STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Andy’s from Fleetwood, Jon’s from Doylestown, Bruno’s from Horsham and Kyle’s from Blackwood, N.J.
Collectively, the band CRUISR has since relocated to Philadelphia, but they haven’t been home much lately because of touring behind the singles “Go For It” and “Throw Shade”/“Moving to Neptune,” their latest breezy-yet-brainy pop tunes. In fact, shortly after headlining a Sept. 12 show at the Theater of Living Arts, they join forces with up-and-coming poppy alternative act MisterWives for more live dates.
In a recent phone interview, singer, guitarist and principal songwriter Andy States, 29, sounded anxious about the show. “The TLA is a lot harder of a place to sell out … we’ll see. Even when you’re playing for people that are coming to see you, there’s this ‘I’ve got to make this worth it (for the audience)’,” he said.
Meanwhile, CRUISR has honed their on stage chemistry and showmanship as a live band. “We’ve gotten a lot better since the fall (the last time the band played in the area). We’ve learned to work the crowd more,” States said, adding that he’s closely watched groups CRUISR has shared the stage with, such as The 1975, Joywave, Bleachers, and X Ambassadors. Being part of the Firefly Music Festival lineup two years in a row also had to help.
“It blows my mind that we can go to Des Moines and people are there to see us,” he said.
It’s especially remarkable considering that three years ago, CRUISR was just States writing and recording songs in his bedroom. Emboldened by praise, encouragement and audio production from Seattle producer/engineer Jeremy Park (Youth Lagoon), States completed a six-song EP of songs titled “Cruiser” (which was also the artist name until it was discovered there was already a band called Cruiser). “It’s awesome living in this generation because you have the power to make studio quality records in your bedroom,” said States.
But then came a reality check. “I reached out to a ton of blogs (for reviews and feedback), and they said: ‘So what’s your live band like?’,” he said.
Luckily, his drummer friend Jonathan Van Dine, who he knew from their days attending Kutztown University, was available. So was fellow KU alum and guitarist Bruno Catrambone. States and Van Dine, who have degrees in graphic design, recruited fellow graphic designer Kyle Cook, who got his degree from Drexel University, to play bass.
“It was tough at first. We were definitely under a deadline,” States said, noting that their second show ever was in New York playing the CMJ Convention, a major gathering of college radio program directors and music directors.
Another area where States couldn’t go it alone is social media. Besides the website http://cruisrtheband.com, there’s a CRUISR Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud. “As we’ve grown, Jon, our drummer, has taken over a lot of the social media duties. If it was just me by myself, the social media presence would be dismal,” States laughed.
In 2014 came the full-band EP, “All Over,” which was complemented with an animated video for the title track, with recognizable movie references cleverly flowing one after another. As for CRUISR’s newest song, Urbandictionary.com defines “throw shade” as “to talk trash about a friend or acquaintance, to publicly denounce or disrespect.” Second guessing whether he was using the phrase correctly, States said it took hearing Lil’ Kim rapping about it in one of her songs to inspire him to finish writing “Throw Shade.”
Melodically, States finds inspiration in contemporary indie bands, such as Best Coast, as well as in vintage sounds by The Everly Brothers, early Beatles and even Christmas music. “I always loved the tonality of it,” he said of those songs you typically only hear in November and December.
IF YOU GO
Who: CRUISR, with opening acts Cheerleader, Cold Fronts, and Verite.
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12.
Where: Theater of Living Arts, 334 South St., Philadelphia.
Info.: Call (215) 922-1011.