by Marissa Ann
– Photojournalist —
Rock band Crowd The Airwaves held their EP album release at Mercury Lounge in New York City Sunday, March 22, 2015 and also celebrating their one year anniversary as a band. As one of the very few all female Rock bands in the NYC Hard Rock and Heavy Metal scene, Crowd The Airwaves have garnered much attention and support from fellow rock musicians and friends in the metropolitan area.
Crowd The Airwaves’ Heather Lee Marvin on Vocals/Bass, Christina Elliot on Guitar/Vocals, and Lindsay Dragan on Drums/Vocals hit music venue stages with a youthful energy and presence that announces to their audiences who they are and what to expect from their continued evolution as a band. Crowd The Airwaves show goers are not to be fooled by the trio’s sweet appearance, as the ladies of CTA disregard their language filters on stage. Crowd The Airwaves revive The Runaways and Janis Joplin music era, with influences from Paramore, Foo Fighters, and Anberlin.
The newly released EP began its production in September of 2014 and was completed just before the new year. The Crowd The Airwaves EP delivers music and lyrics that encourage independence, perseverance, and defiance. The new EP is a compilation of four songs titled “Devil May Care,” “Blood,” “Lay Down, Stay Down” and the popular heavy hitter “Burn.” Christina, Heather, and Lindsay took the time to elaborate on their new music and what they hope fans will be inspired by through their music.
Hardrock Haven: When was Crowd The Airwaves founded?
Heather: Crowd the Airwaves formed August 6th, 2013 after I called together our former bandmate Becca Fiore and our guitarist/vocalist Christina, to meet me in an empty Aaron Copland School of Music practice room to jam. It all started while I was in the middle of pursuing a career in classical music. While I had been training to be an opera singer for ten years, I had grown really disillusioned with the concept. I constantly felt like I was being forced into a box when it came to the matter of self-expression, so I got it in my head to start a rock band. I had been in one unsuccessful project before, but really craved for the chance to write my own music again and to connect with the genre that got me into music in the first place.
Christina: Heather propositioned to me that she wanted to form a band and could easily see me as a rhythm guitarist. At the time I had 11 years of experience as a violist behind me, but little to no experience as a guitarist. Being a singer and guitarist in a band had always been a pipe dream for me so I jumped at the opportunity to learn.
Lindsay: I wasn’t in the picture until November 2013, when they fired their original drummer. Been with them since!
Hardrock Haven: What is the concept behind the music and lyrics of the new Crowd The Airwaves EP and the message you hope to deliver to fans?
Christina: When we first moved to record and produce our EP, we took our material and narrowed it down to the four best songs that would best represent our image, from our sound and style of music to our songwriting style. What we wound up with, was sort of this range of emotions from hard and dark, to soft and flowing but with a “bite.” and a great Garage/Alternative Rock sound. With concepts ranging from forbidden lust, the pain of watching others’ complacency in life and getting plain ol’ fucked up, I suppose our collective message is: “This is who we are! And we think you’re gonna really like it!””
Lindsay: “Rising above your problems, autonomy, the like. I brought “Blood” and “Lay Down Stay Down” to the band, so I can talk more thoroughly about them. “Blood,” in essence, is about frustration with the general public about being too emotionally-driven to truly look at an issue in context. “Lay Down Stay Down” is about the control that we all ultimately have over our lives. We all start at different starting points, but what we decide to do with our situations is strictly up to us. That makes a lot of people really uncomfortable, including myself at times.
Heather: I think there is also definitely a theme of defiance in this first EP. Defying feelings, defying what some people deem as “fate” or “truth”, and to defy the idea of living safely. I brought “Burn” to the band after going through a rough patch with my boyfriend where I developed feelings for someone who I should not have. It’s about taking control of something people often feel is out of their control: emotions. Just because doing the right thing is hard, that doesn’t make it impossible.
Hardrock Haven: With the EP launched, what can fans expect from Crowd The Airwaves in the near future (future show or tour dates, writing for a second EP or LP)?
Christina: We’ve actually started embarking on a couple of things now that the EP has been released! Bragging time: We have officially released our first line of merchandise, designed by yours truly. We have posters, patches, buttons, CDs and download cards for sale for the very first time, which is really exciting. In terms of our shows, we are currently filling up our calendar for shows in the NYC area. We will finally be extending our reach to Long Island, and being the token Long Islander in the band I can’t wait for that!
Heather: We definitely want to start reaching out to our sister states (I’m looking at you Tri-State area). We also have a backlog of music that we are working on; Lindsay has two new songs, I wrote three more, and Christina’s also working on two new pieces. In other words, we’re very busy (laughs)!
Lindsay: Our next show is at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn on April 24. Our friends Samantha asked us to hop on the bill and help them launch their new album, “Hourglass Noise.” We hope to do a short tour this summer, and start playing more shows outside of the boroughs. We’re constantly writing, so there will likely be a second EP within the next 12-15 months.
Hardrock Haven: Where was the EP recorded and what equipment was used to produce the EP?
Lindsay: We recorded the EP in a couple of locations. Most of the tracking was done in Jino Arielly’s home studio in Brooklyn. We tracked drums in our old rehearsal space in downtown Brooklyn. I’m fairly certain Jino has ProTools, so that was the recording platform. As for gear, the kit I used was crap, but he was able to polish a lot in the studio. I did get to use my own snare and cymbals though. I have a Tama Starclassic bubinga 14″x7″ snare, and I use Zildjian cymbals: a K Custom Dark 18″ crash, an A 18″ Rock Crash, an A 20″ ride (it has a really nice shimmery sound), and at the time I had 13″ K/Z combo cymbals, but now I use 15″ New Beats from the late 70s. Sorry, I just totally nerded out!
Christina: The EP was recorded by Jino Arielly, a fantastic bassist from the band Natural Stranger and an equally fantastic producer. He actually has a really great setup in his own home office. Full soundboard, keyboard, mic setup and software; unfortunately I am not the most gadget-savvy person so there’s a lot I’m leaving out in terms of models, but it was pretty much as awesome as I expected to be with the comfort of being in a home environment with our own gear. It was a really great experience, and Jino helped us immensely with his own knowledge and suggestions that we have carried within our music even to this day!
Heather: The EP was also mastered by Maor Applebaum, who happens to be a good friend of Jino’s! To him we give our thanks for the beautiful polishing of our sound. I’m definitely not as well versed in equipment as Lindsay, or even Christina, because until the band I had never played an instrument beyond minimal keyboard and the recorder. Under the tutelage of the band and my dear friend, Kunal Singh, I’m slowly wrapping my head around it all.
Hardrock Haven: What keeps Crowd The Airwaves centered on stage to perform a great show?
Lindsay: We practice, and push ourselves at practice. We’ll chunk the songs down as far as the individual phrase, and we make sure everything is tight and deliberate. We also rehearse little minutiae, like certain things we want to address with the audience, how we interact, everything. That said, it’s not too tightly rehearsed that we can’t be spontaneous, but a lot of it is.
Heather: We also make sure to push each other a lot. I never believed in pulling punches in music because you got to fall down a lot before you get it right. I would not have been able to play bass well enough in three months for three gigs if I hadn’t gotten my ass kicked during band practice. People don’t realize the kind of work it takes in to get good at any musical instrument. It’s not always as easy as it looks. We don’t believe in perfection, but we believe in giving people what they came for and nothing less: a damn good show.
Christina: We all have a common love for music and performing, so we have a great time on stage. We make sure to limit our fuckups to our weekly practices, and our last practice before any show usually involves a full dress rehearsal-style run through of all of our material in the order we decide to play it in. This reduces any apprehension or unexpected surprises on stage the day of. Our best show yet was at the Mercury Lounge for our EP release party, and I believe a lot of it has to do with the connection we had with our audience– and our audience was INSANE. People singing and dancing along with the music while people are jumping off couches into mosh pits. The energy was way up and there was a clear exchange going on between us and the crowd. That’s a guaranteed good time for any performer!
Hardrock Haven: Is there any pressure as a band in the NYC Hard Rock and Heavy Metal scene where the majority of musicians are male?
Heather: You know, I hadn’t necessarily intended us to be all girls, although I certainly entertained the concept. Things just sort of worked out this way. On top of that, I truly believe in the ideal that music should bring people together. I don’t look at gender. However, not everyone in the scene shares that stance due to preconceived notions about female rockers. I think the most disrespectful thing I encountered so far was at one of our shows. Two men were standing right in front of the stage as we were setting up our equipment to go on and thought it would be funny to make the jab, “Hey look, man! The princesses are going on!” It’s funny because they were both singing a totally different tune when we got off stage. Goes to show that you can silence any negativity by simply being awesome at whatever you decide to do, regardless of what gender you are. As Christina later said to those gentlemen, “It ain’t got nothing to do with us being girls.”
Lindsay: In some ways, yes. Trust me, there are plenty of people out there that think it’s totally wild that girls can play as well as we do. Me, I’ve never really understood the rhetoric behind the idea of what’s between my legs is a direct function of my ability to play an instrument. We’ve definitely gotten guff from people in the scene, but in terms of who we have formed solid professional relationships with, those guys have never looked at us that way – they’ve simply looked at us as peers, which is great. It gives me hope that there ARE people out there that will truly let the music speak for itself. So to answer your question, yes, there is, but I’ve dealt with this for my whole career and I’m at a point where it rarely gets to me anymore.
Christina: We try to not let it get to us. It’s uncommon but there have been some off-color remarks, sometimes a weird amount of focus on our gender. I definitely get questions like, “Oh, so you’re an all-girl band?” Sure we are, but that isn’t what we label ourselves as. I don’t even mention it in conversation right away. There is definitely a preconceived notion, a negative stigma attached to all-female bands whether we like it or not. I mean, think of the type of band you’d expect when you hear the term “boy band.” It’s narrow, and we’re not that narrow. We really just want people to focus on the music. As for the gender difference? We still like being women! For me It’s a lot of fun for me to embrace my femininity, my woman-ness (hear me roar) in my presence in CTA. It’s something I’m proud of. We have also connected with a good number of all-girl bands and great female musicians, so we’re in pretty good company. The male majority isn’t something we get all that upset over. It might suck, but it’s just incentive for us to rock even harder so people actually take us seriously as both women and human beings, and that’s gone pretty well so far!
Hardrock Haven: What else should our readers know about Crowd The Airwaves?
Heather: We love interacting with our fans and even have some projects underway to bring that connection to the next level. That being said, please check out our social media here! To buy the digital version of the EP, visit our bandcamp at http://crowdtheairwaves.bandcamp.com/album/devil-may-care!.
Christina: We also have a confession to make. Every single one of us has the ability to shapeshift into a unicorn. We may or may not do it on stage for real some time.
Lindsay: I can shoot lightning out of my eyes. Just look at our album cover. Beware!
Visit the band online: www.facebook.com/CrowdtheAirwaves