Those Crosstown Rivals are a high-energy, high-emotion, straight-up ballsy band out of one of my favorite towns, Lexington, KY. I was stoked for a chance to talk to Bryan Minks about the making of their new album, Hell and Back (on pre-order now), and what it means to them to share their music with fans and friends. Be sure to check back tomorrow, too, for a Ninebullets review.
It was painful. The lyrics were written by my wife, Erica, and I during a year where I feel like we’d literally been drug to hell and managed to crawl back out. Erica was suffering from unbearable pain due to a rare neurological condition. She’d spent weeks in the hospital, been through three brain surgeries, and too many nights in the ER. We really didn’t know what tomorrow held, and it felt like there was no light waiting at the end of the tunnel. So we just started putting those feelings into the songs. The first four tracks of the record really deal with the feelings felt during these dark times (hell) and the idea of uncertainty. Not knowing what tomorrow holds, not knowing if there will be a tomorrow, and learning how to deal with that. The second half of the record focuses more on the idea of acceptance and hope. I developed an understanding that even though some paths within life may be forced on you, it doesn’t dictate your destination. You may just have to take the long way, or you may have to put up a fight, and I’m ok with that. I guess we all have to be. But, those ideas drive the second half of the record. Living the moment, appreciating the uncertainty, and finding hope and content in whatever path you take.
Wow, thank you for sharing that, and thank you for making a record out of it. I’m sorry y’all went through that, and I’m glad you were able to keep hope.
Sure. Well, I’d like to know some background on the band. How and when did y’all form?
Back in 2010, we were just a group friends who’d get together to drink and play music. We all came from musical backgrounds but hadn’t been in bands for years. We’d get together as often as possible, and stay in the basement for hours writing/playing music. We were really raw, and, at the time, there wasn’t really a vision for TCR. It was just a mish-mash of influences. We started playing live in the fall of 2010, and shortly after that, put out our first recording. In 2011, when we started writing Kentucky Gentlemen, we started to fall into our style. Energy and emotion is something we always put a lot of emphasis on with our live shows. But it is difficult to translate to record, and we’ve admittedly failed at this before. I finally believe with Hell and Back, the energy and the emotion has translated through, and we’ve fallen into who we are.
I would say I have to agree with you. It’s definitely an energetic and emotional record, which I personally appreciate. Well, hey, tell us what’s going on right now, and what’s coming up?
We finished out 2013 with a tour through the midwest to Colorado, then came back home and played a show with Lucero and Titus Andronicus. Since then, we’ve been on break for the winter, but get going again here in a few weeks. I’m pretty excited about the show’s coming up. We’re doing most of March with either Ned Van Go (Nashville) or Jeremy Porter and the Tucos (Detroit). Both bands are good friends of ours, and we always have a blast with them. Our record release show is going to be on 3/15 in Lexington, KY with good friends Ned Van Go, Doc Feldman, and the Vibrolas.
Any highlights or anecdotes?
All of tour is really a highlight, even the shitty nights. Most people don’t understand what its like to tour, or they think its just a good time. Tour is tough. You’re crammed in a van with everyone for hours on end, you play more shit shows than you’d like to admit, you have fights, you get robbed, but it’s all worth it, because, at the end of the day, you get to play your music for new fans and old friends. And that’s a damn good feeling, and it’s the only feeling that matters.
I’ve been privileged (or crazy) enough to spend a lot of time going on road trips, and I’ve spent time with musicians on tour on some of those, and you’re right. It’s hard, and I’m only with them, like, a few days at a time. [laughs]
Anyway, I was told I should ask you what “like men do” means?
It’s really just a play on pop culture and the diminishing idea of male masculinity. Or maybe its more about us not giving a shit and just being a bunch of self proclaimed bad asses. Boys used to be taught that its okay to be masculine, tough, and aggressive when appropriate. Now you rarely see that portrayed in our culture. Everyone’s too worried about offending someone or setting the wrong example. We really just don’t give a shit. We’re men, we’re southern, and we do manly things. Whether it be playing so hard you throw-up, drinking too much whiskey, wearing leather, 4:00 a.m. party in a cheap hotel’s hot tub, or just being a miserable hungover mess in the back of a van, we do shit like men do.
Wellllll, being a woman and someone who does all of those things, I can’t say I agree with a single thing you just said, but, since y’all don’t give a shit, we’ll just leave it at that.