RGM Introducing – We interview Newcastle band Crux

What made you decide to start the band?

Jake (lead guitarist) and I were in a few bands in sixth form, but we wanted to continue with a band once everyone left school and went to university because of our passion for music. We recruited Hallam (bassist) way back in 2014, and it wasn’t until February 2020 we recruited Joe (drums) after 6 years with our previous drummer, Elliot. We adore making music and couldn’t think of a better career, so here we are (albeit with 9-5 day jobs to keep us afloat)!

Introduce us all to the members and your musical history?

Joe Reid is our man behind the skins, he studied Music at Newcastle University and is a full time freelance drummer and tutor – so to put it in simple terms, he’s absolutely class on the drums and the most musically qualified out of the lot of us by far.

Hallam ‘Vladimir’ Press is the backbone, the bassist and backing vocalist of the band. Hallam’s been playing the bass for nearly 15 years, and is mostly self taught with the help of many YouTube tutorials on how to play the bass like Chris Wolstenholme and Flea, but is very meticulous in his music education and so is probably the most clued up on musical theory in the band. Hallam also has a BA and Masters in English Literature and co-writes the lyrics, and tells Max when his lyrics are s*** (which they often are).

Jake Waldock is our beanpole party trick, our lead guitar maestro. His fingers were genetically created in a freak Frankenstein-like incident when his Dad mystically obtained the DNA from Mark Knopfler and Jimmy Page and got bitten by a radioactive spider, add Rachmaninoff’s long finger template and dexterity to this weird creation which doesn’t really make any sense and you’ve got Jake’s fast and furious fingers that grace the fretboard. He also had the same guitar teacher as Sam Fender so they have quite a similar style.

Max Houghton is our frontman, the narcissist writing this paragraph. Not a great singer, quite an average guitarist, fairly competent on the piano, and occasional good lyric writer (as you can probably tell by how good the grammar is in these sentences). The band probably couldn’t function without me because of my leadership/totalitarianism and sheer determination for the band to get somewhere. I like to think I’m a good songwriter and hummed ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ by Verve before I could speak, that’s all I’ve got.

And together, we’re Crux.

What’s your favourite song right now from another band currently on your local circuit?

I recently discovered Fax Machine via a playlist our music was both in and was pleasantly startled when I first heard Fax Machine, and delved into their discography. I’ve never really heard music like it, it’s amazing. Check out ‘Not Sure’ by them, it’s probably their most conventional track but it is just so beautiful.

What support is out there for new artists in Newcastle ?

We’re still figuring it ourself! We’re very lucky that we have a tight knit team and other contacts/friends from the likes of Pillar Artists, Afterlight Management, and Spotlight Music that help us with booking gigs, social media, PR, etc. So big shoutout to my Dad, David Kenny, Jay Landman, and Snaz Craig.

A lot of bands/artists help each other putting on gigs, creating support slots, sharing music on our socials so shout out to the lovely geordies, students, and adopted geordies in bands who are the true backbone of the local music scene in Newcastle.

Who is inspiring you at the minute on the Newcastle unsigned scene?

We played with The Samphires a few weeks back, and I was pretty blown away by their set, they did an unreal cover of Novocaine For The Soul by Eels. They reminded me I don’t need to stick distortion on every song with the right melody engineering, chord structures, and they also had lovely clean floating guitar and bass tones.

What would you like to see more of in Newcastle?

Diversity, support for musicians, and more Greggs, there can never be enough Greggs.

Happy now you are the richest football club in the world? 

Very very very very very happy. We all turned up in Newcastle kits on our headline EP release gig on Thursday 7th October, and we completely disagree with the ethics of the new owners but as a Newcastle fan we’ve not had much to celebrate about for the past 14 years under Mike Ashley, and to see hope back in the city is something you’ve got to cherish. I’ll be even happier if the money from the owners filters into the city, like with the Leicester owners, as we’ve been massively neglected in terms of investment under the current government. This Northern Powerhouse project seems to stop at Manchester.

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? 

Apple and Amazon are going to team up to create an independent nation with no pension age, and the whole population are forced to work at least 60 hours a week in grim conditions with 50% of the earnings of each employee going in a pot to fund an intergalactic sex dungeon for Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Apart from that I don’t really believe in conspiracy theories, they’re just silly. 

p.s. please let me keep using your platforms Apple and Amazon to stream our music, I’m just joking. 

What useless party trick /talent do you have/? 

I can name you 90% of the Liechtenstein national football squad from the 2008 EURO Qualifiers, is that fun? Would people at parties like that? 

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

Probably our gig at The Engine Room in North Shields last week that I briefly mentioned before; everyone was in such good fettle with the takeover, and we just went absolutely wild, and so did the crowd, it was unreal! Easily the sweatiest and funnest gig we’ve played. It was so good to hear everyone’s reactions to our new tunes too!

What was the worst experience on stage?

I’ve had a fair few voice cracks on stage, especially when we play older songs of ours as I used to have a much higher voice, though I don’t think it tops when we were about to play a Muse cover, ‘Fury’ and completely forgot how to play it so we stopped playing. We then tried to make up for this by playing ‘Parklife’, and our old drummer, Elliot (sorry to mention this Elliot haha), swapped with me so I was playing the drums and he was singing as he could do a good Phil Daniels impression, but Elliot completely forgot the lyrics and in his embarrassment ran off the stage and left the venue, leaving us to jam the rest of the song out, we got the crowd to sing the chorus’ though I think they did it mostly out of sympathy…

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

Joe is a left handed drummer which is a nightmare for gigs as we have to completely change the position of the drums from the previous band/band afterwards!

Hallam has Russian heritage, hence his nickname, ‘Vladimir’.

Jake is not related to Shawn Mendes, despite them being absolute doppelgängers.

Max loves listening to Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers is an unreal songwriter!

If you had to describe your band to an alien how would you describe them? 

I’d explain to the alien that if a member of their species was to release their existentialism using phallic looking instruments that created low distorted frequencies they could comprehend, with consistent rhythmic ‘bangs’ and pretentious anti-establishment lyrics, and no-one really liked the noise that was created from this formula, then you’d get something close to how us humans view Crux.

Which one of the band is the most unpredictable and why?

Jake, because he has the organisational skills of a fried chalk cue.

Which one of the band is the biggest nightmare? (Just a bit of fun) 

Probably me, because I’m raving lunatic.

You have one phone call and you have been locked up for a crime you didn’t commit? Which member would you call first? 

I’m going to go with Jake again, he has useful connections, that’s all I’m going to say.

Whats your biggest achievement as a band?

Getting airplay on BBC Radio 6 was special, as it’s my favourite radio channel, and it was so nice of Tom Robinson to say such lovely words about our track, ‘Slaving Away’.

What makes you stand out as a band/Artist?

We’re four white guys writing angry music, there’s not many bands that fit that demographic is there? 

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

Humour is for failing bands, we are completely professional and save laughing for appropriate occasions such as funerals. We also tried covering the Thomas the Tank theme tune the other week without ever learning how to play it, that was quite… some would say…humorous.

What’s your favourite song to play live and why?

Radgie Gadgie, because it’s stupid and sort of acts as an audio amphetamine for the crowd.

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

It’s brewed and ready for distribution, though I’ve heard it requires at least 5 listens and requires to be shared with at least 5 friends. I’ll be serious; it’s our creative baby, that’s taken years of thought and preparation, so please look after it. We try to capture the chaos of the modern world in our manic sound and explore the end of collectivism, the rise of individualism, and the resultant toxic masculinity in our lyrics.

Talk me through the thought process of the EP?

It sort of follows a story of a character/protagonist/antagonist who loses their identity in an individualist dystopian world and acts in ways that are detrimental to others, based on real life stories and experiences to people known to the band, featuring lots of local satirical references. ‘Radgie Gadgie’ is basically a Viz sketch in audio form.

What was the recording process like?

Recording has been spread from December 2018 – April 2021 with changes to the band lineup, a global pandemic, and other life events most people in their mid-20s experience (such as the transition from university to work) getting in the way of progress. We’re a lot more productive and organised now though so can promise the next EP/LP won’t be as long in the making. 

We started by recording ‘Bigg Market’ at The Garage Studios in South Shields in December 2018, and this is where we found our feet, our identity, so it was a massive stepping stone in the journey to where we are today, as we weren’t too happy with all our previous recordings.

The release of Bigg Market presented us with an opportunity to record with industry heavyweights Jim Lowe and Max Hayes at RAK Studios and Lynchmob Studios respectively, in London, over the course of October and November 2019. This was an unbelievable experience, and we came back with a fresh sense of determination and knowledge and two singles, ‘Slaving Away’ and ‘Living in Dystopia’.

The release of these singles were delayed considerably due to the pandemic so we didn’t release these until October 2020 and February 2021.

We then decided to put our singles and new songs we’d been working on with our new drummer, Joe, into an EP and worked with the amazing Andy Bell from Blast Studios in Newcastle. The recording process was very unusual with social distancing and mask wearing in force but was probably our most creative recording process to date as we didn’t hold back on any of the songs and had a really good time, and came out with Incel, Radgie Gadgie, and Agent Orange. 

Would you change anything now its finished?

I’m always constantly analysing our songs whenever I listen to them, but I wouldn’t change them as I think it would not only be impractical but would be detrimental to the final product. I think a good artist/band knows when to stop perfecting a song, as if you don’t hold back you’d just end up ruining it. Richard Ashcroft tried binning Urban Hymns despite it being one of the best albums of all time so it’s easy to fall into that trap of unproductive perfectionism, luckily Chris Potter persuaded him otherwise.

What are your plans for the year ahead 

We’re writing new songs already and have an idea for an album but are going to review how well the EP does before deciding whether to release singles or more, so expect new music from us over the course of the next year!

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

Thank you very much for having us, and apologies if I’ve come across as an arse, I like to think I’m dead funny when I’m probably just obnoxious. Keep up the great work supporting independent upcoming artists and bands.