(By Leanne Ridgeway, Owner/Chief Editor, RiffRelevant.com)
The Southern United States is a notorious breeding ground for sludge metal. Born out of parental misguidance into a melding of hardcore punk, doom and noise metal in the late 1980s. Their slow, steadily built-up aural crushings found a way into my ears in the early 90s and have since bore filthy caverns into my heart.
Atlanta, Georgia spawned the likes of Crawl in 2012, they’re currently a trio of gents who blend the persistent intent of truly sludgeoned sound with their emotionally exhausted mind purges woven in. So sayeth Jean Saiz of Shroud Eater: “If pain is weakness leaving the body, then Atlanta, GA’s CRAWL could be the soundtrack of such an experience.”
I had the opportunity to chat with Eric Crowe of Crawl, and despite many lifetimes’ worth of hardened experiences among his sole existence, as a whole they remain an inspiring group who refuse to give pardon to their hardships as an excuse to fail. They instead use it for fuel to trek through the muck and mire and have found new boots for their stomping.
Erik Bigelow – Barbaric Blasts
Patrick Lowe – Low-end Assault
Eric Crowe – Guitar / Throat
RIFF RELEVANT [Leanne]: Thanks so much for wanting to update us on Crawl and do this interview. Before we get to new stuff, you’ve been busy with efforts to recruit a couple of new members in 2018. Zachery Hembree and most recently you announced Erik Bigelow (of Ember) is your new drummer. Congratulations! What finally made Erik’s ‘filling-in’ status become permanent?
CRAWL: [Eric Crowe] Well thank you, though Hembree has stepped down recently, mainly due to the logistics of practice and him having a full plate with his new project and family. There are no hard feelings what-so-ever on either side and it was fun for a minute and we had some rad shows with him. We all wish him the best.
Now, as far as Bigelow becoming a permanent member of the band… It just made the most sense to us. He knew the songs, put everything into it and was available for practice and shows, so it was like he was full time anyway, and he was just balancing things between Crawl and Ember. We would joke with him and tell him, “You know you’re in the band right?” We were in the process of lining up a couple tryouts and thought we should at least run the idea past him seeing how he was already filling in, plus he’s a badass drummer and just what we needed.
RIFF RELEVANT [Leanne]: Your most recent release is 2017’s ’30 Year Suicide’; are you working on new writings or planning a full release? What are your primary impulses to write about when you do begin new material?
CRAWL: [Eric Crowe] Yes, we are working on new material at the moment and getting things in order for a couple split ideas and for a full length. Usually, I tend to write about things that I know about, like anxiety, breakdowns, depression and suicidal ideology and sometimes try to put a spin of positive, like being able to find a way out and that somewhere in there, there’s hope. Sometimes it’s harder than that, like with a couple of the new songs, and with 30 Year Suicide. The darker seems so much more real in those moments and the positivity seems so much more readily available for someone else.
The primary impulses are to convey thoughts and feelings whether direct or abstract, about life experiences or things greater than myself. We had almost an albums worth of material and began scrapping them, because to me it was starting to be just a collection of songs like “Old Wood and Broken Dreams” ended up being. Just songs we had on hand to make an album with. I wanted this new album to be more cohesive structure-wise as a whole, as well as the thought process. With me going through several stays at mental institutions and the depression I was fighting at the time, it seemed like the perfect canvas for what the new album should be about. So, we started reworking tracks, saving others that were already written to be used for splits and what not. We are still fleshing things out, but have a few solid ones in the bag and can’t wait to start playing them and finally recording them.
RIFF RELEVANT [Leanne]: I also noticed the cover art for ’30 Year Suicide’ is by Eric C. Harrison… I have several pieces of his in my art obsession-collection and love his work. It’s an amazing cover. How did that collaboration come about?
CRAWL: [Eric Crowe] It was really easy, actually. A couple years back, I tagged him in a photo of a Grief shirt I had gotten years ago when my old grind band played with them and -16-. He wrote me back with the picture of the screen he used to make the shirt saying he still had it, and we just kept in touch since then. I had asked him about doing the cover and he was excited to do it, so we just talked about some ideas and that’s what he came up with, which was perfect. Afterward, he sent me the original, which I still need to get framed.
RIFF RELEVANT [Leanne]: Do you and the other guys normally have a disciplined or routine method for writing new material or do new songs grow fluently from a practice/jam session? Has that changed with the addition of a newer member?
CRAWL: [Eric Crowe] We will occasionally jam on something, but usually I bring things or fully constructed songs to the table. We will take those and jam on some parts to help drive things home or to smooth out transitions/bridges. We all work on arrangements together to see what sticks and experiment some. Each track is its own entity, really, and we try to treat it as such and what works best for this particular song. There are a couple new ones that we are excited to finish, that have been sitting there for a little, they just need that something extra to them and it’s not quite there, not just yet.
As far as Bigelow changing this aspect, no. It seems to flow naturally with him, as well. Bigelow is great at coming up with parts on the fly and tweaking them as we go, or just jamming them over and over till what he’s trying to say drum-wise is what he wants and feels the most natural.
RIFF RELEVANT [Leanne]: You had a show scheduled with Toke and Howling Giant that didn’t come to fruition due to some health scares. Do you mind sharing what happened? Any long-range tour plans you can share*?
CRAWL: [Eric Crowe] Unfortunately, we had to drop off the Toke / Howling Giant show due to me ending up with bronchitis / pneumonia, coupled with the chronic asthma I suffer from sending me into the hospital for about a week. Basically, the pneumonia caused me to go into acute respiratory failure. The respiratory failure caused hypoxia, meaning I wasn’t getting enough oxygenated blood to my vital organs. They almost freaking intubated me! It wiped me out pretty good, but I’m getting stronger. There are good days and rough days as far as what I’m able to do right now.
The Come to Grief / Fistula and Sons of Tonatiuh (their FINAL show) was the next big thing we had going on and I did everything I could to get healthy for it. This was not a show I wanted to miss.
RIFF RELEVANT [Leanne]: In your opinion, what’s been the best show you’ve played so far, and why do you feel it was the best (was it performance, venue, crowd response, etc.)?
CRAWL: [Eric Crowe] I would say that one of the best shows we’ve played was when we opened for Pentagram a couple of years back at the Masquerade. Everything just clicked, from crowd reaction to absolutely nailing the songs. Everything felt good and strong from beginning to end. Plus playing with Victor and those guys is super fun.
RIFF RELEVANT [Leanne]: What’s been the strangest experience you’ve had at one of your own shows? (good, bad, weird, etc.)
CRAWL: [Eric Crowe] This would probably be when we opened the Weedeater show at the 529 in Atlanta a couple of years back. It wasn’t weird really, I just remember the place being more than packed and looking out at a ton of folks I’d never seen before and saying, “Where the hell have ya’ll been?!” and just kicked into the set.
After the set, my wife was at the show and was outside talking with Patrick, then out of nowhere she fell into him almost passing out. She has heart issues already, but basically went into AFIB and Patrick caught her and moved her over to a bench away from people. Someone came and grabbed me and told me what was up and I rushed out to her. People thought she was drunk and messed up and were cheering her on. We called the ambulance and they asked what hospital we wanted to go to, and we both yelled at the same time, “Not Grady!” All the EMTs laughed and said it out loud, “Not Grady!” I rode with her to the hospital and we were there for the next couple of days to monitor her heart.
RIFF RELEVANT [Leanne]: Gearhead time – I’m not a music gear nut, but many folks are, so what’s your quick-list of current equipment? Is anyone in the band currently sponsored by any music gear companies/brands, or have their personal ‘must-have’ tools?
CRAWL: [Erik Bigelow] Not sponsored yet, but I am a HUGE Ludwig fan. Currently, own two Ludwig Big Zep kits. Sizes are 24, 14, 16, 18. I use a Tama Speedcobra Pedal, Regal Tip sticks and for now I mix and match my cymbals – mid grade Meinl and/or Ziljian. When you play as hard as I do, you don’t buy expensive cymbals. The funny thing is, I never seem to break heads.
[Patrick Lowe]: As far as gear goes, the only things I’ll always use are my Warwick Rockbass Corvette and the Black Arts Revelation Superbass. Unless I could get a custom German made Warwick, but can’t afford that yet.
[Eric Crowe]: Les Paul Epiphone (with Avedissian “Railsplitter” pickups) > Korg tuner pedal > Black Arts Toneworks “Ritual” > Black Arts Toneworks “Hybrid pre Crown of Horns” > Black Arts Toneworks “Crown of Horns” > Black Arts Toneworks “Black Sheep” > Marshall RV-1 > Vox Wah pedal > ABY splitter > Acoustic 220 > Acoustic 6×10 cab (Peavey VTM-120 > Behringer 4×12).
RIFF RELEVANT [Leanne]: (These last few are questions I like to ask everyone… )If funds were no object and CRAWL had their pick of active bands to play with – where have you always wanted to perform, and which bands would you want in the lineup?
[Patrick Lowe]: YOB
[Eric Crowe]: A full European run with Neurosis and YOB would be the ideal for me, but I’d be just as happy with a full US or European run with ASEETHE and FISTER, or a full US with HEXXUS and DEAD HAND.
RIFF RELEVANT [Leanne]: How do you think venues, labels, and bands could work better together to get a solid crowd turnout and music or merch sales?
CRAWL: [Eric Crowe] Having promoters actually doing their job would be nice, as a start. There are ones that don’t do their part at all in the area, and then there are others like Amos Rifkin of A Rippin’ Productions that actually put up flyers for shows, advertise, goes to shows to promote and that’s awesome to see.
I think there is a balance and every city would be different in ways that it could work, especially between venues, labels, and bands. I see more bands getting the short end of the stick when it comes to shows unless they have good PR and a guarantee agreed upon ahead of time. Which it’s about time for us to utilize something like that, but I know we need more road time before any PR would consider us at the moment, which we totally understand.
I’m not sure what would make it a better place between the three entities really. In my personal experience, Stone Groove Records was great with us, pushed merch ideas and his main platform to promote was his radio show, which is still going strong and Randy [Michaud] still pushes us.
We went with another label, but it didn’t go as planned and held us back more than anything, so we parted ways after a while. Hopefully, something will sort out with the new album and we get more miles under our belt.
RIFF RELEVANT [Leanne]: What is the most important thing a newer band should do to get themselves heard?
CRAWL: [Eric Crowe] Unless you happen to have great PR and loyal fans that take the time to talk about you to other people, I still think the best way is putting on your tour shoes and putting it in peoples faces. I think there is still a lot to be said for D.I.Y. and putting your sounds and craft in front of people. Some cities might be slower at first, but it has the potential to build over time.
RIFF RELEVANT [Leanne]: Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you would like to share?
CRAWL: [Eric Crowe] I know that we are excited to be starting this new chapter of Crawl and the creativity that is already beginning to form through it. We are looking forward to sharing the new material, which is shaping up to be darker than previous tracks and experimenting with new paths and vocals. We are always looking to push the boundaries of self and as musicians through this process.
We are planning on mid-summer to record through Matt Washburn at Ledbelly Sound. We recorded with him on Old Wood and feel he best meets our needs at this time. We also have a split 7” with In The Name Of Suffering on Smut Dealer Records planned, but need to go in to re-record the track “Whiskey Done Me.”
Huge thank you to Eric and the guys from CRAWL for answering my questions and for sonically ripping our faces off. Find more CRAWL info, music, and merch via: