"Melodrama" is one of the best albums Designer Magazine has heard all year and puts many of our so called British saviours of rock music to shame. The Crash deal in glorious melodies of disco with the riffs of rock and write the sort of songs that Bowie delivered in his heyday. As the band took time out after wowing festival crowds in Finland, German, Luxembourg and Austria we caught up with Crash's frontman Timmu Brunila to find out about the British invasion.
Q: You've described the sound of The Crash as 60s Soul,
70s Rock Music and 80s pop such as Duran Duran. What would you say are
the 3 essential records in the Crash's record collection?
A: Well first of all I have to say that I hardly ever listen to contemporary music. I'm stuck in the era between 50's and 80's. Therefore my favourite albums are quite old releases. Anyway, I think that the best album ever made was David Bowie's 'The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars'. It's an ALBUM in its truest sense because you have to listen to it as a whole. Well, ok, 'Rock and Roll Suicide' you can listen to separately 'cause it kind of compresses all the album's ideas into one song. If I love Ziggy, no doubt that I like Lou Reed's 'Transformer' second best. It is a work of art. Naming the third album is a bit tricky but I guess that the Crash owes a lot to U2, although that is probably the one band that you probably can't hear in our music. 'Joshua Tree' is their greatest album. Watching 'Rattle and Hum' in the early 90's got us to stand up and say: "let's do that!"
Q: Although there's a variety of influences they come
across very much in the vein of artists such as David Bowie and a lot of
British bands that were inspired by him such as Suede, Ultrasound, Subcircus
and Strangelove. Do you feel this is a valid comparison? Were you fans
of Bowie growing up?
A: Bowie has definitely been the man for me. I have not really listened to the other bands that were inspired by him because I rather go for the original, the source. It's inaccurate and, I have to say, a little insulting to be sometimes told that we must have been influenced by bands such as Suede. The reality is that we obviously share similar influences with those bands but they certainly don't inspire us in any way whatsoever. Our vision of what the Crash is was formed before we heard any of the artists you mention - other than Bowie of course. You have to realise that when you grow up outside UK there isn't really the same process, particularly from a media point of view, of being caught up in the frenzy that surrounds the latest British scenes. I think that we (as non-Brits) can stand outside looking in so have a more relaxed mentality towards it because we are not overwhelmed by it. It also means we can be more selective about what we listen to so, although we take interest in British music, it's not central to our thinking. There are probably hundreds of British bands that we've never even heard of because they haven't had any impact anywhere outside UK. Anyway, I feel that the Ziggy era was Bowies finest hour. I'm amazed how many great songs and great albums he was able to write in such a short time. Of course I've heard a "and then he turned everyone gay" argument concerning Ziggy as a phenomenon but the music itself just makes me punch-drunk. I mean, the man exploited lyrics about outer space so big time that there is no room for future generations to sing about it. So, thanks to Bowie, I have to write love songs. Only. In fact I've written the song "Flash" (on the album Melodrama) about Bowie.
Q: The singles from the previous record such as "Star"
and "Lauren Caught My Eye" work on 2 different levels. On one hand they're
just great pop songs and on the other level they're records that connect
with you personally with each and every listen. Was it important to have
that depth to the songs? Are the songs written about anyone specific or
are they situations and scenarios that you let your imagination run away
A: I usually write the lyrics around my own life, whatever I'm going through at the moment. "Star" and "Lauren Caught My Eye" are songs about real people and my real feelings towards them. I guess that is something that takes a song to a deeper level; you mean what you sing about.
Q: A recurring theme in The Crash's lyrics are youth
and innocence. Could you elaborate?
A: Actually, you're the first one to say that. I'm glad if it appears so, very often the recurring theme has been said to be simply "love" which seems a bit too vague. In fact the problem I've faced in many countries is that people don't really think about the lyrics too much at all. It could be a case of them not being native english. Anyway, especially the lyrics for the most recent album Melodrama were extremely boyish and naive. All in all, rock lyrics are a very limited medium of expression and I find it a challenging thing. You don't have many lines to get to the point and everything has to rhyme and sound good phonetically and yet the substance is required.
Q: "Still Alive" to me sounds like a cross between
Supergrass' "Pumping On The Stereo" mixed with Van Halen's "Jump". Is that
what you were trying to create?
A: I think it's more like "Jackson Five meet Van Halen in hell". "Still Alive" was definitely the sonical compass that showed us where to go on "Melodrama". The idea of combining 70's disco with 80's hard rock clichés was born in that song. At the end of the day there really is nothing completely new in pop music anymore. We are taking the echoes of all the things that have come before and reflecting them back in a pattern of our own design in a way that is hopefully appealing to a wide audience.
Q: "Melodrama" is the 3rd album you've recorded and
you've still kept the idea of producing it in-house to keep it pure. What
were you trying to achieve on this album?
A: We wanted to make the best album we've done so far. We wanted to create a fairytale for adults in an audio format. I think "Melodrama" is the word that describes the concept of the album.
Q: Are there any producers you'd work with in order
to gain outside input?
A: Originally we had some foreign producers in mind that we would have wanted to work with but the record company wasn't willing to invest in them. That was before the second album "Wildlife" so we thought that if we can't get the producer that we want then we'll do it on our own. At the end of the day I feel that it was a good thing for us since we were forced to think deeply about who and what we really are and do everything by ourselves. That is definitely one of the reasons why the material really sounds like the Crash. I guess that we'll keep on producing the material also in the future until someone comes up with a better idea. Of course there's always the possibility of using other people to mix the tracks, maybe we don't feel that is as soul shredding as the idea of having some 'Zappa' telling us what to do with our music.
Q: Going back to what we were talking about earlier
about the lyrical themes, your videos keep up the same themes harking back
to TV Shows such as Lassie, Hill Street Blues and Flashdance. From the
outset did you always plan to make inventive videos rather than the archetypal
band performance style videos?
A: The scripts are all made by the same director Tommi Pietiläinen who is an absolute genius. He really pictures our music. We don't want to make those videos where the band plays in front of a brickwall or in a desert. Like our gigs, we want our videos to be entertaining. It seems that the plot videos are a very scandinavian thing altogether.
Q: We've chatted to a lot of bands recently from Scandinavia
such as The Ark, The Mo and Kamera. Are there any local Finnish bands you
feel an affinity with? For readers who haven't heard you yet which contemporary
international bands would you feel happy playing alongside
Q: Well, Finland is unfortunately not the sharpest knife when it comes to bands that we like. Probably the only exception would be 22 Pistepirkko who've done excellent stuff (especially "Rumble City, La-la Land" is a great record). DJ Slow is also worth mentioning, I made a song for his latest album and ended up singing it too.
Q: You played In The City in Manchester many years
ago and attracted the attention of the music press. Recently you've had
a buzz in the UK in music industry publications such as Record Of The Day.
Do you plan to come over here and give the album a push?
A: We played a pretty good gig at ITC in 2000 and got a great review in Melody Maker (RIP). After that we have had years of apathy from the UK label unfortunately who have sadly shown a lack of interest in releasing any of our albums. One of our UK industry supporters said that 'Wildlife' was "the best British album never to be released in Britain!". It's taken a hell of a long time to get things going again over there but thankfully we filled the time by becoming more successful in other parts of Europe. We also have some pleasant interest from USA this time around so at least our reputation is spreading in wider circles with each album. I feel that of all the european countries, the UK is the one that should like the Crash so we are making serious plans to get the album released there and we can't wait to play over there as often as possible.
"Melodrama" is out now in the rest of Europe
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