by Alex Wexelman
As the prepositional title suggests, Crying’s debut full-length ‘Beyond the Fleeting Gates’ is a journey. Like the characters in the side-scrolling video games their previous EPs could have soundtracked, the New York three-piece is only moving forward. For their new album the group ditched the Game Boy, which previously boxed them into the chiptune genre, and produced their grandest, lushest work to date charging through the fleeting gates into stadium rock territory.
Band members Elaiza Santos and Ryan credit the new sound to putting more time into songwriting and exploring different influences. Rush, REO Speedwagon and Van Halen were mentioned in press as sonic reference points for ‘Beyond the Fleeting Gates’, but while the album revels in ‘80s sounds it manages to sound futuristic. Take, for instance, the postmodern mix of Jackson 5 guitar riffs with rapped vocals and sailing synths on “There Was a Door.” Last month Elaiza and Ryan took some time to chat to me about influences, touring, emo music and the origin of the name Crying.
How did “Beyond the Fleeting Gates” come to fruition? How long have you been working on it?
Ryan Galloway: How long? I think the first recorded demo is August 2014. Yes, it’s August 2014.
Elaiza Santos: Wow!
Ryan: And we’ve been working on it on-and-off, but as a whole band probably October 2015. October 2015 is when we recorded and then it took a while to record the guitar stuff and extra vocal stuff so honestly a really long time, but not. It wasn’t a concentrated effort.
What was the recording process like?
Elaiza: We were in the basement this time. Nine days and the bulk of the recording and then the other parts were in different places separately. It was the first time I was like, “I’m not afraid of recording. I love it.”
Ryan: It was really nice because on our first few EPs we recorded, we recorded with a Game Boy and there were always a lot of [issues] with that—especially because we recorded to tape and then we recorded scratch to tape and then recorded to the Game Boy scratch but then recorded the actual Game Boy afterwards. It was all different, running at different speeds, it was really awful and this time there was no Game Boy and we used all digital. Did we use any tape?
Elaiza: No, I don’t think so
Ryan: So that was really nice, really fun.
So did you record the album yourselves?
Ryan: No, our friend Mike Ditrio who has always recorded us. Well, OK so he’s the engineer on everything we’ve had so far. He’s always done the bulk of the recording. In fact, that’s how the drums—we all think that the drums sound very good on this record because of Mike’s approach. So the bulk of that was recorded with him at the studio and he recorded some vocals with Emily
Elaiza: Yes, Emily Sprague [of Florist]
Ryan: And I recorded some guitar parts on my own in my parent’s house. You can cut out “in my parent’s house.”
The new album has a much bigger, fuller sound. Was there a conscious effort to make a new direction with this album?
Ryan: I think so. I’m trying to think how conscious the division was. I think it was more like we were just listening to different things at the time. We’ve always liked all different kinds of music and it’s really funny because this album is probably the most relatable to all three members. All three members [note: third member, drummer Nick Corbo, was touring with band LVL UP at the time of this interview], I feel like hear stuff that they like on this album more so than on the other EPs. I know that I really love big rock stuff and I really wanted to finally do that.
Elaiza: And also taking more time to write this shows in the little details that we put effort into in recording it. That it’s not just louder or something. There’s just a lot more thought put into it I think.
You guys mentioned Rush as an influence on this album and stadium rock in general. Who else were you listening to when you put this together?
Ryan: A lot of…do you know the band Airplay?
No, I don’t know them.
Ryan: So Airplay is this band that did one album in 1980 but if you go online anywhere it’s referred to as “the West Coast masterpiece” or like “the masterpiece of ‘80s West Coast AOR” and it has a lot of main players in that California scene at the time. A lot of members of Toto play on that album, the two main people are Jay Graydon and David Foster. David Foster went on produce The Bodygaurd soundtrack and all of this crazy stuff and it’s just like really, really dense really ridiculous pop-rock. That’s an album that definitely influenced me a lot. On top of that I was definitely listening to Carly Rae Jepsen’s E•MO•TION constantly last year and that had a big impact on this album.
Elaiza: At the time I was listening to Cocteau Twins, Garbage, and so I felt more ambitious with having fun with different mics and mixing the vocals differently.
Ryan: A lot of vocal parts are going to be hard to reproduce live because there’s only one human singing.
I’m gonna have to check out that album it sounds right up my alley and I love that Carly Rae Jepsen album.
Ryan: It’s so good. The crazy thing about that one is a lot of people hate it.
So did you guys use the Game Boy on this album or did you ditch it because it was hard to record with?
Ryan: I think what happened was I realized…I mostly deal with the Game Boy and the synthesizer stuff and I was using the Game Boy for the first two EPs and then I was writing a lot of songs and the sounds that were in my head, I wasn’t able to use the Game Boy for them and we already did two things with the Game Boy so why not branch out to other…I mean I love a lot of chiptune art, I love that sound, but I also love a lot of other sounds. It’s definitely not a [imitates aggravated voice] “we’re not a chiptune band anymore!” More like we never were a chiptune band we just happened to make two chiptune EPs. But to answer the first part of your question, no there’s no Game Boy on this album only because, y’know, this is the only band I’m in and I want to explore as many sounds as possible.
What instruments did you use on this record?
Ryan: It’s the classic guitar, vocal, drums and then I think I only used software instruments. I don’t think there was any live synthesizer play but a lot of Arturia, the Arturia beat collection, they have a lot of emulaitons of classic synthesizers. The [Sequential Circuits] Prophet-5 is a big one that we used, the native instrument FM8—it’s almost like a [Yamaha] DX7, and the DX7 it’s always been around but I feel like it’s super hip now. Like the Juno was hip the last few years and now the next three years it’s gonna be the DX7. Not any real chip sounds but I sampled a lot of Kingdom Hearts soundtrack, there’s some Kirby 64, some Banjo-Kazooie, there’s actually one Zelda part—I’m pretty sure it’s from Ocarina. Those instruments you might not even be able to pick out. And I have no idea of what the legality of using those sounds are.
Who are you touring with?
Ryan: We’re doing a few dates on our own and then we’re touring with Joyce Manor and The Hotelier. Jack’s Mannequin and Tokio Hotel is who we’re touring with, sounds like it though.
Have you guys done a big tour like this before?
Elaiza: Yeah, a couple of US’s but I don’t think it’s ever been this long. This’ll be a six week endeavor so who will we be by the end? I don’t know. How many versions of ourselves will we go through?
Ryan: Will we gain weight or lose weight?
That sounds super exciting. Are you guys excited for that? Nervous? Anxious?
Ryan: In terms of every time we tour the first show is the worst show of all time, for me personally. The second one is kind of OK and then it becomes fun.
Elaiza: The second worst show is where I make a bad joke about the sound engineer and I put my foot in my mouth the rest of the night.
Ryan: It always starts going well, you just always have to get comfortable again. I think we don’t tour enough to constantly be in a comfortable state
Elaiza, do you write the lyrics on your own?
Elaiza: Yeah a lot of this album was inspired by what I was reading at the time like screenplays and comics and some young adult fiction in addition to what was going on in my life so a lot of the lyrics are personal to me but I think are universal situations.
Is it hard for you to be open in your lyrics?
Elaiza: No, there’s a lot of Cancer in my chart so I don’t see a problem with that at all. Maybe sometimes I don’t know when to stop. I think it’s vague enough.
The reason I ask mostly is because the work you on the side with Whatever Dad / 100%, I thought it was really interesting how you put it out there and then took it down and then changed the name. Was that in any part due to trying to hide your work or maybe make it less readily available to the public?
Elaiza: No, I think I get off on having different names for different things and my writing I associate it very much with time and parts of myself so when I feel like I’m satisfied with that project I can no longer write for it in a way that I want to. I write in a different way or about different things and I want that to be separate and Crying has always been separate from my other projects even though some of the same subject matter might cross over, but yeah it’s not so much of me wanting to hide it, I just like playing games.
What’s the story behind the name Crying? Where does that come from?
Ryan: We were called something else before Crying and then we really wanted a simple name that no one had. So I think one of our friends was like you should just do Crying. And then I looked it up and I was just like, ‘oh, there’s no band called Crying and it’s a word that everyone’s familiar with’ so there you go. And it’s been a very controversial band name, caused a lot of problems. A lot of people like to call us emo because of that name but don’t be fooled, I’ve never listened to that bullshit. I think a lot of the people who play emo music think that their music is the only sad music, but all music is sad.
‘Beyond The Fleeting Gales’ was released on October 14th, via Run For Cover
photo credits: adam kolodny