I can't tell you how stoked i am to have this interview done. Kyle sings/sang in the band Crafter. They just put out their final EP "No Renaissance" which followed up one of my favourite melodic hardcore records "Lasting Efforts". If you are not familiar with them, i cannot recommend them enough, especially if you dig bands like Verse, Go It Alone, Allegiance, & Bane. Kyle is also an author, so you should go and buy his books.
Crafter are now a "shelved" band as you succinctly put it! Is that a nicer way of saying "hiatus" or are you done?
I think it’s safe to say that this band is finished. The way that this last release was planned and written, it was our absolute intention that this would be the last output from this band. Leading up to the recording of these four songs, we had talked about putting it to an essential end, mostly because we just couldn’t get the necessary traction to keep it rolling forward. We needed more people to take a chance on our band in order for it to keep our heads in it, and it just didn’t pan out. So ultimately, we talked about new directions to take, which we disagreed on pretty strongly (in a friendly sense). By the time we recorded this release, the morale was at an all time low, and my interest in being in a hardcore/punk band had nearly vanished, so we decided it was best to put it away. We still want to play a proper last show or two, though. Only time will tell if that happens.
You guys just released a cracking EP "No Renaissance" that shows a band evolving yet staying true to their roots. Did the writing/recording process differ from that of "Lasting Efforts"?
The writing process for this one was pretty similar to our writing process for our other releases. Dylan would shell out some demos and send me a recording and I would give the ol’ head nod of approval or side shake of disapproval. Basically, if I feel it matches my emotive state enough for me to lyrically explore it, I take it. At first, Dylan was walking down a darker, heavier road, and so we didn’t match up as well as we did on Lasting Efforts. We spoke about it and both concluded that it would be best to explore those other ideas in new bands or projects, hence the arrival of Pushed Out, his new band. I was leaning more into choruses and listening to music with more rock/hooks in it, and so we were drifting away from the shared (melodic hardcore) interest of the band. Ultimately, we re-visited our formula and were able to write and record these songs, which are my favorite Crafter songs to date. That being said, we realize we could never write songs like this again because we were exhausted of this very formula/pattern/sound. This was the final squeeze of the orange, so to speak.
Was there a plan to follow up the EP with an album, or did you all know that that was going to be your swan song?
This was a planned swan song. We recorded these tracks on a final US tour that ended abruptly in Minnesota. I won’t hide or shy away from the details, because we are all good friends again and happy with our lives as they currently stand. Basically, we set up a tour with us recording these songs along the route, at Bricktop Studios in Chicago, IL. The studio time was great, but I had a bout with some horrible pneumonia-like illness for 3 months that had destroyed my voice. It had worked its way into my psyche and really gotten to me. On the recording, you can definitely hear a “weaker” version of my vocals. By the time we reached Minneapolis to play Snow and Flurry Festival, a culmination of depression and loneliness had really warped my mindset, and we had had arguments about other things lingering, so it created a perfect storm for us to have a massive fight and exodus. I drove the van back to Massachusetts with Tyler and Dylan took a bus home with his brother. The band was dead and the tour was dead and in a sense, the songs were dead too- but considering the dark nature of the lyrics and melodies, I pushed the release forward with Jerry of Patient Zero and we got our proper swan song. We all laugh and joke now about the tour stopping full force because who knows when music will return. We probably would have done things differently if we could have seen this coming, but that’s tough to say. We knew this was the final output for this band because we had all just wanted something different, and were feeling the floor more than the ceiling, by the time we recorded it.
Outside of Crafter, what keeps you busy?
For me, writing has always been the reason for being in a band. I’ve written and released two novels, recently finished a book of poems, and am working on a few others. I always connected most strongly to the literary element of music. That’s my bread and butter. Tyler, our second guitarist, just bought a house and locked down a career down in Georgia, and has a new band called Heart and Mind. Dylan and Dalton released a demo for their new band, Pushed Out, which is out now on Patient Zero Records. I have a new band called Blind Idol with my friend Tyson, who plays in Maniac and, once upon a time, Hollow Breath. There are plenty of things. I hang out a lot with my girlfriend and my dog. I also work a bunch of odd jobs to pay my bills. But in a sense, I have a lot more freedom to take life seriously now that the band is out of the way. It seems to have opened up a whole new lane to drive in.
Whether it be writers, bands or artists, who or what influences you?
I love this question. I think this question is different for everyone in the band. I consider myself to be the “band dork” when it comes to this, because I always worked at taking a literary position when writing lyrics for this band. There was always a real and deliberate attempt to be an intelligent band; one that thinks their positions through, acquiring them from places of earned knowledge and influence. I would sit and watch Christopher Hitchens debates for hours, just to remind myself that in order to hold a position, you have to have some semblance of knowing what youre talking about. Then there are all the books I have read. I would always make time on tours or in travel to visit used bookstores, trying to keep the inspiration flowing like fresh blood to my brain. Some of the bigger ones that carried Lasting Efforts were Thomas Wolfe and Edward Abbey, writers of the Iraq War, and John Dos Passos. By the time I got to writing for “No Renaissance,” I stripped myself down right to what I was going through, and specifically, the city I live in. I was just driving around Holyoke, Massachusetts and looking down the alleys, and there’s all this trash and leftover debris from addiction; real despair to look at. I used a lot of that imagery to develop the songs. I was also in the worst possible headspace, and one day I was driving to my parents’ house and I saw a sign outside of the town church and it said “let our hearts be broken by what breaks the heart of God” and I just cried at the stop sign like a child when I read it, because I was in a melodramatic state of loneliness and isolation that hits a young guy every so often. So I took that line as the foundation for the track “Discarding Arrows.” Inspiration can come from literature. From songs. Or just from life. For the last release, it came more from life than from other sources, with Go It Alone being an obvious backbone piece to the release, since we covered their track “Nothing Gold.”
Melodic hardcore has seen bands come and go (Go It Alone,Verse, Carry On) and come back again (Modern Life Is War, Defeater) but Crafter has been a constant, under the radar (in a good way) band putting out consistently great music. Are you happy with what you've achieved on a personal level, and as a band?
Dylan and I used to talk about this all the time. We circled back to the theme of “would we keep going if we could keep going?” and for a while, we had settled on a “yes, we would.” Eventually, that changed. We wanted this band to have longevity and in order for that to happen, we had to have kids care. We put more into this band in 5 ½ years than some could even imagine to, but we couldn’t get the plane off the runway. That’s not to say we aren’t happy with what we achieved, and the amount of road we covered. Melodic hardcore is a funny thing. It’s very youthful and it flickers like a dimming wick. It’s not something that has real lasting power in the scene, because it relies on an intensity and romanticism found uniquely in youth. I think we started to lose that youth and the romanticism that signatures it. We are proud of what this band did, and how much this band stuck out and through in our time together. But being in Crafter was always a challenge. It was about being broke, touring too much, and running against the tides, sonically and emotionally. We stayed true to what we wanted from this band since its inception, and in a way, that killed us. But it was an honest death, and I am okay with that. On a personal level, I look at our releases and smile with a sense of completion. I’m proud to have called this band home for the latter years of my twenties. As a band, I know we all feel the same. We were just tired and ready to turn the page. I don’t foresee us turning the page back. I’m a sentimental guy but I don’t think I much care to “relive those days,” so don’t expect it from us as time rolls forward.
Any last words?
Thanks to anyone who cared, pressed play, bought a record, or shared a conversation with any of us while we were a band. Be on the look out for Blind Idol’s “Town and City” demo, coming out on New Morality Zine this month. Check out all things Sentimental Press if you enjoy reading! Those can be found at sentimentalpress.bigcartel.com. Be on the lookout for Tyler’s new band, Heart and Mind, as they gear up to release material this year. And don’t forget to go press play on the Pushed Out demo that came out a few months ago, which Dalton and Dylan play in currently.
All the love- Crafter was Dylan, Dalton, Tyler, Kyle +