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By Daniel J. Katz

Of the Canadian rock groups trying to break through into the United States, Econoline Crush has been among the most successful. Their single, “All That You Are (x3)”, is in the top ten on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. I caught up with lead singer Trevor Hurst before his show at the Paradise on May 21 to talk about his current success and the music industry in Canada and beyond.

The Tech: The new album--well, its not exactly new anymore, but the newest album-- The Devil You Know sounds a lot different than Affliction. Did you go out trying to produce a new sound or did it happen during recording?

Trevor Hurst: It happened when we were writing and when we were recording... I think we’re more of a rock band that uses technology than an industrial band. So we wrote the songs just trying to write the best songs possible and when we hired Sylvia Massey I said, “You’re gonna listen to Affliction [produced by Rhys Fulber] and you’re gonna hear all this industrial influence, but I really want to bring out more of our rock and roll edge because thats who we really are.”

The Tech: What kind of bands influence you, industrial and otherwise?

TH: It’s very broad... I listen to everything from Willie Nelson to something industrial like Ministry, and everything in between. Growing up, there’s the hair-metal bands, INXS, U2, Killing Joke, Black Flag... it’s just the whole gamut.

The Tech: You’re Canadian... you probably already knew that. How do you think the music scene is different in Canada from down here?

TH: Well, there’s a number of things going on up there that some Canadians are really “rugga-rugga yay-yay” about and some aren’t. I’m one of the ones that is not a fan of the CRTC [Canadian law requiring a certain proportion of radio to consist of Canadian content]. I know their heart’s in the right place... Because of the size of Canada--we have 25 or 30 million people versus the multitudes, the hundreds of millions here in America--they felt we would be washed over with American culture. But I believe we’re strong enough as a nation to create our own cultural heroes and our own music and everything else. I think its evident in bands like Our Lady Peace and ourselves. Knowing Our Lady Peace personally, I think they do think of their music globally and not so much in terms of Canada. The danger of the CRTC is that when you know you’re going to get x amount of airplay, programmers of radio stations will say that if a song is a hit in Canada, it’s because they had to play it. Whereas down here I’m judged simply and solely on whether its a good song or not.

The Tech: How have you been accepted in the United States?

TH: I would say that we probably have more success down here then we do in our own country because there’s more rock radio down here, there’s more of an audience for the kind of music we do... Although I don’t see it as being that strange, for some reason, some programmers in Canada do.

The Tech: How do you decide which singles are released where? For instance, “Sparkle and Shine” was released in Canada, but not in the United States

TH: Well, not yet... There’s kind of a panel that we go through. There’s the A&R on the U.S. label, management, and myself, and we just sit around and discuss what would work best... you hate to term it a strategy, but it is a strategy involved.

The Tech: Does U.S. radio look for something different?

TH: Definitely, it’s something very unique. The countries are so similar yet so different. There’s thought that goes into what’s going to be the best for what we’re trying to achieve down here, and that dictates the order of the singles.

The Tech: You opened for KISS. What’s that like?

TH: It’s scary... it’s probably one of the toughest gigs in rock.

The Tech: Did it go over well?

TH: It did, actually... One of the really interesting things about that whole experience was the power of the Internet. The first few shows we did, it was twenty or thirty minutes of something that interrupted the audience. (looks at watch) We’re waiting for KISS, and you guys are making a bunch of noise and delaying them. Please stop. Whereas, as we moved along the tour, people started to come into the venue early, there were people waiting for the band, people who were into the band... And I was talking to my reps and I asked what’s going on, how could these people be finding out. And he says, if you look on the KISS army web page, they’re talking about you, they’re saying get there early, check this band out. So it’s a grassroots following that starts on this really high-tech medium.

The Tech: I asked you about a few of your favorite bands earlier... what have you been listening to recently?

TH: The new Underworld CD, the big blue one [Beaucoup Fish, see April 23 review]. This is weird, but I’m a fan of that Scott Weiland solo CD, I listen to that every once in a while. I’m so bummed about Scott, because I really thought he was going to be the guy who steps in and becomes the next rock star that we’re all waiting for. I listen to a hodgepodge of all types of music. I listen to No Security by the Stones a lot because I love the way they sound live.

The Tech: Then what do you think about the buzz that rock is dead or dying or starting to smell funny?

TH: Well, here’s my theory about rock and roll and what’s gone wrong... You’re fourteen years old and you’re sitting in your room, cranking up your favorite tune, and it turns out that your favorite band is Matchbox 20. Your mom walks by and says, “Oh, I like that song.” That’s the last thing in the fucking world you wanna hear when you’re fourteen years old. So the only thing now that you can stick in your stereo and piss your parents off is hip-hop. They don’t understand it, they don’t get it, and they don’t want to get it. Right now, were just in need for some rock stars with some good old fashioned nasty rebellion.

The Tech: Well, good luck filling that niche. Thanks for your time.