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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Q&A with CROSSS' Andy March

Hellish and heavy former-Halifax band plays last-minute show tonight at Menz Bar

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 3:56 PM

click to enlarge JULIA SHAPIRO
  • Julia Shapiro

After years of touring, a relocation to Toronto and a lineup change, the heavy-experimental CROSSS released the album Lo at the end of May, and it fucking slays. Following 2013’s Obsidian Spectre like a shadow, Lo has received much critical acclaim: Lo’s full-fledged anxiety bleeds through sludgy technicalities, droning distortions and occult storylines. It's spooky as hell. 

Tinged by the creepy pitches of vocalist/guitarist Andy March, CROSSS commands balance like a sacrificial ritual that implies both life and death. In live performance, the band carries the pounding weight of Sabbath-era horror with the lightness of minimalist instrumentation.

In more simple terms, CROSSS is incredibly dynamic.

CROSSS most recently played Sappy Fest. Since then, they've been in Halifax writing and recording the next record. Tonight, CROSSS plays a last-minute show with hardcore cover-boys Unreal Thought ($5, 11pm) at Menz Bar, which follows electronic/DJ sets at The Khyber featuring CROSSS’ bassist Scarlett Rose and synth player Ami Spears as Schønsee, with Vulva Culture, DJ Almond Breeze and Kurt Inder ($5, 8pm). I talked to March about what's been up with CROSSS. They play just before the early-morning meteor shower

Q: How has the summer been going for CROSSS?
A: This summer was really exciting. Releasing our second LP seems to be a high-water mark of sorts, and touring has been more meaningful. We covered a lot of ground, saw a lot of amazing stuff as usual, and we all just want to keep going.

Q: You're leaving town tomorrow. Where are you headed?
A: This weekend, we play Shed Island in Newfoundland, then we have a bunch of Montreal and Toronto shows. Then we take off with our buds Built to Spill for a few weeks. After that we head out west again.

Q: Have you been surprised by the responses to Lo?
A: The response to a release always takes time to understand. This one has been extra-confusing in a way. I was very pleased with the critic’s appreciation of the more experimental elements, which is the real accomplishment. There are some things I would have done differently. Some critical reactions refer to the experience of listening (to the album) from beginning to end. That’s not how I listen to music, really, so I overlooked the importance of that. 

Q: CROSSS' underwent a big lineup change. How is songwriting with the band’s new members? 
A: The four of us (me, Kris Bowering, Ami Spears and Scarlett Rose) are developing a strong rapport, which is a new experience for me. Collaboration is an art in itself. We all bring very diverse creative elements and influences from our disparate backgrounds, but we are finding common threads. Sometimes we sound like Wolf Eyes, sometimes we sound like a Lord of the Flies score. But we’re all really excited and that’s the main thing right now.

Q: In addition to new members, you added synths. How does that enhance CROSSS overall?
A: Initially, I wouldn’t have considered adding that element. But synthesizers are the most diverse musical instrument in the world, so it’s very possible to create sounds that have literally never been heard before, which is amazing and mind-boggling. In this band, so far, the synth serves to bring the other instruments together in a way that I now cannot live without. On this tour, we played a few shows without Ami and it was torture.

Q: Occult themes run through CROSSS. What do those moods mean to you? 
A: I am an introvert, so the creative process often brings me to the inside. The other (members) are that way, too, so we connect and find each other in this way. At first it seems intimidating to look, and to twist the mind about in this way, looking inside. But it's the world we all inhabit, whether we choose to look or to not look. And then (in performance) I like the idea that each artist brings something to the lives of others that is special. The potential intimacy of this experience can develop over time. That is what I like about my life right now.

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