|Crossroads: Ed Sloan of Crossfade|
Pivotal moments in musicians' careers propelling them from obscurity to infamy
by Mark E. Waterbury
Once in awhile, a band can get that coveted major label deal with a little bit of luck. Chances are they had to make their own luck and still work to open up those doors and meet the right people to ignite that particular stroke of fate. That is how it happened for Crossfade, who spent most of their formative years developing their songwriting abilities, performing only occasionally in their hometown of Columbia, South Carolina. Now, with their debut self titled CD poised for release in April on Columbia Records and the first single 'Cold' growing in popularity on the active rock airwaves, they must have done something to create that luck in their early days.
Attending high school together, guitarist and vocalist Ed Sloan, bass player Mitch James and drummer Brian Geiger formed a band called The Nothing that mainly played other high schools in the area. After graduation Tony Byroads, a refugee from Buffalo joined up as a vocalist and DJ, prompting a stylistic progression in the band's sound, and a change of names from The Nothing to Sugardaddy Superstar. Ed Sloan had decided to put together a studio in the garage at his house back when the band was called The Nothing, and that space called Sugarstar Studio became the breeding ground for the unique music they were creating.Ê 'We always had a definite idea of the way we wanted our music to sound,' Ed recalls. 'We've always been prolific writers and we didn't really play out that much because we were always writing and knocking out songs in the studio. We knew exactly the type of music we wanted and what we wanted to get out of it.' Playing only once or twice a month in local clubs, the band continued to work hard on perfecting their sound and the recording of their music, releasing two DYI albums in as many years.
In 2001, Sugardaddy Superstar decided to join the indie A&R company Taxi to see if that would help jump start their career."Because we were writing so many songs, we didn't get out and play that much," Ed notes. "We did build a fan base of around four or five hundred in Columbia, but we really weren't that interested in growing the fan base there because it is a town where it is really hard to establish yourself as anything more than a local band. We were so focused on writing and perfecting the music that we knew that some day if we kept contacting the right people that need to hear the music it would work for us and overcome the daunting fact of where we were located." Taxi would eventually gain them the notice of Chris Long, who had promoted Rage Against the Machine and Stone Temple Pilots among others. Chris saw the band perform and signed on as their manager. "He put us in touch with a number of important people. We rented an RV and went out to L.A. and did some showcases for attorneys and label people. We did some showcases in New York, too, and in three or four stepping stones we were connected with Columbia Records. We introduced our music to Don Einer and they fell in love with it." Columbia inked a deal with the band who then changed their name to Crossfade. The foursome had achieved their dream but could not by any means sit around and relax. "We thought that since we got signed, people would do things for us easily now rather then us having to beat people down to get them to do things for us. But since we have been signed we have worked harder than ever before. It does make a difference when you are working for something and you know something positive will happen from it. That does make it easier to put that hard work in."
With a major record label deal in hand, Crossfade needed product for the label to sell. So they took their eight most recently recorded songs as well as two from previous albums that they had recorded on their own and remastered them for the debut album. Among the songs previously recorded was 'Cold' which went out to radio early in 2004 and started receiving solid airplay on respected rock stations including Lazer 103 in Milwaukee. It appeared that the public beyond Columbia, South Carolina was starting to turn on to the spawn of Crossfades' songwriting endeavors. "When we write the songs I usually come up with the words and the guitar parts and the melodies," Ed notes. "The other guys of course write their own parts in and embellish on it and then we all work it until it grooves with us. The trials and tribulations of being a musician and trying to get signed make you wind up feeling so desperate and depressed that it really inspired the lyrics I wrote that ended up being on this album. It's definitely an album that is very personal to me."
Crossfade's self-titled debut is due to hit the shelves on April 13th and plans are in the works for a national tour in support of the album as the number of radio stations playing 'Cold' continues to grow. It seems like the confines of a scene like Columbia, South Carolina will no longer hold back this foursome as they set their minds on higher goals and more widespread acceptance for their music. According to Ed, "Even though we have not played out a lot we have practiced a lot, and as a result we do have an intense live show. We put out a lot of energy and are prepared to blow everyone away. To be honest a year ago I thought that our goal was to just get our songs out on national radio so the public can hear it, and that's still our goal. Our goal has not really been about getting out and becoming famous huge rock stars. Now that we see this becoming a reality and that people are identifying with the music and making it their own, I think word of mouth will be key. People are going to be so into it that they want to tell their friends and family about it and that will be instrumental to the success of Crossfade."
Ed Sloan's advice for musicians: "The biggest thing is you have to constantly write and reinvent yourself. You can't just write music and hand it off to people and hope they like it. You have to do it over and over again with different people every time and different music as well. You never know who's going to like what, so you have to change it up, increase your odds and increase your chances."