It’s not hard to believe that The Great Crusades have been a band for more than 10 years and have seven albums to their name as well as a career retrospective DVD (Key to the City). The band members’ friendships lie at the heart of why The Great Crusades is still a viable, prolific band in 2010. On the other hand, some might say the band is still together only because it took this long to make its best album yet, Fiction to Shame.
Regardless, the personal history of the band is at least partly responsible for its longevity. Although The Great Crusades was formed in Champaign, Illinois, by vocalist/guitarist Brian Krumm in 1996, the current lineup of the band has been together since 1998. The band members have also known each other most of their lives at this point.
Krumm, bassist Brian Hunt, and drummer Christian Moder went to grade school and high school (and played in bands together) in the St. Louis suburb of Collinsville, Illinois. Hunt and Krumm met Brian Leach, guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist, in 1989 in Champaign. Somehow, all four band members ended up in Chicago in 1998, and they’ve managed to stay together and make great music together to this day.
The first Great Crusades album, The First Spilled Drink of the Evening, was released by Mud Records in 1997, and its sound and lyrics quickly created a cult following for the band. Rolling Stone’s David Fricke wrote, “The Great Crusades look at life through a shot-glass lens . . . mixing anger, muscle, and minor-key remorse like a roughneck Tindersticks with the bonus of a singer (Krumm) who’s got the tubercular pipes of Tom Waits and Axl Rose’s love child.” The album was reissued in Europe in 1998 by the German indie Trocadero Records, and the first of many European tours followed.
Damaged Goods was released by the venerated German label, Glitterhouse Records, in 2000, and by Checkered Past Records in the U.S. The critical accolades kept coming with praise from European and American press alike. Never Go Home (2002) saw the band reach a higher public profile when a tour of Germany, Austria, and Croatia was presented by Musikexpress magazine. In 2003, the band gained even more exposure as part of their appearance on the celebrated German television program, Rockpalast.
Welcome to the Hiawatha Inn (2004), Four Thirty (2006), and Keep Them Entertained (2007) followed, each featuring a fresh approach to the band’s sound. The band continued to expand its fan base and further build its reputation as one of the most engaging, wildest live bands in the business. Along the way, the band shared the stage with a very diverse list of artists, including Gary Moore, Scorpions, 16 Horsepower, Broken Social Scene, Bottle Rockets, Steve Wynn, and Leningrad Cowboys.
Now, with Fiction to Shame, the band is poised to introduce yet another creative direction to its dedicated following. Written and recorded live simultaneously, this album includes some of the band’s most unique-sounding yet accessible songs to this point. Most importantly, however, at the heart of the record lies the sound of four great, lifelong friends making music together as they have for more than a decade.