White Zombie meets Metallica is how I'd begin to describe Crushed, a band that has been labelled "Arizona's musical visionaries". The thing that I like best about the band is the chemistry between its members and the synergistic sound that results from that interaction. I spoke with frontman Mark Lauer about the band's upcoming album, tour plans, and the future. Here are excerpts.
First of all, how did you guys get together?
We got together through a musicians help wanted in the New Times newspaper in Phoenix. We were lucky in the way we got together. We were the first musicians that formed the band and we've been able to write like crazy together. We already have ten more new songs and we're ready to put out a new record!
I just got a 5 song EP from you. What is the rest of the album like?
The actual album has 12 songs. The songs are in the same flavour as in the EP. I'd say the songs in the EP are a very good representation of what's on the CD. Our CD will be an enhanced CD... that's what our label 911 is all about... next week we're gonna be filming more video clips that'll be inserted into the CD.
Do you have any previous work recorded?
We had put something out ourselves earlier, a four song CD, a long time ago, before we got signed to 911, which is a label founded by Sandy Perlman [of Blue Öyster Cult/Black Sabbath fame].
How would you describe your songwriting/recording process?
Our guitar player plays a riff... I come in and see if I can sing anything over that. That's basically it. The recording is really easy for us and we basically had the album done in three days. In a few cases, we just used the scratch vocal which gives it more of a live feel.
How did you get hooked up with Richard Corsello producing?
It's pretty funny... our guitar player's dad was playing golf with some guys and one of them said he was in the music business... i know this guy who's a producer...
Are there any plans for a tour of the U.S.?
We completed one tour in April---we went from NYC to FL all the way over the East Coast. We were out with a band called Cellophane and did several dates with them. We're going back home to AZ for a few days and we will begin a new tour in June. We're hoping to be in a package tour as opposed to just doing clubs. We'll be playing the H.O.R.D.E. fest in AZ, but it's only for one date.
How do the live shows go?
Just great. We usually tend to win most people over. We tend to put on a bit of a show when we're at home and we have everyone there who can work for us... we do lights and stuff. When we're on a tour... it's hard to get one person who can work with us.
Are there any videos in the works?
We were just talking about that last night. We hope to schedule a couple of days and film the first MTV video in June. It depends on what song get played a lot on the radio.
What kind of stations have been playing your music?
A few commercial stations, mostly college radio stations and stations with a harder edge. In a sense I think EP is a bit limiting with this record. There are some songs you haven't heard that are really good.
How would you describe your music?
Heavy alternative is how I'd begin to describe it. I don't think we're heavy metal. There's definitely metal in there, but it also has a lot of pop music.
What do you think of the current music scene, particularly the rise of underground music?
I think it's great. A band called Snot is #1 on many radio charts. I plan to see them tonight live in a club and they have same kind of spirit that we have. I prefer to have a more optimistic side to music instead of the depressive side many musicians have today. We're like entertainers in a way and we like our music to be bright.
Who would you cite as influences?
For the heavier side, I'd say bands from White Zombie to Tool to Korn have been a big influence. On the more pop side, I'm heavily influenced by bands like Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance. I like songs with melody... melody with a heavy but groove-oriented beat.
How long have been involved with music and have you been in other bands?
I'm 30 now and I've been into music since I was 14. Five years ago we put this band together and now it's finally going some place. The band I was in previously was called Undertow. It was a gothic style band which was heavily influenced by the Cult and Sisters of Mercy. We were on the verge of signing with Sire, but that never happened.
What personally motivates you to perform music?
Music has just driven me to sing and play. I always told myself that the day I stopped intensively loving it is the day I would stop. It has been an nonstop obsession. I just a have great deal of love for it.
What are your future plans and where do you see yourself in the year 2000?
The way everything moves so slowly, I don't know. I hope to have the second album done, if we all make it through the end of the century. I want us be hanging together as there are no fights and no problems. This is definitely a long term project.