Is Alive: An Interview with Crime In Stereo
With Is Dead, one could say that Crime In Stereo stepped into quite unlikely territory. The peak they reached as a hardcore band, with The Troubled Stateside, didn’t seem to apply any longer, but not because Is Dead didn’t qualify as a worthy contender for the former – the two just can’t really be compared.
Experimentation is common in hardcore, like in any genre of music, but it assumes a dipping of one’s foot into different waters, musically; getting a feel for the contributions every minute musical life-form will make for the sound as a whole.
What happens with Crime In Stereo on each album is more of a transformation, than a diddle with various musical forms, as they assume each phase as their career progresses; naturally, and logically. I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone masters the realm that Is Dead dwelled in, and presents a tighter, more confident Crime In Stereo.
Hearwax had the opportunity to fire a few questions at the band’s vocalist, Kristian Hallbert, and if one thing is certain, it’s that the band is pleased with how things are going. Tune in for everything from influences and lyrical content, to the new album (for which a review will be posted in the near future on Hearwax) and touring.
Just to get over with the formalities, who are you, and what’s your role in the band?
My name is Kristian, I sing in crime in stereo.
Again, you probably get this question all the time, but I’m curious as to what your influences are musically or otherwise?
We all have a vast range of influences musically it would be hard to peg one in particular. As far as the music we write i feel in a lot of ways we have become our own influence. Crime In Stereo has always had its sound and with each record i feel we have progressed on that.
Crime In Stereo seem to be a lot more socially-aware than the average hardcore band. Especially on The Troubled Stateside, songs like “Sudan”, “Impending Glory of American Adulthood”, and “Gravity/Grace”, all dwell on different issues that definitely aren’t paid the attention they deserve. But it’s not like that’s the only thing you write about, as you also seem to discuss more personal issues, so as a writer, myself, I’m interested: do you always just write what comes to you or affects you personally, or do you refer to some other process, like laying down a concept of some sort and just writing?
Alex does the writing but i can say he always writes things that relate to me personally. He and I spend a great deal together while working on the vocals. At the end of each record i find myself listening to the lyrics he wrote, and it always has a personal feel to myself.
4) As an album, Is Dead was considerably different than anything you guys have done before. I mean, I’m not trying to say you made some outrageous, genre-hopping changes, but it’s evident that something was done differently that time around. I’m particularly interested in whether or not the songwriting process was different at all, and if not, what was?
I think where we were as people and as musicians largely effected that release. Life had taken its toll on the touring aspect of crime in stereo and there was a point, it seemed, that we werent going to be able to maintain the full time schedule that we had previously. We went in to record ‘Is Dead’ somewhat thinking it was going to be our last record. With that in mind we wanted to write a record we were proud of. Not just a CIS record. We wanted to write whatever came to mind free of the worry of previous releases. Half way through recording we all reallized the record we had and definitely wanted to continue as a band.
You have an album, I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone, coming out on Bridge Nine quite soon; I heard “Drugwolf”, and I have to say, I’m really excited. Based on what I’ve heard, you guys put a lot more work into it than with any of your other albums, so are you, personally, more satisfied with the outcome? Does it build on the experimentation seen with Is Dead, and how does it generally compare to your other work?
I can definitely say without a doubt in my mind it is the best record, from start to finish, we have ever made.
When compared to our previous work i feel this record portrays the emotions felt with each song far better than ‘Is Dead’. I also think ‘I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone’ will come across, as a live record, far better than anything in our past.
I know you toured with Brand New and Glassjaw not too long ago, but do you have any tour plans coming up in the future? Perhaps, a headlining tour? Also, how does the whole touring process feel for you now, as opposed to when you started out? Especially since now, you probably do larger-scale tours, so you’re on the road even longer.
This year will definitely be our busiest year to date. We will be starting it off with a headliner in march. We have quite a few other things in the works as well, keep an eye on our myspace as we will be updating soon.
I’m always interested in the local scene – Toronto has a great one – as I’m sure you guys are. Are there any bands from around your area that you think are cool, and people may not know about?
I thought 2009, in particular, was a great year for music: there were some highly-anticipated releases from bands like Converge and Brand New, that didn’t disappoint, and some surprises, like with Iron Age and Lewd Acts. Are there any records in particular that you enjoyed?
I think the year ended with some great music. The New blacklisted record is absolutely amazing. The new Brand new record also rips. As far as bands in our area I’ve been into a band from long island called ‘The Agent’. They are very Texas Is The Reason, Garden Variety type music. Definitely check them out.
I understand your focus has always been on Crime In Stereo, musically, but do you have work outside the band stuff? Also, do you see yourself doing any other music-related projects in the future?
When I’m not touring I juggle between working at a cemetery as well as a jewelry store.
Im a bench jeweler. Its a pretty OK job but my passion is definitely Crime In Stereo. Alex is a teacher and the other guys find whatever they can when we are home. As far as other projects, I was jamming with some friends for a while, it began to feel like i was cheating on a girlfriend.
You have to be pretty lucky to avoid any kind of label-related problems in the music industry, so I was wondering how Bridge Nine is working out for you at this point? I’m not trying to make you guys talk shit or anything, but you seemed pretty unhappy with Nitro; was it anything in particular that influenced the move, or did you just feel it was time to move on?
Nitro at the time decided they would become a catalog label. They never really knew what to do with us. When it came time for us to record a new record it was definitely a mutual feeling that we had to move on and find another home. We have always been friends with the people at bridge 9 so it felt like the right place to go.
Thanks a lot for your time, and I look forward to the album and future shows. Best of luck!