INTERVIEW WITH CRO-MAGS
The Story Of 2020 EP Style
By Stephanie Stevens
The CRO-MAGS, a legendary name in the Hardcore/Punk/Thrash scene. A band who has had a cult following since early in their career. They gave birth to the tough as nails attitude of the scene in the late 80’s and brought, to this world, music that held no punches and surrounded you with an essence of ‘fight and stand strong’.
It’s been 20 years since the band dropped a full-length album to their fans but, earlier this year “IN THE BEGINNING” was born! The album brings you back to the New York hardcore roots and pummels you with that high-octane energy!
Throughout this year the guys had to cancel a tour because of the pandemic but rose up and presented one of the very first live Quarantine livestreams and then continued writing, so we will not just see a full-length released this year but the men of CRO-MAGS are also releasing another slew of songs with the EP entitled “2020”, coming out Dec 11, 2020. To me this EP outweighs the full length. It’s got so much power and angst, a masterpiece in its own right. From living in quarantine, to seeing violence, brutality, burning buildings and the empty streets of NYC, 2020 is a year we will never forget. This EP captures the emotion and raw reality in 20 minutes and 20 seconds. The band fully engulf what we have endured as you listen to the music, words and lay your eyes on the artwork. You want real? Its right here, packaged up in a six-song disc!
I had a chance to ask the legend himself, Harley Flanagan, about the making of the EP, the future of America and who empowers and inspires!
Q: Through 2020 you guys have done a lot of writing. Back in June of 2020 you released “IN THE BEGINNING”. How was it going back to work with producer Arthur Rizk and did you re-visit him because of a certain thing it brought out in you guys?
We get along really well musically and as people, he is not afraid of taking chances and he encourages me to do the same.
Q: Before the end of the year you’re also releasing the EP “2020”, a tell-tale story of the life we have seen roll out before our eyes. With so much emotion about the year we have had, how easy was it getting it out onto a soundtrack like this?
There was no better way to deal with it and to vent. I am blessed to have friends like Steve Zing, Arthur and my guys.
Q: You guys are from NY, so you have seen so much through the year that our country has gone through. Being we are in probably the most chaotic year we have ever seen how do you envision the new year will pan out if you could voice your opinion?
To be honest I have no idea. I hope we start doing shows again soon, but I think things are gonna stay weird for a while.
Q: ‘CHAOS IN THE STREETS’ was a song that stuck with me off the 2020 EP. What do you hope people walk away with after hearing this track?
I’m just reporting it as I see it and giving a little warning.
Q: CROFUSION is an epic ending to the record. Tell us about the jam session and how did you break it down to a, little over, 4 min song?
We just put on a click track and started jamming. It was almost 20 mins long, then me and Arthur just took what we thought were the best parts of it and lined them up so the full record would be 20:20 long. Initially, when we did, we weren’t planning on that, but since it came to 20 min and 16 seconds when we were done, we just added 4 more seconds of sound and made it an even 20:20 like the title.
Q: The EP also has an array of pictures from the album cover and the most eerie look into a deserted NYC. How did you go about choosing pictures and did you go out yourself to take these images?
Me and my wife took some of them and my uncle took the back cover. I went out when I had to, but I stayed away from people and crowds to the best of my ability. There were a few Covid cases in my building, one death and my mother in law was sick but she recovered.
Q: As a band how was the writing process for you guys due to quarantine and how long was it before you could get into an actual studio to lay stuff down and how different was the process?
I always do most of the writing and I have a backlog of riffs and songs, they add their input after. I have so much material and I’m always writing; once I give them the riffs and arrangements, I encourage them to just go nuts, and we take it from there.
It was a difficult time due to the quarantine, and everything was closed but when my longtime friend Steve Zing from Danzig moved into his new house he set up his studio and when things eased up a little we went out there and jammed through the riffs and tracked them there and then we built on it. Rocky was in L.A so he did his tracks there.
Q: This year the touring all stopped, and you guys were one of the first to do a livestream. How did you perceive it after the fact and were there more positive outcomes of it, vs an actual tour?
Obviously, I would rather have toured, but sometimes life throws curveballs at you and you have to handle it. I took what was a shitty situation and turned it into the best thing I possibly could. Then I got to work on writing this EP and the next album. I wasted no time, I didn’t get sucked into bitching online with conspiracy theories and bullshit, I just kept busy. I was out of work, so I wrote music and lyrics and worked out.
Q: As a legendary group and having a platform where people look up to you, what is one thing you can say to this country, that is so divided, that could maybe open a few people’s eyes to what America is and how we can save this country?
I’m not gonna be that guy to try to give anyone a solution or the “Answer” on how to save anything, but I’m hoping that with everything that has happened people start to wake up. Change can be a painful thing, but I am hoping for progress. But just remember things can always be worse and or get worse and It doesn’t take much for that to happen. Be grateful for the good things in your life. I honestly don’t have much hope for the human race as a whole.
Q: Are you guys doing any pre-launch promotions for the EP “2020” and how can fans support you guys with this soon to be released EP and “IN THE BEGINNING”?
Not that I know of. Just buy it, download it and enjoy it!!! Maybe make a video of you and your friends singing the songs and post it and share it with us!!!
Q: Empower another artist and tell us what inspires you about them?
That’s a hard one. There are so many- there are so many artists that I love and respect, but I have to say Gman ( I know he’s in my band does that count?) Because I get pumped when he plays – I love watching him play – it makes me want to play and if I didn’t have an instrument in my hands I’d probably just start flipping out – and I guess that’s what HC is supposed to make you feel; like involuntary stomping, swinging, headbanging, running back and forth jumping off shit and smashing shit. Good thing I have an instrument when he plays cause shit would get dangerous.
CONNECT WITH THE BAND:
‘From The Grave’ (Official Video) – Taken From The Album “In The Beginning”
‘2020’ (Visualiser) – Taken From The EP “2020”
Cro-Mags – Full Live Quarantine Concert (15th March 2020)
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Stephanie Stevens and East Coast Romper, and has been released to Ever Metal on this basis. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.