Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Eric Crowe (Crawl, Doomsayer Records) Interview
Eric Crowe wears many different hats. When he's not spending time with his family and co-raising his daughter, he's jamming in Sludge/Doom heathens Crawl (as well as other various projects) and running his own label Doomsayer Records. I interviewed Eric through email to get an idea of what it's like to be in his shoes.
Super Dank Metal Jams: How the hell do you manage being in three bands and run your own record label?
Eric Crowe: It’s not impossible; especially since a couple projects are pretty loose, like Marax. I’m able to do that project (Harsh Noise / Dark Noise Ambient) when I have time, so it’s easy to pick it up and put it down, no pressure at all. FULCI (Amplified Drone) is something I have recently started to revamp and piecing together ideas for after lying dormant for like 12 years really, outside of the occasional live setting. I’m still in loose contact with original co-conspirator, Adam Wright (Crucial Blast) but I have been starting the early collaborations with Clifton Carr (Dead Hand) and throwing around ideas for the next full length and a split that is in the works. Clifton and I have already started a side project, KNAVYSSH, which is a 2 piece, guitar and drum, and have a handful of songs already. We are gearing for an EP later this year. Now Crawl is something that takes up a lot of my focus and is my baby. With writing, booking, networking, promoting, I spend most of my days doing all these things, but it’s all worth it to me and something I need to do.
At times it can be taxing with schedules and deadlines, but all doable and worthwhile. Doomsayer is taking its time and not trying to spread itself too thin or get lost amongst everything else going on. We have a few releases lined up at the moment, just getting everything in order to do them justice.
SDMJ: When you're writing for your various projects how do you go about writing them?
EC: It’s usually centered around a riff and just building from there. Working out vocal patterns, then creating lyrics based off those patterns. While building everything as the full band, we work on dynamics and flow. With the noise stuff, it’s easier cause it’s just me and I usually just have a theme in mind and go in that direction, whether it is Harsh Noise or Dark Ambient.
SDMJ: Do mind me asking what your day job is?
EC: At the moment kitchen work at a local staple in town.
SDMJ: Do you have any long term goals if making the label a full-time job?
EC: We have tons of ideas, but it’s getting to a place to fulfill them. We want to grow and start our own PR as well as printing merch for our bands. We would like to finally move towards vinyl releases, full length and 7”s. We would also like to start a better platform for selling merch than having to deal with Bandcamp. It’s all in the works set in yearly plans and 5 year plans and so forth.
SDMJ: Tell me what a typical day is for that involves both the music and the home life?
EC: I wear many hats with Doomsayer, Crawl, father and husband. During the week it’s work and time with my wife, who is also co owner of Doomsayer, so we plan and make goals and have cast a vision for what Doomsayer will look like within the year and in 5 years. I focus a lot during the week on writing for Crawl, the upcoming album we are finishing up writing for, networking and booking.
SDMJ: How do you balance your time?
EC: I balance my time very carefully. My family time is important, so I connect with my wife daily and we have my daughter every other weekend. Time is limited with her, so it’s important to stay grounded with her and what’s going on in her life.
SDMJ: When did you realize you wanted to play music and be in bands?
EC: I joke and say it was when I saw Corrosion of Conformity’s “Dance of the Dead” video and Pepper just hitting that chug in the middle of the song, and in a lot of ways, it’s true. I grew up around the music my mom would play, a lot of Elvis and oldies. But around the time of the COC video I was really exploring my own realms for music. And something inside started wanting to do this. I had friends in high school that were always in bands. Starting new bands, members being incestuous in other bands, but I was never part that circle. My guitar playing wasn’t up to par with what all those guys were doing, plus I was never really big on learning covers all the time either. I think I was around 17 when I tried out for vocals in my first band, I think I showed up and I was in. I was almost kicked out cause I wanted to try and be more like Mike Patton and Joey Belladonna, but I couldn’t even come close to that. So I switched and tried a different approach, a heavier gruff route like Max Cavalera, that seemed to work and I didn’t get booted, haha.
After a few years of doing Necroflesh which later changed our name to Puaka Balava, I helped start a Grindcore project, Social Infestation with Chris Freeman (who was later in Withered). It was his dream and vision but asked Mike (Withered) and I to join and help him out. Mike played guitar in Necroflesh and Puaka, but started playing drums in Social Infestation and picked up quick! The bass player dropped out a few years later and then we recruited Troy from the band across the hall from our practice space, Four Hour Fogger, who later would be in Mastodon. After SI went on a hiatus, the guys all had projects that kept them occupied and moved into needed directions. I knew that I had to keep playing as an outlet, so I started to play guitar in various projects like Molehill, Hog Mountin, FULCI, Big Yellow Mama and Sons of God. After a deep 2 year depression and not playing music and having that outlet, I began getting the desire to play again and slowly started writing and building what has become Crawl.
SDMJ: Holy Shit you played with Troy from Mastodon? How was that?
EC: I get that reaction a lot, so that’s why I typically don’t voice it too much. But it cuts myself short in a way, because it is a part of my musical history that I’m really proud of. I’m not nor have I ever flaunted that fact to be “that guy” ever. But the fact is, yeah we played together in Social Infestation and he was and still is an amazing guy. He was fun to work and write with, and definitely an absolute joy to be around and tour with. He brought so much energy to something as simple as practice, where after the first few practices with him, I was leaving practice exhausted. I learned a lot of things from him when playing together, aspects that I still keep in mind today and live out when writing and playing shows. He’s a quiet, yet mischievous and immensely hilarious individual, whom I haven’t been able to see in a number of years. Love that guy.
SDMJ: What helped you get out of your deep depression?
I still slip into periods of depression, much like the one I’m in right now. But music has been the constant in my life, and a creative outlet that I MUST have. Without it, I’m dead inside. I have said that once a dream within a man dies, so does he. And I still find this to be ultimately true. I’ve been in a place in my life where I had absolutely no hope to go on and felt as if I was dying more and more everyday. I wish I could say that there is an answer to what really brings a person out, but for me it’s my faith, music and the support of my wife that helps me through when these days return. She is amazing, my best friend, and really sees me for me and sees what I am trying to achieve. I also have support and help from my other best friends Billy of Hexxus and Clifton of Dead Hand. I will always appreciate their input into my life and for them really just actually taking the time to care. Lately I have been more vocal about the challenges I face with anxiety and depression; as well as where I come from and the hells I endured to get here today. Maybe the trials and difficulties I made it through can encourage someone else that is struggling with the same things. I don’t know, but that’s my hope.
SDMJ: When and how did you start Doomsayer? When did you realize this is something you wanted to do?
EC: Two reasons at first: 1) A way to release Crawl material since we were new and were having no luck with responses from labels. 2) I was seeing over the years how labels were mistreating and using up bands they were signing and didn’t want to be that kind of label. I wanted to be a label that treated the bands we worked closely with respect. Something I wasn’t seeing that much of at the time.
The idea is the same and would like to eventually move Doomsayer into the direction that all that we do is in house as much as we can. Production, printing, pressing, PR, design. It’s a slow process, but we think it’s going to pan out.
SDMJ: If you could go back in time, what advice would you tell your past self as far as your dealings in the music world, and starting your own label?
EC: Honestly, to not care so much what others think. It’ll trip you up and knock you out of focus on the right things, and aspects that are necessary. It’s good to have feedback, but in the end, it’s what you already know in your gut.
SDMJ: What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to start a record label?
EC: Quality over quantity always.
I see a lot of labels pumping out good stuff on a constant basis, but more times than not turns out to be hit or miss. We would rather be a label that is consistent with quality releases than putting out the flavor of the week.
SDMJ: How do you go about deciding what music you would like to put out?
EC: It has to have a certain feel. Is it bringing something new to the table? Or is it just rehashing what Electric Wizard or Sleep has already been doing. There’s ways to create music that is influenced by bands without being a carbon copy of them. It just sounds generic, flat and generally uninteresting. Take HEXXUS and EMBER for instance. They are both etching their own way through the saturated mass of bands and sticking out on their own. I just feel that if Ember did what they did with male vocals it wouldn’t hit like it does with Crystals vocals. She has found her niche and nails it. Hexxus ups the ante to what many “post metal” (sorry for the genre tagging) are willing to do. There’s heart in what each band is doing, and that shines through the most.
SDMJ: How do you go about making sure your music is not a carbon copy or just a rehashing of someone else's stuff?
EC: That can be a fun trip. I’ve unintentionally written a riff and realized it’s a riff from another band, haha. But it’s cool, I just take a different direction. Mainly, I just write what comes out. Sure I have influences, but that’s all they are. We aren’t trying to be anything other than us, so we let other bands be themselves and other bands can be carbon copies and blatant rip-offs of other bands to score familiarity and popularity points without really showing any originality. It happens all over the place, but whatever, we’re just over here doing our thing trying to make it work and write music we are proud of.
SDMJ: What are you currently listening to right now?
EC: Currently I’m listening to a lot of Aseethe, Destroyer of Light, Cowardice, Weltesser and always Grief.
SDMJ: Any future projects we should be on the lookout for at Doomsayers Records?
EC: Yeah, there’s always something in the works over here. We have a release with The Asound coming out later this year, as well as Ember, who should have “271” ready by early Fall. We were also in discussions with No Funeral for releasing “Misanthrope” on CD.
Check out Doomsayer Record's Facebook here and Crawl's Facebook here. Cheers!-Samir