In Conversation with Danny Roselle of The Crash Moderns
When your former band managed to score a cameo appearance in an episode of the third season of HBO’s The Sopranos the pressure is on to try and emulate that success. But that doesn’t bother singer-songwriter Danny Roselle at all. Instead, his new band The Crash Moderns is aiming higher than the impressive heights his former outfit No Soap Radio managed to achieve.
The New Jersey-based three-piece’s brand of punchy, contemporary-yet-retro rock is quickly winning friends in all the right places, and after recent gigs with major label acts Bowling For Soup, Lifehouse, and American Hi-Fi, the signs are good that The Crash Moderns can go one step further than No Soap Radio and make the transition from local heroes to national acclaim.
Andrew Ellis spoke with Roselle to find out more about the background of one of the most exciting rock bands to emerge this year.
First, Danny, tell me about the origins of the band. I know you were previously in No Soap Radio, so how did The Crash Moderns come together?
The Crash Moderns formed officially one day after No Soap Radio broke up. I called my good friend and fellow musician Jon Matias who I had known for a long time and said “You know that band we’ve always talked about putting together? Well, let’s do it!” Fortunately his band had just recently split, so the timing was perfect. We started writing material right away, which I found to be so much easier and so much more natural than it had ever been. It was in these early days that we formed the vision of what The Crash Moderns would eventually become. Putting the band together was the next step and fortunately we found guys that shared our ideas and truly believed in them.
I described your sound in my Ink19.com review as Marvelous 3 meets Cheap Trick. How would you describe the band’s sound?
Well, we are all big fans of both of those groups, although we absolutely did not set out to sound like anything or anyone. I guess all musicians sometimes tend to wear their influences on their sleeve a little. I think that’s a good thing. Butch [Walker, Marvelous 3] is a terrific songwriter and an amazing performer. He really set the bar high for all of us when it comes to the live aspect, and Cheap Trick is my all-time favorite group, next to The Beatles. Robin Zander truly has the best voice in rock in my opinion. So, I guess that would make them both influences. Our influences stem from everything we love about pop music — from The Cars to Elvis Costello to The Clash. We love it all. It’s all pop rock and I can’t tell you the wide spectrum of bands that people say we remind them of. It’s all good.
The EP is brilliant. Have you been pleased with the reaction to it from fans?
Thank you. Absolutely. We couldn’t be happier and more excited about the reaction we’ve gotten from the EP. It was our intention to go into the studio and just give everyone a little taste of what The Crash Moderns were about. This way when it came to the live show we could play the entire EP and then have a little fun trying out new and different material each night. It helps us to see what new songs get the best crowd reaction.
What are your personal highlights from it and why?
I’d probably have to say recording the song “Everything At Once.” Hearing that song come to fruition is a big one for me. Jon was really a big push in getting that song recorded. It was a song that I had written quite some time ago, and kind of forgot about. I was told a while back that it didn’t have what it took to make the grade. But Jon always believed in it and I guess I did too. But sometimes you find yourself listening to other people for all the wrong reasons. Anyway, whether it ends up being on a full length in the future or not, is not important to me, what is important is hearing people come up to me after a show and saying that it was their favorite.
Who handles the songwriting in the band?
Right now it’s a split between Jon and me. “Hello World” was our first collaboration, and I couldn’t be happier with how our songwriting partnership is going. Some of the songs on the EP like “This Time” and “Everybody Hates Me” I had written before we formed, but I really do like having the team thing going. It’s great to be able to bounce ideas off each other. I’m sure Matt will have some songwriting contributions in the future as well. He is a terrific musician.
How come you decided to do a new version of the song “All About You,” which you performed with No Soap Radio?
I really felt strong about this song. It always seemed to pump the crowd up at the live shows, and I also always felt that it was never recorded the way it deserved to be recorded. I wanted to try and breathe new life into a song I truly believed in and give it a chance to be heard the way I always heard it in my head.
How did you hook up with Ron Haney and The Churchills to produce the EP?
I had worked with Ron and Bart in past projects and always had a great time. They are truly fantastic musicians and I have a great respect for The Churchills. The one main reason why we decided to use them as co-producers on the EP is because of the way I knew we would work together. Jon and I had a very clear picture of what we wanted this EP to sound like and we knew that if we went into the studio with anyone else we would have lost some control over what we heard. Ron and Bart are a very hands-on production team but at the same time they never, ever, strong-arm the artist into hearing it their way. It was truly the ideal situation for us.
Can we expect a full-length album in the near future?
We really hope so. That is definitely our goal.
Are you happy to go down the indie route or are you actively seeking a deal with one of the majors?
Of course, we would love a major label deal, but if we have to go down the indie road again, I’m not opposed to it. It would be nice to have a little more behind us, then what we have been able to do for ourselves. I will say that.
You have been touring quite extensively recently, getting as far as Toronto and Chicago — which is rare for a band with no major label support. How has the tour been?
The tour has been so amazing. We decided when we put this band together that, unlike the other projects we were in that waited around for someone to magically wave a wand over their heads and call with a big signing, we were going to be a band full time — all the time — for better or for worse. Not one guy in this band has a full time job. We make — or I should say don’t make — every dime we have off being in this band. It’s a very risky way to approach things, but I also feel it’s the only way, at least for us. As a band you have to be out there. If a label is going to call then it’s gonna happen either way, but waiting around for that call, when you could be out there on your own, making new fans every night, is just something that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to us. We love being out there and the response has been awesome.
Was the highlight playing with Lifehouse and American Hi-Fi?
Absolutely. Getting to play in front of sold-out crowds and seeing people singing along to your songs was a great feeling. Not only did we have the best time playing together, but we also got to meet some of the nicest guys in the business. The fans of both groups were also amazing. They have been so supportive, and we really can’t wait to hit the road again.
You nearly hit the big time with NSR after getting your music featured in The Sopranos; are you more confident that this band is the right one for you to go on and achieve major league success?
Yes, and for one simple reason. I really feel that this group has all of the necessary ingredients to make it happen combined with the best attitude. I couldn’t be happier.
Do you think the advent of the Internet and iTunes etc. has made it easier or more difficult for indie bands like yours?
Easier, for sure. When you’re an indie band there is nothing more important then getting your music heard.
What’s in your CD changer in the tour van/bus?
Not a whole lot actually. We tend to gravitate more towards our Nintendo (the original). After playing music and being around music all night, it’s great sometimes to just veg with a little Super Mario. CDs that made our player this past trip were the usuals; Elvis Costello and the Attractions This Year’s Model, Cheap Trick at Budokan, Squeeze Singles, The Beatles, Revolver.
Any message to Crash Moderns fans?
Yes, thank you so much for all of the wonderful support. Please keep those e-mails coming, Hearing from everyone when you’re driving in a van 8 hours a day keeps us sane! Also, we have no plans to stop touring so I look forward to seeing everyone real soon.
The Crash Moderns: www.thecrashmoderns.com