- by Tom Dumarey
Highly melodic punk rock outfit Craig’s Brother first made a run for it in the ’90s and early ’00s before breaking up in 2001, reforming in 2003, releasing a new EP the following year via Takeover Records and then allowing the dust to settle for seven years. They finally returned with the album 'The Insidious Lie' in 2011... before going away again. Which brings us to 2019's release of their first new music in eight years, 'The Devils In The Details' EP, out now via Indie Vision Music. We caught up with vocalist Ted Bond to talk about the new songs, the band's history and what is up next.
PRT: First of all, congrats on the new EP! I love how the new songs sound like a natural extension to your older material. What sparked these new songs?
Ted: Honestly it all started because Scott made a random announcement back in 2017 that we were going to put new music out in 2018. I was like “Alright. Lets do it then.” And that started the whole thing.
PRT: ‘Harry Vs. Mount Saint Helens’ is a bit of a different beast. The title refers to Harry Truman, a campground owner who refused to evacuate when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980. Can you tell me a bit more about where that song comes from and why you decided to go for more of an Americana sound with this one?
Ted: I came up with the melody and I was like “This sounds like a going down with the ship sort of song.” I kicked around a few ideas for lyrics from American folklore, including rip van winkle, then I remembered seeing this story in the news when I was a kid about an old guy who refused to leave Mt St Helens. It was perfect.
I have actually been writing a lot of this Americana Folk Punk type stuff since 2012. Scott and I had a little side project called Cactipus, and that’s where this song came from. When it came time to decide what to put on this EP, we were like “this song is too good not to record with CB.”
PRT: How would you say Craig’s Brother fits into your lives these days? How much of a priority is the band?
Ted: Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is a struggle. Even though the guys have “good jobs” they still work way too much just to make ends meet. The bottom line is we just don’t have the free time that we used to. It’s not like Craig’s Brother has ever been profitable.
That said, I am not in the same position as most of my band. For a while I thought I would move into a more lucrative and responsible career, but it turns out my unique resume isn’t really appreciated in the silicon valley. After trying for a while to fit someone else’s mould, I realized that I am really only equipped to do what I have always done which is to be a freelance teacher and musician. The funny thing is, since embracing the “gig economy” I have actually been doing better financially, and I have time for music.
All that is to say I am definitely a middle aged family man, and in my current vision of the good life, financial stability is more important than rock stardom. It just so happens, that music is one of the only hats I am capable of wearing. I am not going to throw everything in the music basket, but I will never stop making new music, and I am committed to playing as many shows as I can so long as they are financially prudent. Just don’t expect the line up of CB to be consistent. We just don’t work that way anymore.
PRT: The troubled release of ‘Lost At Sea’ led to you disbanding. You then reformed for the ‘Epidemic’ EP and then disbanded again for seven years, which was when you released ‘The Insidious Lie’. It then became quiet again until now. What is it about Craig’s Brother that keeps drawing you back to it?
Ted: Ha Ha! We actually didn’t disband after Epidemic, we just went weird. We consistently practiced twice a week over that whole 7 year period. But the whole music scene had gone really weird during that time, so we just assumed everything was over. We would occasionally play a local bar or something, but mostly were just hanging out as bros, making music for ourselves. Then in 2010 Andy started to hang out with and one thing lead to another and we were making a record.
In 2012 shit really hit the fan in a thousand directions. It’s a long story that I will eventually tell. Suffice to say my life was dismantled for a number of reason that I did not plan. I wasn’t even ready to think about CB again until 2014, when we did some shows in Canada. The truth is I never stopped thinking about Craig’s Brother, it just isn’t always the most feasible endeavor.
PRT: I know it’s kind of old news but looking back, would you say that signing with Tooth & Nail has been a blessing or a curse? On the one hand it got you a lot of exposure when your debut album came out, on the other hand ‘Lost At Sea’ never really got the attention it deserved.
Ted: It is what it is. As weird as that whole scene was, and as rude as they were to CB, I kinda miss it.
PRT: Back then you said Craig’s Brother wasn’t a Christian punk rock band, but that you were simply Christians who happened to be playing in a punk rock band. In another interview from 2010, you said you would like Christians to be on board with what you are doing but at the same time you did not just want to play secular venues. That seems like a difficult balancing act to please everyone?
Ted: Not really. Christian Music is a completely pretentious label. When I say CB is not a Christian Band what I mean is that we shouldn’t be judged by whether or not we are Christian. Our faith is not a marketing strategy, and you don’t have to think like us to like our music. That said, I am a follower of Jesus and it is my goal to create a space where followers Jesus and punks can be together and can discuss ideas and freely and peacefully disagree.
PRT: Maybe a dumb question... but is that still a big thing in the US with Christian bands vs non-Christian bands, secular vs non-secular venues?
Ted: No. The whole Christian Alternative Music Scene is done. With the exception of metal/hardcore, but that scene is not segregated as far as I can tell. That is Christian bands play secular venues.
PRT: What’s up next for the band once ‘Devils In The Details’ will be out?
Not sure. I have some more material to record….
PRT: Do you have any dreams for Craig’s Brother that you would still like to achieve? Like a European tour? Or is that just me that would like to see that happen?
I definitely plan on going to Europe again. I have always fantasized about getting a house for the summer and just doing shows all over Europe. I think it’s too late for 2019, but maybe 2020?