The Classic Crime isn't limited to scenes, trends or even genres -- at least not to anything more specifically than "rock" (like say U2 or the Foo Fighters). They may hail from the rich music scene of Seattle, but they aren't hipsters and they don't play grunge. With giant infectious melodies and occasional dalliances with prog-math and a newfound sense of whimsy, The Classic Crime is for everybody.
The band's debut, Albatross, boasted the biggest first week sales for a new band in Tooth & Nail's history. They've done the Warped Tour (twice) and hit the road with Owl City, Relient K, MxPx, Anberlin and Emery, but it is with their third album, Vagabonds, where they have truly hit their stride and kicked things into gear like never before.
The last song on their sophomore record, 2008's The Silver Cord, was called "The Beginning." It's a three-chord song. The first song on Vagabonds, "A Perfect Voice"? Two chords. "I'm obsessed with simple songs," explains vocalist and songwriter Matt MacDonald. "Songs that don't change a lot musically but you can feel the dynamics in the melody and rhythm when you listen."
Though subtly spiritual in theme and approach, The Classic Crime has a very healthy view on the interplay of belief and artistry, and one which MacDonald has no trouble articulating: "Bob Dylan is a Jew who came to believe that Jesus Christ was the messiah...and since then he has fought the label of 'Christian artist' whole heartedly. He's been quoted saying, 'People want to label you so they can limit your accessibility.' That's why we refuse to have labels of any sort...either with genre or religion, because we want to be accessible to everybody. We feel like we can do more good to more people by remaining objective in our perception."
The Classic Crime does not label themselves a 'Christian' band. As Matt writes on The Classic Crime's discussion board, "We believe faith is personal, and can be only held by an individual person. To entitle a group "Christian" would be to assume that the group has a collective soul, or at least individual souls tied to a solid collective belief. Not everyone in our band is decidedly set in their faith, and we respect that." Justin DuQue stated that "3 of the 5 members in the band are Christian. We get that a lot being on a pseudo-Christian label (Tooth & Nail) but no we are not a Christian band. Our lyrics are very positive and hopeful though".
Yet with all their dedication to music for music's sake, The Classic Crime are surprisingly dedicated to a greater, practical purpose as the end-all-be-all of their band's existence. It is with these higher goals in mind that they push onward into this next era.
"We want to reach as many people as possible and we want to help people," states MacDonald. "I think music is powerful and people can find emotional therapy in it. We want to make music that is meaningful, that people can relate to. Also, we hope to generate enough of a career so we can go to third world countries and try to serve people in need on physical level. I think we are put on this earth to serve something other than just ourselves."
MacDonald met guitarist Justin DuQue, drummer Paul "Skip" Erickson (who were in bands in high school together) and bassist Alan Clark in 2003 after the trio placed an ad in the Seattle weekly paper, The Stranger which said, "Rock Vocalist Wanted" and listed influences like Jimmy Eat World and Blindside. Guitarist Robbie Negrin originally tried out to be the vocalist as well, but MacDonald landed the job after an audition where they played each other some of their songs. Ditching the high school band name DuQue and Erickson had carried around, they looked for a combination of inquisitive words that wouldn't pigeon-hole the band genre-wise: thus, The Classic Crime.
Great bands were happening in Seattle at the time, from Blood Brothers to Gatsby's American Dream, but the group The Classic Crime probably had the most in common with was probably Acceptance. "We never played a show with them, we weren't really on the same level back then," MacDonald points out. "We were sort of outcasts, but I think now it's kind of changed. There are a lot of bands coming out citing us as an influence, which is really weird and humbling."
With three full length albums and thousands of miles of touring under their belts, these Vagabonds sincerely hope the ride never ends. "I would like people to remember our band as an honest band, having integrity musically, who didn't follow whatever was hot in the moment but wrote the music we liked," MacDonald says.
"We don't follow whatever trend is going on because we know that those fade quickly. We have a dedicated fanbase who enjoy what we put out. We appreciate them and we try to give them substance. As cliche as it sounds, we want to be remembered as a band that was concerned about the right things and tried to make the world a better place."
Listen to The Classic Crime Here
|We All Look Elsewhere||2004||Independent|
|Albatross||2006||Tooth & Nail Records|
|Seattle Sessions||2007||Tooth & Nail Records|
|The Silver Cord||2008||Tooth & Nail Records|
|Vagabonds||2010||Tooth & Nail Records|