36 Crazyfists celebrates 10th anniversary of major-label debut

Matt Sullivan

Brock Lindow, frontman for 36 Crazyfists, doesn't think the record deal his band got a decade ago would have ever happened if the local metalheads were just now getting their start.

"I feel bad for bands starting out now," he said over the phone, explaining the time when 36 Crazyfists was a "baby band," which is how he described groups teetering on the brink of a record deal.

"Labels can't take the risks they used to be able to," he said. "Not to be sticking up for labels."

Part of that is the music industry's upheaval in the 10 subsequent years of the digital age that passed since the 36 inked its deal.

"Financially, this is not a great business to be in," Lindow confirmed.

After 36 Crazyfists self-financed two EPs and one full-length and relocated to Portland, Ore., the band signed to Roadrunner Records and released its major-label debut in 2002, "Bitterness the Star."

"Bitterness" is the beginning of the Crazyfists catalog for most fans, though. Lindow seemed fine with that when he talked about "In the Skin," the band's previous album: "It's a hard one to find, thank God."

But Lindow said the biggest difference between "Skin" and "Bitterness" was a result of the bigger budget that came with major label backing -- $250,000 for "Bitterness," $300,000 for the follow-up album, "A Snow Capped Romance." Again, new bands shouldn't expect that kind of funding anymore, Lindow said.

The band was slow to embrace its major-label debut, too. Half the songs were old, written about five years prior. Save for two or three songs, the band hasn't played any of the record in concert in about nine years.

That will change on the Defend Alaska tour, when 36 Crazyfists marks the 10th anniversary of its major-label debut by playing "Bitterness the Star" in its entirety.

For years the band shrugged off requests to play songs from the album. "We wouldn't do it," Lindow said. "We were so removed from that record."

Now the band is rediscovering its own songs. "I didn't own the record, so I had to buy it on iTunes," the singer said.

Defend Alaska kicks off at Koot's Friday, but the tour's namesake comes from the band's outdoors gig at Alyeska.

All proceeds from that show will benefit Alaska's Healing Hearts, which provides outdoor programs for wounded soldiers, and the Lone Survivor Foundation, which offers therapeutic opportunities for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Later this year the band will play a few dates in the Lower 48, head to Australia and eventually land in Europe, where they will also play "Bitterness" all the way through. The group's new lineup -- Kyle Baltus replaced original drummer Thomas Noonan and Mick Whitney returned as bass player, joining Lindow and guitarist Steve Holt -- also plans to have a new album out sometime next year, though they don't know what label will release it.

The band's last album, "Collisions and Castaways," was released on the independent label Ferret Music, but Lindow wasn't sure how the next album will be handled.

He mulled over the idea of the band releasing the record completely on its own, just a garage full of CDs and a bunch of trips to the post office, but he conceded the need for distribution.

"There's still a decent way to make a living doing this," he said. "We just have to find the model."

36 Crazyfists

Friday: 9 p.m., Koot's, $25 advance, $30 door (21 and older)

Saturday: 4 p.m., Alyeska Resort, $30 advance, $35 door. Benefits Alaska's Healing Hearts and Lone Survivor Foundation.


By Matt Sullivan
Anchorage Daily News