Since 2019, fans of the horrifically named but musically genius Crywank have felt the end is near: Right before COVID, the band’s two members—who hail from Manchester and make up one of the best examples of modern anti-folk—announced the breakup that close listeners had heard coming, thanks to the several-part song "I Love You But I've Chosen Me."
Crywank started out as a solo bedroom recording project, picking up drums along the way to round out its sparse, DIY guitar. The vibe is a post-ironic Daniel Johnston; a depressed, piano-stripped Kate Nash whose sense of humour is still intact. It's the mix of lo-fi minimalism with plainspoken, surgically precise lyrics that hooks and keeps recovering punks and sadbois who know how to laugh at themselves—including the late rapper XXXTentacion, who sampled the band.
This tour, in some ways, feels like a return to roots, since it sees front person Jay Clayton touring New Brunswick and Nova Scotia solo. (Aside from tonight's show at Radstorm, Clayton will be playing in Moncton, Fredericton and, inexplicably, tiny Bear River, NS.) It also feels against the odds, since COVID delayed the tour for two years and the east coast gigs were not originally part of the tour announcement.
When The Coast reaches Clayton by phone, they are hesitant to say Crywank is calling it quits for good. After six years of constant touring and couch surfing to get by, Clayton and their bandmate Dan Watson have found COVID caused enough space between them to make "toxic" things better: "Talking on the phone—not about touring logistics, but just about our interests—we healed a lot and became better friends again," Clayton, who weathered the pandemic in Toronto, says.
True Stans will read that as a reunion on the way—but Clayton was careful to underline that they don't know what's coming next: "It's a weird thing where the band is very dominating: It dominates not even my time off but how I think of myself and the spaces in my head."
Like the band Frightened Rabbit, Crywank means more to its fans than the average listening experience: "I'll go to a gig—and even if it's a small gig of 50 people, at the end of it 20 of them will show me a tattoo of the [Crywank] dog logo," Clayton says, explaining they think part of the resonance is that Crywank "is a lot of people's depression band, I guess. So it's like this person that went through it with them is projected on me."
When Clayton takes the stage tonight at 7pm, they'll be playing music that's kept others in the room alive. Given the band's uncertain future, preemptive nostalgia is bound to saturate the room. "The main focus of my work is singing about cerebral, headspace; struggles with depression or struggles with assimilation—or things along those lines. But I never want it to be 'woe is me': Woe is me, but I know that can be funny."
Crywank Atlantic Canada 2022 ConcertsWhere & when: Halifax, Friday, May 20
Venue: Radstorm, 2177 Gottingen Street
Tickets: $15 or Pay What You Can (at the door)
Where & when: Moncton, Saturday May 21
Venue: Xeroz, 234 St. George Street
Tickets: $10 (at the door)
Where & when: Bear River, Sunday May 22
Venue: Oakdene Community Centre, 1913 Clementsvale Road
Tickets: $10/PWYC (at the door)
Where & when: Fredericton, Tuesday May 24 (two shows)
Venue: The Cap, 362 Queen Street
Time: 6pm and 8:30pm
Tickets: Available now $15/$20 at the door