Interview with vocalist Cream
By Tony Shrum
Everything you guys do has such a clean, unique look. Your video for “Drags, Drugs And Bones” for example. The filming, the locations, the overall imagery is eye-catching. Is it safe to say that you guys pay close attention to detail when presenting yourselves visually?
Yeah absolutely. We want everything we do to be refined and clean. From stage presence to Facebook posts our goal is to be consistent with that. We’re even thinking about going on this crazy diet. We wanna look like space gladiators, so the diet is straight up tiger meat for a year. That’s it. Although the first week was rough, I guess Trader Joe’s was out of Bengal Kabobs so we had to settle for some ally cat mash. We’ll let you know how it goes…
Does the same hold true for your music? Do you pay close attention to every detail when mapping at you songs?
Yes. We write our songs over and over until sometimes you would never know it’s the same song. We’re so obsessive and fickle in the process because we want to achieve “movement.” If the song doesn’t move well, it’s trash. So we do our best to create good transitions, kill dead spots, and find a BPM (Beats Per Minute) that suits the song. Also there’s lots of rearranging in the structure. Since we don’t follow a set structure, there’s lots of different ways the song can flow, and we try to find the best one. As far as vocals, I write 4-6 different choruses and choose the best one.
On your new album Backdraft for instance, right off the bat the intro gives you a sense of which direction the record is going in. I felt like I was getting pumped up to head into battle. Is there some kind of war or conflict being waged on this album?
There is a definite battle we address throughout the album. The song “Set My Face Like Flint” sums everything up really well. Pretty much we’re saying that we follow Jesus, not our country, our religions, or our cultures. It changes your life when that is your decision and will inevitably put you at odds with the ruling powers. So we’re choosing to do that and encouraging others who have done the same to never look back.
I love the mix of singing and screaming in your music, and I’ve always wondered if there are bands that sit around and think, “Wait, should we add some more singing parts? Should we turn that into a screaming part?” Even if it’s not that blatantly obvious a discussion, there has to be some level of awareness about the balance of the two styles. Right, or…?
Hey sometimes it does come down to “should we sing or scream?”, but usually you can feel it in the song. It does get hard though when your style of music is a hybrid of styles, some days all I wanna write is heavy music and never sing in our songs, but then I go through phases where I don’t have any room for a breakdown or screams. Fortunately as a band we love playing both styles and that’s why we can blend so well. But there are songs like “Set My Face Like Flint”, and “Eclipse” that are all screaming and then “Millionaires” which is pretty much all singing. We’ll always have that sort of balance because we write what we love to listen to.
So there’s a track that stands out most on Backdraft to me, “Alexandria 363.” What’s the story behind this track – the meaning behind the song, the small rapping bit, and so on?
I love that song. I wrote it in my head at work one day and when I recorded it that night I was a bit scared to consider it for the album because it sounded so weird, but I finished the song and really tried to make it as rowdy as possible with the chord choices and such. From the start I wanted it to have a hip hop feel and I think I did a good job at keeping it heavy. The bridge I wrote when I was super tired at like 3am, and when I woke up to hear that part I was so stoked. I did it with all real guitar sounds too. None of that is digital. We wanted a guest rapper so we brought in our buddy Living Witness and he killed it. The song is about the persecuted church in Alexandria 363 AD and the stuff that they went through, and how that applies to us.
What are you guys up to now? Summer tour season is here. Can we expect to see you guys on the road soon?
Actually our drummer Cody got married a week ago, so we were home for that, but we’ll be heading back out in August.
And there’s always a constant grind to keep creating. Even though Backdraft just came out this year are you guys working on new music?
Yep! I was actually just listening to a song I wrote last night, before we started the interview. We have about three finished songs. Backdraft was a huge accomplishment for us, and it’s crazy to sit down and try to write something better. We’ve got a little bit of time though so I’m glad we’ll be able to write lots and lots of music for the next one.
Purchase Backdraft here: http://facedown.merchnow.com/catalogs/fallstar