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Crushed Out Contemplates Big Issues, Steady Beat With ‘Alien Ocean’

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Alien Ocean is the latest release from the Brooklyn-based duo Crushed Out. Guitarist and vocalist Frankie Sunswept and drummer/vocalist Moselle Spiller provide listeners with a series of songs that run from the humorous to the heartfelt.

Sunswept says that the pair found inspiration for one tune, “Big Woolly,” in some reading the guitarist did about the possibility of cloning a woolly mammoth. That, and a big guitar riff, were all they needed to get the song going.

“That began as a riff that was really fuzzy and sounded almost woolly with the lurching drums,” he recalls, “so I just named that jam, in our computer, ‘Woolly Mammoth.’ The sound of a big, fuzzy guitar sounds like a big creature looking for love. I thought a cloned woolly mammoth would be a cool character to speak from in our weird, modern world where we’re thinking about bringing back extinct animals.”

Sunswept says that reading helped him form the lyrics to a number of tracks on the record.

“I’d get a topic that interested me and then I’d just read like crazy about it and that was really fun, actually,” he says. “I did the same thing for our song ‘Tsunami’ which is this sci-fi, surf rock piece. It’s like dark, cinematic surf.” He adds, “We started with this riff that was like a big wave building, which was really fun. They’ve discovered that a few major fault lines on the west coast are now believed to be one really big one. So, the big one they’ve been talking about on the west coast is possibly going to be bigger than they were projecting. I just thought that was a crazy world to dive into and I read all about that for a few weeks while writing that song.”

Another song, “Skinny Dipping,” was inspired by a conversation he and drummer and Spiller had one day. They were trying to decide on possible topics. When Spiller suggested the titular activity, he let his imagination run wild.

“I immediately saw these comic book characters,” Sunswept says, “in SoCal, driving around at night, trying to get people to go on a midnight skinny dip with them. The song just immediately started taking shape from that kind of vision. I think it’s very funny, the kind of cartoonish images of Southern California that a lot of people have. It was fun for me to play with the dark underside of SoCal beach culture.”

One tune, “Cool Clear Water,” takes up some more serious matters.

“I came across this article that was about people coming up from South America, trying to escape violence and come to our country by crossing deserts,” Sunswept says. “It was so moving, such a crazy article. So much of the language in a few articles that I read led me to the verses that were about these people possibly dying in the desert, trying to find somewhere safe. That experience made me think about how wonderful a cool, clear glass of water would be.”

The guitarist adds, “To focus on a glass of cool, clear water, to me, changed the conversation about what we do with refugees trying to come into the country, which I think is really not in the right headspace. I would prefer to step back and give these people dignity and love and respect. They’re coming to the border of a country and they just survived a desert and violence. I’d prefer to think about a glass of water for them.”

Crushed Out performs Wednesday evening at Barleycorn’s. Alien Oceans is out now.

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Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.

 

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.