It’s safe to say that 36 Crazyfists have been around the block a few times. Forming in 1994, the twenty-three years since their initial inception has seen the Alaskan-born quartet ride the ever-shifting waves of the metal scene, always adapting to stay above the tide, delving into the realms of metalcore, nu and alternative, to name a few. It hasn’t been an easy ride for the band. Since their formation, they have had to deal with their fair share of hardship. In their first years, they had to deal with the tragic loss of bassist JD Stuart in a car crash, and since then things haven’t let up too much. They have dealt with label issues, financial hardship, line-up changes and no real shortage of personal issues. The latter of which is very much evident in their upcoming album, Lanterns.
“I was trying to find a light. I was trying to get the tools to get myself out of what I was and am going through.”
“The reason the album is called Lanterns is because I was trying to find a light,” explains frontman Brock Lindow. “I was trying to get the tools to get myself out of what I was and am going through.”
It’s been a very turbulent time, for Lindow especially. “Lanterns is such a personal record. They all are really to some extent, but this one for me personally. I was going through quite a few things in my life, trying to figure out how to move forward.”
“Within the time-frame of writing, I ended up going back to my old family job of commercial fishing for the salmon season in Alaska, which I haven’t done in seventeen years because of the band. In that month, I probably wrote about three quarters of the record while I was out there, and it helped me realise things about life. No, life isn’t fair, and it’s challenging, but I could look back on my life and count my blessings. I had to move forward. We’ve lost some amazing talent in Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington this year. I hope Lanterns can help people see that with depression and mental illness they need to turn to someone, they can’t just bottle it up.”
It’s a difficult topic to discuss, but doing so helped Lindow get out of his rut and begin moving forward again. “It was a tremendous turning point for me. I was stuck for a long time. I’d been writing lyrics but they were mostly just ramblings. When I got on the boat, I just had this breath-taking office to go to every day, it solidified what I’m doing with my life and where I need to be.”
“I hope Lanterns can help people see that they need to turn to someone, they can’t just bottle it up.”
Nowhere is this more obvious than the album’s midpoint. While the rest of the record is pure, brutal metal, the middle track ‘Where Revenge Ends’ is raw in a different way. “It’s probably the most personal song on the record,” Lindow admits. “It’s an acoustic track, which we’ve done a few of before, but it’s placing at the middle of the record is very intentional. It signifies a turning point, things have been dwelled upon for too long in my life, and I need to let that go. That’s where the title of the song comes from.”
Anyone worrying that this kind of sensitivity and emotion would detract from the heaviness of the record, and mess with the sound that 36 Crazyfists are known for, need only listen to the debut single for Lanterns, ‘Death Eater’, which is one of the heaviest, darkest tracks the band have put out, and a slight nod to everyone’s favourite book series about a certain wizard.
Bring it up to Brock and he laughs heartily. “There’s a funny story about that. First of all, not only was I not sure about it as a single, but it almost didn’t make the album. It was the last song we recorded and nearly didn’t make the cut, but the label said they liked it and thought it should be lead single. I’m glad they did because the reception was great!
“As for the name, that was my daughter,” he says, laughing again. “I originally had a title called ‘Death Stares’. I hadn’t really watched the Harry Potter movies properly, but my eight-year-old daughter loves them. She saw me writing it and said ‘Dad, you should call that Death Eater!’ so I change the title for her. I take it to the studio and the guys are like ‘You know that’s a Harry Potter thing, right?’ so I change it back. My daughter absolutely freaks out, saying ‘It has to be Death Eater!’ and I’m like ‘Shit, I guess that’s what I’ve gotta call it, I can’t let her down.’”
Lanterns is perhaps their most refined album to date, which Lindow attributes to the many years him and guitarist Steve Holt have been writing together. “I think Holt was going through his own depressions, but beyond that we’re two old men who call each other every morning to chat about the weather and shit. He almost telepathically knew perfectly how to write for my sombre mood.”
Once the record is out, they plan some extensive touring, including here in the UK. “The plan was to come to Europe in October, but we had to push it back. I’ve no concrete dates but it’s almost guaranteed we’ll be there in January and February. The UK is one of our favourite places to be!”
Lanterns will be out on the 27th September via Spinefarm Records. You can listen to the two singles released so far, ‘Death Eater’ and ‘Better To Burn’ here:
WORDS: JOSHUA SOUTHERN
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