New Noise Magazine is pleased to present the premiere of “Times of Grace,” a track from Crossed Keys’ forthcoming album Saviors, which is out October 4 on Hell Minded Records. Crossed Keys is a band of punk rock veterans, comprised of members from Kid Dynamite, Good Riddance, The Curse, Halo of Snakes, and more. The years of experience each of them brings to the table is manifested in their mature melodic punk sound, with songs that are energetic and catchy as hell. Listen to “Times of Grace,” and check out our interview with vocalist Joshua Alvarez below.
What’s the story behind “Times of Grace”?
Times of Grace was inspired by a conversation I had with my dear friend and tailor, Grace Ryung Kim. She’s been a friend for the past two decades, and since Crossed Keys began playing shows, she has made a custom shirt for me for every show we’ve ever played. We are both people of Asian descent that came up in the east coast hardcore scenes of Philadelphia, New York City, and New Jersey in the mid 90s.
For as many shows as we’ve attended together, we’ve always been two of the few Asian people attending. The song came out of the idea that even though we found a sense of belonging in this niche scene, we still sometimes feel like outsiders despite how long we’ve been around. That something as profound and significant as the hardcore we grew up listening to, music that helped shape the people we are today, also has served to alienate us to a degree. In the end, the song remains a love song to a city and a music scene that we love, warts and all. That the truest testament to the time we spent in squats and basements across the east coast is the friendship that we now have.
Lots of folks are talking about how vibrant the Philly DIY scene is right now. What influence has the city, and all the years you’ve spent as a part of this scene, had on you and your approach to songwriting?
Philadelphia is in the heart. Wherever I go, it goes with me. If this city has taught me anything, it has to be the idea that we’re all we got and we’re all we need. That the grit and shine of our fair city is the perfect ratio to tell the stories we want to tell. To sing the songs that resonate best in our hearts. Being a member of the Philly DIY scene for the past 20 years has given us the appropriate tools to fully express ourselves in song and the courage to do that without fear. There is a storied and beautiful pedigree of hardcore and punk bands that come from here and Crossed Keys is just another stitch in a wonderful tapestry of Philadelphia bands. As far as being a musician in this city, it’s understood that we all speak a common language, that we’re all down with the sound from this devil town.
You’re all veterans of alternative music and have played in bands before. What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in punk/DIY subculture over the years?
Punk/DIY subculture has become more inclusive over the years. It still remains rooted in a hope for change and growth, but it has evolved to include voices of people who have been ignored and passed over by other subcultures, regardless of their socio-economic status or orientation. I also think that the distance between performer and fan continues to decrease, that the ethic of conjuring that which you want to see is becoming easier as the scene grows, especially in Philadelphia. If anything, the punk /DIY culture specific to Philadelphia is the most fertile and vibrant scene that I’ve ever witnessed, and I’m proud to be from here and to witness it all.
What are you most looking forward to with your record release show on October 12?
Our goal with this band is to be surrounded by our friends at all times. Getting to share the stage with Sunstroke, Goddamnit, Brackish, and Rusty Pigeon is our way of making sure that happens. My biggest hope for our record release show is that everyone comes out and joins in our joy and fun!