Crime in Stereo Bio:
“It was a strange year,” says Alex Dunne, Crime In Stereo’s songwriter and guitarist.
When referring to the twelve months between the 2006 release of their critically acclaimed The Troubled Stateside and the beginning of recording Crime In Stereo Is Dead, “strange” might be an understatement. Crime In Stereo (Dunne, singer Kristian Hallbert, bassist Mike Musilli, drummer Scotty Giffin and guitarist Gary Cioni) thought they had seen the end of the road. After coming home from six straight months of touring promoting Stateside, a release that All Music Guide praised as “As ambitious as modern hardcore is likely to get.” Hitting the road on tours ranging from support slots for Brand New & the Warped Tour, Crime In Stereo made a name with sharply intelligent critiques of the current social and economic landscape set to a backdrop of music that broke out of the standard hardcore mold.
But time was taking its toll. Following almost three consecutive years touring non-stop in support of Troubled Stateside and their debut full-length Explosives And The Will To Use Them in 2004, the band felt disconnected from their label and lost. Dunne went to work as a political consultant, managing successful judicial campaigns on Long Island for the New York State Democratic Party. “It was a bizarre thing to have happen; driving around the country playing shows all summer with your hardcore band, and then within a week of coming home from tour, working as a paid consultant.” Further complicating the situation was Dunne’s diabetes reaching a new severity. His situation worsened to the point where he now has to self-administer injections to his stomach every day to keep things in control. Being on the road suddenly became more complex and possibly life-threatening for Alex.
It wasn’t just Dunne, however, that found his home life evolving in strange ways. Co-founder and bassist Mike Musilli, on the verge of earning his masters degree in education, gained employment as a teacher in his hometown high school, the same one he and Dunne had graduated from years before. With the band spending less and less time together and more working in their respective fields, the future of the band was in doubt. “For a minute there,” said Musilli “it really looked like Crime In Stereo was dead.”
After spending a few months at home, the band reemerged from a de-facto hiatus to tour the East Coast and Midwest in a whirlwind run with Glassjaw. As Dunne and drummer Scotty Giffin began spending time back in Dunne’s basement working on songs, while vocalist Kristian Hallbert was taking vocal training on his own. At the same time, Bridge Nine Records entered the fold for a very likely partnership. “Initially, the ‘Is Dead’ thing was about the literal end of the band, but then I think it became something else. It was about starting out one way, and then growing into an entirely new beginning.” Alex explains. “Kristian was really the catalyst in our evolving sound. I think once we heard how he was singing, we realized we had to make this record.” Hallbert’s vocal performance stands out on Crime In Stereo Is Dead, ranging from screams & shouts to the occasional falsetto. “We’re a hardcore band because we’re hardcore kids, that’ll never change,” Hallbert explains, “but musically, we know what we’re capable of, and we wanted to challenge ourselves and show everyone.”
Crime In Stereo Is Dead is unlike any record the band or Bridge Nine Records have ever done. It’s a punk record, it’s a hardcore record, and it’s an intricately written album start to finish-but it doesn’t really fit into the “melodic hardcore” or “punk” category without having to further qualify the description. Produced by longtime collaborator Mike Sapone, who produced Brand New’s recent “The Devil & God Are Raging Inside Me” amongst others, the band was able to focus on making their most musically and lyrically ambitious record to date. The result is a record that features the familiar Crime In Stereo sound (“Nixon”), but it also showcases the band at their most explosive and discordant (“XXXX-The First Thousand Years of Solitude”), their catchiest (“Animal Pharm”) and their most ambient and loosely structured (“Small Skeletal” and “Unfortunate Tourist”). It ends with “Orbiter” and “Choker”- two songs that are almost identical chord progressions at entirely different speeds. They culminate in the songs’ respective bridges that are lyrical mirror images. Crime In Stereo Is Dead is a wakeup call to a scene that sees melody as taboo and a world that sees catchy music as safe and lyrically passive. It’s an enigmatic release-it’s hardcore, it’s punk, but it’s a difficult record to describe in terms of preceding bands because this doesn’t sound entirely like anyone else.
Crime In Stereo Is Dead is in stores October 23rd 2007 and it’s a release that guarantees 2008 will be another crazy year for all of them.