Interview With Simon Cruz and Eric Young of Crashdiet
Conducted by Erich Heintzelman
Photos Courtesy of Erich Heintzelman and Dustin Hardman
Crashdiet played the final two dates of their North American tour in Florida, both being added with only two weeks notice. When I got the notice from AFM promoter Dustin Hardman that the band would be coming to St. Petersburg for a show, I jumped at a chance to interview the band and find out how their first nation-wide tour of the United States had gone. Joining the band on these dates was the all-female Swedish band Crucified Barbara, and Montreal, Canada’s Snaskeskyn Whiskey. Against my better judgement, I dragged my wife along as well, knowing that she likes limited quantities of metal, but I was sure she would appreciate the vocal harmonies and general upbeat sound of Crashdiet. I got to the venue, Jannus Live, early. If you have never been to Jannus, I heartily endorse it. They truly have an awesome setup which I will describe more in my review of the actual concert. I chatted for awhile with a Crashdiet uber fan from Minneapolis, who in his dedication had managed to track down Simon Cruz’s demo from his time in the band Jailbait. An hour before Crashdiet were scheduled to go on stage, the band invited me up to their rehearsal area for the interview and my wife tagged along.
Right off the bat I met all of the guys in the band and I have to say they were extremely friendly, down to earth and acted like your everyday average guys. We exchanged pleasantries, imbibed a few beverages and then got down to the business of the interview. A few of the guys from Snakeskyn Whiskey came in after finishing their set, and they were good guys too as well as a talented band, as I managed to catch most of their set before the interview.
The Savage Playground North American Tour
Hey guys! This is the next to last date for the North American leg of your tour. How has the reception been so far?
Simon Cruz: Good. Some shows have been better than others of course, but the overall feeling we get is that they really appreciate us over here. They appreciate the music, and they appreciate that we are coming over and doing something different, you know, sort of bringing rock n roll back a little bit. It seems a lot of people thirst for that and so I am very happy about that, yeah.
Absolutely. When you guys were over here in 2011 you only made it to California. Now you have been able to do a much more extensive North American tour. What changed that made this current tour possible?
Eric Young: Well, the first time we were here we basically went over to just, you know test the waters a bit you know, and check out the scene here, check out the vibe. We played the Key Club and it was almost sold out (to Simon) was it sold out? (Simon nods). Yeah, so it was totally packed and we got the impression that people needed more of what we had to offer. So, we made a short round back last year doing L.A. and New York as well that time around. It was the same thing in New York, it was just crazy. So, I think we got people interested in booking us, so this time around we could make it a full on nation-wide tour. I’m happy.
Speaking of needing it over here, what would you say are the differences in reaction from fans in Europe versus fans in America?
Simon Cruz: I don’t know, well the crowds that are up there (in America) seem completely wild you know! They are very appreciative of what we do.
Eric Young: I’d say that they are older! (referring to American fans).
Simon Cruz: Some of them are older, yes. There is a lot of people that used to listen to this in the 80s and they are coming to the shows, and they are bringing their kids too, so.
Eric Young: Yeah! (laughs)
Actually, I am one of those older guys from the 80s, which leads me to my next question. What kind of age groups are you seeing at your shows overall? Is it more older fans or a nice mix of young and old?
Eric Young: I would say, depending on where we play of course.
Simon Cruz: Yeah, very much.
Eric Young: Some of the places have been mostly the older crowd as Simon says, the people that were there in the 80s you know when it all happened the first time, and who is appreciating that we’re bringing it back! You know, and then you have the youngsters coming as well and appreciating the revolution and something new and yet still not (new). So, it has been different.
Simon Cruz: It’s more of a younger crowd in the big cities .
Eric Young: Yeah.
First of all, I love the new album but I would say in some way, it is kind of heavier than GENERATION WILD. Was that something you planned, or did it sort of evolve as you started writing the songs?
Eric Young: I would say it evolved. It wasn’t really our intention to make a heavier album. We just basically felt most right to have those. We chose songs and it just happened to be a bunch of songs that made the album seem to be a little bit heavier than what we have done before. And of course the production was a bit different as we set out to put out an album that was less cut and paste and copy and blah blah blah. Just more raw, you know, just go into the studio and play what we do, kinda record that live feeling. I guess the two combinations made it a bit more raw sounding album.
Simon Cruz: I think song wise, it’s maybe lighter sometimes you know. Like songs like “California.” I think mainly sound wise it is a rawer, tougher album.
Influences and Other Bands
We know that you’re influenced a lot by 80s music but you have a modern edge too. Are there any bands outside of the 80s or maybe even current bands that you find inspirational or influenced by in your music?
Simon Cruz: Well, I found a band quite recently actually which is more of a…sort of theatrical rock. Sort of like Queen or something. They are called Foxy Shazam, which is one of the few new bands that I listen to.
Cool! So, in terms of your set lists you have been doing a pretty good mix from most of your albums really. Is there any one song that no matter how many times you play it, you still get a rush or really enjoy kicking that one out?
Eric Young: Hmmm. Not really. I get a rush from every song we play you know. I guess “Breaking The Chainz” is one of those songs for me that always gives me the goose bumps. Especially when you see the fans really react to it. They go crazy for that intro you know, the pounding. So I would go with that one.
Simon Cruz: I think for this tour and playing live, like the new stuff, I always have fun playing “Cocaine Cowboys”. It always works. I don’t know, it just gets you going naturally. You don’t have to try to jump around, it just happens! (Everybody laughs).
It is one of those infectious songs.
Eric Young: Yeah, bouncy!
You guys, Hardcore Superstar and Crazy Lixx are leading this new wave of 80s glam rock and over here we have maybe Steel Panther. Do you ever foresee three or all four of your bands doing a tour at some point together?
Eric Young: We’ve played a lot with Hardcore Superstar. We played with Crazy Lixx. But, I don’t think we would work so good on a bill with Steel Panther since they are… basically, a joke! I know that our bassist would probably quit the band if we ever thought of the thought. So, no I don’t think you will ever us on the same…well, we’ve played on the same bill as them on festivals and stuff like that. You wouldn’t see a tour together with us.
It was cool that you guys were able to fit in some extra dates on the tour, and make it here to Florida.
Eric Young: Yeah!
Are there any other possible dates you might squeeze in before heading for the UK?
Eric Young: No, we pretty much have a full schedule up until the flight leaves! (Laughs).
Simon Cruz: We’re leaving on Sunday you know. We’ve got one more show. We wish we could stay here for a couple of days, stay in Florida, go to the beach and have a look around.
Eric Young: Yeah that would be great. Next time!
Have you guys been to Florida before?
Eric Young: No, never.
So what are your plans looking like after the tour in the summer. Are you going to do any big festivals in Europe or possibly make it back over here near the end of the year?
Simon Cruz: That would be awesome.
Eric Young: Well, this tour is basically running up to the middle of June. After that we are doing some festivals but, yeah we are thinking of possible ways to come back here this fall depending upon what shows up or not. We’ll see. We don’t have anything concrete right now.
Cool guys. That’s all I have. I really appreciate you talking to me.
Simon and Eric: Thanks for having us
After the interview, the band treated us to their rehearsal warmup where their vocal harmonies were very discernible and awesome. I got to greet a few of the awesome ladies from Crucified Barbara, whose impressive set had been drifting through the room during our time there. By the way, my wife ended up leaving impressed! Martin ended up jamming a few riffs from other bands, which one of them was “Ritual” by Ghost. We discussed the new Ghost INFESTISSUMAM album and he is definitely a fan, but that is a story for the next time we meet.
Special thanks to Dustin Hardman for helping set things up!