On a lighter note the band have been interviewed in Fireworks Magazine by Ant and I’ve posted a transcript below. Buy Fireworks, please, cos it’s a dead good read
Sheffield based Crimes Of Passion formed in 2005, and played their first gig at that year’s Firefest Pre-show party. With their debut album due for release July 21st, and a European tour with White Lion imminent, Ant Heeks caught up with Vocalist Dale Radcliffe, Drummer Kev Tonge, Guitarist Andy Lindsay, and new Bassist Simon Fearns at their album launch party to get the full story.
How would you describe your sound?
Dale: I’d like to think that it’s quite unique, that it’s quite a mixture of styles. I’d like to think that we’re a mixture of maybe something like Skid Row meets Bullet For My Valentine or Funeral For A Friend. We’ve all got influences in obviously Maiden, Skid Row, Motley Crue, these are the bands that made us get into heavy metal in the first place, all these sort of bands rub off, and this is why we wanted to keep the melodic vocal lines and the catchy choruses, but the thing that appealed to all of us are a lot of the bands like Trivium, Funeral For A Friend, Bullet For My Valentine, that kind of thing, that kind of big sound. We wanted melodic songs, but heavy.
You wanted them to appeal to a big audience
Yeah,and I think we are quite happy with what’s come out now, ’cause it does. There’s people into melodic rock who like it, and people into hardcore that like it. I think we’ve achieved what we wanted, eventually . There are still some AOR type of songs on the album like Exit Wound which is the first tune we wrote, which is delving more to the AOR side than the heavy side, but still it makes a varied album. When we talked influences and directions to go it appealed to me that there were no limits, it didn’t matter if it was a ballad, or thrash metal, whatever came out went, there were no limitations. We knocked out Exit Wound, Pretty In Blood and Dream Of Me fairly quickly, and it was quite evident from the start it was going to work. Then we were looking for a name, and I suggested Crimes Of Passion, which is a line from the song Pretty in Blood.
Your sound is heavier when compared to some of your previous bands, is this a natural progression or to reflect the current rock scene?
I think inevitably you’re going to do something that you hope appeals at the time which is based on other stuff that’s knocking around, I’d be lying if I didn’t say so. But it’s a Catch 22 thing, these new bands that are out I’m into, and because I’m into that I want to sound like that, not just to jump on a bandwagon as such because that’s the way I want to sound. A bit of a heavier sound will appeal more to the current market you know, but it is exactly what I want to do.
You sought a producer and went ahead and recorded the album without the backing of a record label. What prompted this and was it the right decision?
Definitely! Yeah, we obviously had a demo of the 3 songs, we approached quite a few record labels and we were told initially that they liked it but they wanted to hear more, so we thought well if we are recording more then we might at well record a whole album, so we were fortunate enough that the studio we recorded at is quite near so we had the luxury of being able to pop up every evening, so it was easy to do. Having said that problems along the way it took a lot longer than anticipated as it turned out but yeah, definitely. I mean we paid for it out of our own pockets and what have you, but with hindsight obviously now that we are signed we actually get more of a cut for ourselves, we are not paying anybody back you see, so its worked out quite well, it will be more profitable for us.
Why did you choose John Mitchell?
Well John Mitchell mixed it and Tim Turan actually mastered it. John Mitchell came about when we started having problems with the recording. We finished recording at Orion Studios in Sheffield. It’s a guy we know, Steve Ellis, things went fairly smoothly, but he’s not an expert at mixing . He did our demo, but we felt we wanted a little bit beyond his capabilities. He’s still fairly new to it, don’t get me wrong, he’s got a great studio and he knows how to use it. The time we spent with him recording was spot on, I don’t think we would have done it any other way, being so near and convenient. We spent all the time we needed to get things right. The killer line came when we had to call it a day ’cause you can go on forever . Somebody recommended John Mitchell to us having done bands like Funeral For A Friend and Enter Shikari, these are chartable rock bands, really well known bands with fantastic sounding albums, all the sort of bands we are listening to, so we had a word with him, we sent him a song, which was Breathless And Beautiful, and it came back a completely different song to what we had heard on the rough mix, and so we thought right that’s it, there’s our man, so we sent it all to him. John doesn’t actually master stuff himself so he then recommended us to Tim Turan at Turan Audio who then mastered it, so yes it all fell into place really nicely.
To me the production quality is far superior to many more established acts
Definitely! We are really chuffed, we’d do the same again I think when we record the next album. We’d definitely go to John Mitchell and Tim Turan, absolutely definitely.
You have got Tony Mills guesting as well
We certainly have, he’s singing on 4 tracks. We supported Shy a few years ago and Tony took a bit of a shine to us. We got quite pally with him, he liked our stuff and it just came about when we wanted some backing vocals doing in a hurry. Rather than me going through all the rigmarole, we wanted a different sounding voice on there, rather than me helped out by Andy and Kris, as it all started sounding the same. We wanted a bit of variation. We were also getting pushed for deadlines we needed to meet, and for gigs we needed something ready to sell, so we got in touch with Tony and said could he turn them around in a fortnight. He did those 4 songs basically just by us phoning up and asking if he was up for it and that was that.
You’ve signed a deal with Vigilante, any particular reason for the choice?
Best person to ask about this is Kev he’s technical. I’m a bit arty-farty, day-dreaming up words!
Where will the album be available?
Well basically HMV, it’s already on their website as a pre-order ,but it will be HMV, Zavvi , Amazon, Itunes, it’s all through Pinnacle , normal distribution so it’ll get everywhere everything else does basically.
Is it a world wide release?
It will be. At this stage its only European, but we are looking into a Japanese release early next year, so we are going to have to put the inevitable Japanese bonus track on there somewhere, and looking to the USA, its all going to happen, its going to get released everywhere to be honest.
How do you write the songs, individual ideas or a more democratic approach?
Usually starts generally 90 percent of the time, the ball starts rolling with Andy, with an idea, a guitar riff, and then the next thing that happens a tune will start developing in my head, a vocal melody, so me and Andy will ricochet off each other , my vocal line over his, he might change something to suit what I feel we might need or vice versa, then obviously the bass, we are all present while this is happening, so at the same time Kris would be jamming along, (as it was original bassist Kris when the songs were written,) so would Kev, but the main base of it would be the vocals and guitar. I would need to knock out a verse and chorus to know if the song’s going to work, then we’ll start basically adding more complications and putting the obligatory guitar solo in, things like that, and the middle eight the pre choruses, all those sort of bits come after, but the main thing for me to know if it’s going to work is a verse and a chorus, usually from a verse and a chorus I can tell if a song is going to work or not in its entirety, and we have never really, out of all the songs we’ve got we’ve only ever ditched one, but its not totally ditched anyway, it’s on a back burner to have a dabble with it.
You have got some interesting lyrics, what are the songs about?
Pretty in blood, that’s inspired by… see I listen to a lot of Emo Punk type of stuff, the lyrics are always orientated about digging dead girlfriends up, really bizarre things like that. I like bizarre lyrics like that, you read them but you don’t quite know the true meaning behind them, you make your own interpretation of them. I kind of like lyrics like that. All of my favourite songs generally you don’t know what the songs are really about, but I have my own interpretation. I try and write a lot of our songs like that, and that song was inspired by a band called Senses Fail that just wrote this really sinister, horrible, morbid song to an amazingly catchy tune! I just thought that’s really bizarre, such a morbid subject to a right happy tune. So that kind of inspired that really. All the others are based on different things, a lot to do with Far and Beyond rather than material everyday things. When you look at the album sleeve you’ll see the story of God Made Me Your Angel it’s the cartoon strip that goes right through the album, so again you’ll see it’s an almost science fictiony, kind of spirity, far above and beyond kind of theme to it. I can’t go too deep into it, I’ve got to be honest. The true meanings of a lot of these songs, it’s only me knows exactly what the songs are about, and I kind of want to keep it that way. They all have a meaning, and one or two of them have lyrics that got strung together and started working, a subject revolved around it. Things like maybe Exit Wound and Die Alone, they are just kind of bog standard heartbreak type of songs, nothing more complicated than that, but the likes of God Made Me Your Angel , Fight You On My Own, the true meanings behind them there’s only me that actually knows it, that’s what I like. I like people to have their interpretation of it, cause a lot of my favourites, I don’t think I know the true meaning of them. I’ve got my own interpretation, and the lyrics mean something personal to me, but it’s probably not what that song was written about, and that’s what I wanted out of these songs, it’s a little bit weird.
Have you a favourite song to perform live?
Quiet honestly for me I’d say that Die Alone is one of my favourites. I like the tempo of it, it’s that kind of Emo Punk type tempo, the stuff I’m into. I just think it bounces along nicely, I feel good singing it. I think what it is it’s a looser singing style than the rest. The rest of the tunes, the singing is a little more technical style, more complicated. That one just flows nicely, I don’t have to concentrate too much, I just feel completely natural doing that one.
You’ve toured with bands such as White Lion, Jeff Scott Soto, Danny Vaughn, Gotthard and Great White, have you learnt anything from any of them?
Yes they are all as skint as us, ha ha!
I’ve learnt a hell of a lot because, I mean when I was a teenager and into metal bands like White Lion and Talisman, those sort of bands, you always perceive them as being like up there, millionaires ,but it’s bizarre when you actually tour with them you find they’re not actually earning that much money for a lot of hard graft, and you kind of take your hat off to them. This is why it gets annoying when people slag bands off, they haven’t got a clue just how much hard work goes into it. People like Jeff Scott Soto, just look how many projects the guy does, he does nothing but graft.
How do you manage your lives with the demands of touring and rehearsing?
Easier for some of us than others. I’ve got no family as such yet, so it’s quite easy for me, I’m self employed. Simon’s got no family yet, I mean obviously Simon’s a newcomer here but he’s took the plunge, he’s put the band first like we all do straight away, it’s in an early stage, it’s all new to him and he’s put it first, but obviously it’s a little more difficult when there’s children involved, it’s hard to tear away from your kids and what have you, but if that’s what you want to do that’s what you’ve got to do. The unfortunate thing is for the band to work it has ruthlessly got to come first and we are all fortunate to have partners that are pretty understanding in that department, they knew they were going out with musicians and they put up with it. Really well. It’s not easy but if you want to do it you’ve got to do it. It’s not easy sometimes when you get special occasions and what have you, you’ve still got to put the band first, got to be away for people’s birthdays. The only way it can work is by putting the band first all the time.
Is that one of the reasons Kris Hudson-Lee (original bassist) left the band?
Basically yes, he found it more difficult than the rest of us to get away, to let work down, let his wife down. I think Kris is maybe happier playing in a band that plays 2 or 3 times a month, still getting the buzz of playing , but don’t need as much dedication. It’s upsetting everybody around you leaving everybody out.
How is Simon fitting in, has he bought anything new to the band?
Dale: Ask the man himself!
Simon: I don’t think I’ve bought anything new just yet cause we haven’t started writing. I haven’t bought any new songs yet , I’ve just been beavering away.
Dale: Just from my point of view he’s a different player from Kris, a more aggressive player. For me personally it adds to what I want to hear out of the band. Kris is a great bass player, good technical player and everything, but I think Simon’s playing is more fitting to the direction that we feel we are going in.
You take your music very seriously but there is a strong sense of humour within the band, with your between song raps. Is this an important side of things?
Dale: Yeah I think as far as I’m concerned the easiest way to somebody’s confidence or trust, or to win them over is to appeal to their sense of humour, and I think if you can make somebody laugh ,if somebody picks up on your humour they’re more comfortable with you from an early stage. I like to come across between the songs, don’t get me wrong I like to throw all the shapes, do all the poses during the songs, but between the songs, we’re not up are own arses, we are having fun, we are enjoying it.
Simon: It has a knock on as well, if we are enjoying ourselves everybody else will enjoy themselves. I’ve found that from previous bands, people have said to us afterwards they can tell we’re enjoying what we’re doing, and it inspires people to get into it more.
We are now joined by Kev and Andy, so I ask Kev about the choice of label
You’ve signed a deal with Vigilante, any particular reason for the choice?
Kev: We talked with four or five other labels, and as a new band starting out labels are not willing to take a risk nowadays like they did when Skid Row and Winger and all these bands started on the scene. With your downloading and stuff like that, more people are doing it that way, so as a result labels are suffering, so the deals you get offered from a label are crap when you are going to get 40 pence per album back. We did it through Vigilante because their distribution network in Europe is second to none, and we get more money basically so we can finance more tours, so the more records we sell the more money we get so the more tours we can do. The aim of this game, we are not going to sell a million records and make a million pounds, it won’t happen we just need to get the name out there with the first album so people know what we are about. Hence doing the White Lion tour, and Vixen next April. Pinnacle are the leading independent distributors in the UK so we are on the right track ’cause they do everybody, and then we have got the equivalent in Europe, what we haven’t got in Europe Plastic Head do, who are one of the big guys basically so we’ve got a fantastic distribution network . The guys we are doing PR with, we’ve signed with Metal Music Management in Sweden, we are using Maria from Avispa in Spain, Vanuccio from GT in Italy, they are all doing promo for bands, so they are not just releasing the album into the shops they are doing radio play as well. It’s really good and things are starting to turn now. Our advert’s due to come out in Metal Hammer in Spain this month, it’s a big issue they’re doing with loads of promos so basically when we land in Spain in July with White Lion hopefully people will have heard of it, the album will be there and we’ve got plenty of radio interviews to do so hopefully they’ll know who we are.
How did you come up with the artwork for the album?
Dale: Well basically the cartoon strip that goes right through the sleeve is the story to the lyrics of God Made Me Your Angel, and as it happens the order of the tunes and the lyrics that appear on each consecutive page actually fit the scene and that was a bit accidental, it all kind of worked out like that. We didn’t realise the order they came in, you look at the page of Pretty In Blood it’s the scene of the accident with the blood.
Kev: When we did it we were sat round a table like this and there were knocking noises and glasses moving about!
Andy: I’m a big Maiden fan, I used to love getting their albums and looking through the sleeves, and finding the hidden messages.
Kev: You can’t read!
Andy: Well, looking at the pictures then!
Dale: With Iron Maiden albums you look at every detail of that artwork.
Andy: It’s got a loose conceptual theme running through it.
Dale: A guy in Sheffield, Dave Howarth, basically got recommended to us, he did some artwork for some friends of ours, Silverjet. I got in touch with him and explained the concept, he knocked some rough sketches out and he sent me what we wanted so we took it from there. He’s done a fantastic job for us. I sketched it out very roughly with the story and everything, how I wanted the characters and different scenes, he just drew it all up and elaborated. He had to alter it when Kris left and replace it with Simon’s face. It’s like a Marvel comic book.
Andy: Even if the albums shit at least the artworks good!
Do you think constantly performing live helps?
Dale: Yeah gotta, gotta stay out there haven’t you? I think you have got to stay in the public’s face, you have to be on show, you can’t just have a CD on the shelf or else you get forgot. A good example of that, I was quite a big Magnum fan in my teens, and I went to see Magnum a fortnight ago at the Carling Academy. Bob (Catley) must be sixty odd, and boy what a show! I’ve got to be honest I’ve not seen him for years, I went to see him and I thought they’re good, he’s awesome, and that to me is a fine example of why you’ve got to keep going live, ’cause you get to that age and you still sound as good as that. They didn’t seem like a old band at all, they sounded fantastic, and that’s what drives me to keep going, keep going, keep going. I’m getting on for fourty, I’ve been trying to do things in music for over twenty years, it’s only now that I’m happy doing what I’m doing. Gotta keep going, keep doing it
Kev: It’s the only way to do it nowadays let me tell you. When Skid Row started they did a single straightaway, they were on MTV ten, twenty times a day, doesn’t happen now. The only way to get your band out now is to gig , so basically a combination between that and MySpace for bands like ourselves is the way to get the music forward.
How much do you attribute the contribution of MySpace to your fan base, and how has it helped to promote the band?
Dale: Enormously to be honest . I mean you just kinda target the areas that we know we are gigging, the sort of band that we support and get in touch with. Absolutely, it’s done us a lot of favours, you get to know the people who are coming to the shows before, because you get a reply “thanks for the request ,well see you in such and such” or wherever so you know, it’s a fantastic tool, it’s one of the most important things that’s happened on the internet for bands ,definitely, I think without MySpace, I honestly think it would be a step backwards to how it used to be. MySpace is absolutely brilliant, really important. I mean where else does an unsigned band get like, getting on for 200 plays a day of their stuff in Italy, Spain, Germany , where else would we have got that in the early days? Some bands that I’m just getting into I discovered by accident, just through MySpace, it’s fantastic.
Kev: It’s a main tool nowadays, your main band website now does very little. You can click onto someone’s profile who’s into the bands we like such as Iron Maiden and Dio, send them a link saying check out our site and if they like it you’ve got a fan, so its got to be advantageous to any band. You’ve got to put the work in and use it as a proper tool. We’ve all done it now we’ve had people from Sweden, Norway, people who are on White Lion’s MySpace site say we “love your music, can’t wait to see you as well, when’s the album out?” So straight away you’ve got an album sale, so it’s got to be beneficial.
What are your views on the current UK rock scene, and where do Crimes Of Passion fit in?
Dale: I think… the UK rock scene is buzzing, it’s still there, I mean that’s quite evident, but I think there is too much sort of … I’m thinking how to describe it… If you go to Germany they’ll like you if you’re a good band regardless of whether you’re metal, over here I think if you’re not a particular style that’s not cool at the moment your barking up the wrong tree for the charts. I’ve got to be honest over here I think the music scene is a bit Emperor’s New Clothes in a way, it is a good rock scene over here, it’s still there, it’s not as in your face as it is if you go to places like Norway or Germany,or Holland. Over there they are proud to be into metal. Over here, if you’re a metal band that’s not cool. There’s none of that kind of attitude in other countries. But there are some great bands out there, that’s what it is and you just work round it, can’t change it, you play to the people that you want here in England and look forward to playing to twice as many people when you go abroad! I’m not just talking from our perspective, I mean White Lion as well. We’re just a little bit more accepted over there.
Kev: It depends if people are too scared to change, you get people who are into AOR or melodic rock and they’re into their favourite five bands with the keyboards, and if they’re not scared to get into new bands.
Andy: The UK scene is more of genres than just bands, like melodic rock for example.
Kev: It can be too heavy, we personally didn’t think our old band were going to get heavy, it just materialised with Dale because of the different vocal style and we started writing the stuff we wanted to do, go on to do heavier stuff. We write heavier with lots and lots of melody. The biggest tour we did up to press has been Great White who are a blues rock band, and we thought we are way too heavy for this, but we were selling loads and loads of merchandise and went down really well, and I think it appeals to the melodic rock crowd, obviously not everybody, and the heavier crowd, with the NWOBHM crowd, even the Screamo Funeral For A Friend type people. Its good for us because we can go into different genres instead of being stuck with melodic rock.
Any message for Fireworks readers?
Dale: Yes, get off my land!
Kev: That our album is very very good and would make a wonderful addition to anyone’s record collection! Come out and see the White Lion shows, see what we are about. With White Lion there’s some negativity about what they’re like, but they’re a fantastic band, awesome players, they get the sound of White Lion obviously with Mike Tramp. It’s a really good package.