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The hallmark of a good album, is one that can be dined upon for more than 18 months.
Crashcarburn’s previous offering, This City Needs a Hero, was one of those albums. Their big hit single Serenade saw them play festivals and clubs nationwide and even took them as far as Singapore.
When dinner eventually ran out, the four-piece,who formed in 2006, decided to go back into the studio. They released Long Live Tonight in 2010 which earned them two Sama nominations. It was back to the studio again before they released Gravity in December last year.
“We are notoriously bad for taking forever,” admits lead singer, Garth Barnes. In the meantime, he quit his day job as an accountant to focus on the band. He and guitarist Fabian Sing have also formed a music production house.
Barnes’s brother, and drummer for the band, Bugsy, has taken up a successful career on film sets. This has been an advantage for the band as they now have a live-in music video director.
Currently Bugsy is on set in Panama where they are filming a horror movie. He is due back soon and the band, with their bassist Etienne van Rensburg, will start touring the album.
In the meantime fans and media are listening to Gravity.
The album was produced by top South African alternative rock producer, Darryl Torr.
“Darryl works with different genres and we wanted to do some-thing different,” explains Barnes. “We wanted to work with someone who had that indie feel. The album is still distinctly Crashcarburn, but there is also something different.”
The first single, The Light, has enjoyed success on commercial radio.
“We’re getting a bit older now,” says Barnes of the song. “This song is about reaching that realisation that I cannot do it for another 30 years. When I reached that decision, it was such a clear decision.”
Lyrically, Barnes is one of those talents whose words, as personal and honest as they are to himself, are able to transcend to a universal appeal.
This is clearly evident in all the tracks, in particular Get Up and Fly.
It is the track about Kerran Yates, the band’s replacement drummer for when Bugsy was unavailable. Gravity is dedicated to the young man who died after an illness.
“This is the song I’m most proud of. It’s a latecomer to the album. I wrote it in two minutes. We had already finished the album so we recorded it in Sing’s bedroom.”
The song begins with the acoustic guitar and Barnes singing with much emotion and respect. The lyrics are sad, honest. He sends a wish, saying: “I hope you can hear us sing. As the song progresses it introduces the keyboard, then strings, and climaxes with military drums and a superb send-off.
The band’s overall sound is anthemic MOR (middle-of-the-road) rock pop. They have chosen big choruses, big production and a sound that could go stadium.
“The album is bi-polar,” says Barnes. “There are ballads like Aeroplane to Monsters and Angels which is metal.”
Monsters and Angels is the heaviest track on the album, and also one of Sing’s favourites. As Bugsy was working on a horror movie we thought it’d be great to write a song as a soundtrack.”
The song has a belting metal riff, Metallica-style. It is fantastically kitsch, yet the chorus goes back to the safety of Crashcarburn style.
Light Up the Night also has big, anthemic production which, Sing says, he enjoys playing live.
“I took inspiration for the guitar from Toto and aKing. I love what aKing’s Laudo Liebenberg does with his guitar.”
But the big hit for Crashcarburn could possibly be Heartbeat Racing featuring Chiano Sky.
“We always wanted to do a track with a female singer and Darryl suggested Chiano who is also on our label, EMI,” said Barnes.
“We were jamming the song acoustically and she was humming along. We thought twice about it. But behind the mic she is magical.”
The song is their second single. Its video, directed by Bugsy, is a romantic narrative about love lost because of that reckless teenage desire to live on the edge. It stars Barnes, Chiano and her hair as two love-struck teenagers.
Crashcarburn plan to go as big with this album, as with their others.
Their tour begins soon after Bugsy’s return. Meanwhile, fans can buy the album on iTunes.