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Interview

Interview with Brock Lindow of 36 Crazyfists: Tacos, Country Music, Surreal Experiences and a Little Deep and Dark.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Brock Lindow, lead singer of the Alaskan metal band 36 Crazyfists. The interview took place at The Voltage Lounge in Philadelphia on October 2nd, 2017. I've been a huge fan since “A Snow Capped Romance” debuted back in 2004. Brock is a huge Philadelphia Flyers fan and since I was born and raised in Philadelphia, it made me enjoy having that little bit of a connection with a band from the other side of the continent. We touch on everything from the tragedy in Las Vegas, Brock's passion for tacos and Thai food and even getting drunk with a Broad Street Bully. Take a peek at the interview below.

Mike (CorrosiveMind): Since we’re in Philly, I'm sure you've already been asked but I'm going to ask anyway: At what age did you become such a huge Philadelphia Flyers fan and what was the catalyst for that attraction?

Brock: Well, I’d watch hockey with my dad and I was, like, seven when I first played hockey. And everyone loved the Oilers because of (Wayne) Gretzky and I loved the Oilers too. But my dad told me that the Flyers were the tough guys. Their colors are also orange and black and I love Halloween and so, that’s initially how I found my love for them. Of course now, I’m a bit of a history buff on the Flyers. I know everything about the Broad Street Bullies and I’ve even met Dave “The Hammer” Schultz. There’s probably no one in the music industry that loves the Flyers more than me. My life basically revolves around them and when they lose you’ll see a real moody bastard come out. It’s especially noticeable in the playoffs, which we didn’t make them last year. The playoffs are when I really get into it even more and my passion goes through the roof.

Mike: Favorite Flyers player?

Brock: Favorite player of all time is Johnny LeClair. I mean, I love Dave Schultz because of who he was and Bobby Clarke too. But Johnny LeClair would just stand in front of the net and take the most abuse. Because that’s back when you could really freakin’ give it to the boys, ya know. I also really love the whole era with him and (Eric) Lindros and (Mikael) Renberg and the whole Legion of Doom line.

Mike: One last Flyers question since we’re both huge fans. What’s the first moment that comes to mind when thinking of watching the Flyers?

Brock: I mean the Flyers are known for being the fighters, for being the baddest of the bad right. These days, I like to see Simmonds fight. He’s just the angriest dude, just so grumpy. And he’s a fucking wiry guy. I also didn’t mind when (Claude) Giroux fought (Sidney) Crosby the other year in the playoffs though (laughs). When he just lit him up after that face off. That was a beauty and then on top of that immediately went and scored too.

Mike: What do you enjoy about touring and what don't you enjoy so much?

Brock: The best part is obviously the show. Usually, anyway. And getting to travel it’s cool and I like going to certain cities and then there’s other ones that I don’t get that excited about to be honest. And least favorite part, is I really don’t like missing my family. And I have an eight-year-old so that makes it hard, too. Thank God for FaceTime because I get to see her twice or at the least once a day. That’s a very good part of touring nowadays versus touring in the 90s and 2000s because you didn’t really have that opportunity then. It just kind of gets lonely out here you know. I mean, you get 23 hours a day by yourself and then an hour for the show or maybe a little more somedays. Overall though, our band has been together for 23 years this coming December. We really like doing this, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it anymore. I mean it’s not like we do this for the money, we never really made that much from it. I mean, enough to pay the bills and maybe a little bit more which is really all you need. And there’s a reason that we’re still doing this and it’s just that we really enjoy doing it and we enjoy hanging out with each other and just enjoying the whole experience. It’s gone far beyond the music, it’s a brotherhood. I mean, we’ve been together for more than half our lives at this point. At this point I’m 42 now and the rest of the band, they’re a few years older and you got Kyle, our drummer, he’s young. He’s 30. But he’s another reason that we are still going. He breathed in some new life for us. We are a bunch of old grumpy bastard’s early in the morning and we needed a young kid to come in with to be like “c'mon guys, it’s gonna be great!”

Mike: Favorite regional food from a place to which you’ve traveled?

Brock: I mean, I’m stupid for tacos. I used to be crazy about Thai food and I would find a restaurant anywhere I went. But then I just started to get real fat and I couldn’t keep feeding myself that stuff. I still love Thai food though and Pho, too. I’ve also gotten to the point because I’m older that I stay fuller for longer. And I don’t like that. Like, we have a 3 hour rule. We don’t eat for at least three hours before a show. It’s just not good to be running around up there screaming and jumping around with a stomach full food.

Mike: How about when you’re in Philly, what’s your go-to then?

Brock: Well, we don’t really get to be in the city is much as I would like to be here. The last time I was here was for the night they retired Kimmo Timonen’s jersey and it was also Dave “The Hammer” Schultz’s birthday. Which is a weird story. I flew here because we were on tour and our RV broke down and I had time to kill. I saw there was a game so I grabbed a ticket. And I had two jerseys on me, the Claude Giroux Winter Classic jersey and one for Dave Schultz and decided to wear the Schultz jersey. So, after the game, I had to go and use the bathroom and the one lady who was an usher told me that I could use my game ticket to get into the after game bar back in the mezzanine level. I walk in and a guy compliments my jersey and then tells me that Schultz is in the bar area and it’s his birthday, he’s celebrating. So, I walk right up to them and go “Hammer! I heard it’s your birthday let me buy you a drink.“ And he looks at me like “who the fuck are you?“ I already had my hand out so he shakes my hand and then says “I’m alright man, you don’t need to buy me a drink.” And I think he’s there with a group of like 3 other people. Then the one guy goes “you’ve gotta get him to sign your jersey!” Which I thought would be fucking killer. So, next thing I know he’s signing my jersey, writing his penalty minutes and the years he won the cup and stuff. And at this point I’m already over the moon. So I’m waiting for my beer to come and he asks where I’m from. So I tell him from Alaska. And he’s like “what?!“ That moment changed the whole mood for him because he’d always wanted to go to Alaska. Before that point he didn’t seem to be excited to talk to me or sign my jersey but then he pretty much sent his friends away. We sat there and had a couple drinks together and just talked for, like, 45 minutes. And even gave me his business card, he’s got some night watch security type of thing going on. Anyway, back to the original question. We really don’t get to play here that often and we usually just go to a Flyers game or stay at the club, which the last time we were here we played in Chinatown at the Trocadero theater. And I was hoping they’d be playing tonight and we could’ve gone to the game but they’re not. They are playing in Vegas though in January and we’ll be in that area so we’re going to go to that game probably. Speaking of which, it’s so terrible what happened in Las Vegas at the concert. (Refering to the mass shooting that took place back on October 1st, 2017.)

Mike: Yeah, I woke up this morning to hop in the shower and that’s the first thing I hear about. Such a dark way to start the day. Music is the international language, everyone loves music. You don’t go to shows to deal with that type of stuff, you go there for the culture, the passion, the love of music and to get the release from that experience overall.

Mike: I’ve read interviews where you admitted to being severely plagued with stage fright in the younger days. How did you overcome that?

Brock: Uh, I think I just kind of figured out that you just need to get over it. I mean, everyone has some level of stage fright whether they admit it or not. When we play those big festivals over in Europe I still get the butterflies and everything. And that’s a good thing, you don’t want to be all fucking complacent about it. But my older sister, I think is the one that really kicked me in the ass. When we were playing our first shows when I was still in high school we’d played a show in a basement at a house party and I was literally standing behind the speakers reading the lyrics. They were taped to the side of it and I was not even looking at the crowd at all. And I remember my sister telling me that I needed to get in the front where a singer’s supposed to be. So, after finally realizing that I need to do more to be a front man I started to kind of try to watch what other people were doing and see how they were doing things and kinda made things work for me in my own way.

Mike: Would you ever let a fan jump up and play along with you guys?

Brock: We do it almost every night when we’re playing over in Europe. We don’t really play the song in the states for some reason. But the song “Destroy The Map” it’s big over there and it’s also a double vocal song. Not that I couldn’t do it by myself, and I have, but we have a lot of fun asking anybody in the crowd if they want to come up and sing. I haven’t seen many bands do it and it’s a shame because we always try to do it when we can because it’s it’s just really cool. I mean, if Metallica were to ask me to get up and do “Disposable Heroes” I’d have lost my shit when I was 16.

Mike: What current musicians or bands do you like that aren’t part of the metal or rock world?

Brock: I like country music a lot. I like Chris Stapleton, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams. I grew up with that stuff. As I got older I did get into a lot of stuff like singer-songwriter stuff like The White Buffalo and Ray Lamontagne. I just discovered this guy Dermot Kennedy he’s from Ireland and he’s like 18. But he’s incredible. Have you ever heard of Damien Rice? He's similar to singers like him. I like the sexy stuff. I like all kinds of music though, I don’t really like the Taylor Swift’s and the Katy Perry’s and all that stuff. I’m not dissing it, I just don’t connect with it or feel it. Funny enough, though, I got my daughter an iPad and her iTunes is also my iTunes so it’s primarily rock and metal. And she likes that stuff too. Like, her favorite band is The Pretty Reckless. She likes girl rockers, like Halestorm and In This Moment. Mostly because she knows I’m in that type of world musically and I’ve talked to the girls in the bands about my daughter. Recently, Maria (Brink or In This Moment) gave my daughter this huge gift of all kinds of In This Moment stuff. So, that’s made a big impression on her which I think was super cool of Maria. But recently she’s been asking me to get her some Katy Perry and Taylor Swift and I was just like “whoa, who are you? What’s happening?” But, you know, just like my father before me it’s becoming that music that I just don’t get and I’m not supposed to.

Mike: Are the lyrics for 36CF written exclusively by you or are they a collaboration?

Brock: Nope, I write all the lyrics.

Mike: If you could write an album or song and collaborate with one other artist/band who would it be and why?

Brock: Uh, well my favorite singer of all time is Layne Staley. So, I’d love to do a collaboration with him even though he’s obviously passed away. Though, he’s way more into the drug-laden world than me...way more. But the dark mood that he sets, I’ve always tried to do something like that for my own thing. So, maybe we can try to keep it a little clean with less drugs and just go real dark.

Mike: What is the one track you’ve done vocals on that you truly struggled the most with writing the lyrics?

Brock: Over the years I guess there’s gotta be many instances but since our new album, Lanterns, came out this past week I guess I’m fresh on that stuff still. It was a really dark period of my life the writing period for the last two or three years. I went through a divorce after I was with my ex-wife for thirteen years, lost business and was really just trudging through the mud. So, there’s a song on the album called “Sleepsick” and that’s specifically about me losing my marriage and it was extremely important to me at one time. So, that was really difficult with me at times to come to terms with having to lose that. And mostly because I’m still best friends with my ex-wife. And we co-parent with our daughter, it’s actually turned out to be a good thing. Although, it’s hard to see that when you’re going through it ya know? The other day I was listening to the album and that song kind of choked me up. And it hadn’t done that, it’s not like I can’t listen to my album without crying. But it did strike a nerve with me. Which is special. That’s what this music has allowed me to do which is to get these emotions out for myself. I’m in a much better place than I was two or three years ago. It’s a reminder of where I was then and it isn’t pretty, it wasn’t fun. I think there’s something to be said about allowing yourself to be embarrassed and ashamed and basically just own your mistakes and who you are. No ones perfect. I’m certainly not. I read a great quote, I can’t remember who wrote it but it goes “if you’re going through hell, keep going.” It resonated with me. Because I’ve had a lot of problems with substance abuse in my life. I can get into some really dark times with alcohol. I would numb myself with it a lot of times. And if you choose not to do that and be sober-ish and really feel what you need to feel, because inevitably you’re going to have to. You can band-aid if for as long as you want but it’ll reveal itself when you least expect it and probably not in the way that you’re prepared to handle it. I’ve been there, too. But if you keep things bottled up, it’s not healthy to do that. It’s better to surround yourself with friends and family like mine who’ll be there and listen to you but they’re not just yes men. They’re going to give it to you straight when you need it. They weren’t yes men to me. They let me know I messed up, and I know I had. I knew I’d been down the wrong path for too long. But to answer your question, yeah “Sleepsick” wasn’t easy.

Mike: Sleepsick is one of those songs that I immediately loved when I first listened to Lanterns. It just comes in like a bull dozer and you can hear the emotions behind the lyrics, too.

Brock: Yeah, it comes in rumbling and doesn’t really stop. We're not playing it live just yet but for sound check tonight or tomorrow we might toss it in to get it in our set soon.

Mike: Are you tossing in the cover of Alice In Chains tonight?

Brock: We have done it almost every night, except for last night. But there was only like twenty people at the venue. So, we were kind of like “let’s just play our songs and get the fuck out of here.” (Laughs) Sunday night shows suck. The people that came, those twenty people, fucking, they were amazing. I love ‘em. Thank you for coming. Because back in the day I didn’t think about that, I’d just think “oh man this sucks, not many people came.” But then I thought about it and was like “well, damn, at least those people came!” Sunday shows suck and I used to think the tour should skip Sundays but now, these days, I just want to work. I want to play every day. I don’t really care. And I used to be concerned about my voice but the older I got, and I don’t do cocaine anymore, the easier it became. I would like drink, smoke and do blow every night, wake up shot and had to learn that’s not very cool. I’m dumb man, it’s taken me all these years to figure this shit out. But I make fun of myself now for it. But life’s weird and you’ve gotta enjoy the journey and appreciate what you have and try to not repeat these mistakes. And instill some alarms in your mind to let you know the last time you did something, it really wasn’t a good idea and let’s go the other way.

Mike: Well, at least you figured this stuff out before you're like sixty or older...some people don't get that internal memo until it's too late.

Mike: Does the band go into the studio to record with a blank slate or a good idea of where things are headed?

Brock: No, I never have a blank slate. They send me the music and I sit with it. Sometimes for an hour, sometimes days and this album, I had most of the music for almost a year before I started to write to it. I wasn’t feelin’ it. It wasn’t that I wasn’t feeling the music, I thought the music was cool. But my personal life was just so jacked up that I couldn’t even focus on it. Which, I think is why the album is special for me. And I’ve been reading feedback and comments and it’s all pretty positive stuff which is awesome. Of course, you’re always going to have haters. And it was really hard to write to this music. I don’t remember any album ever being that hard for me to write to. So, I’m kinda glad that it was and maybe that’s what makes it more special than the last few albums for me.

Mike: Living in Alaska, what are some of the good things about it and some of the bad things?

Brock: Well, when you went though what I went through the last few years it’s like the smallest big town you’ve ever been in. Everybody’s in your business. I hate that. I’m not one to really be willing to share my business before and my business was out there. So, that’s the down side to it. Other than that, it’s the most beautiful place on the planet. Anywhere north or south of Anchorage, where I live, it’s amazing. And you can get lost and you can just be by yourself if you want to be. Hunting and fishing is a huge thing up there. So, you can eat what you kill and you can really find some peaceful spots to collect your own thoughts. So, that’s what I love about it. I love leaving Anchorage and just going anywhere, and Anchorage is great too it’s a nice little town. But it’s way cooler outside of it. I think everyone who lives there says the same thing. And when the weekends come during the warmer weather, people are going north or south immediately. I mean, don’t put a show on in town in June or July on the weekends. No one’s gonna come. Everybody’s out of town. Camping or fishing.

Mike: Pick your ideal tour lineup to tour with, it can be any band/musician whether they’re alive or not.

Brock: Well, I’m in a band because of Metallica, they’re my favorite band of all time. So, they’re definitely headlining. And then I’m gonna go with Alice In Chains, Deftones and Faith No More. That's a sweet lineup.

Mike: Hell yeah, that's a great show if you ask me.

Mike: Do you encounter a lot of fans that have tattoos that represent 36CF?

Brock: Yes, I know we’ve had several fans already on this tour and it always blows my mind. It’s the ultimate form of appreciation, I think. And it’s crazy to me. I mean I’ve got chicken scratch for writing but I’ve seen people who had something signed by me and then went and got it tattooed on them. It’s crazy. The connection we’ve had with our fans over the years has just been so crazy. We went to Africa, a few years ago, for the first time. And I met people that were from places like Mozambique that were listening to our music since they were like twelve, and they’re thirty now. I went back to the hotel that night too and I got a beer, sat by the pool and I remember the moon being directly above me. Which was kind of weird because it’s usually on some sort of trajectory and not right above you. But I got choked up man. I couldn’t believe my band was in Africa. I’m from Anchorage, Alaska and somehow I’m now sitting in Africa after playing a show with my band for our fans. To put it into context, this festival there they do something that I’ve never heard of or been apart of before then. They have a little bar on the grounds, it’s called Sun Downers, it holds about 200 people, I think. That’s the VIP area for this festival. It’s a $200 to come see us sound check the night before and then drink with us in the bar. So, the people that came went to soundcheck and then got to drink at the bar with us. And we just mingled all night til like 4 am. It was the coolest thing. I did think it was weird with a sound check the night before, I’d never heard of that. But back to the tattoos, it’s just great to experience how much people connect to our music. To know that the music helped anyone through a really trying time, there’s nothing better than that.

Mike: Let’s end in a different way. We’ll do a flash round. Say the first thing that comes to mind when I say the following:

Brock: Alright, let’s go.

City: Philly.
Food: Tacos.
Song: Bloodwork.
Holiday: Christmas.
Beer: IPA.
Rammstein: German.
Horror: Stephen King.
Taylor Swift: Hot.
Tacos: Mexican.

36 Crazyfists just wrapped up their headlining run in North America. If you've over in Europe, go check them out starting January 18th in Glasgow, UK at the Cathouse and check their website out for more dates coming up! Their new album, Lanterns, just dropped back at the end of September and, in my opinion, is their best to date. It's heavy, raw, emotional and it comes in like a freight train with “Death Eater” and ends on a softer note with “Dark Corners.” It's a great album for those who know them and a damn good summation of everything they do well for new fans to discover them now.

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