We caught sight of CROOX during the Bristol leg of the early summer Dot To Dot Festival back in May and must admit to being more than a little taken aback by the energy and front shown by this four-strong group’s live show. They hail from the south coast musical powerhouse that is Brighton, and we decided to find out more about this enigmatic electronic/hip-hop/R&B-infused crew.
We sent them questions, and they built up the suspense brilliantly by making us wait a while! But it was worth it…
SYNC: Please tell us a bit of the background to CROOX, how you guys got together etc, and who’s who in the band…
Howard: The band is made up of me on vocals, Tom on Guitar, Darren on Keys and Alan on the drums.
Tom: That’s four members.
Howard: Four members. Not three members.
Tom: We’ve been ‘three members’ in the past so we need to get that right.
Howard: Not out of choice, from people…saying we have three members!
Tom: Slight mistakes, slight mistakes…
Howard: We all moved to Brighton from different parts of the globe. And we’ve known each other for years – a decade now. We all played in bands and different projects, and we bonded over our love of beer and music.
CROOX – Only Human
SYNC: How does the band’s songwriting process work? Does one of you typically take the lead or is it a more collaborative process?
Howard: No one takes the lead in the songwriting process really. Umm, the last thing to go on the songs is vocals.
Tom: I’d say guitar.
Howard: Yeah, guitar. A song would normally start with keys or a beat. Not in any particular order. At the moment, we are trying to write choruses. So we’ll write a chorus and if we feel like the chorus is strong and hooky, then we’ll finish the rest of the song. We feel like its a quicker process because if we write a chorus and it’s shit, then it’s quicker to ditch it if it’s not good enough, rather than writing an entire song.
Tom: We generally write kind of separately sometimes to start with don’t we? Like Darren will come in and just loop keyboards until he’s run out of chords… and that never happens. So he’s here for days.
Howard: Darren’s like Chip, the rapper, but instead of running out of bars…
Tom: He never runs out of chords.
SYNC: Your sound seems to blend a number of different genres. Who are the musical influences and inspirations?
Tom: Howard’s favourite question.
Howard: This is my favourite question.
Tom: Yeah, I know that’s why I said it.
Howard: We don’t have any influences. Obviously we like music.
Tom: That’s a good start!
Howard: And we like different artists. But when we write, we don’t go in and go “let’s try and be like this band or this band or this band”. We just write and it kinda just comes out the way it does. More than bands, I think we’re influenced by songs, and that could be by anyone in the world. From Jay-Z to Justin Bieber, it doesn’t matter. If you write a good song, it’s gonna make us wanna write.
Tom: Yeah obviously we’ve got influences, like, as in, our favourite artists when we were growing up and who we’re listening to now.
Howard: But they sound nothing like us.
Tom: Yeah, they don’t work for what we do! [laughing]
Howard: No, no. Otherwise we’d be a weird hybrid of Stevie Wonder and Underoath!
Tom: Yeah or like Phoenix and Spice Girls. And it just… wouldn’t work.
CROOX – Loyal
SYNC: Our Laura was so pleased to catch your show at Dot To Dot 2017 in Bristol in May. The energy of the live show was frankly bonkers! How important is performing live for the and versus the studio work?
Tom: We wrote the songs before we knew how to play them live but we always knew that we only wanted to play live, basically.
Howard: I think if live… if there was no playing live in this band we would’ve quit a long time ago. It’s the only thing that keeps us going. Like the format of: you write songs; you record them; you learn them and then that ends in being able to go out and play them live. That’s what keeps us going.
Tom: Yeah. We’ve all got different least favourite bits of being in a band, but all of us, our favourite bit is playing a show. So it’s really important.
Tom: Thanks for asking. That’s a good question.
SYNC: You’re welcome! You’ve had a busy couple of months, with your headline London show, D2D and The Great Escape. Any other festivals or live shows coming up over the summer? And are there plans for an album in the pipeline?
Howard: We are playing Secret Garden Party this Friday and Saturday.
Tom: Yeah, we got given these questions a long time ago and we didn’t answer them because we’re naughty, but technically we could of told you that we were doing Garden Party. We’re playing two shows at Garden Party – a little first stripped back show that we’ve ever done and then a full banger, live, at the ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ stage at 5:45pm on Saturday.
Howard: And then we’ve got a couple of little bits coming up after that, one’s gonna be… we’re playing in Selfridges!
Tom: Yeah, we’re playing in Selfridges! [Music Matters @ Selfridges London] I dunno the date… what’s the date, Darren?
Darren: 9th of August, Tom.
Howard: And then we’re gonna be doing a little Sofar Sounds session which will be cool because every time we’ve seen them on the interweb, they look really sick.
Tom: Yeah, we don’t have a date for that yet though.
Howard: No, but it is happening, it’s coming.
Tom: Umm, and album-wise… no plans.
Howard: We don’t wanna release an album until the time is right.
Tom: You only get one shot at your first album.
Howard: Yeah. You only get one opportunity…
Tom: And you better capture it…
Tom & Howard: Don’t let it slip.
Tom: Or mum’s spaghetti.
Darren: Lose Yourself by Eminem.
Tom: That’s definitely going in.
SYNC: Brighton seems to have a ridiculously vibrant music scene right now. What is it about the place that inspires such musical creativity?
Tom: Alcohol. 100% Alcohol.
Howard: Alcohol, young people, umm, the beach.
Tom: And just the network. There’s so many people just doing it.
Howard: The social aspect of Brighton is what makes the scene so good. Whether you’re in a band or a DJ or a designer or an artist, you’ve got a huge audience of people that are interested in the same thing and who you can push out your work to.
Tom: And loads of people you can collaborate with which is not like anywhere else, really.
Howard: Yeah and obviously there are other cities in the UK that are equally creative, but I think because Brighton is so small, to the point that you can walk everywhere, you can’t even escape it.
Tom: I mean, Glastonbury is bigger than Brighton, which should tell you everything you need to know about how small it is. And yeah… thanks for taking the time to ask us some questions!
Howard: We love you and can’t wait to come back and see you!
Darren: Thanks a lot Merlin.
SYNC: Our ed’s name is Martin actually!
Howard: Thank you Merlin.
CROOX – Fake & Fortune