The Cringe Takes Wells Fargo by Storm, Talks Cheeseteaks, and New Albums!

Featured Image by Brittany Salerno

On Friday, August 14th, a band took the stage by storm prior to the legends Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper. Not legends yet, but no less strong, The Cringe combine the best elements and spirit of rock n’ roll. The New York City natives killed their short set, and even took the time to sit and chat with us while snapping photos backstage! Frontman John Cusimano talked about their upcoming album Blind Spot, the inspirations for their energetic sound, and great Philly cuisine!

Cringe 8.14 Philadelphia-8

Photo by Andrew Meskin

Rock On Philly: I was listening to your upcoming album Blind Spot earlier today. It sounds like you guys have combined the best of rock n roll into one album. What was your inspiration behind the name and the sound of it?

John Cusimano: The album will be released October 16th , and it’s our fifth album.  The single, “Anything You Say” was just released a couple days ago. Well, our sound is, in a way, similar sounds to bands that we listen to all the time. We’d categorize ourselves the same as Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, The Who–bands that have loud, big rock sounds with melodic [anthems]. [Our producer] Don Gilmore had a a big [influence] on [fine-tuning] our sound. He worked long and hard on the lyrics, hooks, and did a lot of editing for our music. He would delete elements and keep saying his mantra: “Keep it simple. Keep it simple or the song won’t stick.” Focus on what is worth keeping it. As for the name [of the album]- looking back at the lyrics, 80% of [them] have to do with one person being a in relationship and having a blind spot for the other person, meaning they aren’t as engaged but you press on no matter what. I try to write lyrics that people can relate to.

ROP: How do you feel you have changed or progressed since your first album?

JC: The producer made a big difference. You really get tight as a band, on songs, the lyrics, and memories.  We were focusing on playing rather than the lyrics, but working with the producer has [made a big difference], and supplied us with all the hooks. It’s more focused than our earlier records.

ROP: In a world where there is so much autotune, synth, and electronic sounds, how have you kept authentic rock/punk sound alive? Was that intentional?

JC: That’s just what we do—we’re not a reggae [or an electronic] band. I play keyboards, but I write more on guitar. Big guitars, big drums, loud rock–that’s what we like. We would be capable of doing something different, but at the end of the day we’re just a rock band.

ROP: On your website it details that you are “savvy” and quite meticulous in your songwriting—what’s the songwriting process like? Is it a collaborative effort? How does it work?

JC: Well, I’m in a songwriting group that Bob Schneider started. It’s a group with about thirty other singer-songwriters, and he starts each session with a sentence—it’s a really good. Sitting in a room by myself, I write a song and I have studio too in my house. Play all the instruments and make the demo. When we started with Don Gilmore, and some of the demos ended up making up 99% of the album and very little was changed from start to finish. We would take elements like a chorus, by the time we took it to record, we had a basic structure of the song, and everyone else [will add] their own elements. Guitar parts, and different elements are added, and you got a song.

ROP: Just doing some research, it looks like it’s your live shows where you guys really shine. What do you guys do that is so special and unique to your live performance?

JC: We try to put on a show. We’re all engaged–it’s raucous. We want to make the arena as intimate as we can and connect with the audience, and high-fiving the fans and jumping off the stage.  We make people feel more included and make the arena as intimate as you can be in one.

ROP: You guys are currently on tour with some Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe. What’s it like touring with such huge/legendary names?

JC: It’s pretty amazing. First of all, everyone is really cool and couldn’t be nicer. Alice Cooper- it’s everything you can imagine from a Alice Cooper show. It’s pretty amazing. Mötley Crüe—everything you want them to be and more. All of their songs, explosions, and it’s LOUD. Drum rollercoaster and Tommy Lee flips around on it. It’s over-the-top and it’s awesome. [With touring], you get into a routine: you see the musicians, chat with him, do your set, give everything you got, then wake up and do it all over again. It’s a routine. Happy to be doing it on this tour, with these bands, and with crowds of this size and caliber.

ROP: Have you guys ever been to Philly/played in Philly before?

JC: Sure, we have! We played World Café Live, we played a couple shows at the TLA.

ROP: What was your favorite part of the city?

JC: Cheesesteaks, Philly’s just a great city, and great food. Half the places are Italian and that’s like being home. Reading Terminal [Market] is just incredible.

ROP: So, what makes the Cringe ‘cringe’?

JC: Bad food.

ROP: Good answer!

See all the photos from the Wells Fargo show below!

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Concert Photography by Andrew Meskin; Backstage Photography by Brittany Salerno

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