Highly acclaimed Alaskan band 36 CRAZYFISTS released its sixth album on February 16th via Spinefarm Records — their new label. Titled « Time and Trauma », it was produced by guitarist Steve Holt and marks the band’s twentieth anniversary. Playing tonight at O’Sullivan’s Backstage in Paris (FR) — March 1st, we took the opportunity to interview frontman Brock Lindow.
Few bands can celebrate their 20th anniversary. How do you feel about it ?
Brock : I am very proud of the band reaching its 20th anniversary. I think this is what every band wants to be able to do. When you start, you don’t know how long it’s gonna last. We had our very first rehearsal on December 6th 1994 and we played our 20st anniversary show on Saturday, December 6th 2014. We played at the same club we started in, twenty years before. It was such a special night. A lot of old friends that have been supporting us the whole time came by. It was held in our hometown. It was emotional and intense. I feel very lucky to be able to celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary. And, we feel stronger than before. We have a new label, a new publicist, a new management who work their asses-off for us. It feels great to be here at this point. I have never done so much press, and we just had the biggest first week ever of the band’s carrer, which is a testimony of the work this new crew has done for us. I feel great !
The new album has a theme related to your mother’s passing away, which is what I think you want to convey with the title ‘Time and Trauma’, don’t you ?
Brock : I do. The lyrics are kinda following the similar theme related to the passing of my mother that happened in between the last album and this album. The line « Time and Trauma » is the very first line that I wrote when we started working on the new album. It encompasses the entire theme. Basically, ‘Time and Trauma’ alludes to the process of learning about the fragility of life and how one comes from such a tragic event to turning it into a positive. That’s what the record is about. As time goes on, the healing process — the recovering process, the management of coping — goes off and grows. You just become to able to focus on good memories instead of such tragic event. As time has gone on, I think of the wonderful time I shared together with her. This record has a couple of songs that are not completely linked to the passing of my mom. Some are about the man I have become, the man she wanted me to be… As a whole, Time and Trauma is about the management of coping with loss, how you find positive in so negative. It’s something I’m still learning. It’s a long process that I’ve gone through over the last years.
I am well aware. I’m in this process of acceptance too. I lost my mom recently.
Brock : I’m so sorry for your loss.
And so am I for yours. What’s the most important thing you wanted to express with your lyrics on that tricky subject that is the death of loved one.
Brock : I’ve seen the devil lately, I have decorated far too many graves, but writing about that subject was very cathartic and therapeutic experience. I guess I’ve found music again and come to realize why I’m in a band — which is to get all those things out of my chest. It was such a special thing for me to be able to use music again in a way that I needed it. I just wanted to have an outlet and let my pain out. I have always used music in a way where I can have an emotional release. When I was sent the music at the time, I was grateful to be given the opportunity to channel my emotions through something that I’m passionate about. It wasn’t easy to write. It was really challenging to make it perfect. Of course it is not — perfect — but I wanted to do the best I could. I wanted to push myself, to give 100%. The challenge to be good was needed. This record really is about how you find strength and positive in your darkest times. It was tough, I was really close to her, you know. Having music to write was like having conversations with myself, it was very therapeutic and I really realized how much I needed it as soon I started doing it again.
Do you think this album can help people coping with grief. What would you want people to take away from listening to Time and Trauma ?
Brock : I have always been a vague lyricist with the result that everybody can form his own opinion. People can take away whatever they want to. But you know, everybody has dealt with loss in their lives, or will eventually, and everybody struggles. I think the majority of people can relate to what the album says. If my music helps — and I know it does, because I read emails we receive every single day — that’s wonderful. This is exactly what this album has done for me. May it help others !
What’s the most special song on that record ?
Brock : The track « 11. 24. 11 » which is about where I was when my mom passed away. I know exactly where I was physically — of course — and mentally.
Doesn’t make you feel bad to sing those lyrics every night ?
Brock : No, it doesn’t. This is what’s beautiful about time. I feel different now. I feel acceptance. I’m still coping and learning to manage the loss of my mom. But time has turned the sadness I have been feeling deep down my core into a fond memorial of her life inside my heart and head. Some songs are pretty depressing — yes, for sure, there is no way around it — but I channel my emotions through the perfomance itself too. Music helps me deal with pain.
People think that the new album sounds more like the earlier stuff but it is sure not the same. After 20 years of making music, what was your goal with Time and Trauma ? What was the direction you wanted to take, music-wise ?
Brock : Yes, people tend to think the music and vocals got back to the roots which is great because the majority likes the early music of bands they listen to (laughs). I think the main conscious effort that we were trying to convey was just what makes the band unique. I wanted to make sure that the band stands on its own. I wanted to make sure that we don’t get lost in the shuffle of certain genres of music. I wanted a dark moody rock record, because in the end, that’s what the band is about. 36 CRAZYFISTS is a rock band that loves metal. I wanted to have melodic singing, just like when I started. I wanted powerful choruses. I wanted it to be heavy but I didn’t want to scream that much. That being said, it’s mostly the vocals that people will either love or hate. And that’s totally fine with me because that is what I think makes the band stand out : the weird vocals — and the signature of our guitar sound. Ultimately, I’m really excited that people think that the new album sounds like more of the earlier stuff and that’s kind of what we were hoping to achieve.
Time and Trauma is the first album with Kyle on drums and a first with Mick on bass since he rejoined the band. Musically, how did that affect the sound direction of this new album ?
Brock : I love Tom to death. He is still one of my best friends. I played music with him even before 36CF. When he quit, I wasn’t surprised. But I must say, it was a good feeling to have him gone because he was so miserable. By his side, he made us all feel miserable. He’s the first to admit it. When he decided to take himself out of the equation, it was pretty much just Steve Holt and I. Buzz (Brett Makowski) our bass player at the time, was just our buddy helping us out. He is not a bass player, he is a guitar player. Right about the same time when Tom quit, Mick asked if he could rejoin the band, which was awesome. We never thought he would ever come back. Kyle is a guy I have known since he was a little kid. He filled in for the band once. I remember that I was amazed by his abilities and the fact that he knew every single song. We jammed back with Kyle and here we are today. The two major songwriters in the band are Steve Holt and me though, those two pieces of the puzzle have always been there. So I don’t know how much different the approach was with having new members, but they have rejuvenated the band as far as the excitement level. It feels great. It’s a bit weird to be so excited at this stage of the game. We are having a blast together, we are laughing on stage. That’s nice, we haven’t laughed on stage in many years. I think at one point towards the end of the last album, there was definitely going through the motions. It became a regular job. So It’s nice to have taken a bit of a step back from everything. Now we enjoy ourselves. Having Kyle come in and getting Mick back in makes the approach a lot lighter, even though the topics of the songs are darker. They bring back fresh air into all of our lungs.
After 20 years, what has been the greatest achievement of the band ? What are you most proud of ?
Brock : December 6th of 2014, the celebration of our 20th anniversary. There has been a lot of ups and downs, and I am proud that I have overcome all the challenges. I am very grateful to be where I am today. I am in Paris with my best friends, doing what I love the most, that’s amazing. We have a new record that is being greeted positively by the fans. It feels great. I’m enjoying life again.
It’s really nice to hear of those things after what you’ve been through.
Brock : Thank you. The key is to enjoy what you have and where you are at this particular moment of your life. After the show, we’re gonna hang out with the fans and drink beers together with them.
It was very cool to chat with you.
Brock : It was a good interview, thank you.