Getting It Straight With Christina Of Level-C
Cleveland, Ohio's all-female metal act, Level-C, has been on a steady rise in the metal underground since first forming in 2002, having been one of the top 10 bands on the MTV series "Battle For Ozzfest". They're lead guitarist Christina Crago answered some of my questions recently to keep all of us current on the band's progress.
Rocket: What exactly does the band moniker Level-C mean?
Christina: Well here is the story, we get this question alot. We used to be called Dna Level C, Which is Cleveland backwards, crazy huh?.... but this was way too long and we always had to explain were we got that from, so we went ahead and just shortened it right away, about a month after we started playing out.Rocket: How exactly did Level-C originally form?
Christina: We all jammed with one another at some time. I moved here from South Dakota and met Christine the singer and we played together for about 3-4 months and nothing came of it, until I got a call about a year and a half later from Christina again saying she was wanting to start up a band and that she wanted to be the singer. Now she was originaly a guitar player, so I was like, "What the hell? That sounds great!" Then she got ahold of Misty at the same time and then it was time to find a bass player, and the bass player we have now is actually Chrisitne's cousin, so it is all intertwined one way or another.Rocket: So how long have you been playing electric guitar? Are you self-taught or did you take lessons?
Christina: I have been playing guitar for about 16 years now. I am basically self taught, just locking myself in my bedroom for hours as a kid, it worked. I had a couple lessons here and there to get my speed up but that is about it, just myself and my ear.Rocket: What kind of guitar(s) are you playing on live and in the studio?
Christina: Live I play a Custom Shop Jackson Soloist, and a Fernandez Revolver, an old one but I love the sound. The Jackson is my baby though. In the Studio, I use the Fernandes. I have a Gibson Tony Iommi Pick-up in it and it gives me a killer tone for the studio.Rocket: What kind of amp set-up are you using?
Christina: I run through a Marshall DSL 2000 with a Line 6 Pod and a few other goodies to tweek the killer, deep, crunching tone I need. I get alot of compliments after shows about my tone. I am always working on it to make it the best. I think I have my complete set-up now perfect for me. But who know there are so many new toys out there and I am a woman and love to shop for new things.Rocket: I know Level-C ranked in the top 10 out of 800 bands across the United States who competed for MTV's "The Battle for Ozzfest." What was that experience like for you personally?
Christina: It was great Heading to NY not knowing what was going to happen and the out-come. It will be something I will never forget. We stood out on the street from 2am and finnaly got in arounf 11 am, we were the 37th band. It was great we meet alot of great people out there doing the same thing we are, giving it all you got with no stops. We still see some of the bands from time to time. When we were in there we were followed around the whole time by all kinds of video cameras, I felt like a movie star or a Rockstar I guess. It was something I would definitely do again!!!Rocket: Hell yeah. I hear you on that one. Now, in most bands the guitar player comes up with the riff for the song and then works out the rest of the arrangement with the band. Is that how it works for Level-C?
Christina: That is how it normally works for us, sometimes I have all the riffs for the song and then we play through them and mix up the arrangement to get the right feel. I also work in the studio I have set up in my basement, Sometimes I can do a whole song in a day. Itt's great have the convenience of that there for me, even if it is just a riff I want to lay down. We just wrote 2 new ones the past 2 days. I am super excited to start playing some more new material.Rocket: What does Dimebag of Pantera/Damageplan mean to you as an inspiration? And tell me more about how you felt when you first learned that he had been murdered on stage at the end of 2004.
Christina: Dimebag is my man. He is someone I have always looked up to as a player and a person. I had only met him once. I wish there would of been more opportunities for me to get to know him more. I still can't believe he is gone. It was the biggest shock of my life. We got a call from one of our fans right after it happened, he was there. He didn't know who was all hurt, but I knew deep in my heart that Dime was gone. I just shook my head in disbelief. We run into alot of people out there that were supposed to be there (like we were), who were there, etc. I don't think anyone will ever forget what had happened that night. It still feels like it happend last night.Rocket: Yeah, I totally agree with you on the last statement. So who are some of your favorite metal bands playing the local music scene of Cleveland, Ohio?
Christina: You know, I don't know too much of the metal Scene here. We have played with alot of great bands though, they come and go so fast in this town it is crazy. Sometimes this town is hard to keep it together. There are so many metal bands here, you wouldn't think that though.Rocket: Has Level-C been getting approached by any labels since "Battle For Ozzfest"?
Christina: We got alot of attention when the episode first aired but no definate label interest at this time from it, but we are in talk with a couple out there that might be able to get us steered in the right direction.Rocket: Who is the manager for Level-C? How has that relationship been working out?
Christina: A of right now we have no manager. We are possibly going to be working with one from Cali. We are just waiting for the go ahead. We are in talks with them right now. I have a good feeling that this one will get us to were we need to be....one of the owners was in a metal band herself in the past.Rocket: Right on. That's some killer news. I can see Level-C is gaining a strong following on MySpace. Do you answer any of your fan mail or is that something you don't really care about?
Christina :Oh yeah, we answer alot of our fan mail, post comments on their pages. No, it's alot of fun to do it yourself, so when you are at a show you see those familiar faces, your fans that you get to talk to on a regular basis. I wouldn't have it any other way. But we are like that at our shows too. We never run off and hide. We are always out there hanging out like everyone else.Rocket: What do you say to the people who don't think women belong in metal bands?
Christina: You know, we always get that when we show up any the club and people start coming in for the show, but their tune changes buy the time we get off. I get a kick out of it. They must think woman are pussies or something. That is not us at all. We know what we want and go for it. We hold our own just perfectly.Rocket: Well, hey. I am rooting for yah for sure. So when can we expect to see the debut album from Level-C? Are you going to just wait around for a record deal or like many acts today are you prepared to possibly finance one on your own and look for a distributor?
Christina: No, we are waiting for a record label to sign us. We hope maybe this summer we will have a full length album out, even if we are not signed yet. We will just go ahead and sell them at our shows like we do now.
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