The music industry isn't what it once was. There was a time when rock bands sold records hand over fist, but times have changed and those explosive sales numbers have gone extinct. Platinum albums have always been an accomplishment, but nowadays they seem to be the Holy Grail, an almost unattainable prize that has become scarcer with every song downloaded on the Internet. So, when a rock band comes along boasting that they've sold over one million records, Severe takes notice.
Crossfade is built on simplicity. They play rock n' roll without the bells and whistles, relying on the powerful draw of the guitar hook to pull in listeners. Self-described ten-year overnight successes, the Columbia, South Carolina-born trio hit it big in 2005 with the single "Cold," a rock radio favorite that carved a platinum lined path through the pop punk, emo invaders that have ruled the airwaves for what seems to be too many years to count.
We sat down with singer Ed Sloan to talk about Crossfade's self-titled debut, groupies, and how the radio went "Cold."
Severe: Ed Sloan, are yo living out your dream?
Sloan: Absolutely, man. I never imagined it would be quite like this though. It happened so fast. We still call it the ten-year overnight success.
Severe: Has success meant more work than you thought there would be?
Sloan: No, it's really not actually. I knew before we got out on the road what the rigors of the road were going to be like. I think the success that we've had at radio kind of took us by surprise a little bit though, from every time we get into a new city and go to visit one to four different radio stations during the day and doing that whole interview thing and singing acoustically. I wasn't expecting that. Everything else, it was pretty much as expected.
Severe: Is it easy to get caught up in the success?
Sloan: Well, I think we've all been able to stay pretty well grounded. We've got families at home and our lives keep us focused and keep us on the right track. I mean, we do have great times out on the road and a lot of times you can lose yourself in what's going on, but I think we're all staying really well grounded because we've got a lot going on and we don't want to throw it away or make any bad decisions.
Severe: You mentioned being a ten-year overnight success. After the band signed to Columbia, it still didn't happen right away and your album got shelved. Was that stressful?
Sloan: It was pretty stressful, but I think more for the other guys than for me. It was something that we all wanted and everyone worked so hard building up to the signing and then once we finally signed, I knew they were going to put it (the record) out. They shelved it like five times over the course of a year and three months, so it was disappointing, but I knew that at some point it was going to get its shot.
Severe: Was it one of those things where you had to convince family and friends that you really did sign to a label and that you actually had an album coming out? "Listen -- I know we've said this before, but I swear it's coming out -- very soon."
Sloan: (Laughter) Yeah, but at least they released "Cold" long before they normally would have, so at least we kind of got to see "Cold" grow organically in our hometown and watch it move up the charts around the country long before the CD was ever released.
Severe: Speaking of "Cold," when you guys wrote and recorded that track, did you think of it as a song that would be released as a single?
Sloan: No, not at all. The first song "Starless" was going to be our flagship song, but at some point somebody decided that "Cold" would be better one to release. We never expected it to have the wings and legs that it has.
Severe: Now that you've had success on the radio, do you find yourselves taking what makes a song a hit into consideration when you're writing new material?
Sloan: No, we just go at it, man. None of the songs on this album were written thinking about hits. To be honest, it all just really grew out of our hearts. They're just songs about things that we felt very passionate about. We never intended to write hit songs and we continue to write that way. We just write within our hearts and if it comes out good, it comes out good.
Severe: As the frontman of the band, do you feel extra pressure to be the approachable, fan friendly spokesperson for Crossfade?
Sloan: No, just because that's the way we started this whole thing. We felt so lucky to be where we were and to have the opportunities that we did, so ny chance that we had to be in front of people, to meet people, or for people to meet us, we took it and we still take it. After the shows, we still stay as long as we can to meet the fans and talk to them. It's something we have embraced the entire time and we will continue to embrace it. It's not a hard thing for me or for any of us.
Severe: In your opinion, what are the key elements to being a successful frontman and connecting with an audience?
Sloan: Well, it's always been hard for me as a frontman because it was always just about the songs to me...it wasn't about the performance. I never thought of myself as a great performer or a great live player, but now that I see that people are coming to the show expecting that, I know that I have to kind of step it up. I just try to do the best I can to make a connection to as many people in that audience as I can...eye contact and making the show a positive experience. it's about smiling at people and especially just bringing a lot of energy and letting people know that as I'm playing this, I'm feeling every moment of it just as I felt on the day I wrote it. Conveying that is a very important part, especially with our music.
Severe: Were you always comfortable with being on stage in front of a crowd?
Sloan: Yeah, always. I used to do the talent shows and all that stuff back when I was in fifth and sixth grade.
Severe: You always hear about how great the groupies were in the "80's". How are the groupies these days?
Sloan: (Laughter) Well, you know...it's not bad. (Laughter) I guess you could say that the groupie scene is alive and well, but back in the "80's" it was a lot easier just to do whatever you wanted to do and not really have to worry about too many different things. Nowadays, there are so many different things to worry about and so we're pretty careful about who we meet on the road and who we obtain relationships with and that kind of stuff. Plus, a lot of us have families and stuff back home, so it's really kept to a minimum. I'm like the only single guy out here, so I don't want to have a bund of girls on the bus hanging around and tempting the other guys. (Laughter)