Crossing Rubicon – Ready to RiseSaturday, 7th September 2019
Dead Rhetoric: In previous conversations, you said the lyrical content for this record was fueled by a lot of anger and aggression that has happened in the world and in your personal lives. Can you tell us some of the stories behind songs like “We Will Rise”, “Army of One”, and “Embrace the Pain”?
Anarchy: Actually, yeah. They are all like that. To even address that I have to go back to our first record. Our first record, even though it had some aggression, it was more of an optimistic record. The underlying tone of No Less Than Everything is we were going to go after our dreams, we are going and doing this. Some of us walking away from very lucrative careers to pursue this, whatever. Three years later, we realized that people say they give us a lot of credit for doing that – they have no idea, nor did we, of a lot of the challenges that would come up at the time.
Personally the first record was really well-received by a lot of people, but it was also really panned and hated by a lot of people, it was very polarizing. And I just felt that I’ve seen it happen to a lot of people- there are people literally just living to hate on stuff. There are people that end up taking advantage of people that pursue the stuff that they love. There are a lot of things that built up a little bit of resentment. On top of that, I think now the world is a much more cynical place. It’s more cynical than it was five years ago- a lot of that through social networking, people get so wrapped up in it that you don’t see anything else anymore. People watch more documentaries on YouTube than actually watching a movie. People don’t go to rock shows anymore because they want to sit at home and argue with people on Facebook about politics. We are in a place where art itself is being phased out. It makes me angry – creativity is not something you can put in America anymore. I wanted to express that with this record.
“We Will Rise” is a song that I based off a comic book storyline called Blackest Night which is a Green Lantern storyline about zombies. It’s an aggressive song, it is a fun way to kick off the record because it hits you right in the face. Having some of the spoken word parts over the top of it helped to tell that story. I took that story and made it a metaphor for what’s happening in our world today. The zombie metaphor of people pulling each other apart. People without any kind of respect towards human life anymore. At the end I had the phrase from Edward Murrow that I twisted around at the end – ‘our enemy is not from elsewhere, our enemy is from within – good night and good luck’. I tried to take a horror story and make it a metaphor for the world today.
“Army of One” is probably my favorite track on the record. I’m a firm believer that when you spit, you better mean it. I woke up in the morning and found out about the shooting in Las Vegas. I was shocked, we had a mass shooting literally two days before that. And going back to… growing up in CT, everybody here was shocked about the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings. I wasn’t trying to take a political stance when I wrote that song. I was trying to take… I deliberately wrote that song to talk about all sides of the issues. I’m not trying to tell people how to think – I’m just telling people to think. The only stance that song really takes is if people … politicians are taking profit from businesses, companies, and movements that are still allowing this to happen while still doing nothing about it, telling us thoughts and prayers to the victims and the families, it’s kind of showing how stupid of a thought that is if there are no actions behind it. Everyday you wake up and you see where was the mass shooting last night. I’m not talking about just gun restrictions, I’m talking about the mental health industry, I’m talking about putting guards to protect the kids in schools. Music is cathartic, and sometimes you want to walk outside and scream at the top of your lungs because you are frustrated at everything – that was me doing that with this song.
“Embracing the Pain” was a song… Zach wrote the music to, and I took this as a rally call for the lyrics to myself and my band members and anyone else that sticks up for what they believe in.
Dead Rhetoric: You place importance on putting on an entertaining, engaging live show that can lift the studio work to another level – how would you describe Crossing Rubicon live, and what have been some of your more memorable shows/performances through the years?
Anarchy: There have been so many. To describe Crossing Rubicon live, I had a woman once who was taking photographs and she said it’s a four member band with this blur on stage of the singer. Which I took that as a big compliment. Some of my most memorable shows- I’ve played for 10,000 people and I’ve played for 3. I think that the live show… I came from a theater background, so if you are not engaging the audience, you are wasting your time on stage. I’m very critical of bands that use backing tracks on stage – I’ve called some out for doing it. If you can’t produce the music live, you are in the wrong business. If you are not making it- if someone is paying $5 to come see you, or $100 to come see you, and they don’t leave there dripping with sweat through the experience, you are taking advantage of them and wasting their money. I’m always going to be in your face, live performance. I want people to feel a part of the performance. We wouldn’t be doing what we are doing if people weren’t willing to pay money to see us. They deserve the best.
I’m going to go big and small at the same time. I got to play with Motley Crue at Mohegan Sun Arena. That was in front of 10,000 people – there’s nothing more telling of what it takes when you are backstage getting ready to play in front of that crowd and only 75 of them have ever seen you before. I screamed into the microphone ‘scream for me, Mohegan Sun!’ and the place erupted – I had a big stupid smile on my face and knew I could handle this. We got to open for Queensrÿche, that was a memorable experience. Our CD release parties, those were cool – people were buying a lot of gifts for us, making videos congratulating us. People in our home scene that we mean that much to them – that’s awesome to me. Playing Melodic Rock fest in Chicago, a festival in Detroit- where you are going into places and it’s trial by fire, those shows are always awesome. It’s great to play in Florida or Chicago where you get to the venue and there are five or six people with your t-shirt on. That is pretty powerful as well.
Dead Rhetoric: Your sound incorporates a mixture of heavy metal, hard rock, and modern rock influences from the 1980’s/1990’s scene. Do you believe this allows Crossing Rubicon to establish your own niche and appeal to a multitude of music listeners – and the diversity also keeps the creativity on high amongst all the band members?
Anarchy: All of that, yes. To me so many bands out there, metal is the worst culprit in the genre specific garbage that happens nowadays. Anything with the word core in it, drives me insane. Hardcore bands can’t play with metalcore bands, it’s like what? It’s become so pigeonholed. I can’t listen to modern music anymore. I grew up listening to records that allowed the diversity. Queen – if you listen to A Day at the Races, every song on that record sounds like a completely different genre of music. You listen to Guns ‘n’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction, the same thing. There’s punk, ballads, heavy metal, hard rock, blues. This made it interesting for me. These albums, Sgt. Pepper’s by The Beatles. It’s not just you are a deathcore fan so you are going to buy this record and like it. Gee, I wonder what they are going to do on this next record. It’s a lot more interesting as a musician that we can’t do a song like this because it’s not our style – and I’ve had times in the past where that happens in bands, and I ask them what they mean by that exactly? We play whatever the fuck we want, why not? Record sales are horrific now – you can stream music wherever you go, you make your money from touring, live sales and selling merchandise.
If no one is going to buy the record anyway, why don’t you just do what you want to do? You know. Does anybody really pick up music these days because they want to be a corporate sell-out? Let me try to sound like Nickelback or Slipknot- why?
Dead Rhetoric: You are also active in the wrestling world and have been for quite some time. Inform the readers about your origins in wrestling and what you are currently doing now – plus the correlation and cross-promotional possibilities with wrestling and heavy metal music?
Anarchy: I was a professional wrestler twenty years ago. I made friends in the industry, I trained, I love the art of professional wrestling. I had a bad experience and I left. I felt like I left at the right time, it was right when WWE was monopolizing the industry – and if you weren’t a part of the Abercrombie and Fitch style of wrestlers they were going after, you weren’t going to go anywhere. About two years ago, my nephew got into wrestling, and watching wrestling for about 15 years was painful for me. It was like watching your ex-girlfriend go out with her new boyfriend that’s better looking than you. My nephew bought an action figure, and I had a friend of mine who was going through some stuff, a professional wrestler named Justin Credible – some stuff happened with him, he got into trouble and I hooked back up with him, mostly because I was worried about him. Eventually we talked about doing some music and wrestling together – and I wrote “Seeing Red” about my personal situation, but I felt that song told his story as well.
I made a wrestling music video, where the wrestling told the story about what the song was about. It all made sense when you watch it. In doing so, I ended up getting back into wrestling, did a match and storyline stuff. Now I’m going to be a wrestling promoter working with this company, and doing a new spinoff division of their company. It’s been a lot of fun, working on storylines, it feels like I’m going back to a part of my life that I put on hold for a while and I missed it. It’s exciting, it’s great- hey look, I’m back. You will not find more awesome people than independent professional wrestlers.
We are doing rock and wrestling crossover shows – it’s Battlefront Pro X, we are going to get to the point where we have a featured band at every show.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you consider three to five of the most important albums that have shaped your views or outlook on music – and what are some of your favorite concerts that you’ve witnessed as a music fan in your lifetime?
Anarchy: Operation: Mindcrime by Queensrÿche, Sad Wings of Destiny by Judas Priest, Master of Puppets by Metallica. As far as shaping, I could say modern day stuff too. I’ve been really listening to Practice What You Preach – Testament. Blind Guardian, that’s what I listen to now more. I know they’ve been around for 30 years, but it’s like thank god there are still people doing this kind of music. I’m not going to say Pantera – it was influential to me. I loved Alice in Chains, but sometimes the radio killed Alice in Chains for me, though. There is so much of a good thing. I used to book bands, and every band would play at my club they would ask me to sing “Man in the Box”- after a while I got sick of that song. Doesn’t anyone want to hear me sing “Rooster”? I will say Appetite for Destruction for the fifth record. Motley Crue – Too Fast for Love. I hate when stuff gets cookie cutter for music – eventually the music industry makes generic follow-ups to it. 1980 was a great metal/hard rock year.
I did get to see Queen with Adam Lambert, and that was a number one concert for me. My number two is a direct tie, I’ve seen Judas Priest seven times, and their 2012 performance in Lowell, MA was amazing. They played two hours and forty-five minutes, it was day six of their tour without a day off and they were amazing. I didn’t get to see Guns ‘n’ Roses in the 80’s, but I got to see them on their last (tour), that was awesome. All three of these performances, the singer sang live on, it was good to go. I saw Elton John recently, that was amazing. I’ll be seeing The Who soon. Queensrÿche in 1991, playing Operation: Mindcrime in its entirety. I would love to say Van Halen, but the time I saw him Eddie was a drunken mess in 2004. The first time I saw Michael Graves acoustic was amazing – I think I always like the second singer better than the first singer in some bands. I was a Michael Graves/The Misfits fan. I’ve seen him four times acoustically – and I’m going to be playing my birthday bash with him in September. That is going to be on my high list of favorite shows.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you view the CT metal scene currently? What would you like to see change or develop differently if you had the power, time, and financial means to do it?
Anarchy: I love the CT metal scene, it’s my second family. There are some bands that have done this, some that have not- there is a central metal scene, and an eastern metal scene. Both scenes… the central metal scene is more diverse, but I’m not saying it’s a positive or negative. In the eastern metal scene, it’s awesome – but when we first started playing there, if it wasn’t for that scene when I divorced five years ago, I wouldn’t be here today. Those are great people – Antihero, Night Bitch, Dead by Wednesday, Apostasy, Continuum, Eyes of the Dead – there are so many awesome bands in the central CT scene, I’m as giddy going to see them as when I see Metallica. I get jacked up, I’m at home.
And then I start playing RI, and started meeting some eastern CT bands through there. Casting Shadows, Gorge, Buzzard Canyon, When the Deadbolt Breaks. If you notice, those bands have a similar style, it’s a very doom/stoner style of metal. Maybe doing more crossing that central CT barrier between more bands would improve things. It’s great no matter where you go.
Dead Rhetoric: Your wife Jeanne is also in Crossing Rubicon – how do the two of you handle the responsibilities within the band and maintain a healthy marriage balance?
Anarchy: We don’t! (laughs) Just kidding. My first divorce could be credited to my obsession with my music career. The fact that I have a wife now that’s entrenched in this, we are both in this together. She helps me keep me sane, she handles a lot more of the clerical work for me. She’s great, I do a lot more of the promotion, hand shaking and baby kissing. She handles the band store, we both have input in the merchandise. It can be strenuous, but it’s also a lot of fun. We will sit and record/write stuff together – we’ve talked about an acoustic duo thing at some point, taking some old folk songs and make them sound punk. We do live music together, we talk about music during dinner. It is a partnership, she’s an amazing musician. She does tell me that she appreciates it – she has a great voice, and she’s an amazing bass player, but you could never hear her. We needed to hear more bass, she has Jason Newsted’s style, and a comparable right hand to James Hetfield. I push her musically.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for Crossing Rubicon over the next year or two as far as promotion, shows, tours, videos, or other plans?
Anarchy: We have another video that will be released very soon – we recorded it before “Seeing Red”. That video was about a year of getting the right people to do it. The new video is not as involved, it’s more of a horror-themed video. I want to do a video for “We Will Rise” with the whole storyline. I’ve talked to a director that specializes in making that 1970’s style splatterhouse type cinema. I may have some professional wrestlers in it as zombies. It would be like “Thriller” but scarier. Working out trying to get back out on a tour again – transportation and finances. We did 26 states on tour for the last release, I’d like to do that again. We want to get to Europe as well, but that’s dreaming. I want to tour two-three months of touring solidly on this release.
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