Monday 19 December 2016

Interview with Eric Crowe from CRAWL

Self Proclaimed Southern Sludge/Doom/Drone Collective – CRAWL – have been making music since 2012 and since then they have built a well deserved reputation within the Doom/Sludge Metal community.

CRAWL released their acclaimed debut album – Old Wood And Broken Dreams – back in November 2014. I rated it very highly back then and it's still an album I listen to on frequent occasions.

I wanted to see what the band have been upto since then and I'm happy to report that Eric Crowe (Guitar/Vocals) kindly agreed to this interview.

Hi Eric. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.

Things are going good today, getting caught up on some things.

Can you give a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today.

In the Spring / early Summer of 2012 I called up an old band mate of mine, Tommy Butler, to see if he would be interested in starting up a new band with me. We had played previously in Sons of God, but had been a couple years since that disbanded. We had a long time friend of mine, John Holloway to come in and play bass, but he was in a difficult place and hard pressed for the time to devote. Then came Tyler Akers a couple of months later, playing bass for us for quite a while until he decided that he wanted to venture out into a different direction.

So then we recruited Patrick Lowe into the fold March 2014, who has played with me in an old band Big Yellow Mama in the early 2000s. Just recently, Tommy has stepped down as our drummer. He has been there since the beginning and it was a bit out of the blue. He wants to pursue a different avenue musically, and we respect that. So we are currently in search of a new drummer.

Why did you call the band CRAWL. Any particular meaning.

The bands name comes from a thought process I had during the end of a really difficult depressive period. I have battled depression since I was a kid and there are days where the weight of it all is so heavy and I didn’t even have the motivation to move. Everything is a struggle in those dark places. Getting up is a struggle, dealing with people is a struggle, even doing things I like is a struggle. But at the end of each day even if all I could do is crawl, I was still moving forward.

How would you describe your overall sound to new listeners and followers of the band?

We’ve joked around and called what we do “Whiskey Doom” or “Speed Drone” just because we have been open to write songs differently from the others. It’s partly cause of how I write. I haven’t really locked into one way to write or how the songs come out. I just hear it and feel it, and go with it. So some have a heavy southern blues based groove, others are much slower and darker, exploring the realm of discomfort and then we experiment with the extended pieces and drone.

You released your last album – Old Wood And Broken Dreams – back in October 2014. It received quite a positive response from the Doom/Sludge Metal community. Did it surprise you the praise the album received?

It really did. I do hope that others dig what we are doing and can resonate with it to some degree. So we were stoked to read peoples thoughts and to hear tracks on radio shows and podcasts along with bands we respect and those that we call friends.

Looking back at the album, would you change anything about it? Or would you leave it the way it is?

I think most artists look back on previous albums and see things here and there that they could have done differently. I feel like it was a collection of songs that we had at the time, but I do like the fact that the album got darker at it progressed. There are definitely things I would tweak on it, but those are things that we learn and grow with over time and apply to the next album.

Are you guys planning on recording any new material in the next 12 months or so. Or perhaps play some gigs. Is CRAWL still active today.

Crawl is still very active, even with the search for a drummer at the moment; we are always planning the next 2 to 3 moves. There is always something brewing. We are heading into the studio to record a track for a Sabbath tribute for Stone Groove Records called “Sabbatarianism” that should be out the first part of 2017. This will be the last recording with Tommy, so we think it’s going to be something pretty special.

What influences you when writing and recording new music.

There are a lot of things that influence me; from personal turmoil, relationships with people, or just how I feel on a particular day or moment. Personal struggles and life long struggles tend to take the forefront of the writing, like the journey through depressive episodes and feeling trapped in them. It’s hard as hell to see the end of it and wonder if you can even make it back into the light. This past year has been hard with quite a few losses, a lot of people have had losses this year, and so those feelings and pain find their way into the music, the riffs and lyrics. There is a drive inside of me to create and I guess it tends to be more cathartic than I thought, but in some way or another it’s always been some sort of release.

Do you have to be in a specific mood when playing or performing with CRAWl. As your music can be quite bleak at times.

Thank you for that. It helps sometimes, it really does. There are times where there are a lot of distractions and I’m personally not hitting it as hard as I should. The band pulls together always and we make it through to the end of the set. I was playing a show in Macon at the Oglethorpe Lounge with the band of one of my best friends, Billy of Hexxus, and he helped me get into the right headspace before playing. It’s become a ritual for me before sets. I can’t always do it, but it helps me when I can. I think about the songs we are playing that night, where they came from and how those things have shaped me and the importance of each song. Then you slowly let it go. I do sink into those moments when I can, and know it’s more genuine when I do.

Do you guys perform regular gigs in your hometown of Atlanta, GA. As Atlanta is perhaps known for Progressive Sludge style bands. Do you find it hard to fit into the overall Rock/Metal scene. Or does Atlanta Rock/Metal scene see no boundaries of genres.

That’s an interesting question. We probably play here around 4 times a year, give or take. Our focus is more out of town and state. We’ve been able to do an East coast run with our brothers in Dead Hand last year, and looking to expand our time on the road this coming year. I think there is a degree of difficulty in playing in the scene here due to Atlanta really having a wide variety and high volume of bands.

It’s saturated with talent and shows are always going on, so it makes it hard for booking sometimes. With every “scene” there’s cliques, there’s unnecessary attitudes, there’s great and genuine people and hard working bands as well.

I wouldn’t necessarily say Atlanta is known for Progressively Sludge bands, it’s known for Mastodon, that’s for sure. But there’s more to this town than that. Whores are blowing up right now and getting a lot of well deserved notoriety that comes with their hard work. They are different and something you would have heard from Amphetamine Reptile records.

Dead Register is a post Goth rock synth driven project that stays clean and is beautiful vocally, but are so heavy without being heavy. I know that doesn’t make sense, but you have to hear what they do. The Dirty Magazines, Order of the Owl, Gnonenaut, Lazer/Wulf and Withered all bring different things to the table as well. Bands closer to what we do would be Sons of Tonatiuh, Kr’rth, Canopy and OOTO. Atlanta has a lot to offer so I know I’m overlooking a lot.

With 2016 drawing to a close. Have you listened to any good albums this year that really surprised you. Can you recommend any new albums to your fans out there.

This year has been great on music!

Hexxus “Tunguska”, Ember “261”, Dakessian “The Poisoned Chalice”, Sea of Bones “Silent Transmissions” & their split with Ramlord, damn this thing is so heavy! Pesta “Bring Out Your Dead”, Curezum “100 Years / The Top” (with Billy Anderson. They take Cure songs and make them Black Metal) Black Tar Prophet / Iron Gavel split, Wasted Theory “Defenders of the Riff”, Shroud Eater / Dead Hand split 7”, the Leechmilk “Starvation of Locust” re-issue on vinyl and the return of Never Presence Forever.

How hard is it to perform as a band in today's Doom/Sludge Metal scene. Are things you would like to see improved. If so what things would you improve.

There are difficulties, but that’s just part of the process in some ways. Overall you just keep pushing through and find other avenues to move forward. As far as improvements are concerned? I’d say communication between bands, venues, booking and promoters. Good God, being on the road and promoters not doing their job and being lazy, that sucks. If you are a promoter, do your job.

Go put up flyers around town and at least at the venue the band is playing, especially if the band is from out of state and can’t do those kinds of promotions. Venues that are in another state wanting you to find locals in the area to fill the bill is stupid to me and comes across as lazy. If we have never played that city before and don’t have any friends there, that’s really difficult. Last time we had to do that we ended up getting this local band with huge egos and were racist. I’d like to see venues and bands working together more efficiently.

Too many times the venue or band feel that they are more important than the other, when it’s the combination of the two is what makes it work.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.

We sincerely appreciate that people dig what we are doing and those that can help spread our music to more people. We appreciate all our friends and new friends we’ve made out there, and are looking forward to more tours in the coming years. At this time we have a 7” due out early part of 2017 on Bad Road Records in Russia. We are finishing up our newest drone piece which is a collaborative effort with highly respected Dark Ambient project, WILT, out of Michigan. We are still writing for our next full length which has some different elements and leans more to the doom side of things, so we are excited. Thanks so much for the support and doing this interview with us.

Words by Steve Howe and Eric Crowe