"All About The Album - 15 Questions" - a brand new section at the RockUnited site where a recording artist with an recently released CD is confronted with 'album' questions (15 of them, duh!). If you'd like to have your material up here, email: urban "at" rockunited.com (simply replace "at" with your standard @ )
CRASH STREET KIDS: "Sweet Creatures"
U.S. of A's Crash Street Kids - quite possible one of the best retro Glam-acts at the moment are returning with yet another glammy effort. It's the Mott The Hoople, TRex, Sweet, and Bowie/Ziggy style in a nice packaging suited for the 2000's. Read on to find out more notes about the album, here's their lead Vocalist, RYAN McKAY...
How has the reaction to your latest CD been?
So far, Sweet Creatures has the most buzz surrounding it compared to our previous 3 albums. We've heard a great deal of positive feedback so far. Not bad for a couple of knuckleheads in platform shoes and makeup!
How long did this CD take to make from start to finish, recording-wise?
From the moment I sat behind the piano and wrote the first song to listening back in the mastering lab, it was about 9 months. That's the longest we've taken to make a record. Deuce (bass player) happened to "find" a case of Jameson whiskey, so we had to "get to know that" for a while. Seriously, we took our time because we had really worked hard and fast on the previous albums and didn't want to burn out. So we took a bit of a break then got back to work at a much more relaxed pace. I think the record is better for it.
What kind of 'sound', production wise, did you have in the back of your mind, prior to entering the studio?
We first off have to tell a story through the music. All our records are concept albums. This one tells the story of 2 runaways who fall in love with one another while dabbling in drugs and prostitution. They meet a lot of strange characters while living on the street. So therefore, we have some different production elements as each character develops. As with all Crash Street Kids albums, the vibe is early 70's glam. Emphasis on good tones rather than stacking up layer upon layer of guitars or other overdubs. The song "Mary, Queen of the Rock" captures that better than any song I think we've ever done. Total glitter rock, love it!
What kind of input did the producer have during the process?
We produced ourselves this time out. Nobody knows us better than us. Besides, there aren't many producers that get what we are into, they all want to make us sound like hair metal or that god awful corporate rock of today. And of course, we didn't want to be under any kind of schedule this time. We did have our dear friend Scott Nowak mix it for us. He is a production guru. He worked on our first record and showed us what to do and more importantly what NOT to do. I was really proud when he told me that he liked my rough mixes and asked if I could come down and replicate a few elements for him. Maybe he was just being lazy, but I took great pride in it. Ha, just kidding. He's awesome.
And are you pleased with the final outcome? (sound - production wise)
As with any record, you can scrutinize it to death and there will always be things you'd want to change. But at some point you have to walk away and say "We did the best we can, it's out of our hands now" and hope for the best. I love the raw edge this record has compared to our last one. It's got a good combination of all the things we do. Making a record is like being a painter. When you're painting a picture your face is pressed against the canvas, going over all the details. The only way to gain perspective is to take a few steps away from it and see it as a whole. That's how you know if it's any good or not. As I'm just now taking a few paces back, I think it's good, real good!
Did the producer (you) use any (weird) experimental miking and/or recording techniques?
My favorite part of making a Crash Street Kids record are the handclapping, gang vocal, and crowd noise sessions. That's when we invite all our friends to come down, drink like immortals and perform for US! I've seen some pretty wild shit go down in those sessions. The things that I've mic'ed up are better left to the imagination.
How did you go on about capturing your 'live sound' in the studio, or perhaps you didn't
Capturing our live sound is easy for us. We don't do a lot of overdubs, layers of auto tuned vocals, etc. Just put of some mics and GO! Typically, it's me on guitar and vocals and A.D. (drummer) live in the studio laying down the foundation, with Ricky and Deuce adding their parts later. We released a live record last year called "Live! From the Waist Down" and it sounds a lot like our records … but faster. ha ha.
Please inform us about your favourite songs and lyrical highlights and why?
I love "3rd Avenue Vampires". At this point in the story, the main character "Adam" has turned his first trick, and the pimp is trying to convince him to keep going. I know, quite disturbing. I wrote is as we had just come off a tour. When I read the lyrics now it's me projecting myself into that character. It's not about prostitution. It's about our music career. Interesting how that was totally subconscious. Music has always been a great therapist for me. I also love how seedy this record gets. Especially during songs like "I Was A Teenage Hooker" and "Harlot of the Flies. It's real filthy stuff we are singing about, We had fun coming up with ways to describe this behavior in a tasteful and poetic manner. It wouldn't have worked the other way.
Any overall theme of mood that you're trying to capture while writing songs?
I think musical mood and lyric content go hand in hand. If I'm writing a song and I'm in a foul mood, something like the title track "Sweet Creatures", or "Asylum" will be the result. "3rd Avenue Vampires" is the product of us coming home after having a list of dates cancelled. It's weary and it's like you're floating in a haze. Which is where my head was at. On a happier note, "Mary, Queen of the Rock" was written when I had a week off, so I was in a great mood!
Does your vision for coming up with music get affected at all by time?
Music is always on my mind. Anytime I hear a good phrase I immediately think of it being a cool song title. So I have all the time in the world for my music. Time doesn't really come into play for us. We tend to work on our own schedule and at our own pace. We try to self impose deadlines, but they rarely work out. We are usually lucky to remember when the deadline was that we set.
Did the record company interfere with anything on your "sound" and songs?
No way. We've always had control over our albums. I remember us turning down a record deal when the label said and I quote. "I love what you guys are doing, I love your sound, what we'd like to do is make your sound more modern rock" In other words, change everything to run with the ilk of Nickelback and 3 Doors Down. Hilarious.
Are there any 'crazy' behind the scenes anecdotes from these sessions that you can share with us?
Deuce passed out during a session so we drew a chalk outline of him like a crime scene. A.D. got drunk, fell and split his head open. I sat on the sink in the bathroom and broke it off the wall, thus flooding the studio. Deuce also once picked up a girl who was singing backup vocals and threw her into the drumset. Playfully, of course, at least in his mind. These type of events tend to happen to those who aren't scheduled to record on a given night. Let me add that I should not speak in detail about the sessions that include our friends that I mentioned earlier, I probably don't have their permission to spin their tales of woe.
How would you describe the sound of your new CD to any potential new fan?
Remember glam rock? No, not Motley Crue and Poison. REAL 1970's GLAM ROCK, like early Bowie, T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, Kiss, and Alice Cooper. We've skipped over the 80's and 90's
Who are your influences and heroes? (music-wise)
It all started when my older brother Kevin and cousin Kory brought a KISS album into our house. My life changed right then and there. I was scared shitless of their faces but utterly inspired. I remember thinking "you can do THAT for a living?" I was hooked. After that, my uncle Denny lent me "Killer" by Alice Cooper. Then I got into AC/DC, Bowie, Zeppelin, Sabbath. Even though I grew up in the mid 80's I was into all sorts of 70's stuff As far as heroes go, I guess my brother, cousin, and uncle because they exposed me to this world.
If there's anything you'd like to add, say, please do:
I guess it's time to get all "Gene Simmons" on ya now! ha ha. Let's see. Check out the new Crash Street Kids album "Sweet Creatures" on Itunes, Amazon, your local music outlet (if you still have one) Best Buy. Visit us on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (don't mind the tumbleweeds). Thanks for taking the time to read about us. And thanks to ROCK UNITED for publishing my rant. ROCK ON!:
Interview by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,