SANTA CRUZ – Voice Of A New Generation
November 10, 2017, a year ago
“We’re ready to carry on that torch. There’s enough nostalgia acts,” says an enthused Archie Cruz about Santa Cruz being the next face of rock ‘n’ roll. The Finnish rock act is receiving well due attention in North America for their hard-hitting attack of sleaze metal, but with a modern spin. While they have attitude and are not afraid to show it, their third album Bad Blood Rising (released November 10th via M-Theory Audio) is their most mature, personal album to date.
The blonde bomber Archie agrees with how personal an album it is as he reflects on ballads like “Drag Me Out Of The Darkness” and “Breathe”, “We had been touring for like 2 years, touring and partying for a long time and when you come home you just start thinking about life, you just come down from all the partying and you start thinking about your age, you’re already 24 and you always feel like you’re not this young kid anymore who just wants to party and have a good time and do the whole rock ‘n’ roll cliché thing and in life you go in deep sometimes and I think that comes out in those songs.”
In fact, “Breathe”, “the slow song with the whistle” as Archie puts it, is his favorite tune from Bad Blood Rising. He proclaims, “I think it’s the best song we’ve written harmonically and melodically.”
The opening salvo is the romper “Young Blood Rising”, with which an accompanying video was make. “It’s the most Santa Cruz song off the new album, most basic Santa Cruz song”, says Archie, “and it was an easy choice for the first single. I think the album has better songs, but that’s the most obvious one to go with.”
(Photo by: Santi Fox)
Causing a bit of head scratcher is “River Phoenix”, named after the actor who died 24 years ago in a tragic death on Halloween night of drug intoxication outside The Viper Room nightclub in West Hollywood, CA. He was just 23-years-old. So how the heck all these years later does he get a song named after him? Archie laughs when I ask him and explains, “I used to watch the Indiana Jones movies as a kid and he was in the third one playing the young Indy and I was like ‘that dude is super awesome’ and then I found out about his death, which was very tragic. I felt like he needed a tribute; I felt like he needed to be acknowledged by the younger generation that might not have heard of him from anywhere else.”
Another unique track is the laid back vibe of “Get Me Out Of California”, which funnily enough originated in Italy. Archie explains the inspiration of the track, “Actually I was in Italy like 3 years ago with my family and I started singing those first parts ‘23 but I’ve lived for a lifetime’, but it just came out from my mouth and I said that to Johnny (Cruz, guitarist) and lo and behold two years later he came to me and was like ‘Yo, remember that song you wrote in Italy? Well, I have the chorus for it!’ And he started singing the California part and apparently he wrote that a year and a half ago when we were touring with Sebastian Bach and the last show was in Los Angeles and we partied for two days and after that he was like ‘Please, somebody get me out of California!’” (laughs)
Santa Cruz is clearly making their mark around the scene being noticed by Bach whom they’ve toured with and receiving recognition from Rolling Stone. Other bands of their ilk like Reckless Love, Hardcore Superstar, Crazy Lixx, Shiraz Lane, and other foreign glam/hair band can’t make a dent in North America. Archie sees no comparison with those acts by claiming, “Crazy Lixx and Reckless Love, those are great bands, Crazy Lixx not so much, but to me those bands are nostalgia acts. Hardcore Superstar is fresher, but they’re old dudes over 40 so that’s different too, but I would compare us to those bands like 7 years ago, but it’s different now and the new album has nothing to do with Crazy Lixx or Reckless Love.”
As for receiving U.S. attention when this type of music is out of favor, Archie points to the band’s goal of attaining a U.S fan base. He says, “We’ve been so relentless getting a market in the U.S. by touring there a couple times we’ve tried really hard to grow a fan base over there and do as much U.S. gigs as we can, interviews as we can and to me we are more American than like Crazy Lixx and those bands.”
Archie thinks it’s important for newer rock bands to remain fresh and says newer acts latch onto the past too much. “I feel like there’s a blueprint made for this kind of music and people think you cannot break it and that’s the mistake they make. Think about bands like (Led) Zeppelin and GN’R (Guns N’ Roses). They’re one of the blueprints of rock ‘n’ roll, but they broke it and that’s why they became so huge and fresh like Nirvana with Kurt Cobain. Nobody’s got the guts to break the blueprint now, and if you play rock, it's like you have to do it this way. You have to break boundaries and do whatever you want.”
So what does he think about a band like Steel Panther, do they help or hurt? “Steel Panther is the greatest of the bands you’ve mentioned”, says Archie, “because Crazy Lixx and Reckless Love, they take themselves too seriously; if you’re going to be a nostalgia act, then you have to do the shit Steel Panther does. You can laugh at it, but still be fuckin’ badass. I’ve seen them twice and it was fuckin’ insane. It’s comedy with the best rock show you’ll ever see.”
Archie clearly has the Cruz missile set on a certain path to be voice of the new generation and while he can’t disclose the details, the band plans on coming back to the U.S. in March 2018.
(Top photo by: Viivi Huuska)