THE FANZINE THAT FEATURES SMALL AND UNSIGNED BANDS
Monday, February 15, 2010
INTERVIEW WITH CRASH CITY SAINTS
Do you still believe in the shoegazescene? From the moment you decided to keep on reading I guess you do, so here is an American band named Crash City Saints. It might be a cliché to tell, but the band have nothing against it, but if you’re into the early sounds from Jesus & The Mary Chain, The Primitives (I could also say Deardarkhead or Vaportrail but who knows them?) or Chapterhouse, you’ll dig them too….
Here is an interview with both Josh and Chris, and let me thank them for having made such an interesting conversation…..
HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELVES AND HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC THEN?
Josh: The current incarnation of the Crash City Saints is Joshua Garman (vocals, guitars, loops, programming) and Chris Wahamaki (vocals, guitars). Live, we have often been joined by a slew of talented individuals including: April Morris (tambourine, vocals) from the the very amazing band Glowfriends, Matt Massuch (guitar) who makes some wonderful music with his Crawling Through Her Ghosts project, and my brother Nathan Garman (guitars) who sings/plays guitar in his band The Hex Bombs. As for how I’d describe us: I’ve always been a fan of the term ambient guitar rock – which I first saw on a sticker on a tape cassette of Chapterhouse’s Whirlpool album – but I would have to say the best description I’ve heard came from Eddie Jacobson (who designed the cover for Airiel’s Battle of Sealand album): a sandblaster filled with sugar. Chris: I love that description. If that isn't the reality, its at least the ideal.
I AM NOT THE FIRST AND I’LL CERTAINLY WON’T BE THE LAST PERSON WHO THINKS YOUR MUSIC COMES CLOSE TO JESUS & MARY CHAIN AND MY BLOODY VALENTINE….
Josh: Good company to be in for sure, and I’m fine with that comparison. I don’t deny being a huge fan of both. Don’t forget Bailter Space, Swervedriver, Husker Du, early Smashing Pumpkins, and Medicine too - anything with loud guitars and an ear for melody really. I would be especially remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Scott Cortez (Loveliescrushing/Astrobrite) who, maybe even more so than the aforementioned bands, has also been a major influence.
I GUESS TECHNICALLY SPEAKING YOU’RE A SHOEGAZINGBAND. I ONCE ASKED IT SLOWDIVE AND THEY COULDN’T ANSWER, SO NOW IT’S YOUR TURN….WHAT’S SHOEGAZING?
Josh: Ha. Nobody wants to admit to being a shoegaze band do they? If Slowdive (aka the quintessential shoegaze band) couldn’t tell you what shoegaze is, I’m not sure I have a snowball’s chance in hell. Near as I can tell it has something to do with the copious use of effects pedals, vague & non-threatening lyrics, looking morose, and Jazzmaster guitars (the price of which could probably feed some third-world villages for a year). Chris: aka, psychedelic rock for rich wimps? I kid, I kid.
DO YOU THINK YOU’RE STANDING ON YOUR OWN THESE DAYS OR IS THERE SOMETHING LIKE AN AMERICAN SHOEGAZING SCENE?
Josh: On a local level, it can feel pretty lonely. But on the national level? Absolutely there is an American shoegazing scene. It’s mostly underground, but it’s thriving. For the past three years now, April (Glowfriends) has put together a shoegaze-themed music festival, Kalamashoegazer, here in my hometown of Kalamazoo, MI. Bands have come from many corners of the USA: The Brief Candles (Wisconsin), Panda Riot (Chicago), Gospel Gossip (Minneapolis), Screen Vinyl Image (Virginia), The Sky Drops (Delaware)… just to name a few!! It’s incredibly inspiring. Crash City Saints also played a show in Detroit last winter with a Texas band, Ringo Deathstarr, who are basically the baddest mofos in shoegaze/noisepop/whatever-ya-wanna-call-it right now as far as I’m concerned. These guys are the real deal. Chris: Ringo Deathstar were very inspiring. But there were what, ten people at that show? So, it's abundantly clear that no matter how f**king awesome your are, a lonely road awaits, at least here in Michigan. However, Kalamashoegazer makes me feel hopeful. The turnout has grown each year, as well as the merits of its line-up (in my humble opinion).
YOU TOLD ME ABOUT SOME RELEASE IN JAPAN THAT SOON WILL HAPPEN. HOW ENDS AN AMERICAN BAND IN JAPANESE ARMS?
Josh: I’m not sure myself. Quince Records contacted us via our myspace page about releasing some of our songs in Japan. Thus so far, they seem like a cool indie label with some very refreshing and practical ideas concerning both music and the distribution/marketing of music. I’m still not sure if somebody tipped them off, or if by sheer chance they just stumbled across our page while web surfing. Either way, I’m certainly not complaining.
Chris: It seems, from my perspective here in the states, that the majority of shoegaze/noise-pop lovers reside in South America, Japan, and Europe. At least, that's where most of the people who approach us online seem to come from. The grass is always greener though, isn't it? So, I think it makes sense in that context. Americans don't much care for us. So, we'll become an import, then we'll see if we taste better! Ooh, exotic!
IT MIGHT BE STRANGE TO ANSWER BUT STILL…..WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM YOUR OWN MUSIC?
Josh: Truth, beauty, and ringing ears. Chris: haha! I cannot do better than that.
THE CURRENT MUSICSCENE IS DOMINATED BY MY SPACE….DO YOU BELIEVE IN THAT YOURSELVES?
Josh: Speaking from personal experience, myspace, annoying as it can sometimes be, has proven itself to be a useful tool for networking with other like-minded bands. There are many extraordinary people and bands I’m not sure I would have met without it; as I mentioned earlier, it helped us, at least partially, get a label deal. That being said, I do sometimes worry that sites like myspace/facebook/etc. are killing the DIY spirit that is vital for a strong underground music scene – but then I see an amazing show in some local basement and realize that the underground is alive and kicking and won’t be going away anytime soon. There is still so much happening in music, maybe right in your own town, but you have to get out there and get involved. Not every artist chooses to be a presence on the internet (although, this being the 21st century and all, they might want to strongly consider it).
SORRY BUT I MUST ASK IT…..IN THE SHOEGAZING DAYS THERE WAS AN AMERICAN REACTION CALLED GRUNGE WHICH KILLED THE SCENE, BUT NOW IT SEEMS LIKE THE US IS FORMING THE SCENE THEY KILLED THEMSELVES……
Josh: What can I say? It’s not without precedent. In the late 80’s/early 90’s, it was the 60’s summer of bullshit love all over again: tie-dyed t-shirts, dreadlocks, and beads everywhere you turned. Indie kids have been worshiping at the alter of irony for years. They’ll tire of the shoegaze revival soon enough (if it isn’t considered passé already), and move on to the next rebooted musical movement. Maybe a grunge revival? Then they can kill shoegaze all over again!
Chris: That's clever!
ISN’T YOUR SOUND ALSO SOMETHING LIKE HIDING YOURSELF BETWEEN A WALL OF SOUND?
Josh: I’m shy by nature, so I imagine it’s a little bit of that. Mostly, I just love guitar distortion. Chris: I personally want to feel just as excited and overwhelmed by the music as I hope the audience feels too. Playing music, for me, is definitely a very selfish pursuit. I want to move myself! However, this act requires a lot of reverb and distortion, and noise. I love a ruckus. It's a spiritual thang.
WHY THE NAME…..????
Josh: My friend Mike Mann (also from the band The Hex Bombs) came up with the name seven years ago. I’m pretty sure he just thought it sounded cool. At any rate, I was too lazy to come up with anything better, so I stuck with it. The wisdom of that decision has sometimes been in doubt. Over the years, the general consensus from people seems to have been the name’s a little dodgy, but they like the music. All things considered though, I’d rather that than “cool name, but the music sucks.”
Chris: I refute the argument that the name is "dodgy", I think it expresses the ideal perfectly: A holy urban cacophony!
HOW STUPID IT MAY SOUND, WHAT ARE YOUR MOMENTS OF “FAME” YET AND WHAT ARE THE GOALS IN THE FUTURE?
Josh: Well, I’ve had a few minor brushes with fame. A few years ago, I got to meet and briefly chat with Jim Reid backstage while he was on tour with his band Freeheat. I tried to play it cool, but I was pretty much star struck. Last year I met Rob Montejo (from the Sky Drops), who used to play in Smashing Orange, a band that had the distinction of being one of the only O.G. shoegaze bands from the United States in the early 90’s, and he was super cool. As far as future goals are concerned, I’m hoping to have the Crash City Saints first full-length album done soon; ideally, it will be something that honors/references the past while still managing to be its own thing. I’d also like to play some shows overseas (Japan, Europe) someday soon. I want to get A Place To Bury Strangers to come play Kalamashoegazer (hey, if you’re reading this Oliver…)!!
Chris: I'm a nobody. My dad got me an MC Hammer autograph when I was a kid though! ha. I'll be moving to Japan for a year in the fall, so i'm just hoping to play music with Josh as much as possible before then!
LAST QUESTIONS ARE QUESTIONS I ALWAYS ASK, I CALL IT THE TRADITIONAL ORIGINAL SIN-QUESTIONS… WHAT’S YOUR FAVE RECORD OF ALL TIME AND WHY?
Josh: Impossible to say with any degree of certainty, but if pressed, I would tell you The Ramones first self-titled album is perfection; I will never, never tire of it if I live to be a hundred. A few years ago, some friends and I got together at a local open mic night and played it in its entirety (in just under twenty minutes, might I add) – an exercise in catharsis I highly recommend.
Chris: Damn, I hate this question. Its a tough one. I'm an eclectic lad, so boiling it down to one album seems horribly unjust to me. I'll say Medicine - Shot Forth Self Living. Brad Laner deserves more praise. Medicine rules. "One More" is what started me down this musical path to begin with. Check out “The North Valley Subconscious Orchestra”, It’s a collaboration between Brad Laner and an awesome laptop/guitar freak named Christopher Willits. I Love it.
OOOOH, I LOVE MEDICINE A LOT. I REMEMBER BUYING AN EXPENSIVE TICKET FOR SMASHING PUMPKINS AS THEY WERE THE SUPPORT ACT. AS SOON AS THE PUMPKINS GOT ON STAGE, I LEFT THE VENUE….. WITH WHO WOULDN’T YOU MIND BEING STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR FOR 8 HOURS AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN?
Josh: This is probably a boring answer, but that scenario sounds a little too claustrophobic for my tastes. I’m not sure there’s anyone smart enough, sexy enough, or interesting enough on Earth that could make 8 hours trapped in an elevator a pleasant experience for me.
THAT’S INDEED A VERY BORING ANSWER, AT LEAST YOUR MUSIC IS BETTER!!!! Chris: Sarah Palin. Welcome to the Thunderdome. SHE MIGHT LIKE IT!!!!!!
DO YOU WANT TO SAY SOMETHING SPECIAL TO OUR READERS? Josh: Big Country’s first two albums are much underrated. “THE CROSSING” IS A FAVE TOO HERE!!!!!!!! Chris: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Mr. Samuel Beckett, ladies and gentlemen.