Q&A: Crime in Stereo Talk Breaking Up, Reuniting, What Cleveland Means, and the Two Types of Hardcore
You guys have been cagey about the circumstances of the breakup. There wasn't too much information out there about it. What can you say about it now?
It was just, uh--What can I say about this? [Laughs softly] I think that it was just too much, honestly. At the time, it was just all too much. I don't really know to what extent bands really should be full-time bands. I don't know how good of an idea that is, really, to be on the road 10 months out of the year. It was a very slow, creeping eventuality that [with] all of the reasons we did it and loved doing it, all of a sudden one day we turned around and those things were the exact reasons why we didn't wanna do it and why we were miserable. It kind of creeps up on you, and you don't see it coming until one day, you turn around and kind of wonder what happened. I'm not married, so obviously I've never been divorced, but I really feel like this is how you eventually realize one day that your marriage is over or that it had gone on too long.
You have any number of anxieties or issues creeping up on the band, but what event sparked the breakup directly?
There was some really serious degradation and deterioration of some personal relationships within the band that had been happening over time. We all were just kind of brushing it to the side. We were in Europe in summer of 2010, and we had a video documentarian out with us who was filming our tour. I just remember Kristian and I were sitting in the basement of a hostel in London, playing ping-pong and being interviewed. As we're doing this interview, we're just talking off the top of our heads and both start talking about why we don't really want to be doing this anymore. We're both sitting there and we're like, "Yeah, I guess we really don't want to do this anymore." We decided that we would finish out that European tour and then we got home and then we would call it quits.
Alternative Press did an interview with you in October 2008 that mentioned you guys had broken up briefly that summer. Was that in any way foreshadowing that the band would break up for good two years later?
Yeah, probably. Again, there were some personal issues in the band obviously that, to be honest with you, I don't know ever got resolved. Another big issue is that if you're going to be in a full-time touring band, that's the only thing you can do with your life. You have to do it to the exclusion of all other things, so you can't pursue any other interests because you essentially have to devote all of your time and energy to this. You can't have another job or another career. You can't go to school. You can't have a meaningful long-term relationship. Over the course of doing the band, we all had long-term girlfriends that we don't have anymore. I think it's a very, very small percentage of bands that actually should be full-time bands. Really, unless you're very young or making a significant amount of income, I don't know that there is a reason to be this kind of full-time band.
Our booking agent is this legendary music industry woman Marsha Vlasic. She started Ozzfest. She books Metallica and Ozzy and The Strokes and Muse and Neil Young--people like that. I remember we signed on with her. She takes me into her office in uptown Manhattan and sits me down. I remember her saying, "Alright, on this upcoming tour, why are you guys going to Cleveland?" I was like, "What are you talking about? We always play Cleveland." She's like, "Alright, but I'm looking at the numbers in front of me." I had never actually seen someone do a statistical analysis of being in a touring band, but now all of a sudden, this woman has spreadsheets in front of me. She's like, "Look, you don't sell any CDs in Cleveland and I have all of your ticket sales from your last four shows in Cleveland. You guys don't even really sell many tickets in Cleveland, so not that many people are buying the records, not that many people are coming to the shows. Why do you guys play Cleveland four times a year?" I was like, "That's what you do." That literally was my answer to her.
We essentially will play every place that can be played. That was how we operated for the entire history of the band. If you had a town and you had a club that wanted us to play, we would play it regardless of other factors. I just remember it being this really eye-opening thing for better or worse when this woman sat me down and was like, "Why do you play all of these cities four times a year? There's no evidence to support that this is a good idea. Not only are you not making money, here's how much money you lose by going to these cities over and over again."
Coming up in a punk rock mentality, that is the mentality: You go play wherever there is to be played. I've played squats in Poland and abandoned castles in Germany. I've been to some of the strangest places, and that's really because of the DIY mentality of "You play wherever there is to be played." The problem with that again is all of a sudden one day, you're 28 years old and you've been doing it for six years. There's no real rhyme to doing what you do. You just do it because you've fallen into the mentality of "Well, this is what we do."