Vancouver’s most exciting duo A tribute to the future and a love letter to the past, Crash World. The talented and inseparable Glen MacLeod and Graham MacDonald create a musical tapestry using two voices and six strings. Their distinctive sound combines a cool contemporary flair with the poetic whimsy of the 1960s and the seductive boldness of the 1970s. Music enthusiasts who enjoy nostalgia will enjoy Crash World. The band was founded on a passion for songwriting with tattered beauty and simple melody.
The 15-song first album from Crash World is titled “So The Story Goes.” It displays the various musical genres that Crash World is known for in a live setting. “As a duo, we had the opportunity to collaborate with some of Vancouver’s top musicians and producers to fully and opulently express Crash World’s music. According to Crash World, we have let a variety of genres and performers inspire and grow throughout the record.
It follows the stylistic path of a Crash World live performance. It includes a number of venerable covers chosen from a sizable repertory. “We are excited to share the record with the public at long last.”
From the pop sensibilities of “Radio” to the alt-country/folk-rock hybrid “Lucky One” to the reflections on mental illness and ultimate triumph of “Tail Lights Fade” to the “contemplative journey through Peter Gabriel’s classic, “Solsbury Hill” to the sexy jazz leanings of “Before & After” and “Third Time’s The Charm” to the start of a family healing in “Black Swan” to music enthusiasts should check this out!
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you all come from and how it all got started?
Glen macleod OF CRASH WORLD: We are both of Scottish descent but with very different early backgrounds. However, at some point we both landed in Vancouver, BC, Canada and our musical paths seemed destined to cross. We’ve been playing in bands since our teens and traversed many styles through the years. Punk, new wave, rock, metal, alternative rock and industrial.
Ironically the band Graham and I previously played in, had its early roots firmly in an industrial ethic and style. It was rather deconstructionist. That was Warjunk, which ended in 2011 after three albums and an EP.
It was after the demise of Warjunk that I took three years to study jazz and focus on acoustic guitar. Graham and I saw each other at a Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds show and he agreed to get together to hear me out on an idea I had for a new project. The opening act for those Nick Cave shows was Mark Lanegan performing with only Jeff Fielder on guitar for accompaniment. It was very inspiring to see something so raw and open, with nowhere to hide…there was no net of a band or amplification to hide behind. Performing acoustically leaves you very exposed both emotionally and musically. I found, and still find this very appealing. So yeah, a new kind of musical challenge was formulating in my mind at that time.
2. Did you guys have any formal training or are you self-taught?
GLEN MACLEOD OF CRASH WORLD: When I was young I took some lessons. I wanted to learn Beatles songs but the books I had were for piano which made learning those songs on guitar seem like quantum physics.
On the plus side, this did lead me into learning by ear. This was a most valuable skill to develop and it really further bonded me to music. It really creates a relationship with music when you’re alone and learning a song you love, especially at an early age. Those experiences can really take hold for life. And that’s what they did for me.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘CRASH WORLD’?
Glen MACLEOD OF CRASH WORLD: For myself, I feel that Crash World is a way of giving back to music all it’s given me. So, at the heart of it I look and draw upon my earliest influences in my songwriting for Crash World. Great songwriters that really stirred something in me. Ian Hunter, Ray Davies, David Bowie, Philip Lynott, Bob Dylan, Kate Bush. No matter the recordings or arrangements, with those artists you could narrow the songs down to the essence of what they were, beautiful songs from the imagination and the heart.
The name Crash World is a way of describing our relationship to music styles and genres. For Crash World there are no limitations on bringing together elements from all around the musical spectrum. We are influenced by such a variety of styles from different eras and traditions and all of this has contributed to the creation of our own unique musical world and sound. It’s just become what Crash World is. A very natural musical evolution for us.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
Glen MACLEOD OF CRASH WORLD: Our sound is the sound of the lives we’ve lived and the influences that have contributed to our growth as people and musicians. The ability to reflect on life and the music you love changes over time. I think our influences and our clarity about what Crash World is has become clear quite naturally. Because we draw on such a wide sphere of influences, we are comfortable in a broad variety of sounds and styles which all go into the Crash World gumbo to create our own unique sound. Yes, we do draw on classic elements such as string and horn arrangements which go back to the 60’s and 70’s of course, but they are given a fresh perspective within our songs. Lyrically we strive to provide relatable reflections on life. We are looking to strike an emotional chord in the listener, and hopefully provide the opportunity for their own personal attachment to the lyrics and vibe of the songs. As we say to our audiences, “Take the songs and make ‘em your own”.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Glen MACLEOD OF CRASH WORLD:
For me music is a sacred place that can offer some reprieve from the hard realities of modern life. Music is just so amazing and special. There is no other medium like it. And nothing else can be experienced and appreciated in the same way. It is utterly unique. So, I look at it as an opportunity for a personal experience, not necessarily something to gather political or social viewpoints from.
However, some artists do that very well, but it can lead to polarizing opinions from the public. I was just discussing Roger Waters as a matter of fact. An album I love is Pink Floyd “Animals” which is perhaps the last album where Roger’s social commentary was somewhat ambiguous and open to interpretation. Satire not unlike Orwell. From “The Wall” onward much of his writing is more on the nose regarding subject matter and viewpoint. Sometimes that tighter focus on a theme doesn’t age as well. Having said that, he is a wonderful writer and continues to be a polarizing figure in society and one that is widely discussed. That in itself is well worth noting. And if a writer’s job is to make people think, he is in the upper echelon.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
Glen MACLEOD OF CRASH WORLD:
I can’t say I “expect” anything from music other than what it already gives me. The joy of creativity and being part of creating something that did not exist before you made it. It is a truly beautiful experience on so many levels. To be able to receive and be the conduit for a great song is a profound thing. Music is something I “get to do” not something that places demands on me that I didn’t accept a long time ago.
I want to share our songs with people. I want them to hear them and hopefully take them into their hearts, lives and ears. “So The Story Goes” is a beautiful record and I want people to have the opportunity to hear it.
Beyond that, success allows me to carry on and keep creating at a high level, this in turn allows me to do right by the songs I write when it comes time to record them and send them out in the world.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
Glen MACLEOD OF CRASH WORLD:
Songs come in many ways. Sometimes I just open myself up to the process and it begins. Like a receiver or antenna. Other times they come when you least expect it. For instance, we just recorded the basic tracks for a new song yesterday. This song came in a flash one morning when my wife was at the computer when I came down in the morning. So, I took my coffee and sat somewhere different to wait. Boom, out came a song fully formed in my mind. I knew it was special instantly. So, if I had sat in my usual spot, I likely would not have got that one. It would have gone to my neighbor or someone else. Ha ha.
Songs can also start with a melody idea or a phrase. It can be a book or a film. The trick might be knowing which ideas are not worth pursuing. That skill develops over time and can’t be dismissed or shrugged off as trivial. Time is valuable and knowing when to walk away from an idea can be a good thing.
Learning what kind of a writer you are also comes in time. It’s all part of knowing yourself which helps in many aspects of life.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
Glen MACLEOD OF CRASH WORLD: Well as any musician will tell you, rejection and self-doubt are the air we breathe. Through the years all musicians will face very challenging moments. But this does build character and resiliency if you stick with it. So fellow artist, don’t let ‘em tell you “You can’t…”, “You’ll never…”, “You need to…” etc. Stay strong and keep developing your craft and skills. And along the road you will develop a very thick skin!
And as for us, Crash World has been received very favorably and “So The Story Goes” has had a wonderful reception with some very glowing reviews. So maybe it’s a case of stick with anything long enough … ha ha.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
Glen MACLEOD OF CRASH WORLD: Well, I’ll keep it in the present and say that the whole journey of Crash World has been a pleasure. And “So The Story Goes” has been an enormously satisfying project. The musicians and producers we worked with and everyone that contributed to it were first rate. The whole experience has been poignant and beautiful. It all comes back to the music and creativity. There is nothing like it. So, we hope you all will take “So The Story Goes” into your musical hearts and make it you own.
This one’s for you Music Lovers!
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Photo credits: Shimon Karmel