For whatever reason I have photos of everyone playing by themselves except Scott, so we are stuck with Scott and Koala bear...
Justin M. Norton: How did Earth Crisis get back together after separating in 2001? How are all of you different than when the band parted ways?
Scott Crouse: When we stopped it wasn’t for the reason that most bands quit. Usually it’s a falling out or musical differences. We had just been doing it for 10 years and things like family and other career goals were being neglected. So we just decided to end it while things were good and let everyone pursue other ideas. When we look back on it, the smarter thing to do would have been a hiatus, because in the back of our minds we knew we would play together again. We’re pretty much the same people, but there may be other things on the table; people have families and different responsibilities and careers. But for the most part we are the same guys we were eight or nine years ago.
With global warming an increasing threat and even things like drinkable water not a given for people anymore do you feel like the things Earth Crisis warned about are coming to pass? And given that do you ever consider your fight futile?
It’s definitely more undeniable. Most people care about things like the environment and our resources being tapped out than when we first started. These were controversial topics when we started in the early ‘90s. The average person now sees the irresponsible footprints humans have been making on the earth. When you are involved with any struggle you go through a point wondering if it’s worth it and if anyone listens. But you have to look at the positive things that have happened. If you look at all the accomplishments, like animal rights have really come to the forefront. In the last five or six years people have also started to notice the environment and hopefully it’s not too late.
Was there ever talk of bringing Earth Crisis back before this given the widespread dissatisfaction with America’s political and social direction during the Bush years?
We’d been talking about it for years. About three years after we broke up we talked about doing a record or playing a couple of shows. It was just one of those things we didn’t get around to until 2007. In hindsight a hiatus would have been the proper way to go rather than an “ok guys, we’re done.”
With Karl’s frequent appearances on television and the band always lumped in as the prime example of straight-edge ideology in music do you ever worry that the music is overlooked for the message?
Sometimes it can be frustrating. Karl and I had a conversation about that recently. He was telling me that he met someone while he was on tour with his other band Freya who said they just read his lyrics and didn’t care for Earth Crisis. Karl writes all of lyrics and I’m responsible for a lot of the music. You wish that people would be into both but that’s not realistic. There is a core group of people where it’s a perfect marriage. Then there are some people who only appreciate the heavy music or Karl’s lyrics. In a lot of ways we’re fortunate to have both.
Were you ever uncomfortable with being straight-edge messengers instead of just musicians or did you expect that considering your stance?
We knew from day one that it was something we wanted to push with our music. The misconception was that we started as a message first and then formed a band around it. That’s not the case. We are musicians first and foremost. We just decided to incorporate our ideals and viewpoints. Everyone in the band knew that we’d be wearing this on our sleeves. It hasn’t always been an easy path and there are people who do not want to hear this message and have fought us physically and verbally. Everyone in the band knew what we were getting into.
Is it ever difficult for you or your bandmates to adhere to a vegan straight edge lifestyle, or after years is it just part of the fabric of who you are?
It’s something that I have lived since I was 14 years old. My wife lives this lifestyle as do the wives of the other band members. Now they have children who are living vegan lifestyles. They are too young to decide what they want to do as far as straight-edge but for all intents and purposes they are straight edge (laughs). It’s hard sometimes in a social aspect. What people do for social gatherings in this country is they drink alcohol and eat food that isn’t vegan. In those ways it can be hard and it can be isolating. But it’s a small price to pay for the greater good.
What was it like for the band to play together and record again after years apart working on different projects?
We all stay very close. We’re great friends, too. When we stopped in 2001 I didn’t go two months without speaking to one of these guys. To get back together and play the Earth Crisis songs seemed more natural than anything I had played in the down time. It didn’t take much to get back in the swing of things. I think we could have showed up in 2007 and have played with a sound check. These songs are embedded in us.
Since Earth Crisis broke up, what is now known as “metalcore” has become a big trend in the metal scene. Considering that a lot of these bands borrowed your style what are your thoughts on the scene?
There are a lot of bands that are excellent musically. Musicianship is at an-all time high. When we started people weren’t pushing their playing too much. Some of these younger bands playing-wise could blow us away. But there tends to be a lack of lyrical content and there is a big push on the fashion. When we started people were against fashion. There are now more metal bands speaking out on political issues than there are hardcore bands. Hardcore bands seem concerned with how they look. There’s been a bit of a 180 over the years.
Where do you think To The Death stands in terms of your past releases?
It feels like a best-of Earth Crisis record with new material. Any person that has followed us can listen to songs on To The Death and say this sounds like it could be on Gomorrah’s Season Ends or this sounds like it could be on Destroy the Machines. We had the benefits of looking back on our past releases and seeing what worked and what missed the mark. We decided to look at our past. We had nine records, and so it’s like a best-of with new songs.
How did Earth Crisis end up on Century Media?
We talked to them numerous times in the past and strongly considered them before. For whatever reason in the past we didn’t go with them. We took a look at Victory Records and didn’t see how we would fit in there anymore. They tend to be geared to a younger audience. Century Media put in an offer and it seemed to really fit this time. Sound wise, it also fit. Overall, it’s a better home for us now.
Your shows are known for their physical intensity, both among the band and the fans. Now that you are older will you be able to recreate the same kind of shows you were known for in the mid ‘90s?
I’d like to think yes. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take its toll a little quicker. We just did a month last May and I noticed myself getting sore a lot quicker and not healing as fast. We are still as energetic as we were, and there has been a mix of older people and a whole new generation that has heard of the band. This record will hopefully be the Earth Crisis record for this younger generation. It’s definitely as tough to be as energetic in your mid 30s as you were when you were 18, but we are trying.
When you do take to the road how are you able to stick to your vegan lifestyle and avoid the garbage most bands subsist on?
When we first started out it was tough. I remember going out on the first tour and if I wasn’t malnourished I was close to it. When I was younger I was just concerned with putting food in my body that didn’t contain meat or dairy products. Now we tend to be more selective. A lot of the bigger chains offer some vegan option on the menu, so it’s not as hard as it used to be. We do whatever we can to avoid McDonalds or Burger King but places like California Pizza Kitchen or Panera have vegan options. So it’s a lot easier when we first started doing it.
Were there ever concerns that a reunion might disappoint?
We were very concerned when we were putting this together. Playing shows is one thing but doing a record is another thing. If we weren’t going to have the same intensity we wouldn’t have done it. It took us a little while to realize that the new album was holding up against our older stuff. We wouldn’t have put it out if it hurt the band ‘s reputation. In a lot of ways this is the heaviest record we’ve done.