Following your dreams isn’t an easy thing to do. It requires patience, discipline, and sacrifice. But even with all those things, it’s still a very complicated, difficult journey, because dreams change over time. Dreaming of being a famous, respected musician seems pretty cut and dry, but there’s so much more to it. Just ask Paul Crosby, the former drummer of the platinum-selling rock band Saliva. He left the band earlier this year to start a new musical project, and now he’s rediscovered the passion and excitement of creating music you want to make, free of the expectations of others. Asleep in the Wake, as his new project is called, also includes Matt Neice (vocals), Mike Mexas (guitar), Hector Porras (bass). Since Asleep in the Wake just released their new single, “Like You” on August 31st, we thought we’d talk to the man himself and gain some insight on the origins and mission of this fearsome rock quartet.
Here’s the link to the lyric video for “Like You”, and don’t forget to stay tuned for the release date of their debut EP!
Rob Gomez- This is Rob from South Texas Sound Project. Today we’re talking to Mr. Paul Crosby. He’s the drummer for Asleep in the Wake and former drummer of Saliva. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Paul, we really appreciate it, brother.
Paul Crosby- Thanks for having us, man…thanks for having me. (laughs) I’m sorry! On behalf of the band, we appreciate it, for sure.
RG- Absolutely. You’ve moved on from a band you spent a long time with to start a new project, and you guys are coming out guns-a-blazing with a new single dropping August 31st, “Like You”. Tell us all about it, man.
PC- Man! Obviously, I was with Saliva for almost 20 years, pretty much our whole career. I wanted to break away and start something fresh. Obviously, I still have much love for my brothers in Saliva, and I wish them all the best. But, yeah, I wanted to start something fresh. I want to be relevant again, if that makes any sense. So we did that, and we put this band together. A couple of guys in the band were in a Texas band called Saturate. They were in that band for 10 years. They made a pretty good name for themselves regionally, and they actually did quite a bit of touring with Saliva, back in the day, as well. Their band, Saturate, kind of disbanded, and all of these things kind of fell in the right place at the right time. So me and a couple of my buddies started jamming and it worked out good, and here we are!
RG- I heard the sneak peek on your Facebook page, and the new song sounds really “big”. There’s that big, full chorus that just fills your speakers and hits you right in the chest! Is that a good indicator of what the album is going to sound like?
PC- That’s a great indicator! I actually, now that we’re in the writing process, insisted that all of our songs have these certain textures to them. All of our songs, if you like what you hear on the first one, you’re definitely going to like the whole album, because it’s all the same big rock, big hooks, big in-your-face guitars and drums. We intentionally set out to do that.
RG- Awesome, man. What are some of the influences behind the sound of your new project?
PC- To be honest with you, we didn’t set out to shape any type style or sound. We just kind of got in the room and… luckily, I’m fortunate enough to have a studio, so we were right in the studio, so (if) we come up with some good ideas, we just start tracking stuff and see where it goes. All the guys in the band have been around for a lot of years, in music, and we all have a ton of different influences, so I’m sure they all get peppered in some way, shape, or form. But there’s no one set agenda. We’re kind of just writing from our hearts and letting our souls bleed out and recording it.
RG- Awesome. So this is just going in the studio, completely organic, as guys that have been in projects before, and coming from your own backgrounds. You guys are really just going for that organic sound that you get at that moment.
PC- Yup! Our main agenda is, unintentionally, like I said, is… There’s just so much of the same thing going on in rock, you know what I mean? Obviously, there’s a lot of great, killer bands, but there’s a lot of the same thing happening, and we kinda wanted something fresh and new, like a new sound. Something that’s completely different from everything going on out there right now.
RG- I think that’s kind of the problem with rock music today. We’re all a little underwhelmed by what we’re hearing on the radio, you know what I mean? There aren’t any bands that are blowing our hair back anymore.
PC- Yeah! The other thing is (that) a lot of the younger generation, they haven’t had any bands like some of us cats who are a little older had. When we were younger, there were guitar gods, and there were all these legends, and there’s not really that anymore. So they were never exposed to that, (and) so this is really all they really know.
RG- I hear ya! Were you a bit nervous about starting a new project after playing so many years with Saliva?
PC- Not really, no, because I started this band with no intentions of, “Hey, I’m gonna put a band together. We’re write these songs, and record ‘em, and we’re gonna go shopping for record deals and go on tour and I’m gonna…” That wasn’t the agenda. The agenda was just to get together with some really good friends of mine and just write and just do it for us. We thought if we did a sporadic show here or there, great. But then things started happening. The songs are amazing, so we’ll see what happens. If those things do happen, and if a label comes and gives us a deal, and we go back on tour, then so be it. Great! That’s not what the agenda is, but, of course, we’re open to that idea, as well!
RG- Definitely! It’s like when I talked to our buddy, Paul Phillips (check out that interview here) a few weeks ago…Shout out to you, Paul!
PC- Yeah! What’s up, Paul!?
RG- When we talked to him, he definitely sounded really enthused about his project, just like you sound really enthused about yours. You’re going from being in a band where it was work to put out your music to having a lot of fun just creating this music with your new bandmates and your new project. It’s all exciting again, and that’s really good to hear from you guys, man!
PC- It really is, man! It feels like the old days, with Saliva, when we would go to band practice five days a week, and it was exciting, and you looked forward to it all. Then, after you have a long career, which you love, it does become like work, and it kind of seems like a chore after a while. You get burned out, and you lose that excitement and love and passion you had for it. If you’re lucky, you get another project, and it comes back, and that’s what’s happening for me.
RG- I’m excited for you! When is the first album going to be available, or are you all going to do an EP first?
PC- We’re gonna do a six-song EP first, and the single, “Like You” that’s coming out on August 31st, is the first single from that. We don’t have an exact release date for that, yet, but we’re probably going to shoot for October or November. November, probably. We’ll definitely post updates on our page. Please check out our band’s page at www.facebook.com/asleepinthewake and we’ll be updating from there.
RG- What are your roles in this band vs. your previous projects?
PC- Well, in this band I’m producing and recording everything in my studio. The same kind of thing with Saliva… I think everybody in a band has their own unique talents, things that they’re good at. That’s what we’re doing in this band. My guitar player, Mike Mexas, is really good at social media, so he’s handling that. Hector, our bass player, does graphic design stuff. So, we’re just kind of utilizing our talents. Obviously, I have the bulk of the industry contacts, so I’m kind of acting as manager/producer/engineer/drummer. (laughs) A man of many hats, but I’m loving every second of it, so it’s all good!
RG- I kind of figured, that’s why I asked! (laughs) That’s great, brother. How has your approach to playing and songwriting changed over the years, as you’ve gotten more mature and more experienced?
PC- Well, I definitely have learned that sometimes, it’s not about what you play, but what you don’t play! So, not overplaying. Only playing what’s prudent for the song. It’s very easy, as a musician, to get wound up and want to do all these drum fills that, realistically, only other musicians are going to admire! (laughs) You know what I’m saying? You’re just going to confuse the people in the crowd that aren’t musicians, that are just music listeners. So I just kind of shoot for writing for the music listener, not trying to impress other musicians. But the cool thing about this band is… being in Saliva, we always had big record label producers squashing our playing (for good reason). Like I said, you don’t want to overplay, but they would never let me get in too much double bass or stuff like that. “It’s not good for the single, and blah, blah, blah!” Well, in this band, we do a lot of double bass and a lot of heavier chugs. So it’s pretty awesome that we don’t a guy hovering over our shoulder, telling us what we can and can’t do. So the ultimate freedom of being able to do whatever we want is amazing!
RG- Other than Asleep in the Wake, are there any other musical projects you’re involved in? Like I saw your son has a band! Any chance of a father/son collaboration in the future?
PC- Well, that would be amazing! But my son… actually, both of my sons have bands. One of my sons, Zac, he’s more into hiphop and rap and stuff. He’s really good at beats and he’s a great rapper, but he can also sing his butt off, too! His group is called 47 Still Standing. Then, my older son is a really ridiculously good guitar player and a singer. He shreds! He plays some pretty heavy, almost death metal-ly type stuff. But he’s pretty amazing! Actually, there was a time when my older son was in a touring band that was direct support for Saliva and their rhythm guitar player couldn’t do the tour, so they hired my son. He was on tour, opening for Saliva, and he was on their bus and we were on our bus, so that was pretty cool.
RG- You’ve been doing this for quite a while now… What are your thoughts on the future of rock and heavy metal?
PC- Man, honestly, going back to what I said earlier, there’s too much of the same thing out there right now. It almost seems like bands hear another band and go “Oh, we can do that better than them!” and they just go and do the exact same thing. I think the future of rock needs a Kurt Cobain or one of those guys to come in and kind of change the game. We’re due for that! There’s too much of the same. People need to step out of their box and be different. If that happens, I think rock will get interesting again, and it’ll have a rebirth. But if everything just keep going (this way), with everyone going “Oh, I can do that better than him”, with that attitude, then you’re putting the nail in your own coffin.
RG- I think we’re a decade overdue for that revolutionary to come along and change the game.
PC- We need it!
RG- Before you go, do you have any advice for the next crop of young rock stars out there?
PC- Be yourself! Be different! Be influenced, but don’t bite off of stuff. Take your influences and make them your own. Don’t copycat people. Those days are over. You’ve seen what it’s like, what the musical spectrum is like, and that’s strictly because of people copycatting people. Be yourself, that’s my biggest piece of advice.
RG- Well, this is the last section of the interview, where we like to have a little fun. This is a little game called “Would You Rather”… are you ready?
RG- Would you rather lose a stick onstage -or- have your pants fall down in the middle of a breakdown?
PC– Huh… I’d probably rather lose a stick! (laughs)
RG- Would you rather perform NWA karaoke in the style of Frank Sinatra to a Church Youth Group -or- sing “Anything Can Do I Can Do Better” at an old folks home?
PC- Aww, man, c’mon! I’d have to do NWA!
RG– Everyone always does NWA! Nobody wants to mess with the old people! Would you rather completely bomb a drum solo and see everyone cringe -or- forget what song is next and play the intro to the wrong song?
PC- Oh, man! Probably the drum solo! (laughs) That way, it’s just me messing up, and I’m not starting the whole train wreck!
RG- Would you rather get confused for another musician from some other famous band all the time -or- get kicked out of a gig by security because they don’t believe you’re part of the band?
PC- (laughs) Well, I sometimes do get recognized as other musicians, just because I’m a white dude with dreads. Any musician that’s a white dude with dreads, he’s that guy! So probably, the other, because that other one kinda does happen sometimes.
RG- Would you rather get hit on all night by a fan’s Grandma -or- meet your stalker’s parents?
PC- Man! (laughing) Probably get hit on by a fan’s Grandma!
RG- Dude, everybody picks the Grandma! Grandma’s get some love from rockers. It makes for an interesting story! Paul, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today, we really appreciate it. Asleep in the Wake, it’s dropping on August 31st! Paul, thanks a lot, brother.
PC– Alright, man! Appreciate you guys, thank you!