My Interview with Econoline Crush 1999
"Rock needs to reinvent itself and be more experimental", says ECONOLINE CRUSH singer/songwriter TREVOR HURST. "We're trying to push boundaries and use all the technology we have to make good records, while still staying traditional enough to be a rock back." On their latest album THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (Restless), HURST also pushes emotional boundaries in lyrics that Seattle's THE ROCKET termed "provocative and profoundly cathartic." His potent song writing addresses topics such as the often high price of fame ("SPARKLE AND SHINE"), a friend with AIDS ("DEEPER"), and the dark side of the singer's own personality ("HOLLOWMAN").
That hope, often born of angst, is clear in the varied yet cohesive sounds found on THE DEVIL YOU KNOW. Music trade HITS embraced the Vancouver based lineup's "razor-sharp electronica and furious, industrial rock that is unparalleled in quality and texture, " while ROCKPILE praised ECONOLINE CRUSH for their "enticing and overdue addition to our stagnant late '90's music scene." Produced by Sylvia Massey (Tool, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Prince) THE DEVIL YOU KNOW earned "BLOCKBUSTER ROCK ALBUM OF THE YEAR" kudos-- the only fan-voted award of the prestigious Canadian JUNO AWARDS. The album's first U.S. single "HOME" bounded onto the Active Rock charts, while the follow-up "SUREFIRE" hit Top-20 in both Active Rock and Mainstream Rock radio Stateside.
Of singer/songwriter, HURST, JAM MAGAZINE noted, "he has an edge over most of his industrial/electronica vocalist peers: he can actually sing!" The frontman uses that vocalizing to good effect. He cites "RAZORBLADES AND BANDAIDES" -- the album's final track -- the "truest" and most "emotional" tune he's written to date. From the song's soaring guitar introduction into melancholic lyrics to a poignant chorus, HURST's lament is agonizing: "killed the magic/sucked the life out/buried me under the blame/follow me down to this, our bitter end."
HURST goes on to describe the album's title track as possessing, musically, "every aspect of the band." But the frontman also liked the phrase's connotations: "I like stuff that has double meaning," he explains.
While the human condition is where HURST draws most of the emotive song ideas, he's also inspired by books, authors and the rhythm of words. Those stimuli are evident in songs such as the melodic, yet strident "ALL THAT YOU ARE (x3)" as HURST sings "If I said it, I meant it/I'm not really demented... if I'm ever repentant/karma sings and we'll dance the dance baby."
The slightly revised lineup of the band -- JOHN HARO (ex-Stabbing Westward) and original ECONOLINE CRUSH bassist DAN YAREMKO (who was not with the band for a period of time) comprise the aggressive new rhythm section, joining the potent guitar stylings of ZIGGY and HURST's distinctive voice -- kick the live show up a notch. "All the changes we've made have been for the betterment of the band," explains HURST of the new members. For the live performances, the music of ECONOLINE CRUSH takes on another dimension. "You re-evaluate every song and decide what to do with it," he explains. "I consider the live show a different entity."
ECONOLINE CRUSH's incendiary live show have already created quite a stir, as the band toured with STABBING WESTWARD, FOO FIGHTERS, DIE KRUPPS and KISS -- the latter not known as the easiest of opening slots. "Our philosophy was just to go up there and do it no matter what's going on," explains HURST of their six weeks of 1998 dates with the make-up wearing madmen. "After a few nights, people started to get it and they were talking about us on the KISS fan pages. By the fourth show, people were applauding when we came out, 'cause they heard from other KISS fans that we were cool and the fans should check us out."
Of course, many fans already knew the band, from AFFLICTION -- released in 1996 -- and the group's 1994 EP, PURGE. Numerous internet web pages can also attest to the band's rapidly growing popularity and widespread, fanatical fanbase.
Though ECONOLINE CRUSH defy easy categorization, HURST offers his take on the band's aural approach. "Take a boatload of rock 'n' roll, some electronica and dash of hip-hop, throw it in a blender, put it on puree, pour it in a glass, and that's ECONOLINE CRUSH," he grins. "I think it's just modern rock, in the simplest of terms. We have a big palette and paint from all those sources." And the band's unique, focused approach paves the way for a long and fruitful musical shelf-life. THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is simply the first step, if a big one.
"This is the introduction to the band and it should start people off on a musical journey, that will hopefully, last for several years," HURST concludes. "While it would be wonderful to sell a lot of records, I would hope this album establishes the band and sets the tone for a career."
Interview conducted with Econoline Crush vocalist TREVOR HURST by Jas at the Troubadour in West Hollywood.
Jas: How did you end up touring with KISS?
Trevor: First question! Here's the thing, when we made "The Devil You Know," we didn't have a manager. 'Cause we were self-managed, and I sent our rock mixes to a bunch of managers that I was considering. One was Doc McGee, who manages KISS. I got the manager I wanted, which was Bruce Allen in Canada. Um, and Doc McGee is friends with Bruce, and he told Bruce, "You got my band, you bastard!" And Bruce was like, "Y'know. You snooze, you lose buddy." And he said "Listen KISS is going on tour in Canada, and its the first tour together with full make-up since they broke up. Would you guys like to do it?" And we were like, "Yeah." We did that then when "Psycho Circus" came out, they needed a band at the last minute, when they cancelled the circus part of it, and they tried to think of who would be a band, that they had worked with that they liked and it was us.
Jas: Were you afraid of how the crowd would react the first time you went on?
Trevor: Yes and no. I always love a good challenge. Um, I pretty much feel that our music stands [for itself]. Y'know its good, and I think I deliver like I'm in Aerosmith. Y'know? I just sell it.
Jas: Opening for a popular band, were you subjected to shorted soundchecks, set times, etc?
Trevor:It gets like that. KISS was very cool to us, but it was funny because mid-way through the KISS tour, their manager Doc McGee, comes into the dressing room, I'm in there by myself, and we kinda [have] a relationship. Doc sits down, and is like, "How are you doing Trevor?".."Doing pretty good," [then] he goes "You know this is the point in the tour when I usually tell the opening band to cut a few songs." And I go, "Really?" And he goes, "Yep." and I go, "And?" And he goes, "You're rockin' kid!" Then he gets up to leave, and I'm like, "Thanks, yeah!!"
Jas: Do you think of the exit of several band members has affected the sound and the dynamic of the group?
Trevor: In some ways it affects the dynamic, as a living thing, um, but I think at the core of what Econoline Crush is, is this idea that I have in my head. That I want to make this certain type of music and it is simply that, and if the theory stays the same the sound stays the same. Certain players play different ways, and then we utilize that to our advantage, but you know. If anything we get better and better everytime we [make] a change, because we improve. And the reasons for changes are so varied. Y'know you have some people who go because they just can't handle touring and some people go because they're just not really up for it, or whatever, but for whatever reasons every change for the most part has been to better the band.
Jas: How did you choose Sylvia Massey [Tool, Prince] to produce this last album?
Trevor: Well, I thought the work she'd done previously done was amazing. I called a friend of mine, who manages some bands in Canada that she'd worked with, and I asked him what he thought of her, and he said she was amazing. I talked to her on the phone, she seemed interesting. I came down here and talked to her in person and I was sold. She was like your crazy older sister that loves Rock n Roll. She is just so cool.
Jas: Your voice has been described as very unique. Have you ever been in choir, used a vocal coach or anything like that?
Trevor: I was in choir. My mother's a singer. I love...[to sing]. I love..I think I sang ever since I was like one. I can't even remember not singing. So its a natural thing. I remember thinking it was weird when I found out some people couldn't sing. I thought everybody could sing.
Jas: What was the first concert that you went to?
Trevor: Van Halen in 1984.
Jas: Another TV show your song ["The Devil You Know"] was played on was "Melrose Place." Do you think that exposed your music to a new audience, at all?
Trevor: I don't know. I guess so. I don't know if we got any record sales out of it or not, but it was kinda funny hearing our song on "Melrose Place." It was like "woah." 'Cause I don't really watch and [I'm] not really into it, but I watched it that night, like until our song was over, then I changed the channel.
Jas: It seems like the perfect song to go with that TV show, considering the plots.
Trevor: [laughs] Yeah, lyrically it works too.
Jas: Where's the weirdest place you've played?
Trevor: What's the name of that club..? Barristers in Memphis. It was like playing in a bombed out rec room. It was the most horrific club I've ever seen.
Jas: What does "TDM" stand for on the 'Purge' EP?
Trevor: Trevor's Death Metal . [smiles]
Jas: I checked out some of your fan websites, and someone was asking about your ring. What is it?
Trevor: Its an artist in Vancouver [that] made the ring. It was a gift from a friend of mine. It says "Think For Yourself" and it has a smiley little devil face and basically...What it means, to me anyways, ist to stand for what you stand for and to never waver from your convictions. And this [pointing to another ring] is courage, and those are the two things I like to look at. I'm not really big into the tattoo thing. I know its such an in vogue things, but I think the body was designed to look a certain way, and I like the way it looks.
Jas: You've done some creative writing, such as "Paranoia Will Destroy Ya.." and "The Samsonite Theory," which are really different and great..
Trevor: Thank you!
Jas: ..And do you like that other creative outlet?
Trevor: Love it! Love it! I've got a laptop computer with me on the road, where I tend to write some articles and I'm kinda working on a screenplay right now, but I don't know if it will be a screenplay or not. Its crazy. I love it, because I have a very active imagination, and its hard for me to just sit still and not do anything and there's lots of moments on the road where you can't do anything. Its just like "Hurry Up and Wait." Wait for soundcheck. Wait for whatever. Wait for an interview. You know, you're always waiting. So if I have a moment I like to do that, plus I like...
Jas: Being creative?
Trevor: ..Yeah, and in the world of the story. Y'know you start, the story, you start writing it, and then you want to know what happens its like another world over here that you get to escape into, escapism. I like it.
"I loved the fact that things of magical proportions were made in this very city. Created. I mean art was created here that changed the way people think. Its just amazing. "--Trevor
As a start to stall and rack my brains for some more questions, Trevor saves me and makes a footnote on a question I asked earlier. Bless him!
Trevor: I want to elaborate on one thing about Sylvia. I think the great thing about working with her was. One of the things that drove me to her was that she actually paid attention to the lyrics and it was one of the first producers who ever read the lyrics, listened to the song, read the lyrics, listened to the song, read the lyrics, and then went OK. This is what we're trying to get isn't it? And she made sure that her stamp on the songs was getting out of the emotional value that the song presented, and making the dynamic fit the lyrics, and I think that, and the fact that she set up an environment that was conducive for us to really be creative, were the two greatest gifts she gave this band. And [those] were the two greatest gifts she could give as a producer. And that to me is very important. So I just want to shout out to my people!!
Jas: Do you think the U.S. is the place to break?
Trevor: This is Rock n Roll. [pointing to the ground] This is the home of Rock & Roll. There is no other country with Rock & Roll. I mean [there are] other countries that play Rock & Roll music, but this [once again pointing to the ground] ..is where it was invented, this is the home of Rock & Roll. If you are going to count in the history of Rock & Roll, in any way, shape or form. You have to do it here.
Jas:You're from Manitoba, right?
Trevor: Yeah, Manitoba [Canada]. Originally, yeah.
Jas: We you influenced by America?
Trevor: Yeah I used to watch a lot of late night talk shows. I was drawn to films and movies, and to everything and anything that had to do with Hollywood or Rock & Roll. I was just mesmerized by it. Loved it. Loved the whole idea of it. Loved the fact that things of magical proportions were made in this very city. Created. I mean art was created here that changed the way people think. Its just amazing.
[We both note the bizarre mid-afternoon drizzle and gloominess in the near summertime, here in Hollywood]
Jas: Well what do you think of the weather today?
Trevor: Well y'know. You've got to have your ups and downs, but I think California never really look bad to me. I mean the first time I ever came to LA it just rained the whole time. I was like "Wow!" and everybody was like, "This never happens." So I thought that maybe I wasn't meant for LA, but then I came back and spent the whole time here making the record. We made it in Van Nuys at Sound City, and it was beautiful. It was just wonderful. I love this city. I know a lot of people think it's superficial. It's gross, dangerous, but I really do love Los Angeles. It's just something about it that I like. Its like my favorite American city. I like New York. I like Chicago. I like Miami, but I love LA. People think I'm crazy I know, but I don't care because this is a great city. New Orleans, is a great city, but this is where it all happens.
Jas: You have a lot of fan websites do you ever check them out?
Trevor: I used to, but I banned myself from going there, because lots of strange things get said there that aren't true and you get angered by them.
Jas: For example..?
Trevor: Just y'know. I've read where people say that they've had sex with me, or multiple parters. Just crazy things, or they claim to be me, and they go onto discussion boards and say things. Or they have their opinions about member changes, and they say this is why it happened, and they don't know why things happened. Y'know just because..So I just decided, y'know our fans talk and they do what they do, and I think its great that they're interested in the band, but I think if you don't really know everything about a certain situation, you should never really comment, but thats never going to stop people from doing it.
Jas: I've check some of the websites, they're really in-depth, and there's one that has your grade school photos. Have you seen that?
Trevor: Yeah. [laughs] Very funny.
Jas: I didn't see anything bad on them...
Trevor: I think its very good. But I just don't..y'know. The flip side is..just y'know. I'm just a guy that sings in a rock band for fuck's sake! I mean I'm not ...
Jas: But you know there's a website for anything and everything..
Trevor: Yeah, but I don't want to get caught up in the hype either way. Its like I really don't read my press, people say.."Did you say this..?" or "Why are they saying this..?" You gotta keep it in perspective. I really like to sing. I really like to perform. I just like what I do, it's fun I like writing songs. I like rocking. I'm lucky that I get to do that, y'know. I'm so lucky, so I don't really think about all that other stuff.