlees decided to form a band. Jones couldn't get his Hallmark memory out of his mind and called the band Cheer-Accident. Various contributing musicians helped the band with the recording of their first album, Life Isn't Like That. After the album came out in 1986, Greenlees and Drummond left to pursue other full-time interests. The next lineup of Cheer-Accident consisted of bassist Chris Block and guitarist Jeff Libersher, whom Jones had met in the mid-'80s while attending Northern Illinois University. They recorded their first nationally distributed release, Sever Roots, Tree Dies, with Phil Bonnet at Solid Sound Studios in Hoffman Estates, IL, from April through July of 1988. They released the album on their own label, Complacency, that same year. Other material from the session went on a cassette LP on Complacency called Vasectomy.
Following the releases, the band reentered the studio with Steve Albini to record the EP Dumb Ask. The English label Neat Records was so impressed by the album that the imprint offered the band a two-record deal in 1990. The first album of their contract was shown to the band after pressing, and according to Jones, it was over-compressed, edited in an obscene fashion, and loaded with misspellings. The band was angered and the contract was over. They continued to release material on Complacency and also hired their engineer/producer Phil Bonnet -- known for his work with Will Oldham, U.S. Maple, the Smoking Popes, Bobby Conn, and Eleventh Dream Day -- to be their second guitarist. By 1991, Cheer-Accident had begun holding recording sessions for its fourth album, Babies Shouldn't Smoke, in the upstairs studio of the Pete WAY room in Chicago. Shortly after the sessions came to an end, Pravda approached the band with the offer to add a track to the label's 20 Explosive Dynamic Super Smash Hit Explosions! compilation. The group added their own take on "Theme From Shaft."
Lineup shifts occurred once again in 1992 when bassist Block was asked to leave Cheer-Accident after he came to a disagreement over the band's musical style. The group also began work on material with new bassist Dan Forden. The following year was spent recording, as well as developing a Chicago cable access television program titled Cool Clown Ground. In July of 1994, Albini was brought back into the studio to help Cheer-Accident record Not a Food, which would become its sixth full-length album. It was not released until February 19, 1996. Ex-Flying Luttenbacher bassist Dylan Posa replaced Forden after he got married in August of 1994. The band decided to go for a completely straight-ahead pop approach to their next full-length record, The Why Album, which was recorded from 1992 until 1993 and released in November of 1994. With the addition of Posa and his background in the volatile Luttenbachers, he brought an intense feeling to Cheer-Accident's 1996 and 1997 performances. Members of the band would also begin to add contributions to other groups around that time, which included U.S. Maple, Dot Dot Dot, Yona-Kit, Bobby Conn, Gastr Del Sol, and Smog.
In 1997, Cheer-Accident appeared on the split 7" single His Ass Was His Only Feature on the Super 800 label with the group Star Star. In April, the band released material they'd been working on for the last five years as their seventh full-length record, Enduring the American Dream. It was the band's second release for Pravda and culled tracks from studio sessions recorded in Hoffman Estates, Streamwood, Schaumburg, and Palatine, IL. The following month, the group recorded a 52-minute song called "Trading Balloons." After the studio session was finished, the band went on hiatus until September of 1998, when they reconvened to play with the Flying Luttenbachers and the Bells at Lounge Ax in Chicago.
Tragedy struck Cheer-Accident at the beginning of 1999. Just two weeks after performing a show at the DeKalb, IL, club Seven Dead Arson on January 22, and just two days after recording the basic tracks for their eighth full-length release, Salad Days, Bonnet was found dead of a brain aneurysm. Unsure of their desire to continue, the band met and agreed that Bonnet would have wanted them to forge ahead without him. By the middle of May, all of the recording and mixing for Salad Days was finished. Seeking an additional guitarist to fill the position left vacated by Bonnet, Jones recruited his friend Jamie Fillmore, who had performed on the Antje album Big Open Sky. Once the lineup was stabilized, the band self-released Trading Balloons as an EP. This was followed by the release of Salad Days in October of 2000. The band continued an active release schedule throughout the first decade of the new millennium, issuing a number of albums including Variations on a Goddamn Old Man, which consisted of recordings from the mid- to late-'90s and included Bonnet in the lineup (Pravda, 2002); the comic book soundtrack Gumballhead the Cat and wildly disparate Introducing Lemon (both Skin Graft, 2003); and What Sequel? (Pravda, 2006). Cheer-Accident switched to Cuneiform for the release of 2009's Fear Draws Misfortune, regarded by some as the group's strongest album of the decade. ~ Stephen Howell