Brandon van Eeden interview
I think this is the fifth draft of an intro. I actually have no idea how to introduce Brandon. I think you just have to know him. One thing I will say though, is that Brandon cares a lot about music and a lot about hardcore. He played a major role in this ‘zine and currently runs hxc.co.za. Anyway, as Crossingpoint recently called it quits, I thought an interview would be fitting.
When did Crossingpoint start, and who were the original members?
We started rehearsing in December 1998 during the Summer holidays. Wesley and I formed the band together, at first toying with the possible intention of doing something inspired by a band called Atari Teenage Riot who were a big breath of fresh air in a then very stagnant and frustrating music scene. The digital hardcore sound blew everything else we had heard out the water (and still does) in terms of lyrical content, aggression, and political anger. We were drawn to this kind of band because we didn’t know any other people into the same ideas as us and the only other option would be to do the drums and bass electronically. However, long story short, eventually we met Kurt who was also straight edge (but didn’t call himself edge) and so we started the hunt for a drummer and to complete a ‘normal’ band. The first lineup was me (guitar), Wesley van Eeden (vocals), Kurt Grung (bass), and Greg Reynolds (drums).
Bands we listened to a lot back then were Earth Crisis, Strife, Snapcase, The Path Of Resistance (their first album is still one of the greatest sxe records ever), Blood for Blood, Warzone, Integrity, Bloodlet, Cause for Alarm and basically most of the early Victory Records roster. A friend of mine had started distributing Victory Records in South Africa and that was the only reason we heard those bands – distro’s are IMPORTANT! Our first exposure to this new sound of hardcore was a Victory Records compilation cassette that found its way into our hands.
No car cd players in those days, so this tape was all we played to and from rehearsals at the Bat Centre. The Bat Centre was where we rehearsed for many years, and literally spent whole days there jamming, taking breaks walking around the harbour, jamming, eating, skating, and jamming some more. It was a really cool time in our lives. A music video for SEE THROUGH shows us in this rehearsal room, and the BURN THE FLAMES music video is filmed in and around the Bat Centre.
A fun anecdote from these days is the fact that the Springbok Nude Girls used to play their Durban shows in the Bat Hall next door to our rehearsal room. We would be rehearsing on a Friday night and come 8pm or so a thumping would sound on our door and we would be asked to turn down or stop. All we would do is take a break until their show started and then play as loud as we could during their set so that the audience in the hall could hear us in between songs 😉 They were South Africa’s biggest band in those days and we used to joke about playing with them and ‘blowing them away’. 5 years later or so we were asked to open for Springbok Nude Girls at a venue called Bargo in Greyville. Blew our minds that a band as abrasive as ourselves would be asked to do this above a bunch of local pop bands but that just goes to show that with enough persistence your band can achieve anything. So it was us, a full on crazy noisy hardcore band opening for today’s equivalent of the Parlotones. Good times.
How many members has Crossingpoint had over its lifetime? Do you remember all of their names?
I think our Wikipedia entry has a good listing:
Wesley van Eeden : Vocals (1998)
Kurt Grung : Bass (1998)
Greg Reynolds : Drums (1998)
Grant McNulty : Drums (1999)
Andrew Turrell : Drums
Clive van Eeden : Drums
Leigh Brendon Barnes : Bass/Guitar
John-Paul Dudley : Bass (2006)
Rory Deans : Drums
Chris Meyer : Drums
Ricky de Beer : Drums
Matthew Mitchell : Drums
Juan de Lange : Drums
Brandon van Eeden : guitar
Ross Turpin: bass
Raymond Douglas : vocals
Richard Phipson : drums
Clive is Wesley and my cousin and helped compose most of the songs on the self-titled first album. Chris Meyer played drums on that recording though.
Was it difficult starting out? I can imagine that 12 years ago, hardcore wasn’t the most well liked, let alone well known, genre? 12 years ago I was 9!
Well, I don’t remember it being hard. We wanted to play so we made it happen. It was less pretentious and cliquey that’s for sure. Everyone was friends, punk, hardcore, goth, metal whatever. Everyone came to the same shows. And we didn’t really care who did what, with who, or where. Hardcore kids went to punk shows and metal shows. Anything heavy we supported.
Touring is always my highlight. So the American tour we did for 3 weeks playing 12 or so shows across the middle and east coast is a big highlight. We learnt a lot about each other and musically in that time. Perhaps more than we could have in 10 years in Durban. We came back inspired and invigorated to take things to a new level in so many ways.
The Underoath tour was also good, being able to be part of a professional local tour was a treat. Just knowing that everything at each show would be taken care of and we wouldn’t have to stress about the usual things like sound, amps, PA… It takes a big weight off your shoulders and allows one to perform better and enjoy the shows a lot more.
Oh so many. None really come to mind, but its usually things like getting to a show and the venue has a cruddy sound system, incompetent sound engineer, or when music is treated as secondary to the bar.
Being together for about 12 years, you must have some pretty funny/intense stories. Care to share?
The famous one is nearly dying in a head on collision a few minutes before we arrived at Cornerstone in Illinois. Around midnight Ross decided to overtake a vehicle and headed into oncoming traffic. Ray was sleeping at the time, but he woke to bright lights in his face and screaming. He’s still traumatized to this day.
Did you have a goal when you started Crossingpoint? Do you feel like you’ve achieved it?
No, I don’t remember discussing a strategy or goal for the band. I think we all had the same feeling of being bored and fed up with an uninspiring local music scene and just worked towards creating something that we liked.
Crossingpoint is quite outspokenly Christian and Straight Edge. Have these always been integral parts of the band?
In the first few years of Crossingpoint, Straight Edge was a driving force for the individuals IN the band but we hardly mentioned this to anyone or really discussed it with ourselves. None of our songs were about it, and I don’t remember it being spoken about from stage either. We sometimes called ourselves a straight edge band cos there was a point when everyone in the band was. But I don’t think we have ever been outspoken about Straight Edge or even Christianity? Maybe more as individuals in one on one conversations with people? Even the later incarnation of our lineup never dealt with these issues. Maybe check out the lyrics a little more closely?
What is it like touring overseas as compared to touring in SA?
Much easier and well organised. There are guys in every city or town that just ‘book shows’ or run a venue. So if you want a show in a town then you just find a promoter in that town to book it. He will take care of finding a venue and even other bands to play with you. That’s the base level. Take things up a notch and you could approach a tour promoter to book your band a tour. He will plot a route for you and contact promoters and venue in each city and maybe even book other bands on the tour as well.
How has the scene in SA changed over the last 12 years?
Not at all. Same waxing and waning in crowd turnouts. Same age groups coming and going. Same infighting and moaning.
What was the final show like? A lot of people say that was the first time you said anything on stage? I was pretty emotional, I must admit.
It was the same as any other show really… I don’t remember feeling particularly emotional maybe cos we had thought we had broken up 5 times before already haha. I could have said more, but I try and let music do the talking mostly. I just wanted to encourage everyone at the show to enjoy the last song to the max and realise that this was the last chance they would ever get to dance or singalong if they had ever felt the urge. I know I’ve been a kid and sometimes needed a shove to get involved in the action. We definitely need more push-mosh in the scene 😉