Hard Talk

Interview with Mike Halland from Crushed

When sitting here trying to find a few words to start out this interview, I wasn’t really sure I could really put down anything different than what starts out their own bio on their MySpace pace. So I’m using it here. One thing I can say that I did not see on that space is that these guys seem to have what it takes to rock the house. And they do just that throughout their latest release. So read up on them a little here before heading over to their website.

“When you attract one of hard rock’s most respected producers to work on your debut album, you know you must be on to something musically – especially if it’s Mike Clink (who has worked with Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Megadeth, and Motley Crue, among countless others). And on their debut full-length, ‘My Machine,’ Crushed do just that – by offering an album that manages to be hard rocking, cinematic, and melodic, all at the same time. The Phoenix, Arizona-based band is comprised of singer/guitarist Mark Lauer, guitarist Mike Halland, guitarist/keyboardist Harry McCaleb, bassist Mike Brown, and drummer Jeff Garten.”

JH: Give us a brief history of the band.

MH: Current line up of Crushed has been together for about 4 years. We have always written our own music & recorded demos of new songs. We were able to grab the attention of producer Mike Clink who produced our new cd titled My Machine. It is now available on CD Baby & iTunes & we are currently playing live shows to support it.

JH: Tell us a bit about the new album.

MH: The album is pretty diverse yet consistent at the same time. We mix some of the bands Goth & pop overtones with some more modern metal & rock riffs. The songs range from really heavy to more ambient keyboard & acoustic guitar driven songs. I think there is really something for everyone on it. At least as far as rock fans go. We do get some people that don’t like really heavy music tell us they like Crushed. That’s pretty cool & also flattering. It sounds great sonically but still maintains an organic feel. Not a lot of effects or anything to embellish the songs.

JH: How has the feedback been so far?

MH: Feedback has been really positive. The record definitely grows on people. We have been told many times that people don’t immediately get it but it becomes addicting after several listens.

JH: Describe your overall sound. (In your words.)

MH: I think we are just a rock band. We did kind of accidentally force two styles together though…it seems to have created a sound that is fairly distinct for us.

JH: What sort of things inspire you/the band in the writing process? Both lyrically and musically.

MH: Sometimes a particular mood we are in inspires. I guess that’s why some of the songs are heavier than others. Mark Lauer & I usually start out the writing process. We are from totally different backgrounds. He is from a sort of Goth / pop background & I am more from the metal side. A drumbeat or cool chord voicing often inspires me. I usually start out the writing process with a song idea. Then the band just pumps in full throttle. We all contribute in some form. If Mark starts singing over a groove the band comes up with, then we work out the arrangement. The music is always written before the lyrics. Mark seems to be inspired by things he reads about. He writes the lyrics and usually writes about everyday life. Things people go through emotionally, love, loss, regret hope. He says the songs are not written about his own experience but I know of a least one song that for sure is…

JH: What is a good selling point of the band?

MH: We have a finished record produced by a multi platinum producer who is known for being really picky about who he works with. He saw something special in us & hopefully others will do the same. My Machine is not one of those records that you get tired of right away & people seem to appreciate that. Aside from that we are a good live band and we are thankful for everything we get.

JH: What does the touring schedule look like for you guys?

MH: Right now we are playing quite a few local shows & traveling regionally. We would love to tour again in the near future. I have always wanted to go to Asia. I hope it happens.

JH: What can one expect from a live show?

MH: You can expect a rockin show. Sometimes we start out our shows with Goth dancers. Sometimes we have samples, & sometimes we just rock the songs with a stripped down show. We just played a gig in Albuquerque with a really tiny PA & a couple of stage lights. It makes you step up your game…we were told by people that have seen us a lot that it was one of our best shows. I guess what you see depends on the place but our band loves to play live & that often translates into the audience. Plus, Mark is a really good live singer.

JH: Who are some of your/the bands influences?

MH: The Cure, Prong, Tool, The Church, Psychedelic Fur’s, Korn, NIN, Sisters of Mercy…the list goes on.

JH: What are some of your long term goals for the band?

MH: Get back on tour & sell enough records to be able to make another one.

JH: How about yourself?

MH: Stay healthy & try to have fun. Life is short man!

JH: What’s up next for the band?

MH: More shows, new songs & a renewed energy to make My Machine a success.

JH: Anything you’d like to add?

MH: Right now we are selling this disc on a very small label through CD Baby & iTunes. If someone buys the cd they really are helping the band directly & not making some suits wallet fatter.

We really want to thank everyone that has been supporting our band & the record. Thank you for the interview and all the work you do to support rock & metal, it really is a great thing.

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