Industrial metal goths The Cruxshadows was founded in Northern Florida, in the 1990s. In the twenty years since then they have climbed to highest peaks, toured all the world, and continue to make music of course with their latest, As the Dark Against My Halo. Having had multitude songs reach the high numbers on many national and international charts. Frontman Rogue the man behind the vocals, songwriting, programming, lyrics, keyboards, and even some violin, took sometime to discuss with me the band's latest progress with music, touring, and remaining plans for this year and beyond!
1. What is your role in The Crüxshadows, and what can you tell us about the history of the band and its members?
Rogue: I guess you would say that I am the person at the center of things. I write the music and the lyrics, I do the programing… all that. I am also the producer as well as the frontman, and of course I should mention I'm the lead singer. I guess I wear a lot of hats in that regard. We started The Cruxshadows as a trio back in the early 90's. I was studying art and music at Florida State University and I wanted to combine the concepts and aesthetic in my visual art with my musical aspirations. I built my own electric violin, put out an advertisement and connected with some others in Tallahassee who were part of the underground scene there. People had never seen an electronic band with an electric violin, and even at that time stage presence was a major part of our production. Our fans seemed to connect with what we were doing and things evolved from there. I wanted to create a project that would have a real impact on peoples lives, that was central. I have a sincere desire to draw in intellectual elements through lyrical reference, emotional connections built on universal human experience, and rhythms and hooks that compel people to… well… dance. It wasn't a fame or glory thing for me, it was a kind of crusade to make something real… I felt like I was driven to do it. I guess I still do. Cruxshadows was a combination of electronic dance music with the more melodic elements of pop and rock. We mixed guitar and electric violin with synthesizers and came up with something that was pretty original… particularly back then. We have come a long way, and over the years I have had a lot of people come into CXS and contribute their time, talents, and energy; that has helped to make us somewhat of an institution within our scene. No matter what, we have somehow managed to remain standing, at least so far so good.
2. Tell me about the motto "Live Love Be Believe" ; What does it mean? Is there a message behind it and the music?
Rogue: Absolutely. It focuses everything into a simple concept. It distills all that we stand for in Cruxshadows into fundamental verbs. Its about how we look at the world and how we reflect on our own lives. Really, itTs a way of seeing things. hink about it- Live, Love, Be, Believe… What each of us sees is certainly different. Its all in the approach, whether desired or achieved, that sentiment is what unites us with our fan base. It incorporates hope, and strength, and courage into a balanced thought that seems to mirror the bands symbol. I can't tell you what it means per se, because in reality, the music means it.
3. Cruxshadows has been making music for over 20 years now, what comes to mind when you reflect on that, and how do you feel about the bands accomplishments?
Rogue: I started Cruxshadows as a way to deal artistically with with the effects of a five tiered dream I had. It was bizarre, one dream each night… five nights in a row. They continued with the five dreams occurring for the next five nights, and then again and again. Each dream repeated in order seven times, making thirty-five nights of dreaming in total. Clear repetitions… the details became something stuck in my head. To my mind, I believed there was something trying to get my attention… Trying to speak to me, or through me… Part of me thinks it was God, part of me thinks it was my subconscious, part of me just doesn't know. But the elements of that dream series gave birth to many of the characters and stories that unfold within our music. Each song in our catalog is a reference that ties into the greater Cruxshadow's Mythos. Twenty years later I am in awe at what those dreams effectively became the impetus for… I have seen things, been places, experienced life in ways that I would never have expected. And although to a lot of people we are still more or less unknown, for many others we have become part of their world in a very real way. I think we have changed the world for the better… at least from my perspective it seems that way.
4. You started as a trio, so how did The Cüxshadows end up as an eight member band?
Rogue: People come and go. A few times I have looked to replace a departing member, and found two talented people I wanted to bring into the project. We're not like a lot of other bands… we kind of follow our own path. Nine out of ten times, its not the easy one. I know what I want for the band, but at the same time I try to find the masterpiece hidden inside the stone so to speak… So I am open minded. I have continued to incorporate talent and personalities I like into the band, and I always have an eye out toward potential members for the future. I love our current line up. Right now Cruxshadows consists of David Wood and JoHanna Moresco both playing electric violin, Mike Perez playing guitar, Jen Jawidzik on keyboards, Jessica Lackey on e-drums, and Stacia Hamilton and Ally Knight as singer dancers… oh, and there's me in there too. That's eight.
5. Where did the band name come from, and what does it mean?
Rogue: It is a word that I created. It literally means "shadow of the cross". Its significance is a reference to the crucifixion of Christ. The people that stood in the shadow of the cross were women, children, a prostitute, a tax collector etc… effectively the outcasts of society… Yet they stood there when the disciples fled in fear. And so Cruxshadows is a reference to the inner circle being those who were essentially the cast outs. I have seen the discarded become the significant… and that's the sentiment that I am after. That no matter who you are, you have value within… Its up to you to show what you can become.
6. Is there a lyrical theme to your music? What message do you want to send?
Rogue: Cruxshadows lyrics are often allegorical, using elements of myth, legend, history, science, religion, my dreams, or even art & literature to tell a unique and personal story. Overcoming adversity, never losing hope, believing in those things that are most worth believing in… that's what we address. Fighting for whats right, compassion, forgiveness, introspection, love, honesty, loyalty, courage… you get the idea. The things that are too difficult to for a lot of people to address openly are encapsulated into a song where they occupy a unique time or place or setting… which allows them to convey their perspective on a variety of different levels. Each song is like a child, sent off into the world. It speaks long after my voice is silent. It is my wish that the things that I say after I cease to speak are the things that deserve saying.
7. What bands have influenced Cruxshadows and its sound?
Rogue: I don't know that any particular bands are a direct influence on CXS, but certainly a lot of new wave music and post punk era acts have contributed elements to what we are. When I think of influences, I more often think of people like Kahlil Gibran, Jean Cocteau, Einstein, E A Poe, or Dimitri Schostakowitsch. But the real influence for Cruxshadows lies in observation. The things that move me also compel me to create. I think that's the way it should be. I guess I try and create what I myself might want to hear.
8. How do you feel about file sharing and websites that allow people to "share" your material?
Rogue: Its a mixed bag. I have a family and I really rely on the sales of Cruxshadows music to support my wife and little girl. But as an artist, I need my music to be consumed. If nobody listens to the music it's meaningless. I do not believe in legally targeting the people who appreciate what you have created. My position is pretty much this- If you can't afford our music go ahead and download it, but when you can afford it, please remember to buy it, especially if it becomes something that is meaningful or important to you.
9. How do you feel about the gothic sub-classifications like darkwave, goth-rock, industrial, EBM, & Synthpop? Where does Cruxshadows fit in? How do you deal with the negative reputation that your genre sometimes has?
Rogue: I don't. We make Cruxshadows music and then the critics and the music historians determine what it all means. Classifications are there to help organize music, and we more or less go along with the more rational attempts to make sense of what we do. But depending on who you talk to we are Goth or Darkwave or Electronica or Goth-pop or Industrial or Cybergoth or EBM or New-Wave or … well, the list goes on and on. The thing is, we are who we are. I can't be too worried about how people want to classify us. As far as I am concerned, we are The Cruxshadows.
10. What is your opinion on the current state of the darkwave, goth, & indudistrial scene as far as the music itself is concerned.
Rogue: Some of its great, some is not so great. Right now the scene is in a state of flux overall. A lot is changing… evolving maybe. Again, I can't worry to much about the things that are out of my control, it will be what it will be. I hope its good… but everything is cyclical. So if its not good, it will be eventually.
11. Do you have any plans to do a double album or an all acoustic album?
Rogue: Not at the present time. But you never know… We did one with Mystery of the Whisper a few years back. We might if I ever get around to releasing the Cruxshadows Collection, but who knows..?
12. It's been a few years since the release of your live DVD Shadowbox, will you be shooting or recording a live album or another new live DVD anytime soon?
Rogue: We have some video footage that we are figuring out what to do with. We may do something as part of a retrospective… There are a lot of possibilities, but nothing I can go into right now. Gotta keep those cards close to the vest.
13. Are you working on any new music?
Rogue: I guess I am always to some extent… but I am still recovering from the latest album. As the Dark Against My Halo was a long time coming and I put a lot of my heart and soul into it. I think it is some of the best work that I have ever done and I am really proud of it. We are focused on moving it to a larger audience, giving it the time it needs to reach its potential. I tend to work in bursts, so I am not in the studio writing now… But I will record ideas every so often and that sometimes leads to new songs later on.
14. You guys have toured a lot over the years, but where haven't The Cüxshadows gone that you would like to?
Rogue: Japan, Australia, Russia, Brazil… Those are the big ones… but pretty much any region we have never been to is one we would be excited about going to… at least the first time.
15. What do you hope to achieve in 2013?
Rogue: I would like to keep moving things forward. We have a lot of pieces going into place behind the scenes that will help to keep Cruxshadows on the right track in the future. The internet and social media are key to the music world, and so thats a focus. But it continues to change. Its scary and exciting at the same time. I want to be able to continue to make a difference doing something that I love. In the end though, making music has to be the main focus.
16. What made you decide to form a band in the first place?
Rogue: Its just something that I have been doing my whole life. I would start a band, and then when it broke up I would start another one. I think my first band was in the third grade. It becomes part of who you are… second nature. I can't really remember ever not having a band.
17. What would you like a listener to remember most, when hearing your music for the first time?
Rogue: I'm not sure how to answer that. I guess what I want is for people to connect with it. Music is one of the most powerful things within the human experience. We express our happiness and our sadness, we attach it to our memories. Our favorite songs often become part of the soundtrack to our lives. It unifies people, and tears others apart. There is something that is almost primal that speaks to us through music, and it sculpts the way we view the world. I write songs that I believe in, and the message within them is one that focuses on the empowerment of the listener. But if I have to answer the question, and you asked what would I like people to remember… There's too much, so then we come full circle with my answer. Live Love Be Believe.
18. Any final thoughts?
Rogue: I would like to invite people to check out our website. We have a brand new online merch store… And I would love to ask your readers to take a couple minutes to check out our new album As the Dark Against My Halo; Its available in iTunes and Amazon, as well as most of the places people typically get music. Its not for everyone of course, but given the chance it seems to resonate with a lot of people. I would like to ask our fans to help spread CXS… Word of mouth is the best asset a band can have. Thank you for the interview… I appreciate it.