The Cross Brothers to Celebrate Their Anticipated Debut With a Release Show at the Happy Dog

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click to enlarge The Cross Brothers to Celebrate Their Anticipated Debut With a Release Show at the Happy Dog
Courtesy of the Cross Brothers
Singer-guitarist Tony Cross and his singer-guitarist brother Nick both grew up on Cleveland's west side. From an early age, they developed a love for British Invasion music, something that would inspire their first band, Coffinberry, as well as their new band, the Cross Brothers.

"We liked the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Kinks and the Zombies when we were in our early teens and definitely started by learning a lot of those songs," says Tony Cross. The band celebrates the release of its debut album, Living on Sheepheads, with Glass Traps and Part Time Lover at 9 p.m. on Friday, March 16, at the Happy Dog. "And then, as we got older, I got into punk bands, and I went to [the now-closed club] Speak in Tongues when I was really young. That it made it seem like it was possible — and maybe even easy — to play a show."

At Speak in Tongues, the Cross brothers met local singer-songwriter Brian Straw, one of the club's organizers and a regular performer there. The band still considers him a friend, and Straw, who now runs a studio out of the 78th Street Studios, even helped the guys add vocals to the tracks they had already recorded for the new album.

The locally based imprint Just Because will release the disc.

"Joe Vecchio, who plays in bands and is just a fan of music, runs the label," says Tony Cross. "I think it says on his Facebook or something, 'I just put out records I like.' That's pretty much his attitude."

The band recruited local musician and artist Scott Pickering, who drew the images while he listened to the music, to create the abstract artwork that graces the album's cover.

"We wanted to have him to do a really quick line drawing or a black and white drawing originally, and he gave us a bunch of artwork," says Nick Cross. "Then, we saw that painting that he did too, and we were enamored with it, and we wanted to use it right away. I thought it fit the songs in a weird way, but I don't know how."

With three guitars constantly vying for attention, the album simultaneously recalls the garage rock revival acts of the '90s (the Hives, the Strokes) while drawing from Kinks-like songwriting structures.

In "Crashing Down," Matt Charboneau's beefy bass riff somehow mixes well with vibes, bursts of guitar and thumping drums.

"We sort of had an idea of having the song groove along, so we did that with Nick and Will [Nolan's] guitars kind of playing that arpeggio part in the song," says Tony Cross. "Dan [Price] has a vibraphone, so he played vibraphone on it this time, it was really nice, and then Dan's rhythm stuff just really drives that track."

The band effectively turns a clichéd expression into a catchy refrain on the rollicking, Dylan-like "Where the Water's Fine."

"That line in the song is just about having a place where you feel alright," says Nick Cross. "So that's just about dealing with anxiety and having a spot in your mind where you can go to feel alright."

Ultimately, the album suggests the extent to which the Cross brothers, two guys who showed so much potential with Coffinberry and have created a buzz with the Cross Brothers even before the band released an album, have evolved and matured into fantastic songwriters and musicians.

"With this record, we sorta captured a good feel, a good vibe all across I think," says Tony Cross. "There's stuff I like about it that doesn't sound like previous things we've done. A lot of times, I'll be listening to other bands that I really like when there's this sort of nervous energy. This record kinda has that. I think some of the anxiety in the music comes from purposely trying to tilt the guitars or the percussion to try to accentuate that."

Tickets to the release show are $6.

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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