If forced to describe Alaskan heavy metal unit 36 Crazyfists in just a single word, you might want to go with persistent.
Since forming 16 years ago, the band's released four records through three different labels, lost members to everything from the usual band in-fighting to fatal car crashes, and they've shared the road with the likes of Alice in Chains, Atreyu, Killswitch Engage, Chimaira, Diecast, God Forbid, Walls of Jericho, and Poison the Well. They've steadily made a name for themselves and faced several ups and just as many downs. But this summer, one of Alaska's finest exports will return to the vibrant metal scene it helped forge with 'Collisions and Castaways,' the band's fifth record and first since 2008's 'The Tide and Its Takers' became 36CF's only studio offering to open in Billboard's Top 200 Chart.
'Collisions and Castaways,' the band's forthcoming second set for Ferret Music, was written and recorded between October 2009 and May 2010 and is scheduled for release July 27, 2010. It follows on the heels of last year's DVD outing, 'Underneath a Northern Sky,' and is the band's second straight effort to feature guitarist Steve Holt in the producer's chair and Andy Sneap handling the final mix, 'Collisions and Castaways' sees the band evolving into a three-piece unit following the 2008 departure of bassist Mick Whitney, who left the group to spend more time at home with his wife and children.
Drummer Thomas Noonan and frontman Brock Lindow round out 36CF's lineup, with longtime guitar tech Brett "Buzzard" Makowski filling in on bass for the band's upcoming touring plans.
36 Crazyfists will be touring for much of the rest of the year and hope to launch their first headlining tour during this upcoming record cycle. Like lots of bands, 36 Crazyfists are a severe-sounding act who've accomplished a lot in a small amount of time but still have a lot of metal fans to win over. And with 'Collisions and Castaways,' 36 Crazyfists will likely silence the naysayers and continue doing what they do: always moving forward, always because of persistence.
"We've always wanted to have a career with this and make music that was maybe not for everybody, but for a certain group of people and it meant a great deal to those people. I think that's what our band is," Lindow says. "There's much more to this band than people may think, if they weren't paying attention."
Inspired by legends like Metallica, Deftones, and Only Living Witness, 36 Crazyfists, who helped anchor the inaugural RockStar Mayhem Festival, first formed back in 1994, taking its moniker from the Jackie Chan flick of the same name. Several players came in and out of the fold (including bassist JD Stuart, who was killed in a 1996 crash) before the band's core was solidified well before 36CF inked its first label deal with Roadrunner Records. The band issued two full-lengths through Roadrunner, 2002's 'Bitterness the Star' and 2004's 'A Snow Capped Romance.' The band cultivated a massive following, relentlessly touring the states alongside then-labelmates Killswitch Engage and Five Pointe O. After releasing 'Rest Inside the Flames' in 2006, 36 Crazyfists signed with Ferret for 2008's 'The Tide and Its Takers,' which opened at 155 with close to 5,000 units scanned during the album's first week in stores.
"We've always just kind of stayed under the radar," Lindow explains. "We've had our own little personal successes. I am just so glad to still be doing it after 16 years. This isn't a new metal band or a bunch of guys trying to rip off styles. The band is still going and that's killer. We're just stoked to have people hear the new album."
'Collisions and Castaways' is a fierce, dark, crushing collection of eleven tracks that rip from the speaker like a runaway train. Arguably the band's heaviest effort to date, it also happens to be a melodic affair and the kind of record 36 Crazyfists and Lindow have wanted to "write ten years ago. If this was the end of the band, this record is exactly what I wanted our band to do at one time, Maybe a lot of people will think we're just metalcore, but its so much more than that. It's a heavy record with some big choruses and everything we've been about for a long time with a cool metal feel to it that I've been wanting."
Taking inspiration from his own life, Lindow says songs like "The Deserter," "Anchors," "Death Renames the Light," and "In the Midnights," while vague in their lyricism, tackle a number of personal issues from the singer's past that he admits "I may have swept under the rug." Some of the songs address the constant mistakes he'd made during his 20s, which he says were something of a daze.
"Its definitely about life, my life and possibly all our lives," Lindow says. "Its just something I wanted to get off my chest. All these years, I have been saying if you can quit making some of these mistakes, your life is going to change and you're going to better and you have to be proactive about it. I thought I was doing it myself, but I wasn't. I really wanted to talk about what has hampered progress for me in my life. It's about trying to be the best human being you can be and really putting some things to rest and moving forward."