Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Blowout: Thomas Matich bowls with the Jason Croff Family Band

You might know Jason Croff as the keyboard player in the Dead Bodies. But he's also got some kids on the side. And like Papa Joe Jackson, he's making them play music because times are tough and the bills don't go away.

The Jason Croff Family Band is one of the more unique outfits you'll get to see at Blowout. The tunes on the band's internet exclusive album, A Cake For a File, range from smooth easy listening romantic saxophone infused jams to lush 60s pop. If you want to know more, visit the Croff MySpace to download the whole thing for free.

I thought it was quite random when Croff chose the Madison Bowl (near 696 -yeah the one with the "lounge") for this interview. But it turned out to be a blast. There was talks about that crazy lady that gave birth to 15 kids and it turns out this "family band" doesn't really want children. Except for their saxophonist, Rod Jones, whose the Godfather of Soul in the group (he's older and brings the wisdom).

When we sat down at the table together, drummer Adam Cox was shuffling Pokemon cards (for which he's plotting to turn into some album artwork for the band) and the band was already downing Bowling Pin shaped Budweiser's. It was a good time that ended back at Croff's house (a.k.a. The Hutchinson Jail) where there was ganja and karaoke.

Deep Cutz: So, A Cake For a File, that’s not really out yet officially.
Jason Croff: It’s just available online pretty much, there’s a link on MySpace

DC: The recording quality is good, just as good as anything that’s officially out there, are you gonna do something official?
Croff: If the opportunity presents itself I guess, but I don’t really have a way of putting it out now…

DC: Well you could do like a Suburban Sprawl thing?
Croff: They're a little too white [Laughter] you know everything off that label sounds really white, but I like The Pop Project and the Javelins.

DC: I think a Detroit band should sign to like Bad Boy Records or some hip-hop label like Cash Money.
Croff: What was the one that Shaq was on?

DC: TWISM? No wait that was his clothing line..
Croff: It was a pretty big rap label spin off for a little while.

DC: He had some jams though , “Do you want me to pass it” [Laughter] “Dr. J” that was a good one.
Croff: I think it starts with a J?
Adam Cox: Jinx records?
Noah Eikhoff: Jinx? Nah, I don’t think it's Jinx.
Croff: Jive?

DC: Yeah, Jive Records. Too Short's still on Jive. Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears and R. Kelly.
Croff: They didn’t get big till they put out Shaq Diesel.

DC: Now that Allen Iverson is playing for the Pistons, I think he should do some more rap records and do it with the Detroit Chedda Boyz featuring Allen Iverson
Croff: My little brother does rap records, I’ll get you his EP later.

DC: Is it white boy rap or Young Jeezy?
Croff: He wants to be like 2Pac.
Noah: The greatest
Croff: He was the greatest

DC: He was okay. I still like Biggie better
Noah: 2pac was better. Biggie just had Diddy.

DC: So tell me about the real Croff family. Mama and Poppa Croff
Cox: You got momma right there (motions to Sarah Sadovsky).
Croff: Chris is Uncle Hans. This is our cousin Sarah and Adam’s step brother is late, I don’t where his step brother is.
Cox: We have five studio albums.
Noah: Like Shaq?

DC: I remember when he went to the Lakers he had that song “I love playin' on the west side/ even though I miss playin' on the east side."
Cox: Although his rapping abilities have often been criticized...
Croff: They put out a hits package
Cox: His 1993 debut album Shaq Diesel received platinum certification by the RIAA

DC: That’s more than the White Stripes, they should’ve had Shaq on the last episode of Conan instead, Shaq acoustic… So is music something that runs in the family?
Croff: Well my dad plays the accordion. Well he used to.

DC: Is he Polish?
Croff: My dad is Italian and Polish and my mother is Polish.

DC: I’ve heard that Croff isn’t your real last name.
Croff: It is not my real last name.

DC: So where does the Croff come from?
Croff: It was in the line somewhere in the ancestry, like my great great grandmother or something had Croff as a last name.

DC: Well you used to do just solo stuff right?
Croff: Well it was just billed as Jason Croff but there were like bands intermittently.

DC: When did you adopt these people into the family?
Croff: Well Noah and Chris were playing with me on the last record we did a few years ago and Sarah I knew through Borders. Sarah got in because I had her sing on one of the songs on the album and we had like three other attempts beforehand that didn’t turn out very well.

DC: The stuff that you contribute to reminds me of Stan Getz and "The Girl from Ipanema"
Sarah: I think that’s why he might’ve picked me to do it.
Croff: Well like the Sergio Mendes Brasil '66 was definitely the reference point the whole time we were recording, like the way the arrangements were made.

DC: It's really mature.. definitely it's something that musically compared to stuff locally or even nationally for people our age, it's not something you’d expect people to be doing...
Croff: Well, a very wise man who goes by the name Monty said that somebody has to write the standards... like the Beatles wrote the standards.

DC: Well over the weekend I went to the Clawson Steakhouse and it's this hidden gem and they had a live band there, and most of the clientele is senior citizens and they started playing the standards and someone asked me about the Croff band and I said well this is kinda something that they could be doing with their own music. I don’t wanna say like dinner theatre but a more Memphis Smoke-y...
Cox: Murder mystery dinner
Noah: I don’t really agree with that but somebody said that it sounds like hipster lounge music, it doesn’t really get too heavy, it's pretty smooth...
Sarah: Pretty happy

DC: I think we’re gonna have to bowl at some point. I thought maybe you guys were bowlers
Croff: I’m a bowler.

DC: What’s your average?
Croff: I’m a bowling hustler so I can’t really… my average is like 60-70

DC: Since this is “hipster lounge music,” how do you approach drumming that is different from in the Dead Bodies?
Cox: I don’t know. I just do what Jason tells me to do.
Chris Hans-Loefr: Have you ever seen us live before?

DC: Yes
Croff: Which show?

DC: The WUMD benefit with The Word Play
Croff: That was a rough one, that was the drunk show, the experiment drunk show.
Sarah: I wasn’t there, was I?
Croff: Yeah
Sarah: I was?
Chris: That explains it!
Noah: They gave us a lot of money for booze
Croff: What were we supposed to do, turn it down?
Chris: The reason I asked you if you seen us live and we’re talking hipster lounge and you’re asking Adam if he does anything different, but the way it sounds on the CD is sometimes significantly different live because we play with more authority on stage.

DC: There was some more guitar solos
Crf: We use more distortion live

DC: There was some wailing at the show which I don’t really recognize from the record
Noah: It might’ve been the hyper metal pedal
Chris: Like, "Love" is a perfect example, like "Love" on CD is really jangling and it's got really awesome textures, but "Love" is just an attack song live

Jason Croff Family Band - "Love"

DC: How did "Love" come together?
Chris: It's Kinks inspired
Cox: It's about the birds and the bees
Noah: I remember when you wrote it you were like "I wrote a song about love because I hate writing songs about love."

DC: Is "DSL" about the internet service or the other service, I'm wondering...
Croff: I don’t know, keep wondering..
Cox: I often wonder myself
Crf: It’s about the service.

DC: What's the best service you’ve ever gotten?
Cox: Soft service

DC: "Two girls. One cup"?
Chris: No, I thought he meant ice cream.
Croff: I was thinking Dairy Queen.

DC: Is there any other Dead Bodies contributors to the record?
Croff: Well a good portion of the stuff Jon (Weier) engineered like the drum stuff and then he also did the mastering at the end.

DC: Well I think I've said this before, but all your stuff, the recording quality is top notch
Croff: Well here’s where you should plug your quality recording company...
Cox: Brooksfield Gentleman’s Club. I got a big space and a lot of shit at Russell
Croff: Pretty much anything that comes out of there sounds better than the majority of the local shit

DC: Are you guys going down to SXSW last year?
Croff: I don’t think so.

DC: Didn't you guys go last year?
Croff: The Dead Bodies went two years ago

DC: So no festivals besides the biggest festival in the country [Laughter]... Local music festival, let me re-phrase that..
Noah: I like how they have in advertisements like “Hotel Deals!”
Croff: We should do it
Noah: Yeah it says 99 bucks with a free shuttle to Blowout
Croff: You have to carry your own equipment on the bus. Yeah, Blowout’s ridiculous. //DC//


Croff: 109 (1 strike, 2 spares)
Matich: 90 (1 strike, 1 spare)
Noah: 133 (4 strikes)
Chris: 104 (1 strike, 2 spares)
Sarah: 75


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