Crushed: We are an American band | Music | Phoenix | Phoenix New Times
– Replacements, “Bastards of young people”
The crushed chords are long, sustained and heavy. The sounds of concrete skies destroy the landscapes. The song oscillates low, deep, almost ironic. The singer is skinny, like a wandering waifish too, and the band is brooding. The sound only rumbles. Like the West Phoenix broods, to say the least. The low cinder block, the aging vans, the miles of dead lawns and power lines. Everything makes sense, brooding and the group called Crushed.
It’s west of Phoenix, man, not the hot milk of Mill Avenue. This is the land of long-toothed Tesla heads, precious eight-track players, and the Metallica and Pratt radios of the unshorn era. Where Prong and Tool still provide the soundtrack to Cat Torture, Week-long Methamphetamine Sessions, Quick Pontiacs, and Single Moms. Acres and acres, square mile after square mile. This is where Crushed – Mark Lauer, vocals, guitar; Mike Halland, guitar; Michael Brown, bass; Jeff Garten, the drums – fits in. And they’re damn good at it.
In a 1997 Hit Parder Year-end reader poll, Phoenix rock ‘n’ roll band Crushed was voted one of the top five new bands of the year. The group’s video for their song “Incandescence” received a rotation to more than 100 video outlets in the United States that same year. This same song was licensed for use in video games and is still featured on some East Coast radio stations. Rave reviews for his debut Crushed on 911 Records has appeared everywhere, from online zines to glossy industry trades. His debut made the top 25 in University Music Journal‘s (CMY) prestigious metal charts in October 1997.
Album Network said: This is Crushed’s first full album. A debut on a hitherto unknown label doesn’t stay in the top 20 for eight weeks unless something serious happens. . . . Crushed could easily find himself facing the greats of the Top 10 very soon. . . a group with a great future indeed.
Cut to 1999. Crushed has no record label and no money. All the boys have returned to their day jobs.
Six months ago, Crushed did a label showcase at the glorious Mason Jar for Atlantic, Epic and Roadrunner. Roadrunner Records ended up “dating” with the band but nothing ever happened. Then the band got together in the last hour to sign a contract with Atlantic Records; the lawyers even nodded. Right before signing the contracts – literally – they get a call from a label manager telling them that he needs two radio songs from the band before a deal can be signed.
Lead singer Mark Lauer recalls, “You wouldn’t believe that call we got. I mean, we said to everyone, ‘We got a deal with Atlantic, man.’ Guy says, “I want you to write a song somewhere like Sugar Ray or Smash Mouth. I don’t care what the rest of your record sounds like, we just need two songs to get on the radio. “Can you believe that?”
Of course, the group was appalled. But he was hungry and was ready to make another record. So after trying two songs on the radio aligned with Sugar Ray / Smash oral formulas, Crushed conceded failure. No band as stylized as Crushed could evoke such guts according to the label’s request.
The group called the record company back and said they had no radio chirp to deliver. Atlantic said too bad.
For Elektra records this year, Crushed did a weird but brilliant rendering of the brown from Psychedelic Furs “Love My Way”. The track was to appear on an Elektra release called One-shot wonders – a compilation featuring contemporary bands singing successful marvels. The outing has been suspended indefinitely.
On the phone, Mark Lauer seems more lively and optimistic. Taking a break from his intermittent job of cleaning swimming pools, he explains how crazy it is that some people still swim in the winter. These are the people who secure him a job during the lean winter months. He tells me how he’s going to marry this girl he met on the road a few years ago.
âPool cleaning is cold in the winter, man. It’s good for a musician, at least a singer, to do this job because I can sing songs all day,â he laughs.
Lauer has been playing at Phoenix clubs for almost as long as Bruce Connole. Like Connole, he was born and raised in Phoenix. Lauer’s first group was a mid-1980s pop combo called Mental Pictures. Mental Pictures has done shows supporting Doug Hopkins Algebra Ranch’s pre-Blossoms quartet.
âI remember standing outside Anderson’s fifth estate talking to Doug Hopkins,â Lauer laughed, âand he has to apologize for going to throw up. Then he comes back and starts talking to you again.â