Crash Kings give rock 'n' roll a tune-up on their forthcoming sophomore album Dark of the Daylight.
Rather than employ the same old tricks of the trade, the Los Angeles trio breathes new life into the genre. There's no guitar, nor does there have to be. Eschewing the six-string standard, the band utilizes clavinet, vintage keyboards, piano, analog synthesizers, distorted bass, and a good old-fashioned drum stomp. Crash Kings—Antonio (Vocals, Keyboards) and Michael Beliveau (Bass) and Jason Morris (handling drums on the album—bent and broke boundaries in order to craft their second album due out this summer. They're giving new meaning to the word "alternative".
Growing up in suburban Massachusetts, the Brothers Beliveau knew they were meant to make music together. One grainy family photo even shows Tony at three-years-old sitting at his dad's piano next to Michael just a year old. Growing up, they jammed together constantly, but it wasn't until the duo graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music that their own vision started coming into focus.
In 2006, Crash Kings came to life in Los Angeles. Shortly after forming, they caught the ear of the legendary producer and songwriter Linda Perry who signed them to Custard Records. With Perry's guidance, the group developed an enigmatic sound all their own. That sound resulted in a deal with Universal Motown in 2008, laying the groundwork for their self-titled debut to hit shelves in 2009.
Propelled by the hit single "Mountain Man",Crash Kings sent shockwaves throughout modern rock. The group was featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and George Lopez Tonight, as "Mountain Man" took a firm hold on the #1 spot of Billboard's Alternative Songs Chart. Their music was also featured in Zombieland and Warren Miller’s Dynasty as the band invaded every facet of pop culture.
Everything has been kicked up a notch (or eleven) for the band's second album. Michael explains, "On our first album, we focused on making edgy rock n’ roll that featured the piano. This time around, we delved into using synthesizers and the clavinet a lot more. We've evolved and expanded - this is unexplored territory for us."
In order to properly canvas that unchartered territory, the band enlisted Nick Launay [Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Arcade Fire, The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, Supergrass] as producer. "We were searching for someone who was willing to take some risks,"says Michael. "I started researching producers and came across Nick. So we put in a call. We met him for coffee and after five minutes of talking music, we knew he was the guy."
In the past, the band primarily worked from song ideas that Tony brought them. However, for this second album, Crash Kings hunkered down in their Los Angeles studio for three months writing together. As a result, each element stands out on songs like "6 Foot Tall". Tony's whammy bar outfitted clavinet wails like a full-on rock orchestra, while Michael's bass roars and rumbles with a distorted hum. Each song sounds more uninhibited than the next, especially when Jason's bombastic beats kick in. Antonio reveals, "The fact that we tracked the drums, bass, and most of keys live, gave this record an edge we were seeking."
In April 2011, Crash Kings set up shop in a North Hollywood house originally built by deceased Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro. The group would work during the afternoon, and then dine together at night before recording all evening. However, a few times, they think they may have gotten a little assistance from the home's original owner...
"That house is a little haunted," laughs Michael. "I had a few run-ins with the ghost when I was by myself. I came home from a Queens of the Stone Age concert, and I heard someone talking to me in the backyard, but I was the only one there. Another time, I swear I locked up and, when I came back, every door was wide open."
The only thing otherworldly about Crash Kings is their music. Their explosive live shows have entranced audiences of all shapes and sizes. They're unique brand of rock has lead them to share the stage with the likes of Stone Temple Pilots, Jet, Anberlin, Chris Cornell, The Bravery, and more.
Ultimately, Crash Kings go back to the basics with their new music, and they can rock anywhere. "We have this love of traditional rock from the '60s and '70s," Michael goes on. "We're not hung up on overproducing our music and layering to make it sound bigger. Most of time our philosophy is: 'less is more'. There's a lot you can do with just three instruments and vocals".
Crash Kings bring back that traditional spirit with a fresh fire. "We want to turn heads and make people think,"concludes Michael. "That's why we're here".