Published Sep 23, 2011The image of our nation's well-coiffed capital isn't one that you'd expect to spit out a record as harsh and pointed as Crusades' debut full-length The Sun Is Down and the Night Is Riding In, but in true art-as-reaction fashion, singer/guitarist Dave Williams says it's exactly where the band's anti-religion angle comes from.
"The city itself, with its older, conservative, white-upper-middle-class majority, archaic outskirts, and predominance of Catholic schools and churches has had an immeasurable impact on at least my own lyrical and musical motivations," he tells Exclaim! "But historically, it's typically these conditions that give birth to the best punk rock scenes, and to any restless, 'rebellious' music, for that matter."
Ottawa is certainly proof of that, at least for Williams and his Crusades bandmates: vocalist/guitarist Emmanuel Sayer, vocalist/bassist Skottie Lobotomy and drummer Jordan Bell. The four of them alone help make up some one of the most vital chunks of the current or recent Ottawa punk scene (Year Zero, Steve Adamyk Band, the Creeps, etc.).
Together, they're an outfit unified in ideals but diverse in taste, and The Sun Is Down is a shining example of just how well the four of them gel. Overall darker in theme than sound, this "spiritual voyage" drips with deft hooks ("Accomplice"), boundless pop punk energy ("Driven"), a touch of metal ("Remedy") and even some gloomy acoustics ("Serpentine") to create a skilled package that's urgent, and deeply engaging.
"Songwriting is entirely shared, and I think the collaborative nature is what makes it interesting," says Williams, going on to point out some of the members' key influences.
"Emmanuel and I were very much involved in the '90s and early 2000s DIY hardcore scene. Our playing styles, our melodic sense, our politics, all of these were heavily influenced by the music and lifestyle of that era. Skottie and Jordan, on the other hand, both came up through the Lookout Records heyday pop punk scene, and are also both very influenced by the melancholy '80s pop sounds of the Cure, the Smiths, etc. Essentially, one side brings the dark, metal-tinged portion, and the other brings the moody, anthemic hooks."
Crusades recently returned from a handful of shows in the U.S., and though they're not even through playing release shows for The Sun Is Down yet, there's another album planned -- but not for a while yet, Williams says.
"With my first kid on the way, Emmanuel's new career as the program director at the University of Ottawa's CHUO, Jordan's first home and upcoming wedding, and Skottie recording a new LP with the Visitors, the tour won't be until fall 2012, and I imagine the next LP will see the light of day around that time as well."
For now, you can pick up The Sun Is Down and the Night Is Riding In on It's Alive Records. You can also stream the entire record below via Bandcamp.
To read more of Exclaim!'s Crusades interview, head here.