Q&A: Crime in Stereo Talk Breaking Up, Reuniting, What Cleveland Means, and the Two Types of Hardcore
Did you end up signing with her and taking her advice about not going back to Cleveland?
She was and is our booking agent, so by the time that I was talking to her about these things, we had already signed with her. As far as taking her advice, we didn't immediately take her advice. It did become a gradually dawning realization.
We then and went and did our next full U.S. tour, and we did it the way that we had always done it. We went to every place in America and it became clear to us as we're doing it. "Oh right, I kind of see what she was talking about." Here we are in Salt Lake or Boise and you just kind of find yourself saying, "Why are we here?" Now, that's not why the band broke up. The band broke up due to very serious personal issues that I'm not going to get into here just out of respect for other people, but there was a kind of eye-opening realization about the way that we ran the business of our band.
A lot of people don't want to hear their bands talking about business or dollars and cents, but the truth of the matter is, this was the way that six people earned a living whether you like it or not. Even if you don't want to think of it as a business or run it like a business, it still is the way you earn your living, so it's a little naive to say, "Well, we're going to run our business not like a business, and we're not going to attempt to do this intelligently in any way. We'll just take what comes to us." It's not the smartest way to do things.
Now that you've reunited, what's going to change this time--the lineup, the way you're going to look at the music, how much you're going to tour?
Lineup's not going to change. Basically, the reason why we feel that it's going to work now is essentially because we don't have to spend all of our time together. Maybe that sounds callous, but it really is the truth. None of us would be able to do this if we had to be in each other's presence for eight months at a time or for 24 hours a day for eight weeks on end. The thing that we were always great at and always clicked with us as a group was making music. At this point, we're all individually friends--some better than others--but in terms of all five of us, all five of us wouldn't or don't hang out together on a regular basis. The only thing that really gives us all a common mutual connection is making music. That we've always enjoyed doing, we missed tremendously when we weren't doing it. The problems really arise when all of a sudden we all have to be in each other's constant presence for months on end. Getting back together to make music was not as big of a deal maybe as it would have been otherwise. I can't see us ever doing a full tour ever again. I don't want to put too much of a definitive statement on it, which isn't to say that we'll only ever play New York.
We're going to try and get out to the West Coast. We're going try and get back to the UK. We're going try and do some festivals in some other cities, but there's no way we're ever going to go and do an eight-week full U.S. tour ever again.
So is Cleveland fucked?
[Laughs] I feel bad. It's not that I'm picking on Cleveland. We have some really, really, really great close friends of the band who have always supported us tremendously in Cleveland. It's just that happened to be the actual city that Marsha Vlasic was hitting us with in that meeting.
Is Cleveland fucked? No, I would love to get back to Cleveland. I would love to get back to Detroit and Chicago. The Midwest was one of the best areas in terms of how people have always treated us. We ostensibly would like to get back everywhere; it just doesn't mean that we're going to get everywhere in the same trip.
Moving onto the music for a moment, Crime always reminded me of a band like Ceremony or Fucked nowadays. You were rooted in hardcore and still played with hardcore bands but always sounded like you were trying to get out of hardcore. How accurate is that reading?
No, we were never trying to get out of hardcore. We pursued our own endeavors musically. I love Ceremony. Those are our boys. We came up with those guys when we first started playing. I don't think we ever really fit in hardcore. We were always that band. We always played hardcore shows because we were hardcore kids that came up in the hardcore scene. The bands that we toured with were our friends, but we never musically fit in
Hardcore is a very nebulous term--a very ethereal, vague term. What most people think of as being hardcore isn't my hardcore. There's really two hardcores, if you want to get into it. I feel like there's the hardcore that I grew up on which was Minor Threat and Bad Brains, Fugazi, Gorilla Biscuits, Lifetime, and Avail--bands like that. Then, there was the other hardcore, which is just as relevant. That's the kind that often gets referred to as "tough guy" hardcore--I don't want to call it that--but the bands more influenced by Agnostic Front and Madball and Sheer Terror.
When you say hardcore, I think that [the second] is what people think of. [With] your average music fan, if you say hardcore, they're picturing a band that looks or sounds like Blood for Blood or Trapped Under Ice. That is a totally valid, relevant world in hardcore; it's just that's not my thing and never been my thing. Sick of It All is my all-time favorite hardcore band. I love Cro-Mags and old Agnostic Front and things like that, but that's not my hardcore. I took my lead from Dischord Records, Dag Nasty, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and bands like that. We came up and tried to just do what was natural to us. What ended up happening is that you end up playing with Kid Dynamite and Lifetime and awesome bands like that, but you also end up playing with Madball and Terror and Death or Dishonor--all of whom we have actually played with. We get on those shows and their fans and our fans are like, "Why are you guys even playing together?" I don't know what the answer to that is.
When I came up in hardcore, it was kind of a blanket term. You would have a band that sounded like Sunny Day Real Estate and a band that sounded like Botch and a band that sounded like Sheer Terror all on the same show. Now, things are much more genre-fied.
In that same Alternative Press interview after the temporary breakup, you had a really striking quote at the end. You said, "I am willing to fuck my life for Crime In Stereo." After all that's happened, would you ever be willing to fuck your life for Crime in Stereo again or, if not for Crime in Stereo, another band?
No, I wouldn't, and I'm not saying that because I lack the love of music or the passion for the lifestyle I used to have. It's that I understand that you don't need to. That's the biggest thing that I can say I took away from the first round of Crime in Stereo and the breakup. The biggest thing I took away is that you don't need to do that. There really is no reason to ruin your life for the sake of a band because the truth is you can have both.