Interview By Ellen Norvang
New York based; The Cringe might not be familiar to most people, but the band members are not unknown to the scene or media, as they have made their mark in acts such as Mr. Bungle, Sheryl Crow and Bruce Springsteen.
The band is going on tour with sleazy rockers, Steel Panther, in the UK and has no intention of stealing the hair metal-thunder from their colleagues.
Well, we’re a hard rock band from Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York City, with roots in classic rock—like the Who, Zeppelin, and Van Halen—and post-punk, bands like the Replacements, Husker Du and the Minutemen, with a big dose of Opeth-style prog-metal thrown in. When folks compare us to QOTSA or Foo Fighters, we’re cool with that; we love those bands and figure we’re cut from the same cloth. Our songs are about real life stuff—politics, personal struggles, crazy people—but in the end we like to rock and roll much like our heroes did—loud and proud and fast.
Can you describe the band in 5 words?
Scruffy New York black-clad rawkers.
What is the difference between the UK scene/crowd and the US?
American crowds call them “french fries.”
We opened for the Panther in LA, at the House of Blues, and it went great. I actually think we’re a good match, because we’re both into big drums and flashy guitar solos, and rocking out in a very un-alternative way, but we’re not trying to do what they do, and so we warm up the crowd for them without stealing any of their awesome hair-metal thunder. And we’re easy to get along with backstage. Just musicians doing our thing.
Any funny stories from the backstage area?
There does seem to be an awful lot of talk about wild sex acts backstage, and enough booze to fuel a gigantic orgy, but so far it’s been more bark than bite—we’re anticipating the 80s drugs and sex bacchanal that is almost certainly in the offing!
If I was a fly on the wall on your tour bus what would I see?
You’d be forced to listen to endless arguments about whether Keith Moon or Ginger Baker was the better, more influential drummer, what kind of microphone was used to record the drums on “Tomorrow Never Knows” and other shockingly boring topics that only unrepentant musos could possibly enjoy discussing. You’d also witness more than a few glasses of Highland scotch go down the hatch . . .
Strangely, we’ve had a largely cringe-free stage existence, but being joined onstage by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top at a show last year in Texas has to rank as one of our finest hours.
All members have a lot going on outside of the band. How is your working progress and how do you find time to balance everything?
It’s part of the nature of the New York scene that players do different gigs; it keeps you fresh, helps pay the city’s notoriously high bills, and keeps you involved in the great community of musicians there. Our drummer has played for Dylan, Sheryl Crow, and Deep Purple; our guitarist used to play for Mr. Bungle, and has his own band, Roto’s Magic Act; and our bass player is a producer and an artist in his own right, too. Our singer is busier and more important than David Cameron. Still, balancing time is no big deal; just another part of the bitch of being a grown-up!
What does the future hold for you?
We’ll check the tarot cards and get back to you. . .
We make it a priority to eat well on the road, really trying to avoid fast food; after all, there’s pretty much the show, dinner, and the party afterwards—everything else is just sitting in the bus and sleeping.
Can you share a good recipe for a quick meal on the road?
Add four hungry musicians and several tired road crew to a restaurant about to close; add several pints of ale, copious amounts of scotch, and a couple of hot but somewhat irritated waitresses. Stir well, and stand back.