Christopher Crisci Remains Appleseed Cast's Constant

Chris Crisci has been with the Appleseed Cast from the beginning.
Chris Crisci has been with the Appleseed Cast from the beginning.
Photo by Lukas Broberic

The story of Kansas' Appleseed Cast is not lacking in complexity or dramatic shifts. Over 18 years and several lineup changes, the band's sound today hardly resembles the emo-tinged one that put the group on the map. But through it all, founding member Christopher Crisci has retained a singular hold of the project, and his sensibilities have been the grounding element that has allowed the Appleseed Cast to weather the storm. Crisci recently chatted with New Times about his rotating door of bandmates and styles, the good old days of label advances, and escaping the ghosts of emo.

New Times: To what extent has the Appleseed Cast always been more of a personal project for you?

The Appleseed Cast

With Dikembe, Annabel, and Wish Around. 8 p.m. Friday, August 7, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; Admission costs $14.

Christopher Crisci: Each member brings something different, both strengths and weaknesses, to the table. I've written the majority of the songs, you know — I've always felt ownership. Really the only other person who would bring song ideas was Aaron [Pillar, former guitarist]. Everyone writes their parts and contributes, but it comes down to those two ideas of composition and accompaniment, and I've always done the composition.

The band's history is dotted with lineup changes. Why do you think that is?

When we first started, we had a bass player who quit before the demo. After our first tour, the drummer who I started the band with quit. That's kind of been the story — people move on. It's not easy touring and being in a band that doesn't make a lot of money. It's got to be a passion. Everyone who's quit the band has always gone on to better things. It's always been amicable. If someone is really good, really nice, or they work hard, they're always welcome. There has to be at least one redeeming feature. Problems only arise when none of those features are apparent anymore.

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Do you think the old Appleseed Cast would identify with what you do today? How is the substance of the band different from the earlier, so-called emo incarnation?

When we started, we were minimal emo. From Mare Vitalis on, that wasn't emo to us. That was us trying to get away from emo, because at the time, most emo was more like hardcore. A lot of bands that were being lumped into emo would freak out at that. A band like American Football would never identify with that, but they're very associated with emo now, one of the kings of it. A band like Desaparecidos is considered emo, but they're not emotional — it's more political. It's a you-know-it-when-you-see-it kind of thing, difficult to define. I remember someone telling us we were post-rock, like, 'Man, I used to hate you guys, but now you're doing this post-rock thing.' Everything was post-rock for a while, like the Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin was called post-rock. Now the definition of post-rock is extremely narrow in terms of sound and composition.

What was it like working with famed producer Ed Rose? Does he influence the way an album comes together in the studio? Do you still seek producers with that kind of singular voice?

Ed Rose's recordings of us were kind of bare-bones early on. There are so many moments where we just start taking off with the tempos. We were kids, you know, and I love the record. There was a kind of a push-pull with the songs, and the way we knew how to ratchet up the emotion was to play faster and faster. On later albums, Ed would talk us through the parts because we didn't want to rush. Just giving us mental cues, like, 'Listen for this one hit, and everything else will fall into place.' I think on our next record, we're going to do a lot of the recording in different places and then re-collect everything in the studio — anything that enables us to record literally anywhere. These days, you either have to own a studio or have a real connection, but I can guarantee you it's probably not going to be a label. Most labels now just want you to have it recorded, like, 'Yeah, what have you got?' It blows my mind, because labels used to give huge advances for recording, even smaller labels. Yeah, those were the good old days.

The Appleseed Cast with Dikembe, Annabel, and Wish Around. 8 p.m. Friday, August 7, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE 2nd Ave., Miami; 305­757­-1807; Admission is $14.

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5501 NE 2nd Ave.
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