INTERVIEW: Cranky George
HOW WOULD YOU CLASSIFY YOUR MUSIC?
Alt-Folk-Rock. Gypsy-Carnival-Music. Music for World Travellers.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR TOP 5 INFLUENCES?
Tom Waits. Elvis Costello. Bruce Springsteen. Kurt Weill.
WHAT DO YOU WANT FANS TO TAKE FROM YOUR MUSIC?
We want Cranky George fans to go on a journey.
To go with us on a trip around the world where you’ll meet all kinds of different people who are just like you.
We want fans to feel a little off-kilter.
We want to tell stories.
We want fans to remember a time when they were in love, when they were lost, when they found themselves.
We want fans to have one hell of a good time.
TELL US ABOUT ‘NIGHTTIME’ AND ‘FAT LOT OF GOOD’.
The first single, ‘Nighttime’, is a big-ass rock-and-roll love song. It’s about going to sleep with someone you love and never wanting to wake up again. It’s about getting into bed with the mystery of another human being. It starts quiet and builds to an explosion of emotion. Just like love does.
‘Fat Lot of Good’ is an album 5 years in the making.
It’s a big bag of the best songs Cranky George plays.
It’s a fat sound.
With three lead vocalists and three main songwriters, it represents a wide range of voices.
It’s American. It’s European. It’s from everywhere.
These are songs that hit you in the eardrums.
There are road songs and love songs. There are lullabies and songs for losers. And every track is played with an intensity that feels like punk rock, if punk rock was all about melody.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE/HATE ABOUT THE MUSIC BUSINESS?
The last time members of Cranky George put out a major album was way back in 1996. (The Low and Sweet Orchestra’s critically acclaimed album ‘Goodbye to All That’ on Interscope Records) Back when there was such a thing as a music business.Obviously, things have changed. So there’s no advance. There’s no support.
But what there is, is freedom. You can make your music your way. You can be in control of every note you play. Your sound is your sound. You don’t have to play like you’re reacting to some market force. And you get to decide how your music reaches the world.
Back then, we’d have never seen our music released on Double Vinyl. No one would have been crazy enough to press this record. But when you hear it and feel the weight of it and see your artwork life-size, it feels like freedom.
BEST CONCERT/ PLAYING LIVE?
Tom Waits at Radio City in NY on his Rain Dogs tour. He stood in a box of dirt center stage. Every time he stomped his foot a cloud of dust would rise. Like Pig Pen in Charlie Brown.
Playing Live. The best thing about playing live is this unbelievable simultaneity that happens. It’s like there are 3 conversations happening at the same time and you’re at the center of all of them. There’s the dialogue between the 5 band members – the listening and the responding to get the music out across the footlights; there’s the conversation with the audience – the giving and the receiving; and then there’s the monologue in your own head where you’re telling the story you wrote to yourself all over again.
A Cranky George show is a brand of barely controlled chaos. We’re multi- instrumentalists on a stage cluttered with dozens of instruments. We’ll play something different for every song – sometimes 2 or more instruments at the same time. Someone once described us as ‘a band of one-man-bands’.
We engage with the audience directly. We bicker. Amongst ourselves, with the people in the crowd. And at the end of the night, we guarantee you’ll have had a few good laughs. Who doesn’t want all that, right?
HOW HAVE YOU EVOLVED OVER THE PAST 5 YEARS?
For the first 5 years, Cranky George played all the time. We’d take new songs out in every show. We were prolific with a backlog of dozens and dozens of songs.
During the last 5 years, we’ve been pulled in a million other directions. We’ve played together and apart. We’ve been in other bands. Done solo stuff. Produced records. But as Cranky George, we set things aside.
It made all the difference.
Coming back to the Cranky George sound has been like coming home. This combination of players, with all the strong voices, all the strong personalities, has a kind of magic to it. And being away from these songs for a time opened them up in whole new ways for all of us. It’s been like coming back to old friends. With all your old friends along. It’s exactly the same and yet totally different. And the music is a blast again.
WHO WOULD YOU DRINK/WRITE/PLAY WITH?
For the perfect night out, Cranky George would have to have all these people in attendance:
, Lyle Lovett,
And definitely David Bowie.
And if the rest of the guys couldn’t make it, we’d settle for Bowie.
WHAT’S UP NEXT?
After a few years of radio silence, we’re focusing on enjoying playing live again. We’re adding a bunch of shows in LA and are looking for opportunities to expand beyond.
We’ve got two new videos in the pipeline for ‘Misery Road’ and ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’. They’ll be coming out soon.
And as always, we’re writing new stuff. Who knows, maybe in another few years we’ll have our follow up record ready for release.
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