05 August 2009
Great Attitude, Great Sound
We meet in a small, suburban apartment complex. The instant I walk into John's pad he offers me a drink, of course I agree to one. Bass is rumbling through the ceiling but John doesn't seem to be bothered too bad by it. He informs me that we're waiting for his drummer, Charles, to show up. Until then, he's going to play around on his acoustic for me to get a better feel of how he plays. He lays down a few recognizable songs and then cuts quickly to an improvised classical spanish solo that lasts ten minutes. This guy has some obvious raw talent.
Charles finally shows up with a bag full of McDonald's double cheeseburgers and quickly offers me one, of course I agree to one.
These guys, who currently call themselves John Cri, don't have the normal, cocky, personas of what you would imagine a band to have. They truly are a couple of normal guys with talent far beyond normal. With pleasure, I offer you this look into their world:
MO: So how did you guys meet? What are the roots of the band?
John: Well, I was jamming one day in the hanger bay and this guy comes up and is like, "What's up, dude? lemme put some drums to that." You know, just talking or whatever. We ended up in the AO shop in the back fanroom and I asked him if he could put something to what I was playing. He started playing along with me and it just kind of went on from there. We found Chris, the bassist... He always played in the hangar bay. He's not the greatest guitarist in the world, but we were like, "Hey dude, can you play with us?" He said everybody liked him playing guitar all the time but he likes to play punk so we asked him to play bass. He was a natural with the bass, so that worked out well. Then we found Johnny.
John: [laughs] The man... Our rhythm guitarist. He was a ladies man.
Charles: Pretty boy.
John: Yeah, the pretty boy, bit of a drama queen. He was always after Michelle.
Charles: In and out of love.
John: We finally got him to come to the dark side and play. We had to teach him a few things, but he finally came around. We wouldnt be where we are today if it wernt for him, though. He's definatly contributed an equal share just like everyone else.
MO: A couple things you guys mentioned earlier, you said hangar bay, AO shop. What the hell is all that?
John: We're in the Navy.
Charles: Well, I was.
John: Back in the day, way back in the day, Aviation Ordinance. We built explosives, big bombs for jets in the hangar bay where they store jets and helos. Basically just this big area, nice empty space, and we could, after hours, it was like, "hey, too many people in the gym, let's goto the hangar bay." The AO shop, that's just where us AOs worked.
MO: So, you're out of the Navy now?
Charles: Mmhmm. John's still in though.
John: Yeah, I'm still doing my time, but I'm not an AO anymore.
MO: What do you do now?
John: EOD, Explosive Ordinance Disposal. Pretty much we're the bastard brother of the SEALs. We dispose of ordinance, boom. If they want a bridge blown up, we blow it up. When they want an IED destroyed, we destroy it. If possible.
MO: That's pretty sick.
John: Yeah, like the glory job of the AOs.
MO: Recently, you entered a competition for the Grammy Foo Fighters cover. What was the competition about, what was the competition actually for? Did it have to be a Foo Fighters song, particularly "Pretender?" Because you put that up on mandoline and that was sick.
John: I... Play mandoline. I was jamming one day and I was looking up "Pretender" because I wanted to learn the song after I heard it on the radio a bunch of times. I YouTube'd Pretender and a picture of Dave Grohl with the rest of the band in the back and it was called "Grammy Moment." So Grohl says, "Okay guys, we're the Foo Fighters and we're looking for a couple of great players to come play with us at the Grammys. So upload your videos playing any solo with any instrument you want. The guys at the Grammys will pick their favorites, their top 20, and we'll fly you off to the Grammys to play with us and the number one pick will get their own 10 second spotlight. I googled the competition and found out they didn't want any drums, guitarists or vocals, they have that covered.
MO: They wanted something unique.
John: Yeah, they wanted an orchestra for a solo. So I started working with the mandoline, got it down, recorded it and uploaded it to youtube. They started doing the voting. They went from 10,000 to 5000 to 1000 to 500, just started cutting it down until they got to 40 and I was in the top 40. Then the top 20. Eventually it got down to 15 right about two weeks before the Grammys. And, it fell through. Something with the writers strike, which pisses me off.
MO: Yeah, didn't the Grammys end up being, pretty much, a news conference?
John: Yeah, load of crap. They changed the competition at that point too saying that all they could afford was traditional orchestra. They wanted violins, cellos... So I was in the top 5 at this point and they told me that they couldn't use me.
MO: Even still, you had to have gotten some sort of publicity out of this, right? How has that boosted what has been going on with you guys?
John: Everything right now is under the John Cri name. We got a call from a radio station, 94.1, Jeff and Jerr, those guys are awesome, you should listen to them.
MO: Local to San Diego, right?
John: Yeah, and the more I researched, they're like the most successful radio station in the area. You ever listen to the Mikey Show?
John: Well, they're competitors.
MO: I don't really listen to the Mikey Show anymore. Just a bunch of repetitive garbage.
John: But yeah, I ended up on Jeff and Jar and they started interviewing me and they thought I was great. Then the competition fell through for me a week later but they stayed in contact with me. They loved the song and played it time and time again.
MO: The mandoline version?
John: I'd turn on the radio at like 10 am and they'd be playing it. I was just like, "YES! THAT'S MINE!"
MO: The song "Been There"... Is that out on the internet anywhere, like is there anyway for anyone to get a hold of that? You played it for me earlier and it sounded great. Do you even have it on MySpace or anything?
John: No. Right now we... Well, we recorded that track 2 or 3 years ago before I went to Iraq and we've just been sitting on it. While I was there, Charles got out of the Navy, Johnny and Chris got out of the Navy, we just all sort of stopped playing. We were on hold.
Charles: Yeah, just waiting for him to get back.
John: Ended up dropping the original band name. We went from Fall of Eve..
Charles: Detached. John Cri. We're probably going to end up going back to Fall of Eve.
John: Yeah we finally made that cut. That song is all we have recorded right now. We actually filmed a music video today for "Been There" at Balboa Park. Turned out pretty good. About a week from now we're going to be uploading the video, John Cri "Been There." Anyone can YouTube that, it's going to be a sick video.
MO: So, pretty much, the only way anyone can listen to your music at this point is to search YouTube for John Cri?
John: Well, I was going to try to figure it out, but I'm going to talk to a friend of mine that might be able to take the media version, just the song and stick it online so people can have access to it.
MO: I think that's a good plan, you need to find a way to get that music out there. So, as of right now, what are the current plans for the band, what's going to happen with John Cri?
John: We're going to stick with John Cri once the studio work is finished. Digital Imagery Productions, those are the guys that did the video for us today, I actually found them on YouTube. They commented about my mandoline skills. They were like, "Yeah, we heard about you from Jeff and Jar, you were awesome!" I was just happy to have another fan and I ended up checking out their YouTube and they ended up being a big, small time, video production company. They actually did Avenged Sevenfold's first video back in the day. I ended up just contacting them a few days ago and asked if they would record our video and they were down with that, so that worked out really well. Now we're waiting for the video to come out and then we're going to start advertising. Head back to Jeff and Jerr and I’m hoping they want to hear from us again and hopefully promote our video and song. Just start playing a lot more. We ended up with a lot of connections through Jeff and Jerr: Boise, Idaho Jazz 97.1, Rock 101 Houston Texas; I've got a couple interviews lined up because of the Foo Fighters competition.
MO: So you're quickly becoming national then?
John: Well... Hopefully this sweeps the nation.
MO: I don't see why it wouldn't.
Charles: I don't think this recording of "Been There" will go too far.
John: I think it'd do fine.
MO: So where did you guys end up recording "Been There?"
Charles: The drums were recorded on base in some little half-way sound proof room and the guitars were layed down in a friend's apartment the next day. They were just plugged into a little sound board. We just mixed everything in as best as we could.
John: He was pretty professional about it. He had a band at the time and they were experimenting with it. He ended up a little angry at us because our stuff ended up sounding a little better than theirs did... But he loved it, we had some fun.
MO: So are you guys more beer people or hard liquor?
Charles: I'm more of a beer person, hard liquor tends to get me in trouble.
MO: Any good drunken sailor stories seeing as you guys were in the Navy?
MO: Anything you'd like to share with the world?
Charles: I think the best one for me, he doesn't even know about it yet... I actually slept with somebody who was a good friend of mine, we haven't talked in a while. Before they got together, his now wife, well, I slept with her at one of the ports we pulled into. Either Bahrain or Jubel Ali. I got drunk one night and I ended up having sex in a lumber yard on the way back. I think that's probably the best one for me.
MO: So I'm guessing beer and alcohol that night.
Charles: Yeah, about half and half [laughs]
MO: Get mighty lonely out there on deployment?
Charles: Nah, it was kind of a spur of the moment thing, we kind of had a thing for each other and it just happened.
MO: [Pointing to John] How about you?
John: [laughs] We were hanging out at a port, I think it was Jubel Ali. The craziest thing was, our friend Mikey Sanchez, he was our Roadie at the time, he bought us what seemed like four or five hundred shots and, by the 30th shot he got so hammered he jumped into the pool, clothes on, holding a shot... Got us all kicked out.
MO: What happens if the hype from the Grammy competition falls through? What's the plan to get more publicity and/or fans?
Charles: Use John's connections.
John: [laughs] We're gonna go with what we got going for us. We're running on hopes and dreams and hopefully this all kicks off for us. We have a big chance right now.
MO: Do you guys have any songs you're recording soon or are working on?
John: We have about ten to twelve songs we've been working on for years.
Charles: Maybe a couple covers.
MO: What kind of covers would you throw down?
Charles: We'd have to do another Godsmack cover again.
John: We had a pretty sick version of Awake. We played a show in Bahrain for Christmas and there were a couple thousand people there. I have it on video, you'll have to see it, maybe I'll upload that one too.
Charles: Maybe even do a Foo Fighters Pretender. Make them wish they got you in the first place.
John: Aww man, it was so sad though, I watched the Grammy moment and they ended up giving the winners maybe a half second of time on camera. Not only that but they all had to sit with the regular orchestra.
MO: So, it wouldn't have even been worth it to be there?
John: I would have met Dave Grohl, come on, it would have been worth it.
MO: Publicity-wise I mean, you probably ended up better off being kicked off due to the mandoline thing. You got a different kind of attention and there's no such thing as bad publicity.
MO: So, what bands would you guys be able to tour and sell with?
John: We're rewriting the whole system. If you hear anything we're working on it's not like anything you've heard.
Charles: It wouldn't be so much who we'd want to go with, it'd be more who would take us. We're making four different styles of music.
MO: Yeah, "Been There" has a really mellow tone but there is a huge sense of layering in it.
Charles: With the band, the layers come in as a part of the four different styles of players we have. We have Chris who's primarily punk. We have me, the drummer, I've been playing Jazz most of my life. John playing a lot of blues guitar and Johnny plays a lot of the classic rock, ACDC and stuff like that. We just mixed it all together and that's why we don't sound like anybody.
MO: So you guys don't sit down and talk about a song before you start composing it?
Charles: No, we usually just start playing and if anything needs to go it goes and if we like it, we keep it.
MO: You, as the guitarist, who are you inspired by?
John: I'm inspired by Maynard. Tool, A Perfect Circle. John Mayer as far as guitar playing is concerned, but on the rock side, A Perfect Circle.
MO: What about you?
Charles: As far as lifestyle, or what I bring to the band?
MO: Both, not so much who you mimic but who you look up to as a drummer.
Charles: Yeah, as far as the jazz is concerned, Buddy Rich. As far as the way I play now, it's just a mix of things I've heard over the years. Dave Weckel, Carter Beauford from Dave Matthews Band, Jack Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers... Just a mix of whoever I listen to with my jazz background.
MO: So when are you guys going to be able to lay down these new tracks?
John: In about four months. The only problem is finances, we're all broke. We need to get our rhythm guitarist back down here, he's got all my equipment. I have to play the acoustic all the time right now. That's okay, though, all of my songs start off with acoustic because if it doesn't sound good that way it's not worth me laying down.
MO: I'm really looking forward to what you guys can do, you've proven that you have the talent but are you ready to go all the way?
John: Definitely. I will do whatever it takes. I will lie cheat and steal [laughs, points to Charles]. I will take his pinky off.
Charles: What's left of it.
John: Have you seen this thing man? Show him your pinky.
Charles: [holds up his jacked up pinky for me to check out]
MO: Wow, that's special... Very cute. I'm going to have to get a picture of that for my images section.
MO: At this point, what's keeping you going and inspired?
John: My wife, we're getting ready to have a baby. Hopefully a little girl. It was about us, we were going to have fun and just enjoy ourselves. It was good, the money at least but now we're just saving saving saving. I just can't see bringing a kid into the world while being in the military.
MO: Yeah, that is tough.
MO: What about you, is it about the money for you or what?
Charles: No, it's more the chance to play drums every day of my life. Get paid for it, yeah, but I'd be happy to just pay the bills with it. Music is pretty much my drive. That and help out John in any way I can.
MO: Any last comments? Words to future fans, current fans, people that hate you?
Charles: Stick to your music, don't try to be something you're not.
MO: I was reading the comments on one of your YouTube videos and this chick was like, "I hate the way you look, blah blah blah, the expressions you make..." What do you have to say to her?
John: Hey, y'know, I don't give a crap. I really don't.
MO: Alright, what do you have to say to your fans?
John: Thank you for all your support. We have a lot of fans on YouTube. I'd like to give a shout out to Katie, we met her today, she was awesome. She hooked us up at the video.
Charles: All I have to say is don't make fun of my five-head. I'm the only band member going bald.
MO: That explains why you're always wearing that ball-cap.
Charles: Yeah... And I'm the youngest one.
MO: I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedules to sit down and do this interview.
John: Rock on.
Charles: The only reason I did it is because John keeps his hand down my pants and that keeps me sitting here.
*Download "Been There by John Cri by clicking HERE.