Crossing Rubicon – Ready to RiseSaturday, 7th September 2019
The longer you’ve been involved in the music scene, the more you can spot talent and bands that have the right outlook, attitude, and songwriting/style to vault up the ladder and hopefully impact people on a larger level. Such is the case with Crossing Rubicon – in their decade plus career, they’ve released an EP and full-length beyond their current Seeing Red album, performed across 26 states of the USA, played at the Melodic Rock festival in Illinois and also had the opportunity to open for Motley Crue and Queensrÿche among others.
Their sound has elements of 80’s metal and 90’s artists, crossing genres from melodic / modern hard rock to power, progressive and even thrash metal. They are willing to make an album experience a true event, incorporating choir parts, narrative elements, and varied textures to serve up a record worthy delving into numerous times. We reached out to vocalist Scott Anarchy, who filled us in on his history, the career arc of Crossing Rubicon, how the band is handling the changing music industry model – plus discussion on his wrestling career and how it is working with his wife in the same band.
Dead Rhetoric: How was your childhood growing up – and what are some of your earliest memories surrounding music? At what point did you gravitate to metal and then decide to want to perform in bands?
Scotty Anarchy: That’s a good question. My earliest influences music-wise was when I was a kid, I was less music and more visual. I watched The Jazz Singer, the movie with Neil Diamond. Alvin and the Chipmunks, and finally when I went into the rock and roll direction, I saw the movie Flash Gordon when I was four years old. My father raised me pretty much on the British invasion bands – The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, and then I heard Queen on that soundtrack. That pretty much blew my mind. I wanted to wear a blue sequin shirt like Neil Diamond and play guitar in front of an audience, but I also wanted to sound like Queen.
My parents were very supportive of me. My uncle was a bass player, my father would actually have him go out and buy me a guitar and take guitar lessons. More in the rock and roll direction, but I got into metal music because of Metallica. This is a lot heavier than what I was used to- eventually I went into the direction of Queensrÿche, more of the melodic stuff. Queensrÿche was the band that made me really want to go into heavy metal. Mixed with Queen, of course.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you tell us about the evolution of Crossing Rubicon from its early two-man project status through becoming a full-fledged active band?
Anarchy: What happened was, I was in a cover band with two friends of mine, and I always thought you joined a cover band so you could eventually bring in originals. It’s a different trip than that, it’s one or the other. I hooked up with a guitar player Pete Ahern, he met me one time coming out of work because I had a suit on. I went to a bar to have a drink, and there happened to be karaoke. This guy and a couple of his friends were jarring me because I was wearing a suit, but I just got out of work. I got up and I sang a Skid Row tune, and they realized I had some pipes. Five years later, I’m working in a music store and I bump into this guy again – he wanted me to check out some of his riffs, thought it would work to do some writing. Got together, we worked well together – and eventually we got together, literally writing a song a day. We’d get together on Monday nights, eventually I got my good friends Jeff (Miles) and Brandi (Hood) to join the band on bass and drums. Then Zach Lambert, who was a kid – he followed us around, and he asked if he could play guitar with us on a song – we suggested he audition.
He knew I played guitar – but I really hate when bands have a front man that plays guitar. It’s not fun to watch a guy stand behind a microphone and be like Dave Matthews. Zach was originally going to be the guy that plays my riffs, and he said he wrote a song. We thought, ‘that’s cute- he wrote a song’. And it was amazing! I got humbled immediately, because originally Crossing Rubicon was going to be my band – and then it turned into, okay fine- you can write a song, and you can write a song. A couple of lineup changes through the years – life happened with music, sometimes people having commitment differences, creative differences. We have a lineup now where everybody writes – and we are one big happy family.
Dead Rhetoric: Seeing Red is the band’s latest and second full-length album. Where do you see the major differences in this output compared to the previous recordings for Crossing Rubicon?
Anarchy: I don’t want to say polar opposites, but that’s kind of how I feel going into it. No Less Than Everything, we had our pick and had thirty songs and we were able to pick all of our kind of greatest hits, catchier songs that we wrote. We made a decision collectively as musicians, we were going to pursue music as our number one priority. When we released that record, it’s a more commercial sounding record. We wanted to be more of a commercial heavy metal/ hard rock band that had maybe better musicianship than a commercial hard rock/heavy metal band. You can still listen to Rush and listen to that record and not totally hate it.
But going into this record, we had a couple of lineup changes and we were going to be a faster, heavier band. We wanted to push the envelope, we wanted to see how far we could push it. We wanted to be more aggressive. I listen to the other album and it sounds a little slower to me, for many reasons- mostly tempos. I never want to make the same album twice. I feel like we pulled that off. Vocally I pushed myself in different directions on this record. We tuned up from an E flat tuning to E tuning, I’m able to push my upper register a little bit more. Drums are much more aggressive with double bass. Patrick, our lead guitar player, he’s very neoclassical influenced, so he’s doing some cool stuff there. Jeanne brought a solid… her bass guitar went into a direction where she has such a heavy tone, heavy playing style, she was able to put more in the middle than other bass players in the past. Allowing the guitar players to focus more on their dual lead work. Which changed our sound completely. Zach is my go to… the thrash guy. Instead of trying to hold anybody back, we like to bring all these styles in. It makes this record… somebody said about our last record that we like to mess with people that categorize music. Well, if you think we like to fuck with people about that, listen to this record.
It’s not a bad thing, we all write from different influences. Jeanne- she’ll say new wave and metal, but her influences are of a groove/stoner style. She brought some of that to the table- Zach, straight on thrash metal, most of his influences are German. Patrick is into folk metal and symphonic metal. I’m more of a punk, Queen fan that comes from a theater background for my vocals. We bring all those influences to the table and come out with an album that’s very diverse and challenge the audience instead of cater to them.
Dead Rhetoric: You incorporated a lot of narrative elements and multi-part vocal harmonies/choir parts throughout the record, as well as dynamic diversity in terms of the songwriting and performances. What is your outlook when making a record – and what do you hope the listeners can get out of your effort?
Anarchy: Going into the record, I have a picture of what I want to do – especially when it comes to the bigger group harmony parts vocally. I want to bring that to the table again – 25 years ago, every big band had four people that could sing in it. You heard harmonies – even through the 80’s with the hard rock and metal. There’s not a lot of that anymore in rock and roll or heavy metal. I go into the studio thinking how far can we push this? How much can I build to it – and every record, Zach lets me do just a little bit more. The first time around when we were recording an EP, I just snuck it in. There was a two-part harmony in this one song, I got to the studio two hours beforehand and I layered eight harmony parts. And I had the other guy come in and sing not knowing what I did – and he played it back and was stunned. We sent it out to the band, and they discovered the direction we were going in now.
With the last record I pushed it more, and this one I wanted to do more. What I want the audience to take (away) listening to this- if you listen to this on record, it’s exactly what I pictured in my head. It’s how I want it to sound, and when we play it live, it may have 18 vocal tracks on the record – live you will hear three people singing those parts. You won’t miss much, you almost don’t notice. Queen never used backing tracks for their vocals. You’ll hear all the major notes. Being able to put an orchestral part on a record, to produce it very well live, it pushes us.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us regarding the cover art – as I also understand there is special bonus content that they can download onto their phone when they buy the physical version?
Anarchy: Oh, absolutely. I’m old school, I think that music in general as an industry has been to make a single, get it out there. I wanted to make this record to be like an old school heavy metal record. Where you listen to it from beginning to end, while you stand there going through the cover art, read the liner notes. Little things now that nobody does anymore – if you were a metal fan from the 80’s or 90’s, you could probably name the producer of every one of your favorite records – and the members of all the bands. I wanted to challenge the audience and bring some of this back. I talked to Kevin James Frear, who was the album art artist. We had to come up with something that will get people back into taking in the artwork, going through the booklet. What do we do in a world that people have attention deficit disorder. Originally I wanted to have a hidden specs device kind of like The Transformers where you could see small hidden things – I thought the record could come with a magnifying glass so you could see all these hidden messages. We went and did some of that stuff… Kevin is a saint. He was putting up with phone calls and messages for years. He also directed our video for “Seeing Red”. Poor guy.
He came up with this augmented reality thing, where it animates the cover. Instead of seeing the hidden messages, you would see them turn back and forth in animation. He showed it to me, and it blew me away. He added this music box feature, that when you open up the album it plays an instrumental track from Aggipa93, a band that I’m really good friends with had written for me. You hold your iPhone up to it, it’ll play the music – and the cover art is all animated. We will be adding more stuff to that, documentaries, cool stuff we filmed that we may edit and put in there as well. It gives people more of a reason to go back to the album.
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