Young Adults: A Conversation With Crossed Wires
Within weeks of Secret East’s launch in early August, Crossed Wires (Halifax, NS) dropped a debut EP that immediately found it’s way onto our radar.
The EP consists of five songs that transition seamlessly, and clocks in a few hairs short of the twelve-minute mark. Through a shimmering blanket of fuzz-laden riffs and tasteful power pop hooks, Crossed Wires bounce around in the cracks between pop punk and buzzing rock reminiscent of the anthemic side of Sonic Youth, or Dinosaur Jr.
Crossed Wires’ eponymous EP could easily take the cake as the best release to come out of Atlantic Canada this past summer season. This debut offering from the Wires is nothing less than infectious and impressive without even considering the fact that it’s the first release of a project that’s only straddling a mere six months of existence. Despite being their earliest effort, the EP carries an audible chemistry that could be mistaken for a band that’s already seen the process a few times over.
With the magic of modern technology and some hard coordination of busy schedules, I was finally able to catch a conversation with Heather Grant (Bass/Vocals), Kayla Stevens (Guitar) and Dewayne Shanks (Drums) about the brief history of Crossed Wires, their recent involvement with the Rebel Girl Halifax Rock Camp, and much more.
Crossed Wires is a relatively new project, is it not? Could you fill us in on how the project came together?
Kayla: Heather sent me a message one day about jamming on some stuff. We knew each other from going to shows around Halifax and she knew I played in some other bands and wanted to start a band of her own. So, we jammed and it went really well and brainstormed on who would be a cool pal to play drums and Dewayne was our first pick so he came on board.
Dewayne: Yeah, I kind of just showed up after they jammed a couple times and filled things out.
Heather: Yeah, we just started playing together early in the spring, I think? So, we’re pretty new.
Dewayne: I think our first real show was in May? Whenever the last Fat Stupids show was.
Heather: June I think! It’s Weird to think it hasn’t been that long!
Dewayne: It came together really fast mostly due to excitement.
It’s surprising as the sound on the EP comes across as if you three are familiar and comfortable with each other’s playing and place in the band. Upon listening to the songs I would never assume the project was so new.
Have any combination of you three played or jammed together prior to Crossed Wires?
Dewayne: We actually haven’t.
Kayla: No, I’ve never jammed with Heather or Dewayne before. I know Heather really was hoping to go in a pop punk direction, so I wanted to keep her dream alive and add a bit of my own style onto it. I think that’s why it meshes so well. I like pop punk but I’ve been into a lot more garage rock and psych stuff these days and I think drawing from all that stuff is cool. Make a weird melting pot.
Heather: No we haven’t but that’s not the first time I’ve heard that. I guess we just had good chemistry right off the bat and I think we all feel pretty comfortable with each other, and hopefully that comes through when we play. And I do think we all try to leave space for the kind of music each of us likes to play.
Dewayne: My favourite part of the whole thing is that we don’t have this list of bands we wanted to sound like, we kind of just showed up and started writing and headed off in whatever direction we went in.
Heather, as it seems to be you who initiated jamming with Kayla and Dewayne, were there songs already there, or any sort of established concept of what you wanted to do beyond something in the pop punk realm?
Heather: There might have been, but I honestly can’t remember. This is the first band I’ve ever played in, so I was just eager to get started. Kayla and I just got together and came up with some cool song ideas and it just evolved from there. But I couldn’t be happier with the direction it took. It kind of had a life of it’s own but I like that better than having a really strict idea of what we want to play and how we want to sound.
It speaks to the natural feel of the songs to know that the writing was a relatively collaborative effort. Was the EP written as an EP or was there a weeding out process of material? I ask because it flows so flawlessly and that helps it stand out as a short body of work as opposed to a collection of songs.
Kayla: There wasn’t much of a weeding out process, we just wrote songs as they came to us and worked on them until they flowed well. I don’t think the EP was written as an EP either, I was just happy to write riffs I was stoked on, and its cool they happen to flow nicely.
Dewayne: They actually were all written as songs just so we could have a full set, that recording session was actually just to get demos down more so to show people what we were working on since we were trying to get the word around. I think for most of the time we were doing it, it was just to be a demo, and it wasn’t until we were in the mixing stages that we decided that it actually turned out pretty great, and that it would be a perfect first release. It’s weird how things just kinda work out.
Kayla: I think it might flow well because we went into it not overthinking it too much, just tried to come up with some tunes that were fun to play and sounded good to us.
Dewayne: Yeah, definitely. I don’t think there was even too much revision. If something sounded good when we jammed through we decided to just keep going with it.
While we’re on the topic of the EP, Evan Matthews handled the sound perfectly. Tell me a bit about how he got involved?
Kayla: Evan drums in my other band Saffrons and had heard Crossed Wires and dug it. He heard we were itching to record and offered to do it for us. Bless that man. We got together Canada day and did all the instruments that day. It was a good day — Dewayne made us burgers.
Dewayne: I feel like Evan actually came with us to that first week at Rocking For Dollars because he was doing sound here-and-there for experience
Kayla: Yeah, he was there.
Dewayne: He definitely had a lot of ideas in terms of sound during that recording process, while still letting us do our thing and feel really comfortable.
Heather, you mentioned that this is your first band, which is even more of a surprise than it being the first project involving any combination of you three playing together. How’s the experience thus far, such as recording and playing live for the first time? Again, it’s something I never would pick up from the songs.
Dewayne: Jawbreaker cover band!
Heather: Oh yeah! That’s a good point! I actually forgot about that. I played in a Jawbreaker cover band twice I think?
Amazing, did you guys cover ‘the boat dreams from the hill’?
Heather: We didn’t! But maybe we will if that ever gets resurrected.
To rephrase a bit then, how’s the experience thus far, such as recording and playing original material live for the first time?
Heather: It’s been pretty wild. It was definitely really far out of my comfort zone, and I won’t get into how much I hate the sound of my own voice, but it’s been super rewarding and I’m really grateful that we’ve been able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time. It’s pretty cool to think about how terrifying it all seemed back in the spring when we started, and how much more comfortable it feels now. But I have a couple of really cool and supportive bandmates to thank for that, I think.
Dewayne: It’s cool to see you on stage now and you seem so care-free compared to back then.
I heard Crossed Wires had some sort of involvement with Rebel Girl Halifax Rock Camp this year? Can you tell us a bit about that?
Kayla: We got to play at lunchtime for the campers one day, and it was great. I had been involved in the camp a year before and did a pedal workshop. I got asked again to do the same workshop this year and held it with Heather’s help.
The campers were into the phaser pedal I brought the most (laughs). Very chill.
It was for the campers aged 8-12 so it wasn’t too in-depth. We talked about how to power and use a pedal and the different types out there. Then we had two stations set up for the girls to experiment with a bunch of pedals we provided them.
We also got to play a fundraiser show for the rock camp this summer.
Dewayne: That was the highlight of this band so far for me.
Kayla: I can’t believe I forgot about that. That was like a highlight of my summer getting to play with The Stolen Minks.
Heather: And we played a set for the campers after the workshop. It was really great. It was so cool being able to support the camp and help out, what they’re doing is so important and those kids are all awesome! I hope they go on to make some really cool music. (I’m) Just really enamored with the whole thing so it was really an honor to be a part of it in any way.
One more very general question to wrap this whole thing up – what’s in the future for Crossed Wires?
Kayla: We’re working on hammering out some new songs right now. I think we have one or two shows lined up in the near future? And I think there was some talk about investing in some studio time.
Dewayne: Writing for now! We agreed to take the end of summer off to write, but that didn’t really happen, but we’re getting into it now. It’ll be a very casual winter I think.
We have a show next week with Dead Soft from Vancouver, and then after that it’s HPX (Halifax Pop Explosion), and like three days after that I come to St. John’s, and then Heather goes to Europe, and then Christmas. Blah, blah.
We’re hoping to record another EP after the New Year, and spend more time formulating the songs, and begin a longer recording process.
Heather: What they said (laughs).
Awesome. I want to sincerely thank you three for talking with me, you’re a lovely bunch and I’m glad the conversation finally happened. I can’t wait to see what’s in store from you folks in the future!
Heather: Thanks! It’s been fun.
Dewayne: Yeah, thank you so much!
Kayla: Cool! Thanks!