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Crosss interview with Andrew March

If you’re just joining me then you might have missed out a little bit.  I am of the opinion that a gerat deal of the best psychedelic music from across the globe comes from Canada an area which I feel is a highly overlooked source of amazing tunes.  I’ve talked with several bands from America’s great white cousin to the North, Canada, including Powder Blue, KRANG and Shooting Guns in an attempt to get people to stand up and pay attention.  Now I’ve got another name to add to the list of increasingly impressive and talented bands exploding out of Canada right now, Crosss.  On the tail of several extremely promising cassette tapes Telephone Explosion recently unleashed Crosss’ debut album Obsidian Spectre on an unsuspecting world!  With previous releases from Ty Segall, Charlie & The Moonhearts and Teenanger long before Segall became a trendy household name, Telephone Explosion holds a special place in my heart as one of the first specialty labels I ever from years ago at this point.  So when Telephone Explosion announced their newest release I went in with high expectations.  I was not disappointed.  A poignant combination of grunge, psych and just enough metal to keep things really interesting Crosss is proving to be an incredibly unique voice amongst the increasingly chocked Canadian psych scene.  A swirling amalgamation of some of the heaviest psych I’ve heard in a long time and some clever interesting composition Crosss is nothing short of jaw dropping.  Now that I have the obligatory name dropping, comparisons and hype out of the way why don’t you just click on this link and listen to some tunes?  It will help you get into the right headspace to read about one of my absolutely favorite new bands; Crosss…

What’s your lineup?  Is this the original lineup or have you gone through some personnel changes?

Nathan Doucet and Ryan Allen join me now, my name is Andrew March.  There have been many lineups but this is the real one.

When and how did you all meet?

Halifax is a small place and we’ve known each other for a long time.  Nathan and I however became close friends during a time of parallel turmoil.  We both lost our minds and souls to others and we helped each other recover them.  That’s when the real band was born, I guess we are co-shamans. Ryan tags along with whoever is driving out of Halifax, so that's his role.

Are any of you in any other bands?  Have you released any material with anyone else?  If so can you tell us a little bit about it?

We’re all lifer musicians and Halifax is a prolific town, so yes we have other projects and many other releases.  Nathan is in a notable band called Heaven For Real, and Ryan has one called Cold Warps.  I run a cassette singles label called Craft Singles and operate a record lathe.

Where are you originally from?

I'm from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Was your household very musical growing up?  Were any of your relatives musicians or very interested in music?

Yes my grandfather was a professional musician and educator.  He was a bandmaster in the Navy and played most instruments very well.  My father is a gifted intuitive pianist and guitarist and my mother is a very good singer.  She won a lot of competitions as a youngster.  My younger brother studies the Tabla and is actually very good.  My older brother taught me my first instrument, electric bass, and he also played French horn.  We were a very musical family, which is not at all uncommon in Nova Scotia.

How were you first exposed to music?  When did you first become interested in music and when did you first become interested in writing/performing music?

I always intended to be a musician, ever since I was a child.  There’s a famous quote amongst my family of me as a child saying, “I want to be a musician like gramps so I can make money having fun”. I hold that same pathos now, though the ethos has changed.  I wanted to write music as soon as I realized that man was inherently and forever becoming, I’m happy to be part of that process now.

Where is the band currently located?

We're an hour east of Calgary Alberta, on the trans-Canada, watching the sun set behind endless fields of wheat, looking forward to twenty-three hours of prairies and highway ‘til Chicago.

How would you describe the local music scene where you are at?

The scene in Halifax is very special.  I would be betraying too much to too many good friends to say any more.  Just take a look on Bandcamp.  Things have been evolving in beautiful and complex ways since before I was around, and thanks be to gods, will continue to do so.

Are you very involved with the local scene?

Yes, one of the local studios lets me record there in the nights, so I try to document as many of the bands as I can.  Craft Singles has twenty-six releases now, and most are local Halifax bands.

Has it played a large role in the sound, history or evolution of Crosss?

I would say yes and no.  All water comes from the sky, though the ocean only vaguely resembles the clouds.  I’ve also lived several places and though I might say I’m from a place, it's not my real home.  I think the evolution of the band has come from audiences and peers from several parts of the country, some of whom identify with the Halifax scene, some of whom do not.  I have always tried to keep a wide vision when it comes to all the different elements of life and I accept that it‘s a slow path but I also believe it’s a strong path.

What led you to form Crosss and when was that?

I was in a band called Cousins in 2008 but I couldn't stay in Halifax anymore and they moved on without me, and are doing very well now indeed.  I moved to Montreal and started Crosss there because honestly, I didn't know what else to do with my energy.

Can you tell us who your major musical influences are?  What about the band as a whole rather than individually?

I like a song when it gives me a little shiver in my back, when the Kundalini writhes a little.  Nothing does that for me like classical Indian music or the sounds of the 70’s British Invasion, in all its incarnations.  On a more intentional level, I’m blending Sabbath, Dog Day, Sleep, early Pink Floyd and a sound which I imagine as a Druidic sound, though no one knows what that would really be...

What does the name Crosss mean and how was it chosen?

I named the band in honor of my first collaborator under this monicker, who is named Christian.  Crosss was a joke about that.  I like it now because it points to a plurality of Crosses and is also usually mispronounced as cross, a word which my grandmother may have used to describe my feelings for the current remembrance of only a single cross.  The history of sentient beings on earth has been scribbled over with cheap markers by bratty boys and I'm happy to point that out with my band name.

Can you tell us a little bit about Crosss’s songwriting process?  Is there a lot of exploratory jamming or is there someone who approaches the rest of the band with a riff or more finished product to work out with the rest of you?

So far we have done very little in the way of group explorations.  My role so far has been to compose.  The others play very, very well and I love them.  That’s their role so far.

What about the recording process?  Do you enjoy recording?  Some bands love and other head for the hills at the mere mention of recording ha-ha!

I love recording.  I recorded this LP several times before releasing it, partly because I wanted to get it sounding a particular way and partly just because I love recording!

Your first release was the Bones Brigade cassette single.  Can you talk about the recording of that album?  Where was it recorded?  When was it recorded?  Who recorded it and what kind of equipment was used?  Who released the Bones Brigade tape?

That tape was recorded in Montreal by Christian Simmons and me at his studio, Drones Club.  We recorded directly to 1/2 inch 8-track, and mixed it on a digital recorder of some kind I think.  I released it on cassette under my own imprint.

You followed up the Bones Brigade tape with a split cassette release with I Smell Blood.  How did that collaboration come about?  Why a split cassette rather than a 7”, CD or something?

That release was someone else's idea, and was not collaborative.  I assume tapes were chosen for their price.

Can you tell us who recorded the song that appeared on that cassette, Obsidian Song?  Where and when was it recorded?  What kind of equipment was used?

That was a very unusual one.  I produced it alone, creating several loops with guitar, drums and my voice and then outputting them to a mixer.  I used the mixer with some outboard gear to create the arrangement and filter and manipulate the loops, giving me the finished product.  I hoped to create a song that seemed spontaneous and natural in its arrangement, although that sounds very supernatural, the real time process of mixing helped in so far as that was a success.

Did you write that song specifically for that split or did you have it completed and or recorded beforehand?

I wrote and produced it in one sitting.

You just released your debut album Obsidian Spectre on Telephone Explosion Records out of Canada.  Can you tell us about the recording of that album?  Where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  When was it recorded?  What kind of equipment was used?  Was it very different than the recording for your earlier split and single?

Yes it was.  We recorded it ourselves at the Echo Chamber in Halifax very late at night in 2012.  Our approach was to focus on the drum sounds without cymbals.  We used a very good microphone, a RCA clone, and a very good Neve clone.  It was recorded on a low-quality a/d converter and the pre amps in that box give it that clipping, something we got from Tame Impala.  The guitars get there tone from being doubled and by careful use of several mics.  Phase and panning lend a lot of their character.  I spent a long time learning to master so I could put the finishing touches on the record, I think it took me three months to master.

The songs from the Bones Brigade single made their way on to the album but the Obsidian Song from the split didn’t.  Is that song available anywhere now?  If not are there any plans to make it available physically or via a digital release medium like iTunes or Bandcamp?  Where the tracks from the Bones Brigade single the original recordings or were they re-recorded during the Obsidian Spectre sessions?

Obsidian Song is streaming on our Bandcamp and available for download there.  We re-recorded both those songs for the LP.

You also release an already sold out extremely limited lathe cut 8” (yes 8” not 7”) split with Un Blonde.  How did that collaboration come about?  8” lathe cut squares of plexi-glass, wow!  How limited was the release?  Who put it out?  It would seem to me there can’t be a lot of people out there capable of even releasing something like that!
*Songs are still available for digital purchase via Bandcamp

The singer in UnBlonde is young man from Calgary, Alberta named Jean Sebastien Audet.  He sent me demos last year and I was amazed by them.  I released those songs as a cassette under the name The You Are Minez.  The Crosss/UnBlonde split was proposed by Pierre Richardson who runs the label Bruised Tongue, an Ottawa imprint, which released the 8".  I made them on my Record Lathe.  I’ve made fifty so far, and may make more if I ever get home.

Was the recording of the song for that split, Saccarhine, handled in the same fashion as the Obsidian Spectre sessions?

I made Saccarhine alone but this time I used Logic.  The drums are a program called BFD, I played them on my computer keyboard.

Are there any plans for a follow-up release of any sort coming up?

Yes we are working on the songs for our next release right now.  In the meantime there’s a 7" split with a band called Astral Gunk coming up soon on the Pleasance imprint, and we are curating a six band compilation for a Brooklyn label called Northern Spy which is coming out on cassette.

With the recent international postage rate hikes where is the best place for our US readers to purchase copies of your music?  What about international and overseas readers?

Postage is a big problem.  The best approach that I know of is to have your local store order the record.  Our distributor is called Revolver and it should be available anywhere, stores order from distributors in bulk so they save on shipping.  The next best thing is to just get in touch with the label directly, email

What do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?

This will be a busy year.  We’ll be around the USA and Canada a lot.  If all goes according to plan.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows that you’d like to share with our readers?

Last week we were supposed to play with Thee Oh Sees in Calgary at a festival called Sled Island, but the city was hit with a massive flood so the festival was cancelled.  A bunch of house shows were arranged at the last minute in the dry part of town to try to make up for it.  There were so many people it was kind of nuts, just hundreds of people trying to cram into someone’s tiny basement.  We played a few of them over the next few days, and, well…  They were crazy.

You have played with some awesome bands, who are some of your personal favorites that you’d like to share a bill with?

Hmmm…  In my dreams I’m usually on tour with Swans.  I would really like to tour with Metz or Naomi Punk someday.

I must admit I love having a digital copy of an album to take with me on the go; I can’t very well haul my vinyl around with me!  But there’s something inescapable about physical releases for me.  Having a physical object to hold in your hands, artwork to look at and liner notes to read will always make the listening experience more complete, at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physical releases?

Yes of course, the act of listening to records and looking at the packaging is an important element.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you tell us a little bit about it?

It's funny.  I’m not a collector.  I consume music pretty fast and don't really go back, so I don't keep records around.  I go through other people's collections and I love other people's records very passionately although I have very few of my own.  Most of which I was just given or bought at shows, though there are maybe one or two very special records, like the Husband and Knife LP, which carry special meaning to me.

As an artist during the reign of digital what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution.  While it seems to be doing a lot of damage to the mainstream industry it seems to be allowing independent bands to level the playing field as far as promotion and distribution goes as long as they are willing to put in the work.

I think the music industry needed adjustment and that has happened.  And I think its back on its feet again now, in a better way.  Maybe I'm wrong but as of right now that’s how I feel.  The greatest relevance of digital music, I feel, is in research.  When I started studying music I would go through the university library, my friends parent’s collections or maybe read about a band in magazine and save up to order a CD for $25, but it was very hard.  It was very unfortunate.  Today, obviously, research is very powerful.  There are tremendous archives of music from every time and place.  It’s very different and a whole lot better.  I think music will progress faster and better now.  Really, I feel like it is already.

I ask everyone I talk to this question in hopes of keeping up with half of the amazing musicians out there right now.  Who should I be listening to from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of before?

Oh gee whiz, Bloodhouse, Dog Day, Husband and Knife, Bad Vibrations, Old and Weird, Torso and Guilt

What about nationally and internationally?

Nationally:  The Soupcans, Each Other, Freak Heat Waves, The Hussy and Telstar Drugs.  Internationally, I don't know any secrets

Is there anything that I missed or that you’d just like to talk about?

Nope.  Thanks!

(2011)  Crosss – Bones Brigade – Cassette Tape – Craft Singles/Electric Voice Records (Limited to 90 copies)
(2012)  Crosss/I Smell Blood – Split – Cassette Tape – Perdu Zine
(2013)  Crosss – Obsidian Spectre – digital, 12” – Telephone Explosion Records
(2013)  Crosss/Un Blonde – Split – digital, 8” – Bruised Tongue

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
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