THE CREW (SEATTLE, WA)
Seattle Washington’s The Crew got their start in February of 2014 and consists of: Dennis – vocals – 21, Chris – guitar – 37, Jakob – drums – 22, Casey – bass – 22, and Matt – guitar – 22. With only a 5 song demo and about 12 shows played under their belts they more than qualify as “Fresh Blood”. The band plays a style that should bring a smile to the faces of anyone who longs for the days of Youth Of Today, Gorilla Biscuits and Side By Side at CBGB’s. Some of you reading this may also recognize guitarist Chris Williams from his days in Champion and all of the other members have all been in other bands at one time or another with most splitting time with other current projects as well.
A FEW WORDS WITH THE CREWS’ CHRIS WILLIAMS: (Pictured in center of photo)
IE: What's up Chris? So you guys are The Crew out of Seattle and have been around for less than a year. Can you briefly takes us through the band’s short history and tell us what you guys are doing musically and lyrically with the band?
Chris: Yeah, originally Dennis and I started jamming together with a couple different lineup iterations, but they never really clicked. The two of us were at this Seahawks Super Bowl sendoff rally in February and ran into Jakob, who we knew from shows and he was playing in Red Scare, but also wanted to be in a straight edge band. So we started jamming with him and Casey, who was playing guitar in Red Scare at the time (he sings for them now). We were looking for a second guitar player and Matt just came to hang at one of our practices. I had seen him play guitar in a few bands and he has a killer stage presence. So, I secretly wanted him to play in The Crew, but I didn’t really know him very well, so didn’t want to ask. But at the end of the practice he asked us if he could play in the band so it worked out perfectly. Since then, we’ve been playing around the Seattle area and recorded a demo.
Musically, I love all styles of hardcore, but the Youth Crew stuff has always been my favorite. Also, Carry On was one of my favorite bands of the last 15 years or so and so that really plays a big part in our musical influence. If you’ve ever heard Champion, you know that I love octave leads, so those are definitely present in this band too. Lyrically, Dennis has written songs so far about personal reflections on straight edge, friendship situations (both good and bad), and people that try to use intimidation to gain respect.
IE: The band’s name (for obvious reasons) gives people the idea that you are playing some Youth Crew style hardcore. What were some of the band's you first got into when you discovered that particular style within the hardcore scene?
Chris: Actually, the name was inspired by the legendary 7 Seconds record. They’re one of my favorite bands of all time and really an enormous inspiration for me on a personal level. I’ve kind of had that name in my back pocket waiting to use it for a while now. I’m surprised no one has yet, to be honest! For me, the name kinda represents what this band is about more than just the five of us. Like the 7 Seconds song says, “The Crew is me, The Crew is you, Yeah, we’re the Crew!” That’s what we want this band to be about. Not just the five of us on stage, but every single person in the room is the “The Crew”.
But yeah, Youth Crew is definitely a big influence for us. Youth of Today’s “We’re Not in This Alone” and Judge’s “Bringin it Down” are two of my top five favorite records of all time. I also love Side By Side, Chain of Strength and Gorilla Biscuits. I got into hardcore from punk rock. So aside from Minor Threat and Bad Brains, those Youth Crew bands were the ones that really hit me the hardest. But when I was getting into the hardcore scene in the mid 90’s, a lot of the bands were playing slower heavier stuff. I think everyone in Seattle at that time worshiped Deadguy and Bloodlet. And I thought that stuff was cool, but I was way more into the fast aggressive hardcore, than the slower heavier stuff.
A really big turning point for me was when I saw Mouthpiece in a little basement out in the middle of the woods, like 40 miles from Seattle. They played that fast style hardcore that I craved so much and they covered Project X and Gorilla Biscuits. That show is what really hooked me. I loved going to hardcore shows of all kinds, but this band from 3,000 miles away comes out and I didn’t know any of their songs, but they covered two songs I absolutely loved. I just lost it. That was when the switch was flipped for me. That feeling I had as I screamed those words into the mic and had 20 kids grabbing the back of my hood, climbing over the top of me to get to the mic…there was no turning back from that.
IE: The sound, message and some of the fashion associated with the Youth Crew style has been done so many times over that at times some of it can seem cookie cutter like in similarities from band to band. What do you think The Crew brings to the table that is different in your opinion?
Chris: I totally agree. Some of the stuff that passes for Youth Crew today is so boring and soft. But like… Youth of Today was so raw and intense and had the hardest breakdowns. They were just trying to be the Cro Mags or SSD… but they did it their way, then bands tried to be YOT and then bands tried to be the band that tried to be YOT and on down… it’s kind of a weird game of musical telephone. But I think that goes for all types of hardcore. The further we get away from Bad Brains, Agnostic Front, Sick of It All, Leeway, the further we get from that intensity.. at least 9 out of 10 times that’s the case. But there are bands that are able to pull it off. Mindset’s “Leave No Doubt” may be the most intense and furious Youth Crew style album since the actual Youth Crew… I don’t know if I can tell you what The Crew brings to the table that is anything different musically, but I’ll tell you that if you go to one of our shows, you’ll see five dudes that love hardcore and love getting the chance to play it to other kids that love hardcore.
IE: You also do the Seekers Of The Core webpage/blog and look to be pretty well informed with all things Seattle hardcore. How long have you been involved with the scene up in Seattle and how much of your free time do you spend taking care of the page?
Chris: I’ve been going to hardcore shows since 1994 and lived in Seattle that whole time. I used to book shows, but stopped doing that because I found that I got to a place where I was too stressed at those shows to actually enjoy them. Then I played guitar in Champion for 8 or so years, so I was touring a lot for half that time. But even while we were on the road, we were still heavily involved in the Seattle scene. We always tried to fly that Seattle banner and were heavily involved in the scene politics even when we were on the road. When Champion broke up and I went back to school I went through periods of being more and less active in bands. But even when I wasn’t playing music, I still wanted to be heavily involved in the scene here. So I started a @SeattleHC Twitter handle to help spread the word about local shows and also to help educate younger kids in the scene. I would use it to tweet little facts/short stories about important bands (both Seattle and non-Seattle) and tweet links to new local bands’ music, videos of old bands, retweet kids talking about how sweet a show was.. stuff like that.
Seekers of the Core kind of became an extension of that. Obviously I could tell those stories in a bit more detail on the blog. My first post was a Champion Japanese tour journal from a few years earlier. Most of my other posts are kind of hardcore memories. Some are more in depth memories about seeing a specific band for the first time, or about a specific era of a certain venue, some are just a live picture I took of a band, with a few sentences on that show. I also have a few posts about stupid van games that Champion used to play on long drives. Other random stuff like that. One post that I think you and In Effect HC followers will appreciate—given the heavy NYHC focus—is about a surreal evening in the middle of a month-long tour with Agnostic Front; “Stigma Sings the Hits.”
I honestly don’t commit a ton of time to the blog, except to try and keep the shows page somewhat up to date. I try to make it somewhat of a one-stop hub for local NWHC kids. I would like to post more regularly, but definitely go through droughts where I can’t think of any good memories to write on. One thing that I’ve been trying to do to make it a bit more active is bringing in a few people to do guest posts for a section I am calling DIY 101. I have a few people lined up to write some words on different aspects of DIY in hardcore, but only have two posts right now. Basically the idea is to give kids pointers so they can also get involved more and take more ownership in the scene. I did one on how to be a good roadie, and my friend Brian Skiffington (one of the guys from Rain Fest and plays in a bajillion bands, including Dead Weight with me) wrote about booking shows. Most recently, I bought a digital camcorder and have been trying to film shows and put them up on YouTube (and link through Seekers), for posterity and documentation’s sake.
IE: Seattle seems to have some very positive activity going on these days with new bands like Safe And Sound popping up, you guys, and of course the annual Rainfest gig which draws a lot of national acts each Memorial Day weekend. What are some things that make you proud to be a part of the scene in Seattle and what are some things you thing could use some fixing around your way?
Chris: Yeah, there are some really cool things going on here right now. Most importantly, there’s a lot of young blood in the scene. It gives the shows that energy that hardcore needs to thrive. But there is also quite a few venues and tons of good young bands, as well as some more established staple bands. And you mentioned Rainfest, which is always a blast and is also a really good opportunity for younger local bands to get some exposure to out of towners. I really don’t have anything to complain about with the local scene right now. I mean you can always use MORE kids at shows but we’re in a really good spot. Some bands that everyone should check out from the Northwest: Putrid Brew (Ringworm meets Buried Alive), Noi!se (incredible street punk/oi!), Odd Man Out (new band, no recordings yet, but they rule! Like late 80’s NYHC meets early 80s Boston hardcore), Ill Intent, Cold Truth.
IE: Where would you like to see this band in say a year and then again in like 3 years? Do you guys set goals or is it more of a fly by the seat of your pants as they say kind of thing?
Chris: Our main goal to this point was to put a demo out and play a lot locally. I think the next step is to do more weekend trips to other Northwest cities; Vancouver, Portland, Spokane, Boise, Kelowna… I’m sure we’ll do some touring in the not too distant future. All the other dudes are in other bands that tour a bit more. I think our main goal right now is to really solidify ourselves in the Northwest and then I’m sure we’ll travel a bit. We just haven’t really discussed it yet. We’re also writing some new songs, so we’ll probably start thinking about recording a 7” pretty soon…
IE: Thanks for taking the time out to do this Chris, is there anything else you wanted to add before we end?
Chris: Thank YOU! I’ve been a fan of In Effect HC for almost 20 years, so honored to get to chat with you and be a part of that legacy!