2 May 2020
Five reasons why Turn Up The Volume loves London’s post-punk band CROSS WIRES
1. They write killer tunes with killer lyrics as they showed
loud and clear on their debut album ‘A Life Extinct‘
2. I share their political and social views totally
3. They’re for real, not poseurs
4. They wear their committed heart in the right place
5. They like the same bands as I do, and they like a few
drinks just like I do
Enough reasons to learn a lot more about this rousing four-piece by talking to their passionate frontman and songwriter Jonathan Chapman. But first some music
with one of my favorite Cross Wires crackers ‘Paradise Club 1953…
1. What triggered you guys to form a band and when/how did it happen?
“Ian (drums) Pete (guitar) and I all knew each other from drinking in a pub
called The Golden Lion in Romford, East London, and pretty much came up with the
idea for the band there. I think the original idea was to make songs that sounded like
they could fit on Singles Going Steady by Buzzcocks. The three of us wrote a bunch of pretty rubbish songs while we were looking for a bass player. Pete (bass) had been playing as a singer-songwriter and had never played bass before he joined us. We were introduced
to him by a friend. I don’t think he really had any interest in being a bass player but liked drinking in The Golden Lion as much as we did, so he said yes when we asked him. We borrowed a bass from a friend for him.”
2. What’s the story behind the band’s name?
“We are named after a song by XTC” (note: check it out here)
3. Which track would you play as an introduction
to your music to people who never heard of you?
“At the minute I’d say Distraction Technique because people seem to have
connected with that song more than any other from the album.”
4. The lyrics of your excellent debut album ‘A LIFE EXTINCT’ read like critical comments on the grim times we live in. Is Cross Wires a political band?
“Not in the way that bands like The Clash or Manic Street Preachers are but politics
definitely does influence my writing. I try not to be too preachy. Not much in life is
black or white but I also don’t want to hide my views. Before last year’s election, we did
a Labour Party fundraiser gig with The Blinders in their For The Many Tour. We are all
from working class backgrounds. It’s pretty obvious what our political leanings are. I
don’t want to say I’m 100% right and you’re 100% wrong unless you have far-right
views. When I started writing the lyrics for ‘A Life Extinct’ the idea was a ‘break up
album influenced by the sixth mass extinction on earth’”.
5. How’s life in Brexit England?
“It definitely brought up some pretty ugly stuff on both sides. It’s crazy how tribal it’s become. Romford was one of the only London boroughs to vote leave. That was extremely upsetting. I moved away from Romford to Bethnal Green not long after we started the band. It’s easy to forget not everyone has the same views as you, when you’re surrounded by like-minded people. I wanted to remain but many people obviously didn’t agree. I don’t think branding all those people as racists helped at all and it absolutely killed Labour’s chances of winning the last election.”
6. The LP’s front sleeve is quite intriguing. What inspired the image?
“It was a photo taken by our guitarist Pete on his honeymoon in Santorini. I knew it would be the cover of the album as soon as I saw it. I think it’s such a striking image. Everyone asks about it.”
7. One of my favorite tracks is PARADISE CLUB 1953. What’s the song about?
“Thank you. It’s about a man whose dreams are haunted by an ex-lover he thought he
had long since moved on from. When he’s awake he never gives her a second thought but when he’s asleep they meet in the Paradise Club in 1953. It’s a completely fictional place. I don’t know why I chose that year. In my head, it’s a smoky room with red velvet curtains. It’s funny as that’s exactly how the guys in the band also imagined it. This song was built around Pabs brilliant bass line.”
8. You just released a brand new EP called ‘Distraction Technique’.
What can we expect?
“We wanted to find a way to keep pointing people back to A Life Extinct without just putting out Distraction Technique as a single. We came up with the idea of putting it out as part of an EP. The other 3 tracks on the EP are from various Demos we recorded at a studio called Soundsavers in Homerton, East London a few years back. Unfortunately, it’s closed down now. It was part-owned by Mark Jasper from the band Witching Waves with a lovely guy called Alex Clegg who produced our demos. Mark is actually offering a great pay what you can afford mixing and mastering service for bands during this pandemic. You’ll probably be able to find out more on their Twitter account.”
9. Suppose you were asked to play a movie, that expresses your music visually,
on a big screen behind you while playing a gig which one would it be?
“That’s a good question. I’m not sure I’d want to tie our music to somebody else’s art that has already been established for a number of years so much. I quite like the idea of what The National did with their last album and film. Something like that could be fun. Either that or ‘Dunston Checks In’. Hahahaha”
10. Your favourite band to tour with?
“I know for a fact that each one of us would have a different answer, so I’m going to choose a festival and say we’d love to play at Glastonbury. I’ve been quite a few times and there’s just something special about it. I know people think it’s become too commercial but it’s still magic. A great example of that was Idles set on the Park Stage last year. Once in lifetime stuff for a band.”
11. What song or album did you hear so far this year that
made a huge impression on your ears?
“Lots of stuff. Loving the new Strokes album. I’m really looking forward to the new Protomartyr album. They are probably my favourite band of recent years. I’m gonna give a shout out to my pal Luke’s band False Heads. They’ve made a really great record called ‘It’s All There But Your Dreaming’, and I’d also like to mention a band I discovered called Bugeye. They’ve got an album coming out on a great label called ‘Reckless Yes’. A band called Hunt Us have put out some exciting stuff. A sort of folk spoken word post-punk. Hope we get to play with them at some point.”
12. Next step for Cross Wires?
“We’ve got about half of the next album written and it’s sounding really promising. I’ve got a theme for the next album worked out but don’t want to say too much until it’s finished as I could well easily end up hating what I’ve written. Hopefully, we will be able to get out there and play live again this year. We have a couple of gigs booked for Autumn which I really hope go ahead.”
Thank you, Jonathan, for this interview.
May the road rise with Cross Wires!
Stream/buy A Life Extinct here…
CROSS WIRES: Facebook