Our local spotlight for the month of September is Black Crash. Below are some questions the band was kind enough to answer. Also, there is streaming audio that you can listen to.
How did the band come together? Were you all friends that went to school? or?
The four of us – Ryan, Dean, Rick, Matt - grew up together, went to high school together, in fact three of us went to the same college. You grow a lot musically in college. We knew there was a long-term band in our future when we started introducing each other to Radiohead, Oasis, Primal Scream, Wilco, Doves, The Verve. These went on to become the touchstones for our sound.
Sometimes Dreams by Black Crash
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Britpop mixed with atmospheric indie rock. Most people ask us if U2 was a big influence. Sure they are, but we try to keep a touch of American sound in there as well.
Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area? Families here as well?
Yeah, we grew up in the suburbs. Matt moved to New Jersey for a couple years, but we lured him back with the promise of getting the band back together. We were bored with the suburbs so we all moved to the North Side. That’s when the creativity really began. It’s amazing the effect that surroundings have on your music. The history in the old mansions, the diversity. It gives you a strong sense of place. Dean was the one who turned us on to all this.
Do you all create music full time or is this more of a part time venture? Do you have day jobs?
We’d love to make music full time, but the Protestant Work Ethic kicks in and we end up in offices all day. Doesn’t everyone? We’re secretly waiting for the phone call from Clive Davis…
Take the Place of Love by Black Crash
How do you create your music? What is the song writing process?
100% collaboration. Each of us brings a chemical element and the crucible wouldn’t produce Black Crash without all four of us. We usually start with drums, drop sonic textures, and start to arrange the song. It might be odd for other bands, but it works for us to drop the lyrics last. Lyrics are important to us. Matt and Ryan spend a long time crafting a beloved, if not bleary-eyed and dreamy story. Both of them are most proud of I Am a Wave lyrically. It’s about intimacy and the fleeting nature of life.
What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish? Are you trying to get signed to a label?
In the social media age, do you need to be signed to be heard? It’s a great feeling knowing fans in Greece, Japan, Italy, LA, Brooklyn, are turned on to our music. We’re exploring licensing and film music, and sure we’ll look at label offers, but right now we want to get our music heard.
What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?
Give your music away free at first. You never know who might be listening. Knock on every door you find. Be prepared to be told no, but keep knocking. Eventually they open.
I Am a Wave by Black Crash
Have you all toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?
We’ve kept it close to home lately. When the new album is wrapped we’ll see where we go. That’ll be in the fall.
Being in the Pgh area, do you find it more difficult to try and succeed?
Not at all. Rick and our comrade Bobby Burdette have been all about the social media presence. Because of that you don’t need to live in LA or NYC to get noticed. Pittsburgh music fans are very loyal and keep the scene alive and well. Bands like Donora are doing big things. Have you seen their videos? Most national bands don’t do videos that well.
What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some 'success' in Pgh?
Some people say you end up playing to the same crowd each night, but we’ve met new people show after show. In fact, radio station doors are open wider here than anywhere else. There’s a lot of support for born and bred bands.
Heavy Days by Black Crash
What are the positive benefits of being in the area?
We used to rent a rehearsal space up on Arlington Ave. When you walked in you’d hear all these bands playing, sometimes you’d stop and listen, or knock on the door and see who was inside. We made some great friends up there. Pittsburgh bands stick together and help each other out. Even if they’ve moved away they always know their roots. We’re still close with Jonathan Graves (formerly of The Lights Ahead) whose band Corbu is tearing it up in Brooklyn these days.
Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?
The Rex, Brillobox, 31st Street, Club Cafe have all been kind to us. One night at The Rex a fan told Ryan we sounded like The Leaves or The Doves. Those references blew us away. It’s a definition of success when you find people caring about your music in the same way you care about your own favorite bands. The best shows are when you sell out a small room, everyone’s packed in, its loud and hot. At our first show we did a celebratory shot of Jack before going on. We still do that. Nostalgia is a powerful thing.