Last September a crowd gathered at Brooklyn Bazaar to catch a friend’s new musical undertaking.
The band did not release much detail beyond that so confusion and excitement spiraled as we tried to guess what on earth this particularly eclectic and talented group had in store. Whatever it was, a large crowd had drawn under the mutual understanding that this was not to be missed.
New York native, Julian Banger was brainstorming ideas for a solo project with musicians, Eric Nizgretsky (guitar) and Adam Holtzberg (drums) of Loose Buttons, as well as bassist, Lenny Vigden when CREWS unintentionally came into fruition.
“I got the boys together to think of ideas, naturally, we got distracted and CREWS was born,” explains Banger. “I don’t think we’ve done anything on purpose.”
When the lights at the Bazaar finally fell, there was a loud CRASHHHH and so began one of the most energetic live performances I have experienced to date. Excitement blasted from the stage to the crowd where a smiley yet volatile mosh pit had formed. If you listen beneath the layers of fuzz, highly complex chords were strummed in the likes of classic rock and western greats. Banger ties it all together with bellowing baritone vocals and front man attitude like you’ve never seen before.
The band cranked through an hour long set, weaving through original tracks like COACOWMB, and covers from traditional to contemporary. Each song seemed to involve the audience in one way or another. I remember leaving the show thinking that this was one of the reasons that I moved to New York. To experience raw, unabashed talent, turned all the way up!
CREWS has since performed three shows between Brooklyn and Manhattan, planning a fourth on September 16 on the highline cruise – a Booze CREWS. Each experience is completely different from the last, packed with new songs and surprise theatrics. In the past, their performance has been sandwiched between DJ sets, making it a proper party for any taste.
“Tell your CREW to bring their CREW,” says the band!
But first, get to know the NYC rockers re-energizing the underground scene.
What is CREWS? When and how did the project come to be?
The word “cruise” has always been in my vocabulary. As in, “cruise to the party” etc. Eric and I were playing around with the idea of making music and one day “cruise” developed into CREWS. Tell your CREW to cruise.
If you had to classify CREWS as a particular genre, what would it be?
What excites me most about CREWS is the underground realness that can be so hard to find these days, even in remote corners of Manhattan’s neighboring boroughs… Would you agree that the music industry has lost an element of danger? Does CREWS in any way aim to challenge the conventional?
I think rent just got too expensive for anyone to be dangerous. No one is willing to take the risks. Everyone got soft. CREWS isn’t making a valiant effort to challenge anything, but we are trying to bring some rock n roll back to Manhattan. Everything is kind of stuck in Brooklyn but the real history is in Manhattan.
As a band, where have you drawn inspiration, musically or otherwise?
We just see things and go for it. Inspiration comes from everywhere. I think inspiration for us mostly comes from attitude.
Who is writing the original songs and how do you select covers? Especially genre-bending tracks like a punked-out Shimmy Shimmy Ya. What gave you the idea to take hip hop and turn in punk? Can you briefly describe this process?
Eric and I used to live with each other. He’d present an idea with a riff, we’d take it to the studio, spit ball it around, and suddenly a CREWS song. In terms of covers, we like the idea of doing a different thing every time. Depends on the space really.
Do you have any plans to record or is CREWS all about the live experience?
We’ve been recording, but we sort of like focusing on a live experience. Recordings can sound great, but they’re not always entertaining live. Seeing a great live band can totally change the way I listen to a band/song. For the most part we’ve really been throwing our own events and as a result, we’ve asked our homies to play. Naturally, we call our DJ friends and ask them to throw down.
As a native New Yorker and music lover I know you have been to some good shows. What’s the best live music experience you’ve had here and why?
I wouldn’t be able to put my finger on one live music experience, but some of the best experiences I’ve had were in unconventional places. I think the element of surprise is really important when it comes down to a live show. I feel like bands are really lacking in that department.
What is the Julian Banger secret to confidence and rocking frontman BDE?
Not giving a fuck I guess. I’ve got a lot of energy and with CREWS, I have an outlet to just be myself on stage.
What would you say to those who claim that punk is dead?
That punk probably is dead. I think there’s a difference between punk and punk. Punk was a description of a group of people in a time. Punk is also a genre of music. I think people care too much about labels and definition. We’re just doing what we love. Join us!
Finally, describe CREWS in one word:
Stay tuned for more – and don’t forget to share this with your CREWS!