As a long time friend and fan of The Cruxshadows, Jet asked me to interview Rogue. I'm more than happy to do so, partly due to our friendship and even more so because their latest album, "The Dark Against My Halo" is such an amazing work of art. Rogue is possibly the hardest working and most dedicated person I've ever met - even in this small interview he gives his all. So without any further ado...
-DJ Ian Fford
"As the Dark Against My Halo" is your new album. How have the reactions been so far? What can you tell us about the new CD? Its been a few years since we released our last full length, Dreamcypher. We put out a few singles in the meantime… but I think the new album is my best work so far, and I am honestly really proud of it. We have had a really strong reaction to it from our fans. The final version represents several years of work and I didn't push to release it before it was ready. The result is a CD that is everything that I wanted it to be. There is freedom in having complete control over all of the aspects of the CD. We put out the new disc as a digipak, and I feel like everything from the art to the mastering is the way that it should be… I am excited about it and playing a lot of the new tracks on stage… but whats really exciting is how the fans have taken to the new tracks…
For the newbies out there, can you tell us a little bit about The Cruxshadows? We have been around a long time. We started back in the 90s in Florida and expanded internationally from there. We have a broad and diverse fanbase filled with freethinkers from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. We've released more CDs than I can remember, including a concert DVD from Germany, played shows in Asia, Europe, and the throughout North America, and even taken the top spot on Billboard a few times. I have been amazed at where things have gone in the past few years, and the geographical extent and diversity of our fan-base is truly humbling. Some people have preconceptions about us, and many of those are not well founded, but they are none the less difficult to overcome. I hope that non-fans of the band will give the new album a listen, and maybe give the band the opportunity to try and win them over with what we do. Still, its not for everyone, and there are a ton of haters on the band, but I think that we have withstood so many of the attacks of our critics that we have effectively proven we are more than a flash in the pan… or a band whose success can be chalked up to dumb luck. We try to create music that has insight and meaning, that inspires people to live to their potential, and speaks to the listener one to one. But we are also that band that has been known to put bodies on the dance floor. There are a lot of facets to what we do. I guess if I were to sum it up I might say that Cruxshadows is about the individual defining themselves in the face of a less than understanding world. We are different from other bands in that we really focus on hope in the midst of hopelessness… but really it sounds silly when I say it, you just have to listen to the music and it all falls into place.
All of your work has a theme and message, this album seems even more intense than Wishfire. Is there anything in particular you'd like for people to take away from this album? People find the message that appeals to them on a personal level. Theres a lot in there too. But I think if I were to quantify it I would have to say that this is really a CD about overcoming adversity and conquering the metaphorical darkness that limits us and threatens to prevent us from being who we really are. Its an album aimed at shoring up our strength and imposing it upon those that would destroy us. Events seem to dictate the terms of life to us, but I really believe that each of us… is the master of our own ship, of our own destiny. And perseverance, tenacity, and willpower is what determines the outcome of our efforts. I use history and mythology to create my own story-line that carries this sentiment, and my hope is that it empowers as it entertains. All of the albums are intertwined, and together some of the discs make up something I refer to as the angel cycle. Its based at its core on a series of dreams that I had, and that has been broadened by my own imagination and a number of literary references that serve to generate depth to many of the characters or circumstances. It makes a conceptual hodgepodge that starts to make sense as you look at it in a larger context… but the individual tracks have their own unique meaning as well. I guess its a bit like a quilt made up from unique squares of fabric, but all working together.
Do you have a personal favorite track from Dark Halo? Not really. I like them all… and different tracks seem to stand out to me at different points. Quicksilver, Valkyrie, Indivisible, Angelus Everlasting, Halo, Burning, Matchstick Girl, porcelain, and Sleepless all come to mind off the bat… maybe Sentinel. I mean it, I like this whole CD. Really, It is the best work I have ever done with Cruxshadows from an overall album standpoint… I mean there are a few stand out songs from earlier albums like Winterborn or Marilyn, but this CD really comes together for me artistically. Its long… 80 minutes or so, but I don't think there is any 'filler'.
You create good from adversity. What's up with that? Thats what its all about. Art is a manifestation of mechanisms that exist within our perception of reality. I believe that we are handed difficulties, 'challenges' is perhaps a better word, and we show who and what we are by how we react to those stumbling blocks. I grew tired of music and art that seemed to say that we were at the mercy of our misfortunes, or conversely ignored the hardships that we face altogether. Its all about taking lemons and making lemonade. This album is about facing adversity and overcoming it. Each of us is the master of his or her own reality, and I feel like we are at our best when we face adversity and turn it into our strength.
On the topic of adversity, how does file sharing affect you? Has it hurt your sales, boosted your fanbase, or both? Both. I think it helps to expand the popularity of the band, but it also undercuts our ability to make a living from our music. As a new father this is particularly disturbing because I have invested so much in my music, but I still need to support my family. From the standpoint of an artist, I am happy that my creation is consumed, and it becomes part of the soundtrack to peoples lives. Its not that I want people to pay so much as I want to be able to provide for my family from my efforts. I found it disconcerting that when I googled the name of the disc I got more torrents and file sharing sources in the top ten websites than I did the legitimate points of sale. We are fortunate that our fans are so loyal, and many of them have supported us through difficult times, but my hope is that people who discover the band through file sharing will purchase the CD or download legitimately when they determine that the album is one that they want to have as part of their collection. Having said all that, I think that the paradigm that the music industry operates on is in a constant state of flux and where it will stop, I have no idea…
Do you have a promo distribution mechanism for DJ's?Of course. It is really important to get the music into people's 'sphere of awareness'… and club and internet play are incredibly important to that end. If DJs send us an email with a verifiable link to their club or radio gig we will make sure they get the new tracks. It helps for fans to request our tracks in clubs and on the radio. If we want DJs to play it, and we do- we need people to ask for it. Recently we had some success getting Quicksilver played on commercial radio by mobilizing our fans to push for it. Demand generates reality, and the efforts to create more exposure for the band by our fans is key to opening a lot of doors.
Your music crosses several boundaries, and have fans in unusual places. Does this surprise you, and what does it mean for you? Sometimes it really does. But I have never been exclusionary or elitist in my desire to reach people. If you are open minded enough to get Cruxshadows, then you are exactly the kind of person we make music for… If you are writing music for a specific scene or genre exclusively then you are rather two dimensional as an artist. If you write because there is something that needs to be written or said, then I think you are grateful that people appreciate or 'get' what you do. I guess what surprises me the most is that we have broken through so many social, national, and even language barriers. I believe that I am truly fortunate to have so many loyal fans who have stuck with the band through so much. They make all the hardships worth it.
Has fatherhood changed you and your work, and if so in what ways? Of course, its changed everything. But artistically I think the changes are mostly pretty subtle. I am still me, I still write music the same way, I still define my own convention… What is different is that my center, my core, is broadened because of my little girl. I feel like the universe has been expanded… in a way that brings me immense happiness but also fills me with concern for the future of my child. Having a baby… I think it gives you an opportunity to gain a perspective that no matter how insightful or empathetic you believe you are, can only be gained through parenthood.
What's your tour schedule, and how can we buy your music? Tour dates are still being worked out. We bring our daughter on tour now with us so its not as easy to just go the way we used to… We just finished up a summer tour in Europe that focused on Germany and the UK… but I think there will still be a few Isolated shows this year in America, followed by a European Christmas Tour, then followed by a US tour in early 2013. We are already booked for Mera Luna 2013, so thats pretty exciting. But as I said, the details of everything are still being addressed… so we will have to see exactly how it comes together. As far as getting the new album, or any of our music for that matter, Amazon.com is probably the best solution if you want a physical CD. Projekt.com also has it. Its in regular distribution so most stores can order it if they don't have it on the shelf. If you are all about the digital download, iTunes is probably the best option. I think that they pay more to the artist than most other services I'm aware of… but most of the popular services should also have it. We now control all the rights to all our recordings, so when you buy the digital files you are definitely supporting the band.
How about video releases? We are working on it. Marc Shahboz directed the last few videos and we were really happy with them. I am hoping to have the opportunity to work with him on a couple of the tracks from the new disc. Jochen Schoberth who directed our SHADOWBOX DVD is also interested in doing something with us, but the logistics are so much more difficult because he works mostly out of Germany. In both cases, I am hopeful to have some new material video-wise by early 2013. As far as releases we will have to see. The DVD and Bluray market is difficult for music themed releases but it might make sense to do a limited edition release. Again, time will tell.
What is the role of the internet and social media in Cruxshadows popularity. Do you use Twitter, YouTube, Reverb Nation or something else? Most bands today understand that social media is really important. i think its not even an option anymore. Unfortunately it takes a lot of time and effort to keep everything up to speed. We have most of the big ones covered like facebook, myspace, twitter, youtube, and reverbnation. We have tried to make our website a good point from which to connect to all the different social media services through links on our opening page. I personally operate our twitter account, but i have to let others run the other ones. Theres just not enough time. Vampirefreaks is pretty important to us too, and essential to the scene i think; its grown exponentially in its influence and importance. Social media and the internet in general have altered the state of things over the last decade… I think that the biggest change is that labels have become much less significant. The internet affords every band an opportunity to be heard. The responsibility to produce something of value makes much more of a difference, its not so much about the influence and connections of the labels as in years past. Luck and who you know are reduced in significance and its possible to have some success without having to sign your life away. Hard work, determination, and talent are becoming paramount to a successful career, and I think thats the way it should be.