“…The idea with rock n’ roll is not to grow up too much:” An Interview with Criminal Hygiene

 

Voltage [vohl-tij] (N)- electromotive force or potential difference expressed in volts. 

 

Criminal Hygiene’s work is the audible version of an electric shock. Over the past few years, the LA-based trio has been consistently delivering musical content that exudes an overpowering amount of energy that only dedicated craftspeople are capable of generating.

Since 2013, Criminal Hygiene has been  consistently releasing new material each year-proving the band’s work ethic to be blatantly evident.  They wrapped up 2016 by completing a nationwide tour and releasing a single entitled “Dangers of Convenience” that is equally innovative and tenacious. No matter the nature of the endeavor, Criminal Hygiene produces work that sonically striking and simultaneously revealing of the artistry and talent behind it. Read on to learn more about their musical influences, recent music video release, as well as what lies ahead for Criminal Hygiene:

 

AMPLIFY: What’s the origin story of Criminal Hygiene?

Criminal Hygiene: Only Tom Hanks knows the true answer to that question. But in a nutshell we started the band because we were desperate to find a way to meet Grant from the Orwells. After that, our original bass player James Watson left the band. This was years and beers ago.

AMPLIFY: How would you articulate the band’s artistic growth?

Criminal Hygiene: Well the early stages of this band was a punk rock cover band. We were in a back house just drinking and attempting The Damned and The Pixies and stuff like that. We’re currently still half-assing covers all over the United States . So we haven’t grown much there. I think the idea with rock n roll is to not grow up too much. But I’d say we’ve progressed light years as songwriters and performers. Life gets a little more serious the older you get, so I think that carries over into the songs now. The kids don’t get it yet, but they might eventually.

AMPLIFY: What moves you to create?

Criminal Hygiene: A lot of times I’m sitting in my car delivering pizza and I’ll see something that reminds me of a person or place or whatever it may be, and I either write down a few words or hum something into my voice recorder. So I guess I’m moved by true events, situations both good and bad. I’m such a fuckin hack.

AMPLIFY: Which artists have been the most impactful to you, both as individuals and as musicians?

Criminal Hygiene: I think I can speak for everyone here and say we’re pretty inspired by Big Star. That true rock n roll underdog kind of thing is really important. I think Alex Chilton is a tragic genius. We like the Shins a lot. I’m a huge Swell Maps fan. Wilco is very important. That being said, The Godfather is Mr. Paul Westerberg so if he ever reads this he can’t say we never tipped the cap to him. I appreciate how much Robert Pollard drinks. Impressive amounts of beer downed by that guy, and then he still writes 5000 songs or whatever. Fuck him.

AMPLIFY: The music video for “Young & Obscene” is really creative. How did you guys come up with the concept for it?

Criminal Hygiene: Appreciate that you think it’s creative. I think it’s a bad joke. Basically our manager used to work for Pitbull and we’d kind of always be sarcastically into his music. She wanted us to have a music video, and being that we’re not fully into that kind of thing, we got lazy and used Snapchats of Pitbull videos. Looking back, that’s probably the moment people started giving up on us.

 

AMPLIFY: You guys recently released a lot of new material. What is your approach to the creative process?

Criminal Hygiene: One of us writes a tune, brings it into the practice space with a pack of beer and a bottle of ancient age and we drink til it sounds good. We’ve been doing a lot of singles lately cause apparently that’s the industry now. I just found out that people only listen to shit on Spotify playlists. I don’t think we’re on any of those. Our friend Luna Shadows has like 2 million plays. We’re bad at the business part.

AMPLIFY: What aspect of the band’s work are you most proud of?

Criminal Hygiene: I think we’re a really solid touring band. We do better everywhere besides LA, probably because we don’t have cool haircuts or know Mondo Cozmo . I’m probably most proud of the comradery of the band. We’ve been through the shit and back a number of times and I think we keep getting better. I think we take pride in writing well and being the best musicians we can, rather than some flash in the pan thing. Our manager would say we’re consistently inconsistent .

AMPLIFY: What emotions or feeling do you hope people experience when listening to Criminal Hygiene?

Criminal Hygiene: Gotta be honest I never really think about that. If it’s at a show, I’m hoping their having as good a time as we are, unless we’re not having a good time. Then they can try to get their money back. I hope they experience something honest, that’s what we aim for . What you see is what you get? If they connect with a song, or it triggers an emotion, that’s cool too. Cause I’m writing about everyday shit, and we all wake up and put pants on.

AMPLIFY: How has the band’s sound evolved over time? Did you ever experiment with any other sounds or styles?

Criminal Hygiene: Our first LP was a little bit all over the place in terms of style, but that was the charm of it. It was that exact place in time. We were a bit disjointed, so the music was too. I think we’ve taken bits of that and kind of sanded the edges a bit, both recorded and live. In the old days we could get hammered and fall down and have people throwing beer at us and we’d be having a blast, but we definitely sucked at playing. We thought we were good, but I have recordings proving otherwise. We’ve definitely evolved from that, I think we can play much better now. And the show might be a bit tamer, but if we’re really feeling it we could go off the rails. That’s the beauty of this music and what keeps it interesting in my opinion.

AMPLIFY: Lastly, what’s coming up next for Criminal Hygiene?

Criminal Hygiene: We just recorded a new single with producer Alex Newport, and I think we’re aiming to do a whole new record in the near future. We’ll probably play a show in Fresno and then call it quits after that. Who knows. We might tour this summer, or try to hop on a few Jimmy Buffet opening slots. I hear they really dig him in Jacksonville, Florida . Oh also we’re playing our friend’s wedding so that’s actually the highest paying gig we’ll ever do. Anyone in the mood for some Neil Diamond? Slappin whites 2017. Side note, we started a Limp Bizkit reggae cover band in Vegas called Dread Durst.

-Interview by Lindsay Teske 

To learn more about Criminal Hygiene and to check out their work, click here to visit their bandcamp page.

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