“It’s certainly our heaviest record, both musically and in terms of subject matter…”
Ottawa quartet Crusades are due to their release their new album ‘This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End‘ on March 7th, as well as embarking on a European tour this Spring. We caught up with Dave Williams from the band to discuss the upcoming release, his record label Countless Altars and sharing a stage with Face To Face…
Broken Arrow: Thank you for taking the time to chat to us and happy new year! For those that haven’t heard of you guys before, could you tell us a bit about Crusades?
Dave: If memory serves, Crusades has been a band since late 2009. The four of us also play or have played in The Creeps, Buried Inside, The Steve Adamyk Band, Black Tower, Pregancy Scares, Sedatives, and innumerable other bands. We’ve released two LPs (2011’s The Sun is Down and the Night is Riding In and 2013’s Perhaps You Deliver this Judgment with Greater Fear than I Receive It) and two EPs, and are about to release our third full-length, This is a Sickness and Sickness will End.
Broken Arrow: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Dave: I won’t try and speak specifically for the others, but as the “principal songwriter” I try and pull from a lot of influences both from under and outside of the larger punk umbrella. Some constants in all of my writing would be The Spectacle, Concrete Blonde, Between Earth & Sky, Cave In, early Alice Cooper, Sunny Day Real Estate, Get High, As Friends Rust, The Hellacopters, Bane, Peter Gabriel, Samiam, and plenty of others.
Broken Arrow: Your forthcoming album This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End is set for release in March. You’ve stated that the album will be a lot darker than previous material and the songs are based on some pretty tough things you have had to experience. How do you think the fans will react to this? How do you feel about performing these songs live, that are so close to your heart?
Dave: ‘Darker’ might be the wrong word, as Crusades has never really been the brightest spot in the punk/hardcore world, but it’s certainly our heaviest record, both musically and in terms of subject matter. That said, I think the themes of loss and grief are, unfortunately, universal on at least some level. The hope is that, for the people who can connect with the lyrics more profoundly, there is some comfort in knowing that others have shared that kind of pain and channeled it into something positive or, at least, cathartic. And for those who can connect more peripherally, the themes of mortality and the endless ticking of the ol’ clock inevitably rear their heads at some point, and ideally there’s the opportunity to hit home there as well. We just wanted to create something that was at the same time both deeply personal as well as fully relatable.
Broken Arrow: What was the recording process like for ‘This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End’? Did you take the lead on this one or was it a joint effort?
Dave: We took a much more elaborate approach to the demo stage this time around. We sent all of the demo versions (complete with orchestral sections and whatever other accoutrements we loaded on to each song) to producers extraordinaire Martin Bowitz and Jørgen Smadal Larsen in Norway, who in turn offered numerous production suggestions, arrangement ideas, and other bits of tone, tracking and sonic wisdom. We took all of that with us to our engineer Mike Bond at Wolf Lake Studios and tracked drums, guitars and bass with Mike and our pal (and the studio owner) J-P Sadek. We then did vocals on our own at Jordan (Crusades’ drummer)’s studio Atomic Audio, then sent it all over to the inimitable Matt Bayles in Seattle for mixing. Then it was back to Martin Bowitz at Strype Audio in Norway for mastering. It was a rather complex dealing, but we had an amazing time working with all of these brilliant technicians and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
Broken Arrow: Which track/s off the album are you most looking forward to playing live?
Dave: The elaborate instrumentation and and relative mellowness of some parts and songs make a few of them more daunting to attempt live than others, but we’ve been playing ‘Swiftness Never Ceasing’, ‘The Scorching Fevers’, and ‘Porch and Portal’ at the last few shows, and they’ve gone rather well.
“If Concrete Blonde wanted to take us out, I’d be willing to commit all manner of sins…”
Broken Arrow: You’ve shared a stage with your idols Face To Face – that must have been an amazing experience for you?
Dave: Idols is probably a bit strong, but personally, ya it was a pretty great, ‘full-circle’ event. Seeing Face To Face in 1995 was my first ‘real’ punk show, and they’ve been band I’ve often come back to since. To support them and meet those dudes, it was a swell feeling.
Broken Arrow: Who else is on the bucket list of bands to support in future?
Dave: There are a few bands I’d still absolutely love to tour or play with. Between Earth & Sky would probably top the list, Cave In would be insane, Propagandhi of course, both Alkaline Trio and AFI would admittedly be pretty rad, and y’know, if Concrete Blonde wanted to take us out, I’d be willing to commit all manner of sins.
Broken Arrow: You started your own record label Countless Altars, what was the reason behind that?
Dave: Well, we decided to part with No Idea this past summer and shortly thereafter Ryan and Ranae at Anxious & Angry offered to do the record. I love those two and the way they work, but I also had an itch to maintain a more active role in how our records were released and distributed – and I was curious to see the inner workings of it all. So I figured, I’ve got a pretty solid, longstanding network of friends and labels throughout Canada and Europe, why not try and cover that side of things on my own and see if Ryan and Ranae are cool to handle the US distro. Everyone ended up being into the arrangement and things have gone incredibly smoothly thus far.
Broken Arrow: How are you finding balancing running the record label with the band? Does it all fit together quite nicely?
Dave: It’s been a bit more work handling promo stuff on my end this time (with plenty of help from the PR wiz Lauren Mills at Mills On Wheels), but I totally dig it. Connecting with folks is one of my favourite parts of being in a band, and this is yet another avenue for that, with the added bonus of getting to push my own band on people from another angle, haha. But ya, it’s been fun so far. I’ve yet to decide if I’ll venture outside of releasing Crusades material, but it’s certainly possible.
Broken Arrow: Lastly, what else can we expect from Crusades in 2017?
Dave: We’re currently booking a handful of release shows in Ontario and Quebec, followed by a trip to Europe in April and May. After that, who knows? Likely play Ottawa Explosion Weekend in June, perhaps try and do some east coast US dates in the summer and maybe try to play a couple of festivals at some point.