Interview: Crux

Hello. You’re just released your debut EP titled “Death At The Cash Machine”. What inspired the EP and its title?
Alreet! The title comes from the lyrics in the fourth song, ‘Radgie Gadgie’: ‘Six o’clock on a January morning, he gets dragged without no warning, freezes to death next to a cash machine.’ These lyrics refer to a true story of cuckooing I know, and I can’t really expand on for numerous reasons. The lads and I thought these lyrics were an appropriate metaphor for the EP’s main theme, the death of collectivism and the rise of individualism. I think the insidious pictures it paints surmise the toxic masculinity subject we explore in ‘Bigg Market’, ‘Incel’, and ‘Radgie Gadgie’ too.

Real life global events and personal experiences in 21st century late stage capitalism are the main source of inspiration with lyrical influences from classic dystopian novels such as Orwell’s ‘1984′ and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ and Sylvia Plath’s poetry.

We also really dig your recent singles “Bigg Market” and “Slaving Away” – what is the story behind these songs?
Thank you! ‘Bigg Market’ describes our culture in the North East to graft hard all week and release all our negative energy in one drunken splurge, but from a cynical Darwinist sober perspective, and we try to describe it as a big neon distraction from the problems facing the characters on the infamous party street. The main reason we think it resonated with a lot of fellow geordies is because we love a night on the Bigg Market so we have first hand experience of it!

If ‘Bigg Market’ is the weekend, then ‘Slaving Away’ is Monday to Friday. It tells a story of dehumanisation and wage slavery through a repetitive and simplistic 12 bar blues structure which tries to reflect the repetitive and simplistic cycles of work that the lyrics attempt to dissect, it’s also purposefully ridiculously upbeat. It was inspired by an old job I had where I worked in a factory. One week I was in for 70 hours and we had really strict deadlines, I would be stacking endless amounts of Hairy Biker seasoning cans (I’ve never quite forgiven them for it) and I would be completing the most mundane tasks. I was forced to work so fast that my hands started to bleed from getting caught on the cans. I had to leave by the end of the week as my health deteriorated so much.

What was the writing and recording process like for the EP?
We’ve been working on the majority of the songs from the EP for years, but follow a similar process for each song where I’ll have quite a few ideas for a song, it’s structure, and lyrics, and will show these to the band where we’ll jam the ideas, I’d then record the song as a demo on garage band, and we’d practice the song, and the rest of the lads will add their own style onto the song. We’d keep practicing the song until it was ready for recording, we’d then go to a producer who would make small changes to take the song to a new level, before perfecting it whilst recording, and during the mixing and mastering process.

All of the songs sort of follow this formula apart from ‘Incel’ which was written by Hallam, but still followed the same process once birthed from Hallam’s brain. We’ve been very lucky to work with four amazing producers in four wonderful studios for this EP, Kyle Martin (The Garage Studios – Bigg Market – December 2018), Jim Lowe (RAK Studios – Slaving Away – October 2019), Max Heyes (Lynchmob Studios – Living in Dystopia – November 2019), and Andy Bell (Blast Studios – Incel, Radgie Gadgie and Agent Orange (+erased) – January to April 2021). As you can probably tell from those time scales, a certain global pandemic and lockdown had a big effect on when we could record and practice.

If you had to describe your sound, how would you do so? Furthermore, what artists (or other sources) do you cite as influences?
Oooh, that’s a tough question! Probably a bit manic but thiccc (with three c’s), heavy bass tones, whizzing piano and synth parts, and grungey blues inspired guitar riffs with nods to prog rock, classical music, and even hip hop, and an overlay of discontent, angry, punk inspired lyrics that could be straight out of an Irvine Welsh novel (especially Radgie Gadgie).

I don’t know where we start with artists as there’s so many that have shaped our sound, so I’ll try to condense it: Muse, IDLES, De Staat, Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood, Kid Kapichi, Queens of the Stone Age, Billie Eilish, Radiohead, Black Sabbath, Rage Against the Machine, Bloc Party, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Primus, Slaves, Drenge, Nirvana, Blur, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, Audioslave, Soundgarden, Nadine Shah, Sam Fender, The Lathums, Kahuna, Feral Family, Imagine Dragons, and even Edvard Grieg (In The Hall of the Mountain King), Danny Elfman (Beetlejuice Theme Song), and Shuki Levy and Haim Saban (Inspector Gadget Theme Tune), and the comic strips of Viz for Radgie Gadgie. Was that short?

We made a list of references before recording Incel, Radgie Gadgie, and Agent Orange, you can find a playlist of them here:

What have been career highlights so far? And what is on your bucket list that you’d want to achieve?
My personal highlight so far was when we got airplay on BBC Radio 6 for Slaving Away as it’s my favourite radio station, and Tom Robinson had such kind words for the track. We may be very far from it, but the bucket list would be playing at Glastonbury, doing a world tour (where we play in every country in the world: even North Korea and Antarctica), and selling out St James’ Park. Aim for the stars and you might just reach the moon! A more realistic target for now is that we’d love to get Radio 1 play.

If you could be the main support for any living artist, who would that be for and why? Alternatively, what would be your dream live booking?
It has to be Muse, because Hallam and I are proper Muse fanboys, Joe and Jake really like them too. I’ve also had this crazy dream where we host a festival overlooking Bamburgh Castle with all the bands/artists I mentioned in our influences plus all the local artists who we’ve supported and received support from over the years. It’s a silly dream, but it’s nice to escape and imagine it!

What artists have you been listening to? Additionally, who should others be listening to?
I’ve just recently discovered Fax Machine thanks to a Fossway Spotify playlist, and I’d strongly recommend them, they create the most unique music and there’s moments of unadulterated beauty beneath their chaos.

I’m a bit late to the party but I’ve had ‘Let It Happen’ by Tame Impala and ‘Oblivion’ by Grimes on repeat recently, with the former creating peace and harmony, and the latter creating foot tapping anxiety, they sort of cancel each other out, but I can’t get enough of them at the moment.

We’ve recently played with some artists and bands that have blown our tiny minds, so I strongly urge the reader to check out Midnight Chic, The Samphires, Haggard Cat, and Palma Louca.

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Original Photo Credit: Chris Ord

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