BSD and staggering: a perfect combo

By Ruth Davenport

Anyone who wants to take a stab at packaging, labeling or otherwise pigeonholing Staggered Crossing in any sense, do your worst.

In an age of flavourless bubble-gum pop and angst-ridden grunge bands labouring under the misconception that musical talent increases in direct proportion to neglected personal hygiene, Toronto’s latest musical prodigies are refreshing in their stripped-down and honest approach to music.

"It’s soul music, hon. That’s all it is," says vocalist and writer Julian Taylor of the band’s sound on their recent self-titled debut CD. "It comes from a person and people that are quite introspective and can be completely goofy and hard to take seriously at times. We’re very serious about our music, but we’re not so serious that we’re about to lose our shit over it."

Staggered Crossing will take the mainstage at Bermuda Shorts Day 2001 as part of their third tour through Calgary. However, this, their first headlining tour, will promote the release of their album.

"So, we’re coming out for that?" says Taylor, with a hint of apprehension when told of the festival of debauchery awaiting him and band-mates Dan Black, Jeremy Elliott, Darrell O’Dea and Bruce Adamson on April 12. "Drunk people. Sounds like a good start to the city of Calgary. Debauchery is a game that I know how to play very well."

Debauchery isn’t the only thing Taylor does well. Although incredibly laid-back and unconcerned in person, the music he writes and sings with StagX is vibrant and innovative. Although often compared to the Counting Crows, the StagX sound is a cut above anything Adam Duritz and Co. ever crapped out. Taylor is a consummate musician, fueled by life experiences reflected in his songs’ driving rhythms, intricate harmonies and intelligent, enigmatic lyrics.

"I’m 23-years old, but as a kid, I delved completely hard into drugs and alcohol," explains Taylor with the candor characteristic of his music and performance. "I had to go through certain ways of helping myself and having other people help me; I had friends in rehab and people dying because of these things. I realized I didn’t really want to do that anymore, so as far as musical influences, I think I take something from everything that I’ve ever listened to because my world is surrounded by music."

All five members of StagX admire the Rolling Stones and The Band and their album reflects these influences as well as Taylor’s pronounced love of jazz and blues.

"It’s a compilation of work that we’ve accumulated over the years of being together," explains Taylor. "I think that stylistically it ranges all over the spectrum; it’s hard and soft and ballady… and it’s pretty much live except for keyboards and vocals."

U of C students can anticipate a high-energy performance from Staggered Crossing, who typically spare nothing in their live shows. To boot, Taylor makes a solemn promise on behalf of the band members to find five of the loudest pairs of Bermuda shorts for their BSD appearance.

"I don’t have a groupie problem yet," he says. "Dan does. Dan’s easy to talk to, but I’m easy to talk to, except people think I have a serious ego problem when they first meet me. It’s bizarre, I don’t get it. They think that because I’m the lead singer they can’t talk to me, so they don’t."

However, Taylor snorts at the notion that Staggered Crossing is the "next big thing" on the Canadian music scene.

"It’s just good planning. Nobody’s ahead of their time," he replies. "Darrell said the other day that [John] Lennon was ahead of his time, but I just think he planned ahead. And that’s it."

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