Aged 19, Nathan Hewitt left his tiny Canadian hometown of Morinville to go back-packing around Europe. Determined to find himself a new home on this side of the Atlantic, he eventually settled in London with his future wife and his band, Little Death.

Before too long though, Hewitt caught the songwriting bug and began recording solo material as Cheatahs, channelling influences from Elliott Smith and The Lemonheads to Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. Tracks like the acoustic fuzz of 2009's 'Warriors' were a departure from the steeliness of Little Death and were an early indication of Hewitt's knack for melancholy melody. He put the project on hold to become Male Bonding's live guitarist, but earlier this year Cheatahs reconvened to put out their first EP, 'Coared', as a full band – fiercer, punchier and far more infectious than before.

Now the four-piece – completed by guitarist James Wignall, bassist Dean Reid and drummer Marc Raue – are about to release their second EP of shoegazing pop, 'Sans', on the ever-reliable Wichita Recordings and go on tour with labelmates The Cribs. The 405 caught up with Hewitt to find out more about being a Cheatah.

How come you wanted to strike out on your own, because Cheatahs started out as a solo thing, didn't it?

I always wanted to write songs and Little Death was great because it was just fun to play guitar. It got to that point though, where I thought, "I want to write songs now".

Cheatahs is a much less muscular sound than Little Death. Was that the intention?

Little Death was a pretty loud band and I just had my acoustic guitar at home and my computer. I was really limited as to what I could do recording-wise, but in my head all of the songs I was writing were meant to be played with a band.

Did Cheatahs get put on hold for a while when you were playing with Male Bonding?

To be honest I didn't really feel like it got going until this year. Male Bonding asked me to go on tour for their second record, and I said, 'Yeah, of course'. It was fun, but there was the reality of being on the road and being away and not being able to do Cheatahs. I've had the idea for this band for a really long time but only in the last eight months have we actually given it a go. It seems like it's happened fast to me and it kind of has, but it hasn't at the same time because the songs have been out there for a long time. I like to think of this year as the beginning.

Do you get more satisfaction now playing your own songs rather than playing songs in other bands or songs you didn't write in Little Death?

I'm much more satisfied as an artist doing this. It was a lot of fun playing guitar in Little Death but we were still babies as far as being in a band went. I had only lived here a little while.

It must be a bit more pressure though, because if a song does go down well it's kind of your fault.

That's the flipside, totally. There's less pressure but less reward [playing other people's songs]. I did that for a while, playing in friends' bands and playing songs I didn't write. It made me a lot better at guitar and taught me what being in a band is about, and I've seen a lot of cool places.

I read an interview with you where ZZ Top came up as an influence.

Ha ha ha! I was just fucking around.

You know, I can kind of hear a little bit of ZZ Top in the EP title-track 'SANS'. There's something about that lick where it's a little bit like 'Sharp Dressed Man'.

I think that was more of a Dinosaur Jr lick. They were riffing on that kind of music anyway, right? There's nothing wrong with a flash guitar lick!

The new EP, compared to 'Coared', I think it's a lot more melodic.

The difference between the EPs is huge. The songs on the first EP were songs that I wrote on my own in my bedroom in 2009. 'Coared' [title-track] is the only one I had written once we got the band together. The songs on the new EP were all written since the last one and they were pretty much written as a band. We've been figuring out the sound and James has come in within the songwriting too. I guess we're still figuring it out, it's still early days.

How ambitious are you as a band?

I think as long as we can make music, play shows and put out records and that's all we ever do – we still have jobs now but if we achieved that, that would be awesome.

I guess it's challenging when you are all working day jobs, finding the time to go away and record and go on tour.

It's hard, especially in a place like London where it's so expensive to find a studio and a rehearsal space, but I wouldn't want to do anything else. I think, especially having a label now, and putting a record out and touring in the new year, we're on the right path to get to where we want to get to.

With you being from Canada, is it important to you to "make it" in Canada in the same way you might want to "make it" in the UK?

You know what, I think it's selfishly more important for me to make it in Canada. I think it would be really cool to go out there and play a show. I think that would mean more to me than playing Manchester Apollo.


You can visit Cheatahs by heading to facebook.com/cheatahs