At first glance,Cross appears to be a band that buys t-shirts for the sole purpose of tearing the sleeves off.
Made up of members of some of the best punk and hardcore bands the city has produced over the last three years, Cross features Sam Wight and Alastair MacDonald on bass, Ben Radford on drums, Adam Kindred on guitar and T.J. Kavanaugh on vocals. Wight and Radford made up the crust duo Missed Life, MacDonald is in Last Laugh, Kindred spent time in Prisoners, Kavanaugh is one of the guitarists in Rockstorm, while Radford and MacDonald were both in Ratbag (with Kindred) and currently play in C.I. With at least two other projects in the pipeline, this group of friends' creative output is extremely prolific. It's easy to be bowled over by their enthusiasm for punk rock.
A mixture of classic Japanese anarcho-punk, American hardcore and British heavy metal of the '80s, Cross will either annihilate, alienate or embrace you.
Radford cites the radical nature of Japanese hardcore as part of its appeal. He says, "I find that Japanese culture in general to take things to the ultimate extreme, especially with crust and hardcore, it's just over the top...intense. Everybody is super into it, super-devoted, it's almost culty at the same time." For instance, take the stories about Saveki, lead singer of the Japanese band GISM, who is believed to be legally insane. During a show, Saveki jumped into the pit with a chainsaw. Another story has him entering a Japanese record store selling GISM records and then spraying lighter fluid and igniting the store.
No one in Cross, fortunately, is chasing anyone with a flame-thrower.
Less about peeling the skin off their audiences and more about preserving a do-it-yourself ethic, Cross is determined to integrate new people into the Halifax punk scene. Wight says, "Starting bands with people who haven't been in bands before...I find that a lot of people won't tap into people who haven't been in bands before, but with this type of music, I find it a little easier."
Wight hopes that Cross, along with the other musical projects she's involved in, helps create an atmosphere where women who aren't in bands start their own, free from condescending comments such as, "Oooh at least trying."
For Kavanaugh, a New Brunswick transplant, joining Cross gave him an excuse to not sit around and "rot in my apartment." The rest of the band guffaws at Kavanaugh's admission that he's not an outgoing person. Charismatic and clearly at ease with an audience, Kavanaugh is the perfect frontperson for a band looking to make a connection that extends beyond internet messageboards.
That isn't to say Cross is infatuated with becoming everyone's sweetheart. According to Radford, "If you play a show and everyone hates you, but two people come up and say, 'Maaan, that was fucking sick, that meant so much to me,' then that's cool."
"It's so much neater to do things that are a piece of you...With Cross a lot of people don't get it. 'Why do you have two bass players?' To be fair I do have some fills, maybe you can't hear them all the time, but I do do them," responds Wight to people's criticism of the band's double-bass attack. "It's another brick in the wall of noise," adds Radford, who makes up the rest of the rhythm section.
Surrounded by their homemade tapes, CDs, lyrics sheets and artwork, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement thatCross generates.
For Wight, it's simply, "the most fun we've ever had in a band."