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Thursday, July 21, 2005 - Last Updated: 7:51 AM

Crossfade's D.I.Y. hit factory

BY MICHAEL LOVETT
Special to The Post and Courier

Crossfade recorded the band's debut for Columbia Records in a converted garage in the group's hometown of Columbia, S.C. Using a laptop computer and a few cheap microphones, Ed Sloan (guitar, vocals), Mitch James (bass, backing vocals) and James Branham (drums) captured a multilayered hard rock sound that has achieved near platinum sales for the band's eponymous album and made the group's single, "Cold," the no. 1 Most played rock song of 2004.

Fifteen years ago, it would have been unheard of for an unknown band to record a hit album in its garage.

Today, advances in computer-based recording technology has made it possible for amateur musicians to make professional-quality recordings on a shoestring budget.

In a recent interview with Preview, Branham not only extolled the virtues of home recording, but also shared his secrets to wearing a Mohawk to work.

Crossfade plays Saturday night at The Plex.

Preview: Since you recorded "Crossfade" in a home studio, you didn't have the luxury of isolation that they have in professional recording studios. Were there any instances when, say, the pizza guy came to the door while you were recording a vocal track?

Branham: Yeah, there are a couple of spots on the album where, if you listen closely, you can hear the phone ringing in the background, and stuff like that. But for the most part, Randy Staub (mixing engineer who has also worked with P.O.D. and U2) did a good job
of concealing those things in post-production.

Preview: The fact that you recorded your album on your own has become a defining characteristic for you guys. Are you going to stick with the same plan for the follow-up?

Branham: Absolutely. We'll do the next record the same way we did the first one. We get off this tour with Seether on Sept. 24. After that, we'll take a few weeks for ourselves and then get right back to putting together the next album.

Preview: Since you'll be working with a slightly larger budget than you had for Crossfade," how do you expect these next sessions to be different?

Branham: First of all, we will definitely be investing in some new toys for the studio. For the last one, all we had was a laptop and a few CRAPPY microphones. Plus, we all still had day jobs, so we had to record around each others' work schedules.

This time, the band's got a little more money in the coffers, and we don't have day jobs to worry about. It'll be nice not to have to go to work in between recording sessions.

Preview: Has there been pressure from the label for you guys to use a professional recording studio with full-time producers and engineers?

Branham: We talked it out with the label, and we agreed to record the demos ourselves. If they like the quality of the demos we record, then they'll use them for the album just like they did the first time.

If not, they'll put us in a studio and we'll do it that way. Still, we're going to try and record the demos as best we can.

Preview: For a rock band, you guys have a pretty cool look. How do you pick out what you wear? Did you ever decide on how you wanted to present yourselves as a band?

Branham: Well, you know, just from being on the road most of the time and being bored, you end up accumulating a lot of stupid t-shirts and experimenting with a lot of different hair styles.

At times, I've had a Mohawk. Other times, I've had long hair. But, as a band, we never said, "Okay, this is what we're going to look like."

My hair style changes almost weekly. Back when I had the Mohawk, I also had a day job, so I'd have to wear a ball cap and hide it that way.

Right now, I've just got short, blonde hair. My wife wasn't too thrilled with the Mohawk.