Stephen Taylor / Special to The Daily Yomiuri
Ethan Kath, of Crystal Castles, backstage at
the Roundhouse on 15th October 2010
LONDON--Of the many reasons drummers have given for quitting a band, not wanting to wear lingerie is one of the more unusual. But that's exactly what happened when Crystal Castles was about to take the stage at Summer Sonic in 2008.
"I found a pair of Alice's stockings and I cut them in half and put one on," Ethan Kath, the band's producer and songwriter said, referring to the band's singer, Alice Glass. "I gave [the drummer] the other one to put on, and he refused. He was like, 'I'm not going to play in stockings,' and that was the last time I played with him.
"I wanted us to have matching stockings."
The band will play concerts in Osaka and Tokyo next week with replacement drummer and Kath's long-time friend, Chris Chartrand. "We can't wait to go there. We played Summer Sonic in 2008, and we've been waiting since then to return," he said.
Formed in 2004, Crystal Castles released its eponymous debut album in 2008. An untitled follow-up came out last year and made it onto the Best Albums of the Year lists in both Spin Magazine and New Musical Express. Crystal Castles owes much of its sound to the dark, brooding influence of Fiction label mates The Cure. In fact, that band's vocalist, Robert Smith, sings on the group's latest U.K. single, a version of Canadian band Platinum Blonde's "Not In Love," which also appears on Crystal Castles (II), sans Smith. Kath sees the group's recorded output and live sound as distinctive entities.
"[On record] we have some songs that sound like sad, isolation, really icy, and then we have other ones that are really abrasive, with Alice screaming over them. Our shows are the opposite of the isolated feelings of our records--it's more communal. We're in this together, we're gonna sweat on each other, spit on each other, bleed on each other: It's just like a pile of wet flesh," he said.
Kath's assessment of the group's live concerts is no understatement, with Glass spending most of her time on- (or rather off-) stage surfing the crowd and getting mighty sweaty with the mosh pit. Kath was struck by Glass' confrontational approach toward fronting a rock band when he saw her singing with Fetus Fatale in 2003.
"The time I went to check out her band, there were legends [there] from the Toronto '80s punk scene...and they were heckling the band. Alice was [taking a] mouthful of beer, spitting it into their faces and telling them to f--- off. At that time, she was just 15 and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought she was amazing and powerful and I knew that I had found my dream front person," he recalled.
Years later, their shared love of punk has become their profession, one that requires new shots of inspiration. "We like collecting old punk records and when we were in Japan we found this amazing store in Tokyo that had every dream punk seven-inch you could ever hope to find, and we look forward to going back to that store. We found it by fluke, we were just walking around and saw a sign saying, 'Punk and Hardcore Vinyl,' and we were like 'Whaaat?' It was the best punk store in the world."
Crystal Castles will play Club Quattro in Osaka, at 7 p.m. on Jan. 17. (06) 6281-8181; and at the Liquid Room in Ebisu, Tokyo, at 7 p.m. on Jan. 18. (03) 5464-0800. For more information, visit www.creativeman.co.jp/artist/2011/01crystal.
(Jan. 14, 2011)