We caught up with up and coming female rock trio, Crowd the Airwaves, from New York City to chat a bit about the band, their future and their recently released music video, “Blood.” CTA is Heather Marvin on Vocals and bass, Lindsay Dragan on drums, vocals, and sometimes guitar and Christina Elliott on guitar and vocals; and plays the viola on rare occasions. Lyndsay a Pittsburgh native herself was kind enough to do an extended interview about her hometown city.
Interview by Paige Suvick and Randy Jarosz
Sound Scene Express: How did you all meet?
Heather: Well I had known Christina for a few years at the time we started the band. We had met through mutual friends, and I found out she could play guitar. I had been getting pretty disillusioned with music (I was singing opera at the time), so I got it in my head to start a band, and invited Christina to join. We met Lindsay a few months later through a former bandmate, clicked almost instantly, and thus Crowd the Airwaves was born.
Christina: Heather and I had been good friends for a while before deciding to start a band together. She had approached me with the idea of having a few people on board for it, back when I was absolutely terrible on guitar.
Fun fact: CTA was once a five-piece band. Eventually we were short a drummer, and we went nuts holding auditions and recruiting someone new. We met Lindsay when she played drums in a Runaways cover band, which was a side project of a former bandmate of ours. We were all really inspired by her, so we were thrilled when she showed interest in joining. We’ve been a family ever since!
SSE: What inspired you to start making music?
Heather: I’ve been singing my whole life. Between musical theater, opera, and rock there isn’t much I haven’t vocally explored. Foo Fighters really sealed the deal for me though. I remember watching the “Best of You” music video on AOL music videos (I’m showing my age haha), and being reduced to tears because of how it touched me. From then on I felt inspired to bring the same emotional connection to anyone I could through music.
Lindsay: It’s completely natural to me, as pretentious as that sounds. I made up songs as a toddler and loved to sing obnoxiously loudly. Nothing has changed. It’s where I feel at peace, and that’s why I still do it.
Christina: I started making music as a tiny child, obsessed with writing my own tunes with old mini keyboards that I really couldn’t play worth a damn (the keys were covered in bad marker for this reason). I was a violist through elementary school to high school, and I picked up guitar and singing later on. I love the intense creative process in writing music, and the thrill of performing. It’s all about emotion for me.
SSE: What is the inspiration behind your new music video, ‘Blood’?
Lindsay: The lack of logical reasoning of a disturbing number of people, coupled with complete lack of emotional hardiness. So, we made fun of them.
Heather: For me, it’s a lot of things, but mostly how people are going to resent you no matter what you do. Sometimes you really just can’t fix stupid, so it’s best to keep doing your thing regardless of other people’s outside noise.
Christina: You’re basically watching 3 different characters on set with us trying to rustle our jimmies and failing at it. It’s a brutal message, combined with a humorous interpretation of some real trends we’re seeing in today’s outrageous social climate. It’s also shot on Coney Island, which is about as New York as it gets.
SSE: Last March you released your debut EP, ‘Devil May Care’. What was the recording process like?
Lindsay: For me, definitely the most comfortable experience I have ever had. Jino Arielly (our producer) definitely pushes you, but in a way that brings out the best in you as a musician and serves the music. The process itself was the usual: make scratch tracks, have days where we record one instrument, vocals, then mix and master.
Heather: Jino’s the best! I’ve done some session work, but it’s different when it’s your own music. He really made me feel comfortable, and since he is also the bass player I learned a lot. I had never picked up a stringed instrument before the band, so it was great to work with someone so musically inclined and experienced.
Christina: It was the first time I had ever done studio recording, so it was a real learning experience for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Jino really helped us put out a great product by giving us great suggestions and insight. We built upon our material in many different ways, and our live set grew so much stronger as a result.
SSE: Any plans for the year ahead?
Lindsay: Well, we wanted to tour, but I am currently four months pregnant, so any real touring is out of the equation for now. Maybe 2017! And not to worry – we have every intention and plan of coming to Pittsburgh! Touring through my hometown through an out-of-towner’s perspective is pretty fun, especially seeing good friends at shows and stuff.
Heather: While Lindsay is on maternity leave, Christina and I will continue playing shows with someone subbing on drums. We plan on keeping it solely in NYC and Long Island, but that will change when Lindsay can come back.
Christina: The band is expecting our first little Airwave! In the meantime, we are currently in the process of recording and conceptualizing our next EP. In terms of live shows, we plan on further increasing our presence in the local circuit as well as extending our reach throughout Long Island.
SSE: What inspired you to move to NYC?
Lindsay: Ah, boy. Well, so, I’m from Pittsburgh, and honestly, at the time I moved away (eight years ago; first I went to Flagstaff for grad school, then moved straight to Brooklyn), there wasn’t really much the city could offer me, both in terms of music and just general life stuff. I frankly got tired of it and had a deep desire to sow my wild oats, as it were. I do miss it deeply at times, though, and I visit fairly regularly, as most of my big Italian family still lives there. It’s pretty cool to be away for awhile, and then visit and see how the city has grown. It was really dirty and honestly pretty depressing when I was little, but it’s turned into a clean, generally friendly, modern city without losing its identity. That’s hard to do (I’m looking at you, Brooklyn!)
SSE: Do you come back to Pittsburgh often?
Lindsay: Fairly regularly, when possible. I try to visit for a couple days every few months. I haven’t played in Pgh in about three years, but I hope to change that soon!
SSE: Were you part of any bands in Pittsburgh? If so which ones?
Lindsay: The only one that really did anything was a band I was in in undergrad while I was Pitt, called The Meridians. We’d basically just drink and play classic rock. The hipster scene hated us, haha. But drunk people loved us, and isn’t that what counts?! I jest of course. That said, those were much more formative years in terms of ability and stuff, and I wasn’t even breathing correctly while singing. I wince when I hear those recordings now!
SSE: Do you have any thoughts on the Pittsburgh music scene?
Lindsay: It’s way, way better now. They seem to be doing some cool stuff over there, and have certainly upped the ante since I’ve left, which is really nice to see. The music is richer and more original, and it’s always a joy to see Pittsburgh musicians tour through New York, rarely that I can.
SSE: Do you have any favorite Pittsburgh bands/musicians?
Lindsay: Yeah! Personal faves are Wreck Loose, Paul Luc, and The Weathered Road. Good stuff. Oh, and you can’t forget Donora. I was at one of their first gigs ever, a really long time ago, and they were good even then.
SSE: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Lindsay: LET’S GO PENS!!!!!!!!
Heather: If you come to our shows you might see us transform into unicorns.
Christina: My glossary hole is the size of the moon.