Crossing Columbia is a band with a unique sound hailing from Alpine, Utah, and the first interview Linescratchers has conducted with a full band. A brief skim of their songs will reveal a sparse, clean sound with several influences, and the musicianship leaves listeners (musician and otherwise) never wanting. They have just released an EP that you can preview at www.myspace.com/crossingcolumbia and their interview, as you will see, speaks for itself. Special thanks to Will for making this interview possible.
To find Crossing Columbia on iTunes, click here.
Who started this group, and how long have y’all been playing together?
WILL: I answered a craigslist posting for a drummer made by Steve. We were going to form a side project together and it ended up replacing everything else we had. I found Jonny through a mutual friend and Teressa is Steve’s wife.
STEVE: We’ve been playing since March. Will and I had been playing together for about a year, then we added Jonny in January, and Teressa in March.
What influences do your band members bring to the table?
WILL: I grew up listening to my dad’s music. I would steal his records like The Beatles’ White Album and Rubber Soul, The Who, Pink Floyd, and then I discovered Led Zeppelin. When I started buying my own music, my brother and I joined a CD club. We got Rush and more Led Zeppelin. I knew then that I wanted to drum. It wasn’t until later that I learned the names of the drummers for the bands and added more to the list. I think right now I am mostly inspired by Chad Smith, Chad Sexton, and Neil Peart. Oddly enough though, the music I listen to now is not related to the music we play. Right now I am in to Ben Folds, Anberlin, Rush, and whatever else comes up on random play from my MP3 player.
STEVE: I know my guitar is heavily influenced by Mike Einziger (Incubus), John Frusicante (RHCP), Bo Madsen (Mew), Tom Morello (guitar hero), Clapton, Hendrix, and a little bit of everyone else. Ironically enough, I love choral music, and I’m very influenced by the chordal structure of older choral music, i build a lot of my chords from choral songs I’ve heard in the past. I know, weird, but listening to a live chorus is just the most amazing form of music there is.
JONNY: My biggest influences on bass are Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, P-Nut from 311, and Tim Commerford from Rage Against the Machine, plus many others.
TERESSA: Most of the time when I write my vocals I’m not consciously being influenced by anything except for the song I’m writing to. However, I have written at least one song I can say was highly influenced by Incubus.
What are your lyrics about? What can we listen for in the words to your songs?
TERESSA: The first few songs I wrote with the band are about stuff like being yourself and thinking positive but lately I’ve been going through a nonsense phase. I’m really liking the nonsense.
All the members of your band are LDS. Does this influence how you work together as a band?
WILL: Absolutely. Common ground is essential in any relationship. We also try to stay away from playing in bars or in situations that would go against any belief. It is really refreshing to be able to have that structure.
STEVE: We’re all good people, we communicate well, we’re good friends, we have the same musical styles, and the same goals, that’s what influences us the most. It’s totally a bonus that everyone’s LDS, but that’s not why we chose each other for band members, it just happened to work out this way. I’m totally against the mentality of choosing your friends just because they’re LDS. I’m from California, and we had friends that were LDS and friends that weren’t. Here in Utah it’s sad. I know people that won’t let their kids play with non-LDS people. The non-LDS people who move to these neighborhoods have no friends because the local LDS kids weren’t allowed to play with them. I don’t believe in the elitist LDS mentality that you have to be one of us to be our friend. I’ll be honest though, I was really happy to find out that everyone ended up being a good musician first, and a good person second.
TERESSA: It’s nice not having to worry about someone showing up to practice hocked up on goofy pills but I know there are non-LDS people out there who have it together too. We just all happen to be LDS.
JONNY: Yes I think it helps us work together even better. The more you have in common with band members, the easier it is to be comfortable and creative.
How does your faith influence your music?
WILL: As a drummer, it doesn’t influence how I play. I am grateful for what God has blessed me with and my health and strength to play.
STEVE: It doesn’t for me. Music is just another way to artistically express myself.
TERESSA: I don’t really think about it. My beliefs are just a part of me.
JONNY: I guess it does because I feel my talent is God-given, so I enjoy putting it to use by developing and creating unique music.
Any favorite songs to play live?
WILL: Broken and Spring Will Come are among my favorites. I love Broken because it really gets the crowd going and has a lot of changes. I like Spring Will Come as a drummer because I feel I get to showcase some skill.
STEVE: Probably Spring Will Come.
TERESSA: At the moment it’s Sing Out Loud but ask me in a week and it’ll probably something new we’ve written.
JONNY: Yes! Sing Out Loud is so fun to play.
What is the music scene like in Alpine? Do you get enough gigs to stay satisfied? Do you get paid for shows?
WILL: We mostly play in Provo. Alpine is where we practice. We are starting to get a couple shows a month and I believe we are satisfied with that. It is nice to get paid for shows but I am not in this for the money.
STEVE: Sometimes we get paid, sometimes we don’t. The music scene isn’t the best in Utah, but we’re making the most of it.
Any tours planned? Or do you plan on just staying a local band?
WILL: Something really special would have to come our way for me to consider a big tour. I have a wife and my 3rd kid on the way. It would be very difficult for me to leave on a tour with that at home. I am happy being a local band for now.
STEVE: We love playing, and we love playing new venues, but we all have families and lives, and those come first. We’ll have to see…
Do you have CDs for sale? Are you on iTunes? What’s your MySpace?
STEVE: We do have CDs. We’re working on getting an online store so you can buy it on iTunes and our MySpace (www.myspace.com/crossingcolumbia). It’ll be on CDbaby soon.
How can fans support your music if they like what they hear?
WILL: I love to meet fans at shows and talk with them. I am fascinated by people who enjoy our music and it gives me such a rush that I want to keep playing more and more. If they like us, they can come to shows and talk with us after.
STEVE: Buy our EP, and more importantly, attend our local shows. If you’re not local, and you want us to play there, we’ll see what we can work out. It costs a lot to record, so the sooner we can pay that off, the sooner we can record a new one.