Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few months ago, we were at Bar Boheme's open-mic night to check out a particular act and, as is usually the case, were completely blindsided by another. His name was Chris Crump and his show was a tremendous. He was an acoustician and, though his voice wasn't the most booming nor his chords the noteworthiest, the sincerity he poured into his five-minute set made it one of the evening's more enjoyable.
Alas, with no spammy PR guy informing us of his every move, Crump eventually faded from memory without receiving the proper recognition. You can imagine our surprise then when we received an email a few weeks ago championing Crump's band, Breyland, for Artist of the Week. It seemed to be a no-brainer. It turns out, though, that for all intents and purposes, Breyland is a Christian rock band and that's typically not our bag. We'd just as soon not be reminded of our sinful ways, thanks.
But we reached out regardless, because a) Breyland is clearly talented; b) we thought it'd score us some points with the Lord; and c) we needed a bit of sunshine after Room 101's deep, dark interview last week.
Crump was kind enough to answer our questions about the better Vanilla Ice big screen performance, the Lord's lack of street cred in the music business and why your secular lifestyle has you headed straight to hell. He didn't really say that, but it would've been much cooler if he did.
Rocks Off: The prerequisite opener: Give us the rundown on a) how you all got started; b) how long you all have been performing together; and c) which is the better movie featuring Vanilla Ice, Cool As Ice or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze? I'm inclined to go with the former.
Chris Crump: Well we have been playing together off and on for years; but as Breyland [it's] probably [been] about two years. It started off as us playing a lot of last-minute gigs that were mostly thrown together and unprepared, then we decided to get our act together and form a band.
I have been writing songs in my room for years now, and I really wanted to play them with a band. I am lucky to have guys who were willing to learn them and help write new stuff. Oh, and The Secret of the Ooze. I was a huge Turtles fan when I was a kid. When I saw the movie I was like, "Who the heck is that guy onstage with the Turtles?"
RO: What? You didn't know Vanilla Ice? Tsk tsk, sir. By the way, we just came up with the term "Christ-rock" to classify you guys. We wanted to mention that because we're really excited about it. The immediate question that comes up, though, is this: What's up with Christ-rock? Don't you all know that, with regards to rock music, lovin' the Lord is wack? You know what we're saying?
CC: We get our own genre? Sweet. We definitely live in a secular society, and this is accentuated in society's music as well. It seems like the exception for faith-based themes to emerge in anything nowadays. But, you know, we aren't going to shy away from our Christian convictions just because people think we should or because of the way the culture is going.
I guess going the route of "Christ-rock" for us was a natural thing; we didn't sit down one day and choose to market ourselves as such. I mean, we all take our faith in Christ seriously, and it just made sense and felt right that our music, something we invest a considerable amount of time and effort into, would in some way, shape, or form reflect that.
At the same time, however, we are Christian people living in a secular society, and we feel obligated, to an extent, to write about all facets of our existence - secular and Christian.
RO: Well said, sir. We feel a little bit like a sissy for saying this, but "Better Than" is one of our favorite songs by a local artist. It's very conceptual and we've taken to singing it very loudly when it comes on. Can you talk a little bit about what went into writing it? And are you of the same mind that it's loads better when performed acoustically?
CC: Well, it was written by our guitar player, Josh Gibb, and myself. The idea behind it is that [it's] sort of an ode to all those people who [looked down] on me for whatever reason, thinking that [they're] superior. You know the people I am talking about.
RO: Yeah, I do. Stupid Kanye West. In the interest of honesty, though, he actually is superior to us.
CC: [It's about] people who think they are smarter, better looking, more religious, etc. We do the song acoustically sometimes, because [that's] the way it was originally written. However, it is fun to play with the full band also.
RO: When we saw you performing the first time it was sans band. We'll take that to mean that you're planning on using your band's imminent success as a springboard to your own career. Who do you think you are? Beyonce? Why would you do that? Kind of a jerk move, isn't it?
CC: Never been compared to Beyonce before, but I guess I'll take that as a compliment. Guess it could have been worse. You could have compared me to Gwen Stefani, cause I ain't no hollaback girl.
RO: Nicely done, sir.
C: I play solo shows apart from the band not really to further myself, but more to just get things off my chest and release my thoughts and feelings in a more intimate setting. Most of the time when I play alone, I don't care if people are listening. It's more of a therapeutic thing for me, although sometimes I think that me playing alone is more of a springboard for the band. For example, you might not have even heard of Breyland had you not seen me perform by myself.
HP: Good point. Last one: Do you all have any aspirations to become a strictly secular band, or is it Christ-rock for life? Like, if you could get a record deal, but it had to be only one way or the other, which would it be and why?
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CC: We want to go with the record label that best suits our goals and aspirations. If we feel that a secular label is going to do that for us, then we will take that deal. If we feel that a Christian record label is the way to go, then we will go with that one. As far as "Christ-rock" for life, that's inevitable. - Shea Serrano
Breyland performs 6:30 p.m. Saturday night at First Baptist Church (7500 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena) Catch Crump solo at most any open-mic in Houston. Breyland's CD is available at www.breyland.com and www.myspace.com/breyland.