Interview: Crossfade

lisa pikaard gets faded with hard rockers…

Crossfade’s self-titled album spent 70 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart and reached platinum sales thanks to its celebrated single “Cold,” but how many other songs by the band can you name? That’s a question that often bothers bassist and founding member Mitch James.

Over the past decade, Crossfade has been working tirelessly to etch out a place for itself in the hard rock music scene and replicate the success of “Cold,” all the while dealing with many internal struggles, heinous happenings, and a few lineup changes. Regardless of all of the drama, the band has written, performed, and produced an amazing album that was released less than a year ago entitled We All Bleed. The band is currently on tour to promote that album and get the Crossfade name back out in the music world.

Mitch James sat down with Pop-Break’s Lisa Pikaard to discuss the band’s changes, predict what’s next for Crossfade, and give advice for anyone going out on their first tour.

Pop-Break: First and foremost, for people who don’t know you guys too well aside from “Cold,” what song should they go listen to?

Mitch James: I think they should listen to “Cold” first because that’s the one that got us the most recognition. But a lot of people, we have a problem with, saying “Oh, that’s my favorite song, ‘Cold!’” I’m like, “You ever listen to any other ones?” They’re like “No. Never heard any other song by you.” You’ve got to start with albums, not songs.

PB: So what album should they start with?

MJ: Start with our Crossfade self-titled album, go to Falling Away, which is our second, and then We All Bleed.

PB: So they have to go in order?

MJ: Yeah, see the progression of our minds, I guess.

PB: Uh oh that’s a little scary, no?

MJ: Or Digression. Whichever

PB: Although “Cold” is everybody’s favorite, well my personal favorite is “So Far Away,” what song are you personally most proud of?

MJ: Um wow, that’s tough. I think “Suffocate,” on this most recent album is probably one of my favorites, and “Someday” from Falling Away is probably my second favorite. We don’t necessarily play the songs that are our favorites though.

PB: Okay, so I know the band has been through a couple of lineup changes, how did you guys end up with the current lineup?

MJ: Well [guitarist] Ed [Sloan] and I, we’ve actually been in a band for over twenty years together so we were the main guys anyway. Once we started out, then we had a drummer who was with us for a long time and he did some heinous shit so we had to, ya know, send him away.

PB: Wow, when you call it heinous shit…

MJ: Yeah it was pretty bad. But I think we’re on our fifth drummer now and he’s not even our drummer. He’s Weaving the Fate’s drummer. He’s playing with us for this whole tour. At this point, we don’t really care about even having a drummer until we need one.

PB: So it’s you guys plus a touring drummer?

MJ: Right. And then [bassist] Les [Hall], actually, the red-headed guy, he joined the band about 5 years ago. He helped us tour on the second record but he didn’t have anything to do with it. He wrote a lot on this third album. That’s why it sounds a lot different. There’s a lot more electronic stuff and a lot more keyboards and stuff because he’s a mad scientist.

PB: Why ‘Crossfade?’

MJ: It’s not really a story, just one of the things we use a lot of when we’re recording because we record all of our records ourselves. We don’t go to studios and do it. Crossfade is this feature; the only way I can explain it is like when one thing fades out and another fades in, that’s a crossfade. It kind of represents what the band is about. Just, ya know, a merging of souls I guess.

PB: Very cool.

MJ: Yeah, I just made that up! That’s pretty good.

PB: I like it. It sounds good and now you’ve got to run with it. So how’d the tour come together with Weaving the Fate since now you’re playing with their drummer [Jeremy Roberson].

MJ: We’re literally almost family with the singer. Actually Les is almost family, not quite, but almost going to be. And we’re from the same town and we play together all the time, ya know. Les plays with Brian in his other band, which is kind of like a more acoustic kind of thing. He plays piano in that band. It’s a family thing. It was an easy choice and they’re great and they’re doing well on the radio so that didn’t hurt.

PB: Now, since you’ve been playing together 20 years, if you could go back to the beginning and give yourself a piece of advice, what would you tell yourself or warn yourself for that matter?

MJ: Take more lessons. [laughs]

Mitch James of Crossfade

PB: Why is that?

MJ: It would have been a whole lot easier if I had, ya know, done things right the first time, the way I learned how to play. And I should have taken piano because after you learn piano you can pretty much learn anything else.

PB: Are you getting involved or are you personally very involved in the writing?

MJ: Yes. This last record was more of an Ed and Les collaboration but I did help write like four of the ten songs on there.

PB: What’s next for you guys?

MJ: After this tour?

PB: Yes.

MJ: I really don’t know. We’re hoping to get on a bigger bill. Not necessarily headline shows, but get on with somebody bigger and tour bigger places. Arenas would be okay with me.

PB: Who’s your favorite person that you’ve played with so far?

MJ: Ever?

PB: Ever.

PB: Wow that’s really tough. Probably Frank Bello. He’s the bassist for Anthrax. He gave me a lot of good advice. Definitely him and Mark Tremonti from Alter Bridge and Creed. He’s one of the nicest guys on the planet.

PB: Well who do you want to play with that you haven’t yet?

MJ: Foo Fighters. That’s probably the only band we haven’t played with that I really want to play with.

PB: Why is that?

MJ: I just think that Dave Grohl is a badass and he seems like a super cool guy and I think their music and ours would fit well on a bill.

PB: Okay, very cool. It definitely would. So what’s the weirdest question you’ve been asked in an interview?

MJ: Hmmmm…. I’m not sure I have an answer for that.

PB: I always ask that question and then ask whatever the last band’s answer was.

MJ: A girl asked “Sign my…”

PB: That’s something you were asked during an interview?

MJ: No! Not during an interview.

PB: I was going to say! Who in the world was interviewing you!?

MJ: No that was fan. I forgot! I thought you just meant in general and I think my daughter was right beside me.

PB: That’s awesome. Not awkward at all! The last question that a band gave me was actually Chuck Norris or Batman?

MJ: I’d have to say Chuck Norris.

PB: Uh oh. You’re going to be battling a couple of the guys of Weaving the Fate!

MJ: Yeah Brian’s a big Batman fan. I did know this already.

PB: So are you not so much a comic book person? Hence the reason Chuck Norris?

MJ: Right. I have never been a comic book fan.

PB: Alright, and then what question do you wish you would have been asked that you haven’t been asked yet in an interview and not — can I have a million dollars.

MJ: I was going to do that backwards, yeah! How’d you make all your millions?

PB: Oh that’s a good one! So that means you’ve already made ’em.

MJ: Exactly!

PB: Since you’re from down south, thanks to TV and other things, New York and New Jersey doesn’t have the best reputation; does being here hold up to that reputation? Are we that bad?

MJ: Not at all! We had been to New York like twice before 9/11 and been there dozens of times since then and I could tell the difference in the people. It seemed like they were a little more humble, a little nicer to each other, and I mean it was very apparent as soon as we went up there afterwards.

PB: That’s better than talking about the cops and how many tickets people have gotten.

MJ: We’ve been lucky so far i guess.

PB: Weaving the Fate already has two.

MJ: They’re ahead! Well it’s their first tour; they’ve got to get broken in good.

PB: What’s the craziest thing that has happened on this tour so far?

MJ: There hasn’t been anything too crazy as much as drunken idiocy.

PB: Awesome.

MJ: A lot of these guys, like I said, this is their first time actually touring. I mean they’ve played thousands of shows, get in the car and go from one town to another. They usually get in the car, go for a couple of days and come back. I think they’re doing it right. They’re celebrating being away from their wives and such and throwin’ ’em down. And we’re on the Jagermeister tour so!

PB: That being said, what advice would you give anybody going out on their first tour?

MJ: Have really good techs even if they’re your friends. Don’t let idiots mess with your stuff, and don’t do cocaine.

PB: Do I want to know the story behind that?

MJ: We have a song about it. There’s the story if you want it.

PB: Just listen to the song and you’ll hear the story?