ECONOLINE CRUSH: "THE DEVIL YOU KNOW"
There's nothing like the sheer agony of a torturous breakup to get those creative juices flowing...and Trevor Hurst couldn't be happier.
The leather-lunged Lucifer of Econoline Crush may be begrudgingly single again, but the emotional catharsis of his disintegrated love story has inspired his Vancouver industrial rock band to a creative breakthrough with their second full-length album "THE DEVIL YOU KNOW," and Hurst realizes it.
"We finally got the whole machine to work," declares a jubilant Hurst, speaking on behalf of fellow Crushmen Robbie Morfitt, Ziggy, Ken Fleming and Robert Wagner.
"We decided just to let go of everything," says Hurst. "Instead of trying to control and manipulate every situation, we remembered what we loved about music and applied that to the recording of this album. I feel the chemistry on "THE DEVIL YOU KNOW" speaks for itself."
Indeed it does.
From the opening strains of the breakneck Surefire -- a riveting masterpiece of toxic adrenaline that will undoubtedly contribute to a boom in speeding violations this summer as it roars out of car stereo speakers -- through the gut-wrenching, dramatic confessional Razorblades and Bandaides, the eleven songs on "THE DEVIL YOU KNOW" sweep you into an intoxicating maelstrom of churning human emotion that streamlines the metallic crunch of the Econoline Crush's innovative previous album AFFLICTION and catapults the music to dazzling new heights.
Whether you're bopping your head to the animated, automated thunder of the first single, Home, grooving to Robert Wagner's pounding beat pacing Hollowman or enjoying the exotic guitar-and-Mellotron splendour of Deeper, you'll agree "THE DEVIL YOU KNOW," is a splendid combination of exhilarating, accessible melodies, a liberally tasteful use of electronics and bold, lively rock 'n roll beats.
Hurst says it was the band's intention to capture the tireless energy and spark of an Econoline Crush concert performance on "THE DEVIL YOU KNOW."
"I remember that when I used to write songs, I'd get so excited I'd want to play them immediately for my roommate and friends," recalls the native of Virden, Manitoba.
" But when you become a recording artist, there's a tendency to try and act like one and forget the reason you made music in the first place.
"We gave our heads a shake. This album is more true to what we are."
It's certainly a long way from the first Econoline Crush project, their 1992 EP PURGE. At the time, Hurst had ended his creative partnership with EC co-founding member Tom Ferriss of MOEV and was still in a transitional phase, sticking to a tough, sinewy industrial sound more representative at the time of Nine Inch Nails.
1995's AFFLICTION was closer to the sonic cacophony Hurst had in mind for Econoline Crush, although in keeping with the times it too possessed a dark, seething underbelly. 1997's "THE DEVIL YOU KNOW" hasn't changed the approach, but Hurst agrees he and co-writers Robbie Morfitt and Dan Yaremko have reached a turning point.
"This album is definitely a lot lighter than AFFLICTION," agrees Hurst, who pens all the lyrics. "I can't write about anything that other than what's going on in my personal life."
Produced and recorded at Sound City in Van Nuys, California; Hipposonic in Vancouver; and Master Control Recording in Burbank by Sylvia Massy (Tool, Glueleg, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Prince in his pre-TAFKAP days), "THE DEVIL YOU KNOW" reflects a period of transition for Hurst, although his petering love life accounts for a great deal creative freedom and personal discovery.
He sums it up in the title track, Devil You Know.
"I was personally thinking about life changes," says Hurst, whose band has spent time both here and in Europe on the road with KISS, The Tea Party, The Young Gods and Die Krupps.
"And how you prefer to stay with the safe bet, stick with the devil you know. The unknown is a lot more scary."
Much of this inner reflection stands out in such
songs as x3, Haven't Gone Away and Burnt; that brooding netherworld between inner loss and peace of mind. Some songs, such as Elegant and Sparkle And Shine, are scalding flashes of pain and anger straight from that inner cauldron of unchecked emotion. Others, such as HOME and Deeper -- which producer Massy incidentally describes as "a moody and incredibly lush epic" -- are intensely compassionate requiems that provide quiet reassurance.
No wonder Hurst says he sometimes feels like a high profile luggage handler at the Hotel D'Amour.
"I figured out that with all the baggage I bring into a relationship, and the baggage she brings in, you can't fit all this shit in the sedan of life," he chuckles. "The older you get, the hard you hang onto the Samsonites."
Surefire, with its brilliant opening stanza "She goes ballistic on me, Says I don't meet her needs" and contagiously agonizing cries of "No, No, No, No, No!" hammering away at your cranium reflects this observation.
"In this relationship, the woman is screaming at you because her needs aren't being met. No matter what you do, it never seems to be enough."
Frustration also played a key role in the creation of the song about fickleness -- and album's first single, Home.
"That's the comeback song of the album," explains Hurst. "I came up with this ridiculous melody that really didn't seem to fit in, but I liked the vibe. I was in my neighbourhood in East Van, smoking a big fat bomber, and I had to go to the corner store.
"It was pouring, and as I'm walking down the street, I passed a poor rain-soaked Sheltie. I felt sorry for it, and was considering taking it home and blow-drying it, when the line `You can't always pick the dog you find' popped into my head.
"I rushed home and finished the song. I started thinking about the Samsonite theory again, and figured that this '60's sexual revolution mentality that has us humping around really makes us picky. It's like an episode of SEINFELD, where if Jerry finds one little thing that bothers him about a girl, she's history."
Not all the songs are about Hurst's failed romance.
"Sparkle And Shine comes after a year of road-testing," he says. "It was really affected by the death of Blind Melon's Shannon Hoon. It's about the fact you can have all these people hanging around who can see you're drifting away, not long for this world, and yet these so-called friends won't do anything about it. If you think of Marilyn Monroe or Elvis, everybody likes a fuck-up, a woe-is-me martyr.
"Deeper is kind of heavy. I have a friend who is probably going to succumb to AIDS. It drives me crazy that AIDS research is embroiled in a lot of politics. Nobody should die from that disease. Just a reminder that from all of us who are fortunate enough to have our health, our hearts go out to the ones who don't."
Yet we must return to Hurst's lovelorn relationship for the most personal moment on "THE DEVIL YOU KNOW," Razorblades And Bandaides.
"It's probably the most honest song I've written," says Hurst. "I must have done about ten takes of that song. It was exhausting, but Sylvia kept pushing me. It's funny, because she has this little tiny voice and she was screaming at me and prodding me to remember why I wrote it in the first place. You can even hear my voice crack. But I really think we took the song to a whole new level."
"I really felt Trevor needed to reach into a previously untapped part of himself for the performance," adds Massy. "All he needed from me was a little encouragement."
"I have to give a lot of credit to Sylvia," says Hurst.
"Sylvia kept a real sense of optimism in the studio. She showed real confidence, and kept it a really light, relaxed session," he says of the recording process.
"Plus she was genuinely excited about making music, her greatest attribute."
"I think we all became family," says Massy. "It certainly made it hard to say goodbye at the end of this project. They're all extremely talented musicians and Trevor's a fantastic singer.
"The record is one my favorites and I would gladly play it for any A&R rep as an example of my best work."
With the remainder of the Vancouver-based
industrial-flavored band -- guitarist Rob Morfitt and Ziggy; bassist Ken Fleming (although former Sons Of Freedom player Don Binns provides the album work) and drummer Robert Wagner -- serving as the chariot for Trevor Hurst's demon-exorcizing vocal prowess on "THE DEVIL YOU KNOW," Econoline Crush has opened up a bold new frontier by coming of age.
"THE DEVIL YOU KNOW" -- one hell of a good album.
Econoline Crush is:
Trevor Hurst: vocals
Robbie Morfitt: guitars
Ken Fleming : bass
Robert Wagner: drums, percussion
Special guest album bassist: Don Binns
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