Tony Beliveau, The Crash Kings‘ pianist and lead singer, helped form the band, along with his brother and bassist, Mike, in Los Angeles in 2006. The alternative rock band achieved success with their first single “Mountain Man” ascending to #1 on the March 2010 edition of the Billboard Alternative Radio charts. Their third, currently untitled, album is slated to be released later this year or early next.
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Read the interview highlights below, or listen to the full-length audio on SCP Radio’s debut podcast:
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Sean Ritchie: Coming from Massachusetts, describe the Northeast’s atmosphere. What would you suggest a first-time visitor to see when visiting your home state?
Tony Beliveau: Oh well, I would say that Boston is probably the oldest major city in the country. There’s a lot of history there — a lot of character. Obviously the weather is really different. I think the topography of the land is so much different than it is out here [in Los Angeles]. It’s not as dramatic. I think growing up on the east coast in Massachusetts, there’s a lot of rain, a lot of weather, which kept us inside practicing our instruments — a great thing.
My brother and I are diehard skiers. Our parents have a place in Vermont, so we used to go up there and ski up at Killington, Pico, Sugarbush, Mad River Glen — those areas on the weekends. It was really, really great for that, but now that we’re out in California, just experiencing the land out here is just so different. Of course the weather is a bit nicer — not has humid in the summer. It doesn’t get really that cold. It’s definitely an easier place to live, but I do miss the east coast a lot. We love going out there and playing shows.
Photo courtesy | Albert Lew
SR: Are there any mountains that you’ve been to that were so picturesque and enjoyed?
TB: My favorite place in Vermont to ski is Jay Peak, which is at the very, very tip of Vermont, about five minutes from the boarder of Canada. I think they get the most annual snowfall out of any ski resort. I think it’s because of the lake effect up there, but they do get a ton of snow. Their tree skiing is really, really incredible. My brother and I would love to go tree skiing. Jay Peak would definitely be among the more picturesque and some of the better skiing, especially if you get up there on a good day.
SR: Sounds amazing. I know Vermont is just a mecca on the east coast for skiing.
TB: But it’s nothing like out here. When you come out here it’s like, “Ohhhh!” You learn to ski on ice on the east coast; the best skiers are from the east coast they say, because you can ski on anything. We’ve skied Utah, Colorado, Mount Baker [Washington], we’ve done Dear Valley and I got to do Whistler [British Columbia] a couple of years ago, which was incredible.
Photo courtesy | Kevin Hale
SR: I’ve heard that’s just insane.
TB: Yeah, Whistler is probably one of the best ski resorts in the world. It is on a different level — the mountains are more dramatic. It’s way higher elevation. It’s just more intense, but the snow that I found in Utah, specifically, is unparalleled. When you get on powder skis and you’re skiing in the trees, you just have incredible control. It’s very light and easy to maneuver. It’s probably one of the most enjoyable skiing I’ve ever done.
SR: Yeah, just perfect conditions it sounds like. So, out of all the cities you’ve performed in are there any that stand out in terms of crowd atmosphere? Was it inline with the cities nightlife?
TB: I think so. I would say that the cities that I remember, where the crowds were the best, are definitely Boston, because I feel like we have a hometown crowd there in a way, even though we don’t live there — New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles are really good now and Austin. Oddly enough Columbus, Ohio and Jacksonville, Florida are too. In Canada, definitely Toronto would be number one, and then I’d say, closely behind that Montreal and Vancouver. Whenever we go the crowds are just on fire and I think those cities have great nightlife as well.
Photo courtesy | Tiffany Von Arnim
SR: If you’re on the road, during a tour, obviously it’s a little hectic and you’re more worried about the show, but is it food first or are you trying to get in the local sights at all?
TB: It is a bit hectic. I mean you have to keep in mind that when you roll into a new city you’re going right into the venue and sound checking. It’s not, unless you have a few days in the city, there isn’t much to take in — it all starts blending into one. I guess the food is one of the things, but it’s not what we necessarily look for. I think it’s more just the vibe of the people — how inviting people, can be.
I think being on the road, as opposed to just traveling for another reason, is totally different. I’m pretty intense, so I love to keep things moving. That’s why I like to go [on vacation] alone, because I can create my own schedule and I do the things that I want to do.
SR: It sounds like you like to travel.
TB: Yeah, my girlfriends from Australia, so I’ve been there a few times. I lived in New Zealand about 11 years ago for a little while. Mexico is always fun too. We’re actually looking to get on tour in Europe this fall — our goal. That will be really fun. Going to Europe, it’s the size of the United States, but it’s so many different countries and cultures. I think being immersed in that will really make me focused on the food.
Photo courtesy | Jocelyn Kinghorn
SR: New Zealand is so picturesque and beautiful. Describe how it was to you?
TB: When I went it was 2004, and it was towards the end of “The Lord of the Rings.” You’re seeing, kind of right up front, where they shot a lot of that stuff. I was in the South Island and in some pretty tropical areas — rainforest-type stuff. I did a lot of camping, a lot of hiking in New Zealand. I really explored the land and the South Island. I spent some time in Auckland on the North Island. I then went over to Australia, over to Sydney, up to Cairns and at that time I got SCUBA certified. So I’ve been SCUBA diving; I went up in Thailand, Hawaii and Mexico.
SR: So to bring it back to music. How does it bring people together? How does it break down cross-cultural barriers?
TB: I think music, in itself, is it’s own language. I think it’s why I’ve spent so much time with music in my life; I’ve been playing piano close to 30-years. It’s really just been a part of me. I was never really good at learning other languages and I think it was just because my brain was so taken up by learning music. Music is just that universal language that everyone can communicate with — everyone can take it in.
There’s just that feeling of delivering energy from a stage, with sound vibrations, that are taken in by human beings. When they give it back to you with smiles and their energy, jumping up-and-down or dancing, that feeds back into us. The more the audience gives, doesn’t matter where they are or what language they speak, they don’t even need to know the lyrics, that’s what I really look forward to. I think that crosses all boundaries no matter where you’re from.
SR: Yeah, it’s just that initial something in common. Before anything else you already connect with somebody. So lastly, when’s the next trip? What for?
TB: I believe we have some festivals lined up. One is a giant bicycle festival up in Washington State. We have a show in San Diego coming up. We just finished a series of shows at a residency here in LA where we’ve played for free every Monday night for the month of June — just to get the buzz going again and get our chops back.
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For more on Beliveau and The Crash Kings visit their website and listen to their latest single: