Las Vegas rockers Crashing Wayward are in this week’s Meet The Band spotlight. Their debut album is Listen!. Vocalist Peter Summit introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Crashing Wayward.
Peter Summit: Crashing Wayward formed out of Las Vegas in March 2020 within the first few weeks of the lockdown. Stacey, David, Carl and I were working on another project that had just dissolved leading into the pandemic. We had been producing a few rough demos and were getting very excited about them. We were without a drummer at that point when Stacey played the very first demo of “Disco Kills” for Shon in hopes of recruiting him. From there everything fell into place. That summer we got together for the first time to work on laying down what would become our album Listen!.
Describe the songwriting process for Listen!.
Due to the pandemic, we were in the unique position of passing demos back and forth to each other through email. Between the five of us we were in three different states with nothing but time on our hands and it seemed like we had been writing 3-4 songs a week, with no signs of slowing. By the time we were able to regroup when restrictions slightly lifted, we had at least our first EP of songs prepared and ready for pre-production. As we got into the studio and production began, the songwriting did not stop. It seemed as like the world was crumbling around us; we retreated within ourselves finding inspiration and our voice. We completed production on “Breathe,” “Disco Kills” and “Stranger Days” when we knew we were moving passed the EP idea and going to record a whole album.
How did you come to work with producer Mike Gillies?
We came to work with Mike Gillies through his relationship with our guitarist Stacey who had worked with him on a previous album and band. We presented Mike with our rough demos, and he was blown away. “Stranger Days” was one of our early demos and it drew Mike in strong. Lyrically, “Stranger Days” is one of my personal favorites and seeing how it drew Mike in was really inspiring. His album credits and the musicians he has worked with alone only pushed out the best in us. I speak for all of us when I say we only strived for our absolute best on this album and strongly feel there is not one filler song on this album. Mike would never allow it even if there was one. He was as fully invested in this album as we were, and we feel extremely fortunate to work with a producer that believed in us that much.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Starting production at Kevin Churko’s The Hideout Studio was definitely a highlight, but for me the strongest memory was the tracking of “Velvets Drawn.” We had completed tracking the first version of “Velvets Drawn” which had a completely different vibe and feel. Something was not sitting right with me within the melody I originally had, and I asked Mike if I could come back in to try it again. David had just been in the studio before my session and came up with something really unique which inspired a new approach. I took home that night a rough mix for reference thinking that what we had just tracked would be the completion of “Velvets Drawn.”
I was due back at the studio the next day to touch up some final vocals on some other tracks when I received a call from Stacey that morning that his ex and my close friend Paula had unexpectedly passed away. Originally “Velvets Drawn” was written around Stacey’s breakup with Paula, but with her passing I was compelled to rewrite the lyrics and came up with the mood and melody that it is today. I was grateful Mike was willing for me to come back in for a third time and make the song right. Because of that I think it is one of the more powerful songs on the album.
What was the biggest challenge in recording Listen!?
Definitely the biggest challenge was all of us getting together during the pandemic and extended lockdowns. It was really important for us to get together in the studio with Mike and hammer out any and all ideas. We did not want to rely on everyone sending in their parts early on, so we took our time on each song getting together when we could. We each faced multiple personal setbacks and challenges during the process of making this album which really bleeds out on most of these tracks. I do not exaggerate that the band and Mike literally poured blood, sweat and tears into the making of Listen!.
How would you characterize its style/sound?
Each one of us comes from a vast musical background and I truly believe we capture that all on this album. There is something for everyone here. We very much fall into the umbrella of modern alternative rock, but it is still difficult to put a label on our style or sound and hope we have made our own fingerprint within that genre. These songs were a cathartic release of pure raw emotion, and each tell an individual story. It was very important for us to create something that we felt was timeless.
We worked a lot with layering alternate tunings between Stacey and Dave’s guitars which I think paints an ambient and sonic landscape that hits fast and hard. At the same time, we are not afraid to pull it back when it is needed. Dave did a lot of really interesting and unique voicing guitar slides throughout that really makes the album illuminate. Vocally it was very important for me to come up with interesting melodies and hooks. I really wanted to take the listener on a ride with soaring choruses and at times showing vulnerability in the performance.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Intolerance, mental health, suicide, love, loss, political unrest are just some of the topics touched on throughout Listen!. During the writing and recording process of making this album, there was no shortage of influence whether it was blasted all over the news or happening to us personally. We lived and processed together super highs and super lows as a band and producer making this album and I think that is strongly reflected here. This album is really about life itself and was written heavily with an observant and autobiographical lens. I wanted to come from a neutral view in hopes people could have open healthy conversations without conflict.
How did you come to sign with RFK Media?
Our drummer Shon had known Ron Keel the president of RFK for years and had been sending him what songs we had completed to play on his radio station KRFK Radio. Ron was kind enough to give us a big push with our early releases of “Breathe” and “Disco Kills,” but it was when Shon sent him “Stranger Days” that it changed everything. Ron told us it was “The best song he had heard in 20 years.” and that it “Wrecked his day!” We then set up a meeting to discuss signing with his newly formed RFK Media label. It quickly became apparent to us that what we wanted and needed was someone who felt as strongly and as passionate as we did about this band. We felt Ron would go to any length bringing Crashing Wayward to the masses and with that we signed.
What has been the response to the singles you’ve released so far?
The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive and we are very grateful for the high praises and reviews that we have seen so far from the releases of “Breathe” and “Disco Kills.” Especially live when we have the crowd singing these songs back at us, it shows that we have made a big impression. With the release of “Closer” we are expecting an even a wider reach. “Closer” is what we feel “The perfect heavyweight punch” we needed leading off the release of Listen! It’s relevant, anthemic, and can kick in your speakers.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
We are excited to take this album on the road. We thrive playing these songs live and leave it all on the stage. We truly are a live band and make sure that everyone love us or hate us, gets their money’s worth. We don’t care to sit back and hope it takes off, we want to get out there and sell it to the people. We really hope this album opens many more doors for us and we can release a few more singles and videos. There are too many songs on Listen! that deserve a chance to be heard.
How was the video shoot for “Closer”?
We shot the video “Closer” in a four hour block at Blackbox Studios in Las Vegas, before we left on a red eye to Nashville. We worked again with Mason Wright who directed our video for “Breathe” and wanted to capture the intensity of our live performance. We like working within a concept and this captured what feels like an opium den of power and obsession. Mason sprayed down the concrete floors with water for esthetic and it caused me to slide everywhere. The other guys were fortunate enough to wear rubber soled shoes. I almost fell multiple times, but found my power stance and allowed my upper body movements dictate the energy of emotions. I welcome any and all tumbles or scrapes in performance. It’s all about giving something to remember.
What has been your most memorable Crashing Wayward live show?
Being a new band coming out of covid, we did not get a real opportunity to play until the beginning of 2022. Since then, we have played amazing shows in Salt Lake City, Arizona, Nashville, Hollywood and at home in Las Vegas. We have been seeing our shows grow in each city we play. At home in Las Vegas, Count’s Vamp’d has been our homebase and is an amazing venue that really takes care of us. I would say though our most memorable to date has been our show at the Brooklyn Bowl here in Las Vegas. We were billed to open for Puddle of Mudd and Saliva, but with the passing of Wayne Swinny, Saliva had to pull out of the tour and we had to fill the slot.
Our 30 minute set became an hour set and we did not want to disappoint. It was very important for us to give that audience the energy of the missing Saliva and pay homage to Wayne in doing so. We hit that stage with a fury and connected unrelentingly for an hour. It was our first show in a venue that size, a stage that size and a crowd that size. When a mosh pit broke out, we knew we had them.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
We definitely plan to hit the ground running upon the release of Listen!. We want to play anywhere and everywhere and for everyone. Our hopes are to get on as many festivals as possible. We will play any stage big or small, but on the large stage is where it truly becomes powerful. There is so much energy and movement between us all that it gets hard to contain in a small space, but regardless we will make it happen. Getting over to Europe and Japan is a priority and have already begun the discussion to do so. We do have some material we held back, to carry us well into next year. Plan on catching us in a city near you and please tell a friend!
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Outside of music my biggest passion is fashion and design. I have always been drawn to frontmen that have not only made an impactful impression on me musically, but also as fashion icons. David Bowie, The Clash, Nick Cave, Bryan Ferry, Lenny Kravitz are just a few of my main influences. I owned a vintage clothing store in San Diego for 15 years called Home 1969 that is now online. The history of the store dates back to 1969 New York City, where my late uncle owned it as a bar/restaurant becoming close spiritual friends with John Lennon. My wife and I now run Home 1969 and The Vault 1969 online, curating and collecting vintage clothing. This is where I draw my own personal style for stage. I love the contrast between our hard-hitting, high-energy show and the sophistication of a suit.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I don’t think Electric by The Cult has ever left my rotation since the first time I heard it as a kid. The heavy AC/DC style driven Electric had me on the opening riff of “Wildflower.” In my opinion there is not one song to skip on this album. Queen of the Stone Age — Villains and Era Vulgaris. I think Josh Homme has killer melodies and lyrics. New Sleep Token and Turnstile, but I’m never without some of the key essentials that get me ready for a show. Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger, Alice in Chains – Face Lift, Stone Temple Pilots – 4, Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power, Velvet Revolver – Contraband, Judas Priest – Painkiller, Motley Crue – Shout At The Devil always get the job done.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I cannot stress enough visiting crashingwayward.com for all updates, music, videos, merch and especially following us on all @crashingwayward socials. Buy, download, and add Listen! to any and all playlists. It will soon be available on vinyl, so keep an eye out for that. Come to a show and keep supporting live HEAVY music!
(interview published June 10, 2023)
Watch Crashing Wayward – “Closer” Video