It's difficult to imagine a guy in a suit writing Criteria's riff-based anthem rock. That's why lead singer Stephen Pedersen quit his nine-to-five at a law firm to pursue music full-time. The result of his brave endeavor is When We Break, an emotionally and physically moving album with intelligent lyrics backed by a hefty harmony between guitar and drums. Aside from performing with his band, Pedersen also has a penchant for making up words, like strenth. "Strenth ... there's no g. S-t-r-e-n-t-h. It's a word I made up for the style of music that we play. It's muscular and heavy but still melodic and catchy," the singer says. Further exemplifying the band's brawn is the progression from its humble beginnings with one man and a guitar in a basement in Omaha to a four-piece ensemble embarking on a national summer tour. So what exactly is it about Criteria that sends crowds into a fury? Pedersen is dead-on when he says, "I think it's the unadulterated rockingness of it all. The live experience is visceral and high-energy, and we like to have fun."


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