Alaskan four-piece metal band 36 Crazyfists released their much anticipated fourth album, The Tide and Its Takers in May of 2008. I chatted with vocalist Brock Lindow via telephone about the origin of the band, the switch from Roadrunner to Ferret Records, and the new album.
You’re from Kenai, Alaska? Brock: No, we’re from Anchorage, the guitar player is from Kenai, which is about three hours down but I saw that on Wikipedia one time that that’s where we’re from, but Anchorage is where we’re mainly from.
What’s the scene like in Anchorage? Brock: It’s great, there’s a lot of bands and always has been. Ya know, it’s a really cool scene very loyally supported by the locals and there’s always been a lot of honest unique fans, I think, up there.
One of the things I have always wondered about you guys is where you got your name. I read that it’s the name of a Jackie Chan movie? Brock: Yep, right.
Why did you guys decide to name your band that? Brock: At the time I didn’t even know who Jackie Chan was, my guitar player was a real big Kung Fu buff and he was like, "ah, man, this is an awesome Jackie Chan film!" So we all watched it like, I don’t remember, one of the first few practices when we first got together and uh, it’s a hilarious movie if you ever get a chance to see it, and a stupid name that’s stuck for 15 years so it’s one of those things.
It’s very catchy, everyone remembers it. Brock: Ya, whenever I’m on a plane and I strike up some random conversation with somebody and they’ll be like, "What’s the name of your band?" and I always just like, cringe ‘cuz I know they’re gonna be like, "What?" It’s happened a million times. We were in Rolling Stone as one of the top five worst band names ever, which I thought was pretty awesome! We were number three out of five.
Really? Brock: I think Hoobastank was number one. And I can’t really remember, and the other bands that were in there I’ve never really heard of. That was our claim to fame I guess.
Well, all press is good press I guess. Brock: Exactly, we were on the radar enough to get put in Rolling Stone, so I guess I can’t complain too much.
So, you guys have all be together since about ‘94? Brock: Yep.
How did you all meet, were you high school friends? Brock: I was playing in a band with my drummer in high school which was the year before we formed this band and the scene is small, ya know, so if anyone was playing particularly metal everybody knows each other. Steve, who’s from Kenai, he moved up right out of high school so, it was kind of funny, at the time he was in this band called Broke which was like a really popular band and everybody kind of looked up to them and so there was like this big rumor because this was kind of around the whole grunge time there was this rumor that he was this new guitar player from Seattle and everybody’s like, all hyped up about it and he’s really just from Kenai and there was some huge, fabricated story and we always crack up about it.
Do you think that growing up in Alaska kind of influenced your sound as far as, like, you mentioned Seattle and they have grunge and in Alaska there’s not really a set scene? Brock: Ya know, I don’t really know if it did sound wise, it definitely did as people, we’re definitely unique individuals as far as you just kind of know what people are like from certain areas and we may not have had certain outlets of fun that other people may have had, you kind of had to make your own, it’s a very outdoorsy place ya know, winters are completely dark and summers are completely light so it had these drastic, ya know, scenarios that we grew up in and I think that kind of influenced a sense of a big isolation type thing, but musically we had cable just like everyone else, we loved Slayer and Metallica like everybody else. So, I don’t really know so much musically we are all that influenced by where we’re from but I think lyrically and as people definitely.
So was it hard to get used to, when you moved down to Oregon, the whole day light thing? Brock: [laughs] Nah, I mean, we had been out, we definitely knew it wasn’t like that everywhere. We moved to Seattle initially but nobody was 21 at the time so we couldn’t really get a show and we had some friends in Portland that were like, "hey, there’s this new band night on Mondays, you guys can play right away" so we kind of cruised down there and lived down there for about eight years and I moved back to Anchorage about three years ago.
Oh, Ok. Interesting. So why did you switch from Roadrunner to Ferret? Brock: Because Ferret wanted to give us hugs and Roadrunner didn’t! [laughs] Ya know, as the years went on we just kind of got lost in the shuffle with Roadrunner and I don’t really have anything bad to say about them because initially they made my dreams come true and we had a lot of good times with them although on the business side of things there were a lot of times when I thought maybe we could have gotten a little more help than we did, so when we had the chance to leave they were gracious enough to let us leave and they didn’t make it difficult for another label to pick up anything and make it expensive for someone else to buy us out or anything like that so it was cool and it’s just been such a blessing for us to be there. We’ve known them for a good ten years, the owner sang on or first record and guys that are there are in bands and just a little bit smaller kind of brotherhood vibe over there that’s not really there at Roadrunner where it’s more of a corporate suit type of environment.
Yeah, I can kind of see how that would be. The new album... which is amazing by the way, it is my favorite of all of them. Brock: Thanks, me too.
I like the first one and this one the best. Brock: I like the second one and the new one the most.
I wanted to ask you about “Only A Year Or So.” What was your inspiration for that song? Brock: I really wish there was a disclaimer on that song because almost every night when I talk to people they bring that song up. And they’re like, "Oh, is that about you and your wife?" and it makes me cringe that people think that because... is that what you thought?
To me it sounds like a war thing... Brock: Ok, good, perfect.
Like a soldier writing to his wife... Brock: It’s absolutely that. It’s about a guy I met on the Internet about three years ago that said he liked the band and he was in Iraq for two years... (indecipherable on recording). I’ve had some serious conversations with him in the past you know, about how he was and being over there and missing his kids and blah blah blah. And I think I kind of helped him in some way I guess, so anyway, he ended up giving me these letters from him and his wife and they were really, really intense and just, I thought that maybe I was prying a little bit into their personal lives which I kind of felt bad about but I was really stoked that they did it. So anyway, I wrote the chorus and the first verse is his wife’s letter and the second verse is his letter back to her and so that was kind of the inspiration behind the whole thing. The reason it’s called “Only A Year Or So” is because I was watching the news and there was a man being deployed again and his wife was holding the baby and she said, "hopefully you’ll only be gone for a year or so." And I started thinking about that and I was like, "that’s fucking nuts!" Ya know, that this guy was going away for another year. He was just gone for a year, had a week off or something and a lot of people have had to go through that because of this war and I just wanted to talk about it I guess a little bit.
Most of the people I have talked to that is their favorite song off the new album. Brock: Ya, we’re never gonna play it live because don’t even know how you would do that, but we actually are tossing having a video for it and then having a single of some sort even though we can probably never play it live it still could have a really rad video and blah blah blah.
So, what is your live show like? How do you balance out the four albums? Brock: Well, right now even since the record’s come out we’ve only been playing a few new songs. We’ve been supporting it every tour since the record’s come out so (indecipherable) so we’ve only had a half hour slot every time, and we just felt in the beginning that we didn’t want to cram a bunch of people with tunes they weren’t familiar with and for like a half hour so we’re playing everything from Snowcapped to the new record and nothing off Bitterness unfortunately for you I guess. Well, we did play “Slit Wrist Theory” a couple times. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. Right now we’re just doing a few songs of the new record and the rest of it is in between the other albums.
Ok, well, do you have anything you want to add, anything I didn’t ask ya? Brock: No, not really, just, go buy our record, please, all of them! [laughs]