The Crimea

Silent Uproar: Where did the band name come from, why “The Crimea”?

Davey: Well I thought long and hard about it and it took a hell of a long time. Starting off we were called Fat Camp Heroes, and I wanted it to be Fat Camp Heroes, but it was just too comedy. The Crimean War wasn’t that bad a war; just a few horses got killed. So, basically a load of rich people just stretching their arms, pointing about. I mean, they invented a fucking submarine, but it was a joke, just a load of tin banged together. And all the generals brought their yachts over, and sat on their yachts off the coast of Russia. Anyway it just wasn’t that serious a war, so it wasn’t really offending anybody, and it just seemed perfect.

SU: I know most of you guys aren’t from the same area—-how did you all get together?

Davey:I mean, I was together with the drummer, Owen, for about a year before we got the rest of the band. Owen is from Whales and we lived together in London in a house, and then somebody moved out of our house and there was an empty room and the person who moved in was our bass player, Joe. He had just came straight from Zimbabwe, where he had been living up until then, you know, kicking off with Mugabe and all the rubbish over there, evil dictators and all that. After that we picked up our keyboard player Andy, and just started auditioning people and we auditioned, like, hundreds of people. It’s just so hard to find people that have sort of got the right temperament and were good and right. We finally got our guitar player, the other Andy, just before South By Southwest 2004, and we came over to South By Southwest 2004 and actually we played our first sort of proper gig with our lineup who we have now. That’s when we kinda got a deal as well, so that was really the beginning.

SU: You’ve played around the US a little now. Are there any venues or cities that have stood out for you?

Davey:I really like all the bad ones obviously, I fucking love them, man, you know I love every minute I’m here, it’s absolutely insane. To us it just like being on a different planet, but you know, I guess my favorite place is when we’re getting out to the middle of nowhere like, you know, El Paso, or whatever. We played down there and we were in Oxford, Mississippi recording for like two and a half months, and it was just completely in the backwoods and it was just brilliant, and yeah, I like the wild bits.

SU: How was it opening for a veteran act like Ash on your first trip over?

Davey:Yeah, it was good, I mean, it was Ash and The Bravery and they were both good. We’re all completely different types of bands. It was just good to get all that teething over here and sort of get our first trip on the big seven week tour. People are always slagging off bands from Europe and saying they can’t tour and they can’t deal with money and they’re a nightmare. So we wanted to go in and be really friendly and happy and not cause any trouble and just spread the message or whatever and it just worked out really well for us.

SU: I know it can be tough for a new band opening on a slot with, well, The Bravery was kind of new at that point, but Ash was pretty well-known—-do you feel like you picked up a lot of fans from that tour?

Davey:Yeah, I mean we definitely did, and you know from Billy Corgan as well. We picked up a load of fans because, I think the Americans are much more willing to, you know, if you could, they do stand there and say “impress me,” but in Europe it’s sometimes a bit more like, you can shit on stage and they still wouldn’t be impressed. You know, no matter what you do, you can’t change their minds. Over here, you definitely have that chance to change peoples’ minds. They definitely give you a little chance. And our job is to just like see that little fucking peace offering there for taking and just give them back a smack on the lips.

SU: Have you met anyone in the industry who has kind of surprised you as being nicer than you thought they would be or anyone who has been a bigger ass than you thought they would be?

Davey:Generally the myth is like, say Billy Corgan, you know, I was shitting a brick going on tour with him. I didn’t even speak to him for the first week because I thought he was going to bite my head off, and then when I did meet him, he was like, “Oh I love your book, I love your music,” you know, “you’re so great,” and all this. It’s like you couldn’t even be proved more further wrong. I mean, I’m usually surprised by how short people are. It’s always a myth on how tall you think they are, they’re usually like midgets, and then they’re usually really, really nice. Like, you want to hate them and then they turn out to be the nicest person, and I’ve just come to expect that, really. You know, it tends to be like the first local support heavy metal band who’s got an attitude problem. How many people got an attitude problem and actually made it in this…you know, you can’t afford to have one…(pause) anymore.

SU: What’s the biggest change since putting out your EP and now the new album, and having a new record label and everything—have there been any noticeable changes, like either in your life or in the band?

Davey:I think up till now we’ve just been doing everything on our own, and through the blog, and online, and sort of building up a fan base through word of mouth and live shows, and now the sort of change is coming into that we’re actually trying to spread the gospel a bit hard, and we’re just stepping up a level basically. A new kind of battle plan. We’re just stepping up a notch, you know, to just get the whole ball rolling in terms of using Warner Brothers, the record company, and just push it forward.

SU: Have you been happy with your relationship with Warner?

Davey:Oh yeah, you know, I mean, it was a long process getting it going and so, we’ve ignored the industry for so long because everyone was working day jobs and no one was prepared to give up and just concentrate on music, and we’re just lucky. I mean, the relationship is what you make of it yourself, and we’re determined to milk it for every ounce it’s worth. They can only be a vehicle for what you’re trying to do yourself and so far they haven’t encumbered us in any way. They’ve only been one for help.

SU: When people are trying to describe a new band or a band that no one has heard before, they like to make comparisons to other bands. Are there any bands that you would put yourself in the same category as?

Davey:Well I mean, the ones that I always say are Leonard Cohen and Dusty Springfield, ‘cause I really like their music and their style, and their singing, and how they play, and that’s what I aspire to. But you know, people always think different things. I don’t know, Nirvana’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” even though that’s a cover, or stuff like Springfield, again, that album, and “Broken Arrow,” when Neil Young sings on the last track on the album. I’d say it’s trying to be like that.

SU: Who do you think is making some of the best music right now?

Davey:Uhm, uhm, I like System of A Down’s new album. Uhm, (laughter)

SU: And that’s a little unexpected.

Davey:Well, I just think they’re truly doing something original, and I thought that my favorite band of the last sort of five years is uhm, oh God, the guys who formed Mars Volta…then fucking “One Armed Scissor,” I know it—

SU: At The Drive-In?

Davey:See I knew it, At The Drive-In. Like that that one album…it was just because there’s one song on there, and it’s the fucking “dances on the devil’s ashes” or whatever. Really helped inspire us with this record, even though I couldn’t remember their name a second ago (laughter). Plus I don’t really have a CD player, and I just kind of listen; if I do know what’s going on, it’s just whatever the guys are listening to in the van. System of a Down is good driving music.

SU: Just maybe not in traffic.

SU: The advance of the record that I got had a pretty creepy yet almost appealing image on the front of it with a man holding his face. Is that the official cover art for the release?

Davey:Yeah, it is in the US. Yeah, definitely.

SU: What is the idea behind that cover?

Davey:I think it was just, ooohhhh, you know, I think the graphic designer was trying to sort of show you there’s two sides to everything I guess and saying, you know, I don’t know, she’s just trying to get in with the music and say look, “it looks sweet but really it’s pretty fucking grim underneath.” You know, shiny music, realist lyrics. And you know, I think she just sort of mutated me or whatever. I mean we were working with Adria Petty, she’s Tom Petty’s daughter, sort of is our creative director, which is something they have in America. I’ve never had it before but that’s what they have down there. She worked with Regina Spektor and we liked what she did with Regina Spektor and then we got Regina Spektor to sort of talk over it. She does the intro to our set, you know, it’s just her talking, reading out this thing, just kind of this, yeah, a load of, it was—I guess it stemmed from that, and yeah, Adria Petty, she kind of graphically worked it out or whatever.

SU: Does the band get involved with the art very much?

Davey:Oh no, I mean we definitely do. We’re really involved with kind of everything like that in terms of, you know, we just like to really keep a firm, clear eye on everything. We do all our website ourselves and we just sort of keep it constantly changing because it’s so annoying when you go back to some one’s site and it’s stuck in the fucking same like as it was the week before. And uhm, no, we just, we’re quite fascist about it all. The artwork, no, I mean it took a hell of a long time. It was like getting different people for us to decide what not to do, and that’s a new thing for us, we’re starting to learn to deal with. You know, we aren’t putting out our own singles out anymore.

SU: Do you think that the album art and packaging are become more or less important in the age of iTunes and mp3s and all that?

Davey:I think it’s still really important. I mean, if you have one really central sort of image which is just really striking, it can really help. And also, people who buy the records are all about forty years old anyway, or a lot of them, and it still really appeals to them, and you can’t forget that. I mean, that’s the way it is in the U.K. I don’t know what it’s like over here.

SU: I think we’re kind of in the middle of a change. I think there are still a lot of people that are really still hooked to album art and packaging, but I guess that the really young, new generation is the one that’s kind of like “Just give me the songs, I don’t care about the rest of that.”

Davey:Yeah, they’re not interested ‘cause they haven’t been used to it all their lives. It’s what you know, isn’t it? But no, we’ve really embraced the whole technology thing. We’re absolutely mad for it. You know, we just go around the States and we park our RV wherever we can get wireless. We all sit there on our laptops and talk to each other.

SU: You’re having a party tomorrow night to celebrate the digital release of the album, right?

Davey:Yeah, yeah we are, yeah.

SU: Do you have any cool surprises planned?

Davey:No, I think we’ll just… yeah, I mean, we’re just gonna play an acoustic set and it’s just supposed to be fun. We’re gonna be spinning some tunes and it’s just gonna be classic, you know, I guess Black Sabbath. The Gambler. When Black Sabbath did “The Gambler.”

SU: I’m assuming that the decision to release the album online for now was a decision by the label?

Davey:Yeah.

SU: Are you all cool with that?

Davey:No I mean, no. Essentially what was happening was , you know we just been over here doing so much hard work ‘cause we just didn’t want to waste it and we really wanted to have something that other people could get hold of as in like, so they can buy that advance thing at the shows or else they can buy it on iTunes. I know its really working for us because now people know the record. They’re coming to the shows and everything. And all, you know, also because the record comes out now in Europe on October 16, so kind of, in terms of geographically speaking, we’re about to go and do about fifty shows over there. Then we’re coming back over here in January/February when the record is coming out, so we all have to do the same here again. So it’s just, I think it was just fate really, and such. I mean, there was nothing we could do about it, it just worked out that way.

SU: The US release of the album is a combination of songs that you released on the “Lottery Winners on Acid” EP and new things?

Davey:Yeah, I think it was just more than anything else cause we got a backlog in tracks basically. I mean, Warner Brothers just released that E.P. to like College Radio and as a promo thing, really. And then we sold it at our shows so like, I think we just sold like a couple thousand copies of that CD at our shows over the last few months and so there was just no panic about it. Like, it was just about re-releasing the same songs. So, I guess they’re sort of sonically better, you know, ‘cause we mixed them in a real studio, but to the average kid it doesn’t make a lot of, you know.

SU: I’ve listened through both of them. Some of them are obvious, the changes you made, and some sound more like the original. Are you happy with the way they sound now?

Davey:Yeah, I mean, the way they all sound now is just completely different because, you know, we got the two really good live bands and everything and we can crack them all amazingly well, and when we were recording them all it was like more of that just drums and acoustic guitar and then throw everything else on afterwards. We approach it from the other way around now. I’m happy with it all. Obviously, you know, it’s always weird seeing, when you see something that you’ve had for a while. But uh, just gotta take it on the chin and you know, make sure that you’re still writing something amazing. Make sure you got “Everybody Hurts” up your sleeve when push really comes to shove, you know.

SU: Does that mean that we’ll see an album of new material sooner?

Davey:Yeah, most, most definitely, man. I mean we signed like a two record deal with Warner’s. I mean a two, and two record firm like we signed like a seven album deal or something, but we signed like a two firm because, we just got two in the can basically, and number two is “The Bends”, you know, but we’re at number one at the minute and it’s “Pablo, Honey.”

SU: Alright, the last thing I’ll ask you, is do you feel like you are just getting started as a band, or that you have already been at this a a hwile?

Davey:It feels like we’re right at the spot. I mean we’ve spent all this time where we kind of built up this real cult thing and all this just through the Internet, and through word of mouth and playing live and now really it’s just about the next stage. We need to take it up a level beyond all comprehension and just keep pushing it to see if, well not see what happens, I have a very clear idea of what is going to happen, but we just gotta keep playing pretty much all over the place, man. There’s a lot of shit out there and someone needs to come stir it up.

Sep 30 2005