Cross the Divide
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Cross the Divide

Rochester, New Hampshire, United States | SELF

Rochester, New Hampshire, United States | SELF
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"Feature Artist: Cross the Divide!"

"The LIST: ORIGIN STORY?
Cross the Divide: Cross the Divide started out as a project between me (Zac) and my brother, Chase. Honestly, I’ve always been in music, and felt led by God to pick up guitar in my early teen years. Before I went to study music at college, I taught Chase how to play bass, and he excelled and eventually taught himself way beyond what I could have ever shown him. When he heard I was returning from college, he practically begged me to start a band with him. We started writing some songs together, and soon found our drummer Trent, who just blew our minds with his near instant ability to play exactly what our music called for. After that, we picked a name and it was practice, practice, practice.

The LIST: INSPIRATION?
Cross the Divide: If I were to list all of our influences, it would take weeks to read, but here are a few: Dream Theater, Joe Satriani, Creed, Shinedown, 3 Doors Down, Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Decyfer Down, Spock’s Beard, Neal Morse, Breaking Benjamin, The Micah Tawlks Band, Mudvayne, Victor Wooten, Shadow Gallery, All That Remains, Jack Thammarat, Steve Vai, Marcus Miller, Train, Paul Gilbert, and last but not least, Jesus.

The LIST: RECENT ANTICS?
Cross the Divide: We’ve been playing a lot of charity events recently, raising money for adoptions and child sponsorship programs such as Compassion International. We enjoy helping people out whenever we can, and we figure if we can rock some faces off in the process that works for us. We’re also working on recording demos which will eventually evolve into an EP.

The LIST: WHAT'S YOUR ANGLE?
Cross the Divide: We’re dedicated. We are totally passionate about music, and we’re willing to do what it takes, and go where we need to go. When we got started, we said we weren’t going to play a genre or style, and we weren’t going to play stuff we don’t like. So we write what sounds good to us, and we play it. Beyond that, we don’t want to get up on stage and sing about some random crap that has no impact on anything, so we take a great deal of time crafting our lyrics poetically to convey a theme that inspires the listener or causes them to ask an important introspective question.

The LIST: WHAT'S NEXT FOR CROSS THE DIVIDE?
Cross the Divide: We just want to keep playing. We’ve had a hard run with trying to set up shows so far, but that’s beginning to take off and we’re ready. Currently, we’re steadily climbing the ranks on Warped Tour’s battle of the bands and hoping we’ll be able to play there. Also, as I stated before, we’re working on an EP which should be available soon." - The LIST Magazine


"Spotlight Artist: Cross the Divide"


When my friends and family first started suggesting new rock band Cross the Divide as a Spotlight possibility, I was apprehensive. Forget apprehensive—I was downright against the idea. I’d already elected one musician for a 2011 Artist—April talent Cole Phillips of The New Nicolette—and did not want to repeat the medium. But even more than that, I stubbornly resisted the three-piece Christian rock nominee because two thirds of the band consisted of two of my brothers.

Sisters are the harshest critics.

However, after seeing several CTD shows—several phenomenal shows that rocked my unrockable heart out—I had to change my views. Cross the Divide has only been around for one year, and already they are taking the world by storm. If I don’t get this interview now, they might become so famous that I never get my chance.

Even if two of them are my brothers.

VIP Pass: Meet the Band

There are three members: Zac Paquette (brother one), lead guitarist, front man, and general manager; Chase Paquette (brother two), bassist; and Trent Robinson, drummer. Together they form the cohesive unit known as Cross the Divide.

The classifiably Christian rock group came together at the end of August last year after Chase recruited Zac to form the beginnings of a band with him, and then the two of them together recruited Trent. Trent came to the table with reservations, but was won over quickly.

“I’ve been in a lot of bands,” Trent explains. “And a lot of them don’t go anywhere. A lot of them are just a bunch of people—I mean, any musician can say they’re good, and a lot of them do. But they aren’t. But these two… I knew their capabilities.” With this in mind, he gave the band a chance. When he realized Chase and Zac were serious, and were producing good music, he stayed.

Cross the Divide. Drummer - Trent Robinson.

Once officially a three-piece, the men were able to concentrate on their music. With all three members well-trained in their respective instruments and experienced in playing alongside other musicians, it wasn’t long before the band was headed for performing live. But the group needed a name.

Zac was the one to suggest Cross the Divide. “Everybody who has walked in Christian circles has seen the picture of the ravine with the cross in it and on one side is man on the other side is God, and the cross is the bridge between man and God. So I came up with that as Cross the Divide—that was the imagery there.”

He adds that the name works on another level, too: “Where we want to be a Christian message in a mainstream environment, we’re crossing the divide between the secular world and the Christian world.”

Behind the Music

It is universal knowledge that Christian music has struggled for decades to be taken seriously, with only a few select bands rising to the top—bands like Flyleaf, Skillet, and POD making the cut, while others fall miserably short. Almost anyone who will give Christian music a chance comes with a chip on his shoulder, so a band that wants to rise above has to offer something new and different. According to Zac, Cross the Divide doesn’t shirk the challenge:

“Our music is extremely unique. I have not heard any band that really sounds like what we sound like,” he says. “Most hard rock bands are typically quite a bit slower than we are in their feel. Our songs tend to fall somewhere between 120 and 180 beats per minute, where most hard rock songs fall somewhere between 60 and 120. So we’re doubling the pace. Genres where you would have that kind of speed are usually either metal or pop punk—or techno. And we’re very rock.”

The band provides a real show onstage, as well, mixing serious entertainment with the message that they bring. For instance, while each continuing to play complicated riffs with one hand, Zac and Chase will cross the stage to high-five each other. In addition, Zac plays each of his solos differently, breaking up the pace with shred-style finger tapping and sweep arpeggios; Chase brings stage-jumps to the mix as well as rapid alternations between playing from the bottom of the neck and the top; and Trent’s drum solos are show-stoppers. All the while, the band works toward a specific end goal.

“We are a Step One band,” Zac says. “We’re carrying our Christian message to a mainstream audience. So. What does that mean? Step one, we think, is helping people to recognize that they need God.” As he explains that everyone needs God, he adds that there are certain steps to getting to Him—first realizing need of Him, then being introduced to the one, true God, and finally living out a life with Him. “We want people to realize that they need Jesus,” he says.
Cross the Divide. Bassist - Chase Paquette.

Song lyrics are the way the band prompts their audience to consider their need of God. “All of our songs say, here’s what they weight of sin does. Well, here’s what Jesus did for me. Because I was a murderer, I was a whatever—I was a bad person, and I was redeemed by Jesus.”

Their latest song, introduced at the Night Before the Fourth event in Rochester, New Hampshire, called “In the Shadow,” is a perfect example of this. The chorus, which poses the question “Where do you stand?”, begs the question, as Zac puts it, “Are you standing in the shadow of the Almighty, where there’s protection, or are you standing in the shadow of death? […] Are you chasing after you don’t even know what, or are you in a place where it’s solid and there’s safety?—The idea of the song is just that. Getting people to ask the question, what are they living for? Where are they?”

Ups and Downs

Cross the Divide has been able to book a number of great gigs for a band that is new on the scene. Their most recent appearances include the Night Before the Fourth, an Independence Day event that draws thousands each year; the Northwood Summer Concert Series; and a night of rock at GroundZero, alongside Florida band Love Like Gravity. They were even in the running for Warped Tour, but in the end just barely missed the cut.

“It was really exciting to be in the running to go to Warped Tour and be in the Battle of the Bands,” Chase admits. “We didn’t end up going, and that was really disappointing, but that last month it looked like we might be going, and that was exciting.”

The band seems to agree that Night Before the Fourth was a huge triumph for them. Trent says it may even have been “the best thing yet.”

“It was really powerful,” he says. “There were tons of people that were very into it and excited. At the end of that we were able to walk away and have huge grins on our faces that we knocked that one out of the park.”
Cross the Divide. Guitarist - Zac Paquette.

It is victories like Night Before the Fourth that the guys have to hold onto when things are against them. As Zac observes, “New England is a hard region to play, for any band. Particularly New Hampshire. People in New England stand against the wall with their cell phones, if they’re there. They don’t respond, they don’t want to come out in the first place—any venue is a long drive. And finding paying gigs is hard.”

But the band manages to focus on the good things—things like Night Before the Fourth, which yielded a number of new Facebook fans and even some fans who followed them to their gig with the Northwood Summer Concert Series—and on upholding their message both on the stage and off.

“We’ll reflect Christ best if we’re the guys who help all the other bands get their gear on and off the stage. We’re the guys who are there first, and we’re the last to leave, usually. We show support to the other bands, we are kind to the venue […]—we just really want to reflect Christ in everything,” Zac says.

CTD is now in the running for Uproar, an international hard rock touring festival that gives one local band per venue the opportunity to open for big-name acts. You can vote for them by visiting the Uproar Festival Battle of the Bands website.

Band of Brothers

For all the hard work of being in a band, the members of CTD remember to respect each other as brothers above all else.

“The biggest thing for me is just being able to play music with these guys,” Zac attests. “We talk about church—‘church’ being the people we share Jesus with—and these guys are my church. These are the guys I enjoy hanging out with and enjoy making music with. That’s really the coolest thing for me.”
Cross the Divide Zac, Chase, and Trent

They work together as a team to create music and to be a light to the world. Although Zac is the only one who chose music performance as his focus for college, all three guys treat each other as equal musicians.

“That was one of the things when Zac and I started this, and when we brought on Trent,” says Chase. “It was a matter of, we all wanted to play what we wanted to play. We all wanted to write, we all wanted to express ourselves in the music, not be a backup band for Zac.”

“Yeah. I certainly never wanted this to be The Zachary Paquette Experience,” Zac adds, smiling.

The band works together to make decisions on what sounds good and what doesn’t. If Zac brings a riff to the table and the other two don’t like it, it gets tossed, or at least set aside for later. Even onstage, when the audience is calling out for more at the end of a CTD performance, the band does the musical equivalent of a huddle to decide how to go out. If one member is too exhausted to do an intense song, together they pick something else.

“Honesty is important,” Chase shrugs.

Final Note

Cross the Divide plays nice, rocks hard, and stays positive. If there’s a band anywhere out there to take note of—a band that makes it happen without the perks of a formal album, booking agent, or producer—then CTD is it. What advice can they offer to other musicians and artists out there who are pursuing their dreams in the face of all odds?

“You just gotta keep pluggin’,” Chase says. “Keep chugging along. It’s not easy. At all.”

Trent and Zac nod in agreement.

“It’s hard work,” he continues. “It’s hard to get out there, to find a place to play, or show your artwork, or whatever it is—and even harder to get people to be interested and come out to see it. And for a long time, it sucks up a whole lot more money than it makes. But you have to love it, and if you love it, it’s worth it.” - alexispaquettewriting.com


"A display of patriotism: Night Before the Fourth in Rochester honors veterans, has something for the whole family"

"...After the flag ceremony, although faced with intermittent drizzle, attendees listened the music of Lisa Gallant Seal, a local Christian folk artist, and New Hampshire-based rock band Cross the Divide..."
"...estimated 6,000 to 8,000 attendees this year, a slightly lower number than in past years because of the weather."
- Fosters Daily Democrat


Discography

Albums:
-Wreck Ignition (to be released in 2012)

Streaming Tracks:
-Wreck Ignition

Photos

Bio

Up and coming in the New England rock scene is southern New Hampshire-based Cross the Divide. The three-member band combines heavy guitar riffs and melodic vocals to produce a unique blend of progressive and hard rock styles. Cross the Divide draws from decades’ worth of playing experience, university education, and extremely diverse musical backgrounds ranging from classical to jazz and contemporary Christian to progressive rock/metal. In an increasingly superficial era, Cross the Divide brings not only sweet guitar licks and driving bass lines, but also deep lyrical content driving home themes of hope, strength, and justice.

In 2010, Zac - guitarist and songwriter for Cross the Divide - returned to New Hampshire from studying guitar at college in Minnesota. At the time he felt a strong desire to form a band interested in playing new, original, positive-themed material. Having trained his brother Chase on bass, and therefore knowing Chase’s advanced technical ability, Zac began working with his brother to build the beginnings of the collection which they would soon bring to a drummer from a local church who they knew to be gifted, particularly in progressive rock styles.

By August of 2010, Zac and Chase had started work with that drummer, Trent. Trent’s enthusiasm for the project caught on when Zac and Chase revealed their harder sound, and with diligent work and open communication, the trio soon had a full set of originals ready to bring to the masses.

Reflecting on an image he once saw, and the genre-crossing nature of the group, Zac came up with Cross the Divide as a potential band name. He presented the idea to Trent and Chase, and with their votes, the group adopted the name and began looking for gigs. Early on, the band found it difficult to find performing opportunities, but this did not stop them. Cross the Divide used contacts they had through their local church to acquire gigs at youth groups throughout New England, as at other functions and rallies and quickly began to rise to the forefront of the local music scene.

Cross the Divide has now performed at dozens of shows, from Bangor, ME to Boston, MA. The band has had thousands of online song plays; and the opportunity to bring a message of hope to thousands throughout whether onstage, or online. Currently, the band is working on their first full-length album "Wreck Ignition" scheduled to be released in May of 2012.