These Dogged North Carolinians Finally Hit Pay Dirt After having Their Record Shelved For More Than A Year.
Ed Sloan and his hard-rock band Crossfade recently played The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, which was particularly exciting for the lead singer/guitarist because one of that evening's guests was Sharon Osbourne. "We took some pictures with her backstage — she's so beautiful up close," he says. "We gave her a few CDs, told her to give them to Ozzy and her kids. She probably just tossed them out — she'd never heard of us."
Sloan is used to people not recognizing his band. Not long ago, the North Carolina quartet was stuck playing local shows, recording in its garage-based home studio, and self-releasing its albums. But in the past year, they've shot from zeroes to heroes on the strength of the breakthrough single "Cold" off of their self-titled debut album (Columbia). Success is particularly sweet for Sloan and bassist Mitch James, who've been playing together in bands since the late Nineties. As he prepares to take Crossfade — rounded out by Tony Byroads (vocals/turntables/samples) and James Branham (drums) — out on the SnoCore Tour with Chevelle and Helmet. Sloan talke to us about finally hitting it big.
When you signed with Columbia Records, they made you change the band's name from its original moniker, Sugardaddy Superstar. What were you guys thinking with that name?
Ed Sloan: I really don't know, man [laughs]. One of the first songs that I ever wrote after we built our studio was this old Seventies song with horns and stuff. It was about this coke guy back in the Seventies and was called Sugardaddy Superstar. So just jokingly, we named our band after the song.
How did Columbia break the news that the name had to go?
Columbia flew us up to New York City to play a showcase for them. As soon as we finished our set, we walked offstage, all the Columbia folks surrounded us, and Don Ienner, the head of Columbia, got up and said, "Fellas, welcome to the Columbia family. The only thing is, you got to change your fucking name, 'cause I hate it!"
You guys recorded the album yourselves in your own studio. What motivated you to build your own studio in the first place?
About three years ago, we were about to go into a local studio and we didn't have the money. So we decided that instead of spending that kind of money every time we needed to record, we'd save up $5,000 or $6,000 and buy some modest equipment.
You know, for us, we'd always go into a real studio and a week later we wouldn't be happy with what we had. By far the best thing about having our own studio is being able to finish songs, and then weeks later go back in and revamp them, change a part here or there, and it's just that easy.
When you guys signed with Columbia in early 2003, your album was recorded and ready to go, but it wasn't released for almost a year. What happened?
Columbia was merging with some other company, so they were firing people, getting rid of bands. They shelved our record about four times in 16 months. We'd actually already released it independently two weeks before Columbia got ahold of us, so we had to yank all the records off the shelves in the local stores. For a year and a half, we just kept our day jobs and called the guys at the label every week to find out what was going on. We made it through, but it was by the grace of God, man.
Does this band really need a DJ?
[Laughs] No., we don't, but that's just what we call Tony - he's really more of a backup singer and he's more a sampler than a DJ. You know, in the studio there's a lot of things we did that we're not able to recreate live because we don't have two guitarists, so Tony does things on his sampler that fill in the gaps.
Your song "Cold" is everywhere. Did you guys know as soon as you wrote it that it had that sort of hit potential?
We had no idea, man. It was just a quirky little song - it wasn't even three minutes long when we first finished it. We were just throwing it on the album because it was kind of cool. After Columbia Records signed us, they told us that "Cold" was probably going to be the song that they put out there first, and we were like, What?! Of course, now we know it was a good idea.