Here Is the Drunkest and Most Insane Band in the World, Crom
You probably haven’t heard of them, and that may be a good thing. L.A.’s Crom have been toiling around for decades now, playing gigs and being shitty since day one. Whether that is to taunt Drew Barrymore for attending a show, be unable to stand from inebriation, stage-dive onto their own equipment while on PCP or literally insult every person in the room, Crom are blazing trails virtually every time they take the stage. But it’s funny. Soooo fucking funny.
The only time I saw Crom was on September 5, 2008 at Cake Shop in NYC. The band was completely and totally out of their minds on alcohol and whatever substances were around. I arrived to the venue — which I later found out had sold less than 50 tickets — to be greeted by guitarist Scott Martin. I was wearing a vintage Scarface shirt at the time, and he looked it, drunken and cross-eyed, said, “Cool shirt, he’s good,” and motioned to the door person to stamp me without paying. I took the stamp and walked down the stairs to hear, “What was his name, so I can mark him off?” and Scott answering, “Nah nah, he’s good.” He truly could not have cared less.
After a set from sleaze metal favorites Villains (R.I.P.), Crom came on and what followed by any measure other than theirs was a total disaster. They had no idea how to keep time, most likely because they were all beyond wasted. Phil Vera spent part of the time trying to get the band together and the other part just noodling in the corner before taking his guitar rig apart and then removing the cymbals entirely from the drum kit while the drummer was still playing. Vocalist Will Heflin alternated barked insults at the audience with barked insults at his bandmate. It was a total meltdown, all captured by a VICE camera crew.
In a recent interview with Vera, J. Bennett got to the bottom of that perfect disaster.
How did you end up getting so wasted?
We got in on the red-eye that morning, so we were literally fucking around from 6 or 7AM, and then we didn’t actually play until 1AM. It just had all the right ingredients for a complete meltdown.
When shit like that happens, do the other guys in the band get pissed at you? Or do they just accept it as part of being in Crom?
The next night, Will had his meltdown, and then another night someone else had a meltdown, so it kinda evened out eventually. [Laughs] That’s why we wait nine years between tours, I guess.
For the uninitiated, Crom play a style of music called powerviolence — a mix of grindcore and doom that leans more punk than metal. Think of the fastest punk part you can, alternate that with incredibly slow moments and you have the idea. In addition, powerviolence is marked by ridiculous lyrics and subject matter, a hallmark of Crom LPs like The Cocaine Wars and Hot Sumerian Nights. A prime example comes in the latter's opener, which mimics the opening of Pink Floyd’s “Money,” but instead of cash register noises, it’s the sound of a bong, a fart and someone doing cocaine. Add in over-the-top clips of Tom Araya talking about metal in between songs, ridiculous takes on existing tracks and a few absolutely killer songs (yes, it’s totally true), and you have a Crom record — one part ADD comedy weirdness, one part powerviolence killing machine. Plus, Vera has another little band that you may have heard of: West Coast legends Despise You.
Which all brings us to today, and Crom’s upcoming East Coast tour and documentary, All Hail Those Who Fail (soon screening for the first time in Brooklyn and D.C.) The film, which currently clocks in at around 90 minutes, details the band’s ridiculous travels through the eyes of metal luminaries from bands like Infest, Pig Destroyer, the Locust, -16-, Agalloch, Unsane and many more. You get clips of the band playing a show in the late ’90s while high on PCP, throwing around couches and tackling each other around falling amps. You get video of the band taunting Barrymore during a gig with, “Bring me the head of Drew Barrymore.” You get clips from that insane Cake Shop gig and its aftermath at WFMU the next day. All of which is to say that the documentary feels well-rounded and thorough to a band that probably deserved everything they got, and then some. Which is a bunch of hangovers and a few really great records.
In short, if you’ve ever slowed down on a major interstate to see a car wreck or laughed at a friend when they tripped and fell, Crom are the band for you. Come to the East Coast gigs below, but make sure to bring lots of drugs and alcohol to feed the band before they play. Otherwise, they might actually be good live, and who the hell wants that?