Today’s Feature, December 29th-30th: The Black Summer Crush

December 30, 2007 at 12:10 pm (Today's Feature)

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There have been some revolutionary movements in the history of music – From jazz and swing to the current dominance of hip-hop and pop. But has any movement had a bigger impact or more influence than the past emergence of good ol’ fashioned rock n’ roll? The worlds top selling artists of all time come from such a pedigree; artists like The Beatles and Elvis. And we can’t easily forget other legendary acts such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones. So what happens when the bands of today try to harness the clout these groups had? Self-implosion? Insanity? Spontaneous combustion?

In the case of The Black Summer Crush, the result is triumph. At its foundation, The Black Summer Crush is “Rock & Roll embroiled in transcendent energy.” Guitarist Scott Holiday puts it best, “my aim has always been true and sure…the “Royalty Of Rock & Roll” wrote the book for me. Zep, Beatles, Hendrix, Stones, Floyd, etc…These groups just tattooed my musical consciousness.” Lead singer Thomas Flowers, bassist Robin Everhart and drummer Michael Miley couldn’t agree more.

But just because BSC remains loyal to the roots of Rock, doesn’t mean they can’t add a little extra style to their sound. While the band started out sporting the retro mustache, beard and flared pants combination, they have twisted new melodies with a “wide-ranging mix of blues-infused hardrock, celebrating elements of pop, garage, R&B, and Middle Eastern textures.” Their upcoming self-titled album is full of these elements, “a fuzz-laden, psychedelic swirl that mingles with a smooth, harmonically charged landscape of tightly constructed songs bursting with breakneck crunch and sizzle.”

Expect “bombastic, raw, unadulterated rock & roll delivered with an honest expression” at the next BSC show you head off to. The vibe simply cannot be beat at one of their performances – it’s obvious that the band trusts one another musically, which makes their act sound like a “stronger tighter, rock n’ roll machine.” Look out for the new album and get into the XXQ’s.

XXQs: The Black Summer Crush – Scott and Thomas

Pen’s Eye View: How and when did The Black Summer Crush first form as a band?

Scott: I and Thomas have been working together for a few years… it took us a while to find the other fellas…about a year and a half (or so) of (very) painstaking auditions. So the actual full formation of the group was about a year and a half ago.

PEV: Growing up who were you listening to?

Scott: I have been predominantly raised on rock. I raided my folks’ tape (yes…cassettes!) collections, and discovered many of the bands of the 60’s and 70’s at a very young age. Almost like I was transported to that era and it was fresh and new. As I got older, I listened to all the new music coming out as well…80’s glam stuff…then Guns & Roses. Then the whole Seattle scene that took hold…it was very influential. Always stayed diverse though, listening to rap, pop, whatever…but really, my aim has always been true and sure. The “Royalty Of Rock & Roll” wrote the book for me…Zep, Beatles, Hendrix, Stones, Floyd, etc…these groups just tattooed my musical consciousness.
Thomas: In all honesty, I grew up listening to AM Radio Motown, Soultrain , and jazz classics like Miles Davis and Thenious Monk, and John Coltrain. And of course artists like Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens.

PEV: Tell us about The Black Summer Crush’s first live performance together. What was going through your heads?

Scott: Our first show was at the Viper Room, here in Hollywood, CA. It’s a classic venue; great sounding place too. Honestly, first gigs are probably really similar for a lot of bands: you’re thinking of playing the songs well, and wondering if everyone is digging it. When it was obvious that people were enjoying it, we were just really enjoying ourselves and deciding where to really open the set up and deliver a more badass rock & roll show at every moment.

PEV: How have you changed from the first year together to where you are today?

Scott: Well, most importantly we’ve made a record that is full of new songs, only a couple made the record that were in the original set. And there’s really been a full evolution of the group image and sound – which I’m very happy about. Change is good! It promotes growth! When we started, there was an almost “Stillwater” vibe to the group, you know…mustaches, beards, flared pants etc…and the music was a bit more 70’s guitar rock-meets some more current sonics. Which is awesome to us still, and is still there in the band to a certain extent. We made a conscious effort to play with some other sounds and forms, though, and to change the look and feel of the band, as we were changing as people. A natural evolution.
Thomas: As individuals and as a collective, we are most definitely more mature and more focused than the early days. We’ve come to grips with the ever changing environment around us and have found ways to adapt to them while retaining the essence of the rock & roll band that we are. How could we not? Time is the great revelator.

PEV: Describe to us the first time The Black Summer Crush stepped into a recording studio.

Scott: I have a home studio and record and produce myself…so we were always in the studio in one way or another. And I had been demo’ing all the songs without a band (before the actual band even existed) or with buddies guesting for a song or whatever, so, for me, it was really an exciting and energizing feeling to finally get these songs recorded with the actual guys who would be performing them. Needless to say, everyone in the group has really honed their craft, so getting good takes was not an issue….

PEV: Tell us about your self titled debut “The Black Summer Crush,” due out next year. What can people expect?

Scott: We made this record the way rock records used to be made: we got in a room together, all at the same time, and hit record. Half of the tracks were penned on the spot. We crafted things on the spot..or around parts I brought in. Very minimal over dubbing. I wanted to keep the sound of this record very immediate and urgent. Dave Cobb helped to produce the record…and did a wonderful job of getting us in this mind set. If you’re sick of the overproduced, whiney, over-formulaic, wimpy, rock records coming out today….you’ll probably really enjoy our record. It’s raw, unadulterated, inspired, and real. That is what people can expect.

PEV: How is the debut album different than any other music out today?

Scott: See my above answer I guess.
Thomas: It’s a snapshot of something honest and sincere in it’s reflection of us as a whole. It depicts who we are, what we think, and how we feel. It’s as unique as we are as individuals and in that sense, it is different from other music out today.

PEV: What does it mean to the band to be able to successfully harness the sound and influence of legendary bands like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles?

Scott: Well thanks for the vote of confidence in mentioning the “successfully harnessing” bit! But we really just did our best to make a record that was true to us and the songs and sounds we all love…and had a good time doing it! It’s immeasurably difficult to live up to the records or songs or anything these bands created…let alone the careers and longevity they all experienced. we are just staying true…and playing our arses off while doing it!

PEV: What is your take on the current scene of rock music?

Scott: There are great bands out there…unfortunately, most of them are obscured by a very typical, inoffensive, formulaic, …very vanilla type of music. Most of it doesn’t even seem like rock to me. More like pop disguising itself as rock. I might mention here that Daughtry won the “contemporary music” award this year on the AMA’s- nuff said. So, it’s tough to say. The stuff I see winning awards and selling the most records, or putting people in seats isn’t what I love…and it is slowly consuming itself…the way every homogenized, mediocre scene has. Under this crust lies some very, very creative exciting music….and that scene I love.
Thomas: It’s all good. It’s all things to all people. There are a lot of fantastic rock bands out there who are obviously making an impact. We’re just looking for our place in the mix. it’s not a competition, it’s art.

PEV: It’s more and more difficult to find bands that still recognize the roots of rock. The Black Summer Crush respects the roots of rock n’ roll while still creating a whole new sound. What does that mean to you?

Scott: I think it’s a healthy thing to recognize where we came from, and what was (or is) great about it…and at the same time embrace certain new technologies and methods. A wise man once said-“good musicians borrow, great ones steal!” … kind of funny..but kind of true. In taking from these influences we create a new original sound… Again, to me the key is to stay true in your expression. Since we live in an entirely different time with different experiences, the end result of what we create will have it’s own life and sound.

PEV: Each member of the band brings a different aspect of experience to the table – how has that affected your sound?

Scott: You’re only as strong as your weakest link. This is why it took me and Thomas so long to find the right guys to join in. We understood this point and I spent a considerable amount of time looking for Thomas because of this. There was always a blueprint in my mind for each member of this band, so I met with A LOT of folks. And I’m pleased to say that the guys in this group have filled their spots perfectly. And everybody in the group knows it. That being said, we trust each other musically, and that comes across in the music in a subliminal way. It just make the band sound like a stronger, tighter, rock & roll machine.

PEV: What do all your friends and family think about your success?

Scott: Well, they are quite happy, of course…but would hope it takes us much further.
Thomas: They respect it, and they bless it with their love and support.

PEV: Is there one artist that you have not had a chance to collaborate with that you would like to?

Scott: Yes, of course….one…or…50 or so! Who wouldn’t want to create with their heroes!? A chance to work with any of our obvious influences would be amazing. As far as current fellas- I’d love to work with Jack White…he has an amazingly cool “sense of song”…and he’s an exciting guitar player to boot!
Thomas: I’m working with my heroes!! I have the perfect band.

PEV: What is one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the guys of The Black Summer Crush?

Scott: We have a mutual appreciation for the hits of Hall & Oats.
Thomas: We’re fond of tolsi beads. . .

PEV: When you guys get some downtime what can we find you doing?

Scott: Break-dancing contests, pencil fighting championships…things like that.
Thomas: Veggie hot dog eating contests. Kobiashi is bitch punk!

PEV: What can people expect from a live Black Summer Crush show?

Scott: Bombastic, raw, unadulterated rock & roll delivered with an honest expression. Fun rock & roll you can actually move your body to (just like the good ol’days!). Thomas: Full frontal nudity and absolute crowd participation. Fog machines and yellow streamers…

PEV: What is the best part about playing live?

Scott: Playing live is were you get that immediate reaction, and satisfaction. If it goes how it’s supposed to, we get the great feeling of making a bunch of people at once to feel good. Or just FEEL something. For most groups, I think this is where it’s at, definitely for me. The kind of music we record is created to be performed live. We also are into a certain amount of spontaneity within’ each song and that keeps the juices flowin’.
Thomas: My f***ing band! For the first time in my career, I get off every night watching my band. It’s great for the horn!!

PEV: Is there an “up and coming” artist that you think we should all be paying attention to?

Scott: We all probably have a different one in mind, but for me, it’s Dungen, from Sweden. Thomas recently turned me on to them. Totally brilliant stuff they’re doing. I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re “up and coming”, being as they might be a little too far out and they sing in Swedish…but…it’s GREAT and new…and definitely thinking out of the box.
Thomas: The Madams pretty much turn me out these days.

PEV: In one word, what best describes The Black Summer Crush?

Scott: Uuhh….supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Sorry.
Thomas: Weeniegagaphobia!!

PEV: So, what is next for The Black Summer Crush?

Scott: Putting the record out. Touring it. Selling it. Licensing it. Turning folks on…. then doing it all over again.

For more information on The Black Summer Crush, check out www.myspace.com/theblacksummercrush

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