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MorleyView: Karyn Crisis

Crisis R.I.P.: The last interview

OK, listen up. All you out there you have not supported Crisis in the past, hang your heads cuz you all suck! The band decided to take an indefinite hiatus a few weeks back, leaving a small but vocal following reaching for the Kleenex. Alright maybe I was being a bit harsh with the first statement but to see somebody like Clay Aiken or any of the other American Idol puppets (not to mention countless emo posers) get so much attention and that Crisis would have to struggle over the years to survive is just laughable to me. Maybe if they had reached a bigger audience, the outcome would be different. 

This band toiled away in relative obscurity after starting up over 12 years ago. Along the way, they released four genre-shearing records, most notably 2004's Like Sheep Led to Slaughter, which was my introduction to them. Crisis had a sound that was equivalent to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre presented as a ballet. Crisply executed with abrupt but deft shifts in musical passages, all the while being driven by a sound that was as visceral as it was mind warping. They broke barriers by being the first big band to have a woman singer who was doing a mix of hardcore and metal.

Leading the charge was the dynamic appeal of Karyn Crisis. Her phenomenal vocals were central to the band's sound, going from a growl to angelic purring in a heartbeat. I last spoke to Karyn last year when the band was gearing up for a studio session following a late fall run of shows with Exodus. At the time, she was pleased with the shows they had just done and was anxious to start the new record. I spoke to Karyn again this week and it was a far different conversation. She would not comment on the band situation and the enthusiasm towards music was missing in her voice. Instead she was glad to have the chance to work on her painting and her Leather Works business. 

I'm sad to say, this might be the last Crisis interview. Here's my conversation with the amazing Karyn Crisis:

antiMUSIC: So, what happened to the band?

Karyn: I really can't get into that because everybody just decided to make their own personal decisions. For now there's an announcement on our website if you need an official statement.

antiMUSIC: Is this an amicable parting?

Karyn: Yes. 

antiMUSIC: Was there one defining moment which helped form this decision?

Karyn: Out of respect for everyone, I'm not making any comments on it. You know what I mean?

antiMUSIC: What about the material that you were working on?

Karyn: There was some music we'd started working on, so we'll see what happens in the future. You never know. If we're meant to write another album we'll definitely do that. 

antiMUSIC: So what are your plans?

Karyn: Right now I'm actually painting which is something I haven't done in quite a while. So I'm working on a collection of paintings. I'm going to start working on my new website so I'll have a gallery up there. I'm just going to concentrate on doing a little bit of leather, but mostly I'm concentrating on my art. So, it's exciting for me, something I haven't done and I'd like to try and get into galleries and into the whole art circuit. So we'll see. I'm painting, and painting and painting and it feels so good. Other than band artwork I haven't really time to do much else. Really don't have the time, so it's something I haven't done in a long time. All sorts of new things are coming out that I didn't even know that I could do. (laughs) So it's really exciting.

antiMUSIC: Might we see your long-awaited graphic novel?

Karyn: I hope. Who knows? At the moment I'm just working on that.

antiMUSIC: What about the DVD that was pushed back to 2006 from last year?

Karyn: I don't know what's going on with that right now actually.

antiMUSIC: It's out of the band's hands?

Karyn: No. It's in the band's hands but I don't know what's happening with it. There are no immediate plans.

antiMUSIC: What about your label, Children of Rage?

Karyn: That's actually Afzaal's label. I don't know if he has plans to work on that now or not.

antiMUSIC: If this is it for the band, what do you think its legacy will be?

Karyn: Hard to say, I mean. The whole music scene for me right now is really disillusioning. It's just style and trend and a lot of crap that I don't find intellectually stimulating or emotionally stimulating in any way. I don't know if…I really don't know …we were pioneers in the sense that we were ahead of our time and I don't know if anyone will ever catch up with us or not. I don't know if anyone will care.

antiMUSIC: Do you have any regrets, band-wise --- not personal or personality-wise but anything that the band didn't get to achieve?

Karyn: I don't have any regrets as far as the band is concerned. I mean, we worked our asses off and we sacrificed a lot of things to be in a band. I mean, bands these days have it a lot easier, they live at home or they have easier financial situations. We literally had no one backing ourselves up other than ourselves. And you know, we had a real rough road of it in the earlier days. In terms of things we would have liked to accomplished, some of the things are not in our control. They have to do with the business side of things. And you know, Crisis always wanted to do a lot of big things, but the industry was always just like "no you're too extreme, no, you're too weird, no, you have a woman singer." And of course as we've seen along the way, labels have literally, like you know how the Backstreet Boys were formed…put together a lot of female-fronted bands in our image so they didn't necessarily want to take a gamble on what WE were doing because that was something they couldn't quite understand. But hey finally came around to the idea of the concept that a female-fronted band was a good thing. But you know these people control a lot of your fate and unfortunately the industry never really backed up Crisis. We were like a thorn in everybody's side, except for The End Records, which was an amazing label. But in terms of getting Crisis to a bigger level, we were more of a thorn in everyone's side because we were so different, and so unique. We just refused to be fake and stylish for the sake of selling records so, I have absolutely no regrets with the way the band has know we've done everything with our sense of integrity. I wish we could have done a lot more but that was not in our control.

antiMUSIC: What is your favorite memory from that whole part of your life?

Karyn: Oh man…I mean I have so many. I basically grew up in the band. I had always wanted to be in a band and this was the ideal band. I never wanted to be in another band, I was in Crisis. I grew as a person, met amazing people and discovered things about myself, strengths and nerves that I didn't know I had. You know it was kinda like climbing Mount Everest for me to do what I did. It was a real test of self. You know, don't join Crisis and change Crisis. Crisis changes you. It's a very powerful, powerful entity. It continues to inspire me.

antiMUSIC: You've spent time in other forms of music prior to Crisis. Can we expect a return to different musical areas in the future from you?

Karyn: No. I don't think so.

antiMUSIC: So this whole experience has changed your musical direction.

Karyn: I was just in music before I joined Crisis, because I wanted to be in a band. It was more like experimentalism, on my own, trying to find the right band. And once I found Crisis, that was it, that was home. And I really don't feel, I mean…I can't predict the future. But at the moment I don't have an appetite for any other music.

antiMUSIC: So what you're saying is that we won't hear from you musically again.

Karyn: I seriously doubt it. I can't say for sure. But my current mind-state, is that no…no. My current mind-state is no. I'm just doing art, but I don't know what the future holds. I have no way to predict that.

antiMUSIC: Any last words.

Karyn: no. (laughs)

antiMUSIC: Well, this is a sad day, Karyn. But I wish you all the best with your art and hopefully we'll hear from you again soon.

Karyn: Thank you so much, Morley. Take care.

antiMUSIC and Morley Seaver thank Karyn for speaking with us. If this is really the end of the band, we want to thank Karyn and company for four excellent records and for their very important, if not often overlooked, contributions to metal.


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