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Posted July 28, 2005

Despite success, Crossfade still just a group of Southern gents

By Eric Klister
Post-Crescent staff writer

Somebody forgot to tell Crossfade that when you become a rock star, you’re supposed to act like one.

The Columbia, S.C., band is about to have a platinum album with its self-titled debut CD, propelled by 15 months of non-stop touring and a single, “Cold,” that’s been inescapable from rock radio. “Cold” was 2004’s most played song on active rock radio, according to Billboard Monitor.

Yet, it’s apparent from a phone interview with drummer James Branham that Crossfade won’t be getting caught up in any of the perils of rock stardom anytime soon. Branham comes off more like a guy who plays for fun at the corner bar on weekends than somebody whose album has just sold a million copies.

There’s a good reason for that.

“We’re all Southern boys, man,” he said. “We start acting out of line, our mamas would kick our butts.”

Crossfade will perform Wednesday at the Leach Amphitheater in Oshkosh. The Post-Crescent caught up with Branham as he and the rest of the band were getting set to perform on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”

Q: Whenever you’re in a band and you’re just starting out, you always wonder what it would be like to sell a million records. Now that you’re there, is it like you always imagined it would be?

A: I never really had any real expectation of what it would be like or what it should be like. It’s all still very surreal. The thing that I’m happy about is that it hasn’t seemed to have changed us much. We’re all still the same guys that you could sit down next to and have a conversation with, no egos. So it hasn’t changed us except elevated us a little as far as the fame is concerned.

Q: Why have fans been able to connect so well with the album?

A: Well, it’s the same for me as it is for our fans. I’ve been a fan of music all my life, and, I think it just speaks to a lot of people because the songs were very personal to us and meant a lot to us, and they were about our life experiences. And I think that we’ve had a lot of the same experiences that a lot of the masses have had, writing songs of heartbreak or betrayal or success or whatever. It’s easy for them to identify with it because it’s very real-life stuff.

Q: People have come up with some creative labels to describe your music, like “arena grunge” or “pop metal.” Do you get a kick out of that? I imagine when you guys are writing, you’re not really thinking in terms of what category the songs will fit into.

A: We’re not really bothered by specific labels. Myself, I consider it more like pop alternative. But then there’s some stuff that we do in our live show that’s a lot heavier. Labels are a difficult thing. It’s really hard to label the band without just flat-out comparing us to another band, which is fine. We’re certainly not hung up on labels or genres. We just write the music, and it’s just what we feel, and we put it out there and we hope people will like it.

Q: What type of show can folks expect when you come to Oshkosh?

A: We’ll be back with Seether, so it’ll be a co-headliner. We’ll have Dark New Day with us, which is another great up-and-coming band. They’re just gonna get a full-on rock show from start to finish. No rest for the wicked.