RGM Introducing – Crux

Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

Hiya, it’s an absolute pleasure to be interviewed by RGM.

What made you decide to start a band / become an artist?

I think there’s no greater joy than writing music, it’s almost cathartic, so to make a career out of it would bring us immense happiness. For people to enjoy and emotionally connect to our music would just mean the world to me and the lads. Also, how good would it be to break the mundane 9-5 office life, and potentially tour the country or world dependent on our fortunes? 

Music has brought us together, and we’d love to expand that coming together of people. Am I starting to sound like a hippie? A colleague from work pointed me towards a Shakespeare quote which I think alludes to the universality of music:

‘The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils.’ 

‘Like who doesn’t enjoy music?’ – (Max Houghton of Crux, 2020)

How do you think the government have looked after the the night time economy / live gig circuit?

Similar to how a farmer looks after his livestock after selling them to the slaughter house.

Whats one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?

We always get asked to describe our genre or sound, which we’re not necessarily sick of answering, we just don’t know the answer ourselves! 

Which one is the biggest pain in the arse? (Lateness, forgets stuff etc.)

I’d nominate Jake for his lateness to practices, or Hallam for his ability to be busy every time we have a practice; but I guarantee everyone would say I’m (Max) the biggest pain in the arse for being a Stalinist control freak.

EDIT – I checked with lads and we’re all in agreement that it is indeed me.

What is the unsigned scene in Newcastle like at the minute?

I think the quality, diversity, and venues in Newcastle are difficult to be trumped, as shown by the bands/artists that ‘made it’ like Sam Fender, Lanterns on the Lake, Nadine Shah, Mark Knopfler, Sting, Brian Johnson, Lindisfarne. But what Newcastle lacks to cities like London and Manchester is the connection to main stream labels/radio stations, and we only have a very niche local music scene that’s mainly based around the universities, so you don’t get too many people going to local gigs to support bands such as ourselves… or that could just be our gigs! I think it’s why a few of the bands/artists I mentioned had to move to London before they were noticed.

We do have a really good small knit community of people who are so dedicated to building the unsigned scene and providing a platform for local bands with venues like Little Buildings, Surf Cafe, The Cluny, etc, and the local scene gurus like Jay Landman and Snaz Craig, so big shoutout to them for their continuous efforts. Newcastle’s a hidden gem waiting to be unlocked. I think geography is a big part of it though, we’re quite isolated up here in the North East, and don’t have half the funding the South has.

What good bands are coming out of Newcastle at the minute? 

I could write paragraphs on good bands coming out of Newcastle, so apologies for the bands/artists I’ve missed out, but here’s a short list of bands/artists that we really rate:

Fossway, The Yada Yada Yadas, Cortney Dixon, Keiran Bowe, Kahuna, Goodsprings, The Avelons, Cat Ryan, Nadeem, Beth Macari, Mac The Gunner, Laurens Court, and a lot of you would’ve heard of The Pale White.

And here’s another short list of fellow North Easterners who we proper rate:

Leopard Rays, Uncle Dudeman, Alex James, The Thieves, Ryan Robinson, Picnic

What’s your favourite song right now from another band?

I can’t get enough of Cold Little Heart by Michael Kiwanuka at the moment, he got a well deserved Mercury prize the other week.

As for favourite song from another local band, it will take a lot to top No Heart in the Heart of the City by Fossway for me.

I’m into heart themed songs apparently.

What support is out there for new artists in Newcastle ?

If I was to take a band under my wing (God help them) I’d point them towards Jay or Snaz who I previously mentioned, as their local knowledge is unmatched, but they’ve got more than enough on their hands. We’re still finding our feet and have had to support ourselves to be truthful, but here’s a few places that provide support: Northern Music Collective and the Generator. The support we’ve had from friends and family has definitely been most important, they’ve kept us going!

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

You’re supposed to have fun on stage? Nah, we do occasionally have fun. Hallam always has the best fun when he bends the notes on my keyboard when I’m trying to do a Rachmaninoff inspired piano intro before our closing song, Keep Me Going, making it sound like a Les Dawson sketch.

The most fun I get is when we’re playing Bigg Market and everyone sings along to the pre-chorus chant.

What was the worst experience on stage?

Where to start… Sorry to mention this Elliot (our former drummer), we were playing a gig at Bar Loco in Newcastle city centre when we at late notice decided to play a Muse cover, Fury. We’d practiced this a few times at rehearsals before, but obviously not enough as we got two bars into the song before Elliot stopped playing and refused to keep going as he forgot how to play it.

To make up for missing a song we decided to cover Parklife at the end which we used to do quite routinely, where Elliot and I swap roles as I go on the drums and Elliot does his finest impression of Phil Daniels and Damon Albarn. Elliot, being so flustered at this point forgets all the lyrics halfway through the second verse and runs as far from the stage as possible, leaving us to finish the song! The crowd took pity on us and sympathetically sang the last two chorus’s with us. I think we styled it out? 

Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about? 

Hallam asked me to mention he has a masters degree in English Literature. You never mentioned it mate? 

Jake commonly gets mistaken for Shawn Mendes.

Joe wants to learn tap dancing.

And I’m friends with former-Liechtenstein international footballer, Franz Burgmeier.

What makes you stand out as a band?

We’ve played with much more talented local bands, who’s songwriting abilities are much more complex, but I think in our simplicity lies catchy melodies and hooks. Not just commercial melodies though, but I think there’s a uniqueness to our songs – which Joe pointed out when he first joined the band, the uniqueness is what appealed to him. And I think uniqueness is something to strive for in music.

Also, Jake’s guitar solos are face-melting.

Right now, whats pissing you off the most? (Cant say the virus 🙂 

The inescapable doom of our current government, and the complete incompetence of the two US candidates. That debate was embarrassing, like two senile old men babbling over who’s dick has shrunk the least. Obviously Trump is worse, but I would’ve loved to see someone as progressive as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Bernie Sanders be the Democratic Party Presidential Nominee.

Also, my premier league fantasy team is doing pretty shit.

Tell us about a time when you had a proper reyt laugh while you were all together?

We recently discovered that Joe’s full name (Joe Reid) fits perfectly with Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ – we’ll have to start singing it at gigs! When we discovered this, I think we jammed it for about half an hour instead of focusing on our songs!

Whats your favourite song to play live?

We all agree that our closing song, Keep Me Going is our favourite to play live. It’s so fast paced, and there’s a part at the end of the song just after the last chorus where Jake’s guitar solo comes in, and I change the chord sequence so instead of going down the scale it starts going up the scale, whilst Hallam’s bass still goes down the scale and all the instruments just fit together so nicely, it always gives us goosebumps to play. It’s a proper crowd pleaser too!

I hear you have a new single brewing, what can you tell us about it?

Yes, our new single Slaving Away is coming out on Wednesday 7th October. It’s a catchy 12 bar blues lick that explores wage slavery, zero hour contracts, and controlling authoritative governments that make your life miserable and shift the blame onto asylum seekers fleeing war torn countries who are just after a better life. Lyrically it is very inspired by Animal Farm by George Orwell. We’re really excited about this one, and we worked with A Kenny Films on a music video to go with it which thematically goes hand-in-hand, we’re very proud of the song and the video.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Just thank you very much for having us and keep up the great work promoting up and coming bands and artists.

Thanks for doing us today folks, all the best and keep in touch.

Also on RGM ????