BILLINGS GAZETTE

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Crossfade's climb: For South Carolina rockers, success didn't come overnight
By JACI WEBB
Of The Gazette Staff

Crossfade bassist Mitch James's favorite quip when someone asks about his band's Top 40 status is, "We call it the 13-year over-night sensation."


In a telephone interview with The Gazette last week from a stop in Oshkosh, Wis., James was in high spirits after just finding out the band's 2004 self-titled CD has gone platinum. Laid-back, refreshingly candid and ever-so-modest, James talked about the band's resident heartthrob vocalist and guitarist Ed Sloan and the band's fame after years of barely eking out a living.


"I'm 32; kind of old for this," James said. "But we're finally in the black and this tour with Seether has been great."


Crossfade's story is one of American ingenuity and a youthful passion for rock. Their album was self-produced and recorded in their garage studio in Columbia, S.C. James said the Internet was a big help in getting their music to the right ears. He encouraged other bands who really want to make it to do the same.


"You can't just plan on being a rock star," James said. "You can stay home and play to the same 200 people all your life or go to the Internet and start spreading your music. That was a big part of us being signed. Put your music out there to sites that cater to underage listeners; taxi.com was a good one, that's where I found my manager."


In the past year, Crossfade has been signed to Columbia/FG Records, and celebrated three hit singles off the CD, including "Colors," "So Far Away" and "Cold," which made history as radio's most played rock song in 2004. They've played the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," along with county fairs, stadium shows and clubs. Their signature sound of muscular rock and heartfelt lyrics enhanced by Sloan's clear vocals has gained them a wide following. James said at their shows fans run the gamut from the teenagers up front to their middle-aged dads pumping their fists in the back.


"Our fans include all these young girls who think Ed's hot and their dads who like our music. The rest of the place is 14 to 49-year-olds."


James said he grew up a big Metallica fan, but he also listened to Alice in Chains and Faith No More. He and Sloan were in rival bands in Columbia, but they respected each other's music.


"The first band that I was in, I did all the stuff to try to impress the two musicians in the crowd. We figured out you can copy all the other bands, or make something on your own."


The CD features 10 original songs, penned after Sloan left his first band, Darkchilde, and hooked up with James in the mid 1990s. All the inspired experimentation that Crossfade used making their album remained after Columbia/FG signed the band and turned the album over to Randy Staub (of Metallica and Nickelback fame) for post-production work.


James said life on the road is hectic but it's been entertaining hanging out with the guys from Seether and Dark New Day, who are also on tour with Crossfade.


"We play four to seven shows a week, depending on the routing. We try to see some sights in the towns we're in. We've got XBox and PlayStation 2, but I'm not a huge gamer. I would love to play golf every day if I had the time."


James is a divorced father of two girls - ages 11 and 7 - who he said have grown up with the band. "They love our music and coming to our shows. Every chance I get I bring them along. The rest of the band treats them like gold; they have to or they'll have me to deal with me. My daughters are my whole life; all my success I attribute to my kids."