Warmer Milks founder Ma Turner and visual artist R Clint Colburn formed CROSS in summer 2008 as a means for friends to express themselves both live and on tape through a total freedom of rock ‘n’ roll improvisation. Amidst a series of defining moments and wild/nomadic lifestyle choices, Turner & Colburn hit the road two weeks into being a band, going on a nationwide tour (with Asthmatic Kitty recording artist Castanets) where the skeletons for “Die Forever” initially came to life. Upon returning home (Lexington, KY), they added Case Mahan (Street Gnar, Jovontaes) on drums, and soon after, Jamie Adkins (Rat King, Tiny Fights, Idiot Glee) on bass, giving CROSS a proper rhythm section and a deeper understanding of their mission.
In 2010, Mahan exited the band to focus on his solo moniker Street Gnar, and Jason Schuler (Cadaver In Drag) moved in on drums. The new CROSS formation further polished their sound (a range of subtly psychedelic styles, frantically varying from southern rock to death rock to glam, goth, and beyond), continued touring, and in the winter of 2011, recorded with Pete Townsend (Bonnie “Prince” Billy, King Kong) and Sean Sullivan (John Prine, Jack ‘Cowboy’ Clement – engineer) at John Prine’s Butcher Shoppe Studio in Nashville, TN. Now playing shows with Paul Eldred (The Butchers, 30th Century Men) on drums, CROSS continue to solidify their vision and are tighter and more focused than ever.
Their full-length studio debut “Die Forever” (following a self-titled/self-released double-cassette live album) is available on vinyl from Louisville, Kentucky’s Sophomore Lounge label. First edition of 500, with artwork by Lexington’s own Robert Beatty (of Hair Police/Three Legged Race: www.remainsstreet.com)
“We have a veteran of the 2000s underground in Michael A. “Ma” Turner, who made three or four* of the more singular underground rock LPs of the 2000s with his band Warmer Milks, now reembracing the 1990s sounds of his youth in his new band Cross, in this case going right back to Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and the very birth of emotional grunge itself. Or is it that simple? Going into it, I was thinking of the band as a continuation of Warmer Milks, so it took me a couple listens to readjust and realize this is very much R. Clint Colburn’s band as well. He writes four of the songs by himself, including the first two on the album. Turner writes two by himself, and the remaining four are by Turner/Colburn. And, where Turner is the sole credited guitarist and has more of a background vocal presence, Colburn is the sole credited lead vocalist on all tracks, using a smooth goth/grunge ballad style that occasionally rips into a most excellent Lizard King shriek. The grunge-ballad singing, as well as the crafty, hooky songwriting and a surprisingly professional and clean production style, took a little getting used to, but then the songs really started to kick in. They’re deeply felt and carefully written, and what initially sounds kinda slick settles into a satisfying and psychedelic heaviness (props to the spot-on rhythm section of Jamie Adkins on bass and Jason Schuler on drums), sprinkled with odd bursts of noise guitar, sublimated demonic background vocal chorales, the aforementioned tightly rationed Lizard King shrieks, and more. The record is thematically challenging too; not only is the title Die Forever, but almost every song on the album talks about death or dying, reaching a fever pitch on side two when the song “Die Rock” and its (very catchy) chorus of “Dying Dying Dying [repeat]” is followed up two songs later by “Temple” with its final chorus of “Die Die Die [repeat].” One might say they’re being overly repetitious, but I think they’re very much doing it on purpose. They also sing about Jesus, and His Cross (on “Forever”), and the band is named Cross, so this might be some kind of new take on outsider weirdo private press Christian rock as well. Either way, almost all of these catchy songs are getting lodged in my head, particularly the aforementioned “Die Rock” and the leadoff single/video “Inhuman Nature.” Wrap it in a nice and shiny gold and black Robert Beatty cover design, and you’ve got another bold step from the Sophomore Lounge label.” – Blastitude