Brothers Tony (vocals and keyboard) and Mike Beliveau (bass), along with drummer Jason Morris, are the trio behind Los Angeles’ Crash Kings. Although they’ve just released their self-titled debut, Crash Kings have already scored tours with the likes of Chris Cornell, Stone Temple Pilots, The Bravery, and Rooney and next on the bill is a tour with Australian rockers, Jet. Mike took some time out of their action-packed schedule to answer some of our questions.
Q: I’m loving the blend of big, classic rock sounds with modern rock sensibility on the new album – what sort of musical influences led you to create this sound?
A: We are pretty rooted in classic rock, as well as some jazz and grunge. The Beatles, Zeppelin, Queen, Frank Sinatra, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Brad Meldau, Buddy Rich, Soundgarden, STP, Supergrass …
Q: Even more amazing to me is that there’s no guitar on this record. You’ve somehow made an arena rock record with just keyboards, bass, and drums – how did you do it?
A: The piano is a huge instrument with an enormous sound, if you play it a certain way. The goal was to have the piano sound as big as two guitars, but with more clarity. Add in some bi-amped bass with fuzz and you can cover a wide frequency spectrum. Then sprinkle some massive hard-hitting drums in the mix and you get a lot of sound. Then it’s all about trying to write some good songs and rocking out on stage.
Q: Just curious – why no guitar? Did you have a bad experience with a guitar as a child or something?
A: We were beaten with guitars as children. It’s really no fun, especially when struck with the headstock. People would chase us down waiving guitars at us. Wait; maybe this was a bad dream. Anyways, when we sat down together to discuss the plan for Crash Kings, we were laying down some simple ground rules, and no guitars went without saying. I think we all had the same dream.
Q: How does the “sibling factor” play into the songwriting and recording process?
A: Most of the songs start with Tony bringing an idea to the table and we arrange them together. At times there can be friction, as with most bands, but we all see eye to eye on most musical ideas. We’re not afraid to point out what we like or don’t like, as well as what’s working or not working. As brothers, we know each other’s musical ability and taste so well, it almost makes writing with anyone else seem nearly impossible.
A: That changes everyday. One day it may be “14 Arms”, another day it could be “My Love”. We feel like Dave Sardy, our producer, did such an incredible job with making each song special and distinct. They are all favorites. That’s why they’re on the record!
Q: You guys have toured with quite a diverse set of bands; do you have any good stories from the road that you’d like to share?
A: Right before our first show opening for Stone Temple Pilots in Kelowna, B.C., we had just met the DeLeo brothers and were hanging with them on the side of the stage. We were geeking out on music gear and aliens, and then it was time to get up on stage and play a show. Robert DeLeo yells, “Don’t be nervous! Don’t mess up! Haha!” We laughed and then took the stage, and then Mike looks around and says, “Dude, I left my bass in the dressing room!” Mike runs offstage to get his bass and Tony just took a solo on the clavinet, by himself, to open the show.
Our last show with STP, they invited us on stage after their encore to do a bow with them. Just like in the movies: slow motion, thousands of screaming fans lit up – the time of our lives.
Q: Are you excited about the upcoming tour with Jet? I think it’s a great match.
A: We agree! Jet is one of those bands we thought would always be an amazing match for us. We love their records, especially the ones that Sardy produced. Amazing hooks, kickass vocals, and they’re Australian. Come on now.
Q: Any final thoughts you’d like to leave with our readers?
A: Get off your couch, computer, phone and go outside. Go for a hike. Surf. Go skiing or mountain biking. Play in the dirt. Never stop learning. Practice self-discipline. Read the book, “The Four Agreements”. Strive to be a better person. And eat your vegetables! Thank you [laughs].
For all the latest news on Crash Kings: http://www.myspace.com/crashkings