Staggered Crossing
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Staggered Crossing

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The best kept secret in music

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Debi Ruhl/Encore
Jeff Korenko/Encore!

October 21 2005.

If what doesn't kill you actually does make you stronger, the latest incarnation of Toronto rockers Staggered Crossing may stay alive and kicking for quite some time.
Julian Taylor discusses his band, the recording process of Burgundy and Blue and life on the road with the Born With Hors Tour.
The recording process, for various reasons, took longer than either of the band's previous two works, explains Taylor.
But it was definitely worth it, he continues.
Burgundy & Blue blends elements of alternative rock, reggae, soul and eighties pop. While there is a noticeable difference in the sound, longtime StagX fans will hear components of both of the band's previous hits.
"This record is completely different, but at the same time it has its similarities to the last two albums. We've been producing our own music for awhile and this album is good, because you just keep getting better at it. You have to go through a lot of mistakes to get to where you want to be," Taylor said.
"It was interesting because we went through spurts of creative energy here and there and we also had some droughts. The record's really eclectic," he says.
"It kicks ass, but the coolest thing about it is that all of us have had some serious things going on in our lives and around us in the 10 years of being a band.
"Not only because we are a band, but probably because we are just people and these things are going to happen to people regardless, but there has been definite disappointment in areas of our lives and a lot of hurt that was going through the band before we stepped into the studio in the spring."
Black was seriously hurt in a snowmobile accident last winter. As well, the bandmates were subbing for various other local acts and Taylor was battling a fit of depression.
"They were certain things that break your heart and those certain things came into play before we ever walked into the studio. It was a therapeutic process for me ... we had to go in there and prove to ourselves that we were still a band; that we were still great friends.
"We maybe never underestimated that, but perhaps we weren't sure if it was going to be worth it. But, absolutely it was."
Growing up together in Toronto, the quartet of high school friends began playing gigs as early as 1994.
The band is excited about connecting with its western Canadian fans once again - Taylor says.
"The best things about being on the road are new places and faces and getting to play your material live.
"There will be a lot of stuff from the new album. The emotions we went through in the studio may carry through in the live performances.
"It's going to be nice to leave behind everything that is routine, everything I have to do on a regular basis to sustain my life."
While what the group has endured could be considered a true "rock 'n' roll" story, perhaps what hits home the most is that it has persevered because surviving was never about the band, Taylor said.
"When we first started this band we were in high school and now it's 10 years later. We have grown a lot. We have been great friends for more than a decade and that's one hell of a feat. Taylor says there's nothing like time on the road to unify the individuals.
"Our tours have high energy shows. We're all on the same page during the show. As soon as we hit the stage, it happens. It's all about having a good time."
"The road is where a band becomes a band. We live close to each other and it's a real test of humanity and tolerance of other people. We always joke about it. We stick together by not saying anything nice and we also try not to touch each other," he said with a laugh.
"The fact that we get to go out and meet new people is a huge thing for us. I like promoting the record. I like living out of a knapsack on the road. Being on the road opens your eyes to things and people."
In return, Taylor added, he wants to open the eyes of others.

"I like getting my personal perspective across to other people. I think perspective is something everybody should share. I want to get a message out there, but I also want to be a musician and live my life. Right now, it's just too much fun. Music is a difficult thing to let go of, so we're just going to keep pushing ahead."
Once the Born With Horns Tour wraps up in mid-November, StagX will be back at the drawing board to work on new material. As well, Taylor is hoping to finally expand into an international market. Next on the band's list is Britain, where they just signed a new distribution deal, in addition to ones in places such as Australia and New Zealand.
- ENCORE!


Written by James Miller, Fulcrum Contributor Saturday, 23 April 2005.

The return of Staggered Crossing: Staggered Crossing is a band determined not to find themselves tossed into the dustbin of music history.
WHEN A BAND falls from stardom, what happens next? Very few are remembered and even fewer ever get back up to their former fame. The Toronto-based band Staggered Crossing is a group who is determined not to be one of "the fallen".
The group’s first self-titled album released back in 2001 was a smash hit, enjoying radio and video play across Canada for their song "Further Again". Alas, it was not meant to last. When the band departed from Warner Music, the fame—and the money to back it up—vanished.
"The record company was what really got us out there," says lead vocalist Julian Taylor.
"It takes a lot of time and money to promote a band and they have both. They can give you the big push that is needed."
Without the resources of a major label to keep them going, all that Staggered Crossing had left was their music and a handful of dedicated fans. In 2002 they put out their second album, cleverly titled Last Summer When We Were Famous, on their own label, Bent Penny Records. Despite the overwhelming support from fans across the country for the stunning rock album, the band faced the problems that many smaller labels face.
"It’s a tough job. You need to get contacts and you need lots of time and money. Getting a song played on mainstream radio is hard because we don’t have the cash that bigger companies have. I mean, it’s all bought, right? So radio stations go after the big payout," says Taylor. "There are so many other factors that you need to consider when putting out an album. Timing is a big thing. You put it out too early or too late the record won’t sell. We all have part-time jobs on the side just to make ends meet."
In the face of these setbacks, Staggered Crossing has been plucking away nearly non-stop and gaining fans with their incredible rock-with-a-side-of-blues style. Burgundy and Blue, the group’s newest album, is by far their most incredible release yet.
The title track throws listeners for a loop right from the start. A mix of electronica with the slow melancholic rifts is something truly different for the band and at first a little off-putting. Yet after the initial shock recedes, the amazing beauty of it hits you like a wave.
"One of [our] big fans out East told me he hated the record when he first heard it, but now that he’s really listened to it, it’s his favourite one. And that’s exactly what we were trying to do. We tried something completely different for the title track, and once you get your head around it, you can step back and see it for what it is—an amazing album," says Taylor.
Although his praise and the praise of fans and critics are abundant, in order to understand for yourself you have to listen to the band.

May 30 2005
- The Fulcrum


Friday December 17, 2004 By Shannon Whibbs.

Staggered Crossing just might be in the running for the title of Canada's Scrappiest Rock Band. Formed nearly 10 years ago, the band have experienced some pretty nice highs and some pretty heavy lows. There was a major label deal won and lost, inter-band turmoil resulting in a major line-up switch, a parting of ways with their manager, substance abuse problems and the near death of bass player Dan Black in a snowmobile accident last winter. Through it all, they've crossed Canada seven times on tour and put out three records, the most recent being Burgundy and Blue, released on Bent Penny Records, the new label formed and run by lead singer Julian (JT) Taylor and Black.
"For some reason, we're like the Nick Carter of the rock scene!" says Taylor, referring to the negative press the band sometimes receives over their roots-rock sound, which has most recently been flirting with alt-country and even reggae territory.
Black cracks up at the comparison. "What? You've got to be kidding me! I’d be surprised if that guy party’s hard.
The parties were even mightier back when a very young Staggered Crossing were signed to Warner Canada virtually out of high school. Taylor admits that the sudden attention went to their heads and they let themselves become complacent, leaving the lion's share of the band's affairs in the hands of the label.
"It did happen fast and I don't think we had enough time to understand what was going on," Taylor says. "I was 19 and most of the other guys would have been 18 — that's how young we were."
After the independent release of their second album, Staggered Crossing invested their own time and money in a court case that challenged Section 83 of the Canadian Charter. In its un-amended form, the Charter denied songwriters their rights to unpublished works in the event of a record label's bankruptcy, like in the case of Song Corp., which left many indie bands in the lurch. Bands such as The Tragically Hip and Teenage Head also joined the fight and in 2002, the court ruled in their favour. Legally, Staggered Crossing have not been permitted to discuss the case until now.
"That's something that we're very proud of and that people don't know," says Black. "We don't even care if people find out — it's just something for your self."
"The latest album is a pure testimony to our effusion," Taylor says. "Our hard work and our belief in what we think good music is."
- CHART ATTACK


Interview conducted by Leon Vymenets
June 26 2005.

Dave tell us a bit about why the band is called staggered crossing?
That’s a good place to start, and a funny one at that. The band’s been together for nearly ten years, and when we first got together, it took us a long time to come up with a name that everyone was happy with. We threw around a few as most bands would. I believe “Smokin’ the Joneses” was considered for awhile – God knows why. In the end, J was the one who proposed Staggered Crossing. He’s part Native, and one day, he went into this long story about a brave who had no direction in life. The brave went for a walk one day, and when he came to the staggered crossing along a road, the Great Spirit came to him. The Great Spirit reminded the brave that all paths in life are difficult ones, but ultimately, we are the makers of our own destinies. This is the essence of the staggered crossing. Now, as great as that story seems on paper, several months later, J admitted that the story was a load of shit, but we’d already gone with the name of course, so it stuck.
How did staggered crossing originate and how did you start playing with the band?
Staggered Crossing came to fruition out of two musical movements. While Dan and J had played together for years in blues rock bands, in particular the Midnight Blues, Jer and I had gone through nearly a dozen bands in the four year period we’d been playing together, including Clergyman’s Lament, Stale Radio and Vauxhall Garden. Jer had a good name for himself on the drums and was approached by Dan and J about joining the Midnight Blues. Before we knew it, Jer had managed to convince them to bring me on board as well. It took off quickly from there.
What got you interested in playing guitar, and do you play any other instruments?
When I was 12, I had one of those wonderful father/son moments with my dad that I will always remember. My dad came into my room one night with his guitar and just started ripping it up. Next thing you know, he was showing me the chords and I never looked back. He was the first to explain piano triads to me as well. I love playing piano, but I don’t own one. Fortunately, we’ve got one in our rehearsal space as well as about five organs. They’re pretty sweet.
Tell us about some of your earlier endeavors in rock bands before joining staggered crossing ;)?
Well, like I said, I’d been in a number of bands before Staggered Crossing. It all started in grade 7 when my buddies and I put a band together without any instruments. Our shows were awesome…. That group was called the Psycadelic Goats, then it became the Goats – sort of like the evolution of the Zit Remedy into the Zits, I guess. I started collaborating with Jer in ’93, and that’s when it became a concerted effort, so to speak. Our first band was the Clergyman’s Lament, a name inspired from the fact that we’re both preacher’s kids. We were 15 when we first played the El Mocambo in Toronto and things snowballed from there. Vauxhall Garden was the longest serving musical collective, spanning two years, about 30 shows and 8 or 9 members. Throughout that time we pursued several side projects including Stale Radio (stale radio fact – Allmaples very own Leon was the lead singer of stale radio, yes tis true), the Session, the Fuzzbunnies and Korus 45, the culmination of Vauxhall Garden.
What’s the creative process like for you guys?
The Staggered Crossing dynamic is almost perfect in a lot of ways, and that’s why I think we’ve lasted so long. Most bands aren’t made up of four really good friends, but that’s what we are. We know each other’s boundaries really well. J’s got the passion, Dan’s got the enthusiasm, and Jer the reason. It makes for a very productive creative process. In fact, we’ve got more songs than we could ever record. J does most of the writing, but I’ve contributed heavily recently, and Dan and Jer are definitely very instrumental in expanding upon the ideas J brings to rehearsal.
Tell us about a funny situation that happened on one of your tours and don’t hold back, we aren’t censored.
Man, where do I begin? The amount of shit that this band has been through, and more specifically, created, is absolutely out of this world. Things have changed a lot because we’ve grown up a bit, but we remain pretty debaucherous, at least I like to think. One night just recently, after a fun night out in Vancouver with a couple of cute girls, my wallet and most of my clothes got ripped off. Yes, by one of them. Dan and I woke up the next morning only to realize that they’d run off with all our shit. That taught me to be wary of groupies no matter how cute they might be. During our last tour, we stopped in Dryden in Northern Ontario. We weren’t scheduled to play there, but the bar in town – Queen Street Station – let us play and set us up with some rooms. I remember sitting around drinking beers in the motel with the boys. Jer was taking a dump when a thick stream of grungy wate - ALL MAPLE


NICK KREWEN

Staggered Crossing, with Dave Marshall, Julian Taylor, Jeremy Elliott and Dan Black, hope the rough times are over and they can get back to doing what they do best -- making music.

(Feb 15, 2005)

Staggered Crossing is chomping at the bit, to go further, again.

Actually, Further Again was about as far as the Toronto band got on its road to world domination. The year was 2001, and although the top-10 hit helped spur 13,000 sales of its self-titled debut the band lost its contract with Warner after a corporate reshuffling, a phenomenon that has been hitting the music industry with increasing frequency.

"I think there's a lot of bureaucracy," says dreadlocked singer Julian Taylor. "They dropped a lot of the acts at that time -- it wasn't just us. AOL merged with Warner and what they needed to do was cut their bottom line. We were a new act and sold 13,000 albums over an eight-month period. It wasn't bad but it was by no means Nickelback numbers, who sold 80,000 copies in a matter of days."

After Staggered Crossing endured a personnel shift of its own, the band took the Warner buyout money and the revamped lineup of Taylor and fellow members Dan Black (bass), Dave Marshall (guitar) and Jeremy Elliott (drums) recorded a second album, Last Summer When We Were Famous, with ex-Wilco member Jay Bennett in the production seat.

But that wasn't the end of their problems: a professional falling out with high-powered manager Larry Wanagas, who helped established k.d. lang as an international star and is currently overseeing The Trews, put the band back to square one.

"We wanted to sit down and write tunes and be left alone," Taylor explains. "He wanted us to sign on and be a part of Bumstead Productions and hand over our masters. It was just bad timing. We were pretty sensitive about being dropped from the record company in the first place and not wanting to do anything from our masters."

In the end however, both Taylor and bassist Black say the hard life lessons have only made them more resilient.

"We just keep knocking down the doors," says Black. "We needed to call people and learn the ropes ourselves, and we've made a lot of mistakes independently, as we did on a major label. And I assume we'll continue to do that. But we're learning."

The learning curve continues with Burgundy & Blue, a brand new effort released last fall on the band's own Bad Penny label. The challenge this time around: identity. It's a little more difficult when Taylor, who is black and fronting a Caucasian band of rockers, gets pigeonholed with the Hootie & The Blowfish syndrome.

No wonder Staggered Crossing might just be the most misunderstood Canadian band of the current rock landscape.

"The misunderstood label fits us really well," says Taylor. "When we first came out, I don't think we were given a fair shot. And I don't think we gave ourselves a fair shot, to be honest with you. We thought at a very young age we were on our way to the top. And I think it's fortunate in a way that we're not. It's bought us the time to grow and learn about our art form, to hone our skills in whatever we're doing through business and music.

"But I think it's hard to define who Staggered Crossing is from an image perspective. Really what we are is an eclectic indie band and maybe that's not the most marketable thing in the world.

"We're in close proximity, I think, to bands like Wilco and Buffalo Tom, but our band has been compared to Hootie & The Blowfish, unfairly, for years. We look more the part than we sound it -- me being a black lead singer for a rock 'n' roll band."

So what does Staggered Crossing sound like? Touches of rock with shades of reggae on some songs; new wave throwbacks with a slight country flair on others; a touch of electronica here and some heavy romanticism there.

It's eclectic all right.

"We're not one-dimensional people and we don't want to sound like a one-dimensional band," says Taylor, who notes the band recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.

"When we were recording our second album with Jay Bennett, one thing that he taught us was that you shouldn't squelch ideas. You should follow things through until they don't make sense and when they don't make sense, it'll be obvious.

"So when it comes to a musical standpoint, we've always tried to do as much as we could. And when it doesn't make sense, you can hear it."

Meanwhile, as the band lyricist, Taylor says songs like Nuclear Winter (Next 2 You) and Save Me Tonight exploit his passion for passion.

"I'm a romantic at heart," says Taylor. "When I was in university, one of the courses I liked the most was romanticism. That's pretty much what I focus on, so a lot of the times these songs deal with love and nature and the body politic.

"I'm not trying to be Bob Dylan. I'm just trying to write what I feel inside of me."

- CANADIAN PRESS


Thursday July 7, 2005 -By STEPHEN COOKE / Nightclub Notebook.

Cast your mind back to 2001, when young Toronto band Staggered Crossing released its debut CD on Warner Music Canada and hit the airwaves nationwide with the radio hit Further Again. By the time of the band's second album, it had gone back to being independent, cheekily naming the sophomore effort Last Summer When We Were Famous, enlisting former Wilco member Jay Bennett to focus Staggered Crossing's high energy blend of roots and rock.
Now the band returns with the new album Burgundy and Blue, boosted by the single Perfect Prize, and as a further example of its attempt to reach a grassroots audience outside the major label boundaries, it's making its first foray to the East Coast, with shows tonight at Roseland in New Glasgow, Friday at Stage Nine in Halifax and on Sunday at the Granville Green free outdoor concert series in Port Hawkesbury, just across the Canso Causeway, with the Jimmy Swift Band.
Like Bennett's old band, Staggered Crossing continues to defy convention, incorporating elements of retro pop, alt-country and even reggae in its sound to keep fans on their toes and to ensure the shows retain an air of unpredictability.
- The Halifax Herald


Discography

1999- Mold EP
2000- Five Song EP
2001- Staggered Crossing (self titled debut)
2002- Last Summer When We Were Famous
2004- Burgundy and Blue

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

When a band is together for more than a decade and sells in excess of 20,000 records, plays upwards of 500 shows, spends more than a dozen weeks atop of the Canadian rock charts with countless spins on the radio and television, and are hailed by the then-Prime Minister of Canada as his favourite band, they must be doing something right. However, even the mighty suffer bumps and bruises along the way.

Formed in 1995 in suburban Toronto, Staggered Crossing has been climbing the Canadian rock echelon for more than a decade, skipping rungs here and sliding back there. They’ve been championed by a major label, yet were unexpectedly dropped less than a year after their red-hot album was released. They’ve won awards for their songs, only to have to fight tooth and nail in a court of law to secure their publishing rights. They’ve showcased their trademark high-energy live show on major tours across the country, while managers, band mates and supporters alike have come and gone. And to top it all off, bassist Dan Black endured a near-fatal snowmobile accident in the winter of 2004 that nearly spelled the end of the band. Nevertheless, as horrific as the experience was for the bassist and his band mates, a silver lining appeared: throughout his recovery, Black learned to truly appreciate what it means to be a part of the StagX brotherhood.

“If it had not been for my band and the music we were writing and recording at the time, mentally, I would not have recovered as fast,” he says. “I was able to focus on the musical goals, channeling it into a drive and a passion to get over the mental hump and finding the strength to get my physical health in order. I learned a lot about myself and chose to take as many positives and as much strength as I can out of a very bad situation.”

Indeed, in the long run, the highs and lows don’t really matter – the focal point is that the members of Staggered Crossing truly love what they do.

“It’s amazing to me that I have been in this band for ten years,” says drummer Jeremy Elliott. “When I think about the fact that so much in my life has changed, but the one constant remains the band, I am blown away. Who would have thought that three guys would be such a major part of my life for so long? Like I told a girlfriend who screamed one night that I didn't know anything about commitment because I bailed on her to go rehearse: ‘I have been in a celibate relationship with three men for ten years. I fucking define commitment.’”

Now controlling their destiny through their own record label, management and production company (Bent Penny Records), Staggered Crossing is back to the basics. Fully prepared to do battle in the often-harsh music industry, their unparalleled work ethic and unbridled passion for bringing quality music to the people is what will bring the band back to the top.

“We all really firmly agree that the music we’re making is really great music that we like listening to,” says vocalist Julian “J.T.” Taylor. “We’ve found that there are other people who are into it, too. If one person likes it, it’s enough to keep it going if it’s something that you really believe in and love. We’re also a really tight-knit bunch of friends. We have our ups and downs, obviously, but we’re all really happy about what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

-Jon Bruhm