INTERVIEW: CROSSDOCKERS

STAYING IN TUNE with CROSSDOCKERS  
CROSSDOCKERS stand for creativity, desire, professionalism and the ability to think outside the box. This band is moving strong in Ontario, currently in the studio recording there first album and continuing their journey to Massey Hall. Infusing their lives with musical action, never idle, not waiting for it to happen, Crossdockers are making their destiny real one gig at a time. Music makers require creative scientists, engineers and technologists to make it happen and Crossdockers are just that. Extremely intelligent and hard-working with hearts that possess that Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy with a passion for music and a dream to share their talents with the world. Though new on the scene just under 4 years, their sound is attractive. There is no scarcity of opportunities these days for this 4 piece rock band from Toronto, who have garnered attention of Black Moon Entertainment and are sharing stages with Killer Dwarfs, Honeymoon Suite, Michael Bell (BOWIE LIVES) and Lukas Rossi to name but a few. These newest music icons on the horizon wear their hearts on their sleeve, possess a thirst to travel and make great musical impressions with each strum and lyric. GTA’s best kept secret is out! Jay Alan on lead vocals and 12 string acoustic guitar, with Kyle Gee as lead guitarist/back up vocals, 
Kevin Brazolot on bass/back up vocals with 
TJ Smith on drums.

Jay Alan 
Founder, singer, song-writer, arranger, producer, teacher, lead vocalist, 
12 string YAMAHA acoustic guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, front man
& the master mind behind CROSSDOCKERS
Jay is the most unique song-writer I have ever met.  He collaborates everyday life, strife, politics, harmony, love and music into his creative process which turns to a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.  Legions of fans will agree with me, that their catchy lyrics mixed with their alternative rock style has the fans total mesmerized and fully intrigued.  Crossdockers are innovative entertainers and leave you inspired in the rock n rock frame of mind.  WARNING: Their superb sound is highly addictive.  I had the pleasure to arrange my standard questions blended with some quirky ones to present forward to Jay, even Jay’s wife wanted in on the fun.  I appreciate Lisa for taking the time to perform the interview & for forwarding me the outcome.  This interview is guaranteed to bring a smile or two, as this is who Jay Alan is: a thinker, a changer, a creator,
a mover and a shaker who constantly thinks outside the box.
Deb:   At what age & why did you start playing music? 
JAY-  In my mother’s womb 

Deb:   Crossdockers Recordings 24 x 7 what’s your drive?
JAY-  A bicycle I keep locked up out back
Deb:   Your songs are unique & real, a style not heard of often.  Would you consider yourself a lyrical wizard?
JAY-  It’s more about the sound of the song not the words. A crossword puzzle is only a buck.
Deb:   Name one of your songs you wrote that came out of nowhere? Like, while you
were staring into the toaster?
JAY-  Where’s my coat hanger?
Deb:   Describe the elements of your sound metaphorically?
JAY-  Planting potatoes in dry sand.
Deb:   Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration, motivation and muse in your songwriting process?
JAY-  Sugar.
Deb:   Do you think that online presence is important for fans to find you and critics to find your music to write about your creativity?
JAY-  I googled myself once, found out I have a twin brother who is a Gynecologist 
Deb:   What is your music background in a nut shell?
JAY-  Walnuts.
Deb:   You predominately play your Yamaha APX 700ii twelve string guitar, which adds some extra jangle and shimmer to your guitar playing and gives you a slightly fuller (but, different) sound than a 6 string guitar. Do you play them the same, except on a 12 string there are 6 pairs of strings tuned either in octaves (different gauge strings) or in case of the 1st & 2nd string pairs (e and b in standard tuning) unisons?  Is the resulting sound similar to applying a chorus effect to a six string guitar using electronics? even though notes and chords are similarly played, are there any advantages or disadvantages to a 12 string guitar over a 6 string guitar?
JAY-  Why have 6 dogs when you can have 12.
Deb:   Why do you want to record and release your own music? (Be very honest)?
JAY-  There is no why… There is however, own.
Deb:   How would you define musical success”?
JAY-  Blisters, angry wife. 
Deb:   If you were able to sit under the table and listen to any two musicians chat, who would they be?
JAY-  Well let’s see…under the table…PINK and Bonnie Raitt.
Deb:   Were your songs written to symbolize your childhood?
JAY-  Antidisestablishmentarianism (check out at www.cdr.rocks)
Deb:   If you were to give someone advice on life or how to start songwriting, what would you say?
JAY-  What you hear comes out your mouth.
Deb:   From the impressive list of songs you have written during your in depth career, which stands out the most in your soul and why? I am partial to Lip Service Essence and to your newest piece, Maquillage myself, because of their catchy beats, great hooks.
JAY-  I never looked at my finger prints.
Deb:   If you were hand picked to play with an icon in the future, who would you like it to be?
JAY-  That’s easy…my guitar player.  He’s going places. 
Deb:   If you had a soundtrack to your life what song/songs would have to be on it?
JAY-  The track of a mother stepping on legos.
Deb:   Do you have a favorite quote that’s always on your mind?
JAY-  Tired of talking about the weather…No shit.
Deb:   Describe the high you get when you take stage, and unleash your creativity to your fans? 
JAY-  My primary high-Massey Hall serves damn good cold beer.
Deb:   Who is Jay Alan? When do you actually get time to be Jay between work and family?
JAY-  There is no tomorrow. 
Deb:   Why do you create and play music? Is it to connect with your audience or self gratification?
JAY-  I’m just that hotdog on your bun. 
Deb:   Will there be an album in near future for Crossdockers?
JAY-  Nope, but maybe a record.
Deb:   Can your fans stay up to date at www.cdr.rocks?
JAY-  There’s an orange tree in my backyard, what do you think?
Next, I had the pleasure to sit down with the energetic bassist from both Demolition Rage and Crossdockers for a more serious side of the music business style interview.  Kevin is a creative mind, always writing, playing bass and dreaming of STARDOM.  He is passionate about music and it is a way of life for him.  He is an incredibly hard working single full-time Father of 2 amazing teenagers.  Kodie, about to turn 16 is a bassist in his own band and is a guitarist as well as, a Drama Major. Then there is Kayla who is 13 and a talented and extremely creative artist, who loves to sketch, paint, mix & create.  All in all, Kevin has raised his children with a strong sense of self, filled with passion for people & the ARTS.
Here’s what this magical music dad had to share, while wearing
his honest heart and soul on his sleeve.
Kevin Brazolot 
 
Kevin was born into a musical family, began interest in music at age 5
studying piano.  By Jr. High School, he had entered the music major program King George School continuing into the music program at John F. Ross in Guelph, with 6 years of trumpet, venturing onto multiple instruments.
Deb:   Why did you choose music as your hobby?
KEV- Hobby???? This is no Hobby to me I love it and pursue it to make it my career. I take my music seriously as my time will permit and have practically dedicated my life in furthering it. I am getting tired though it’s a very very tough business. 
Deb:   Do you remember that 1st influential tune you played that hooked you into wanting to play more music?
KEV- Christmas carols and choir is what got me interested.  What intrigued me to start looking more rock oriented was the song “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede. Actually, kind of a funny story, at the young age I was. This song grabbed my attention alright, as it spooked me right out that late night when I heard it for the 1st time. Then, when I heard it next, I was like, “Hey, that’s different then what it sounded like before, when I was sleepy.  In my tweens It was KISS and Cheap Trick. In my teens I gravitated into Metal, with favorites like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, ACDC and of course, none other then Iron Maiden and Anvil.
Deb:   Many aspiring musicians have that epic fantasy to play in front of 10’s of 1,000’s of fans on tour with their favorite artists.  I know after High School, you had the honor of being influenced & blessed to have had a mentorship with Mike Duncan (Anvil) and that quickly convinced you to pursue your new passion, the bass guitar.  Many could only dream this, what was that moment like when you knew bass was going to be apart of your life?
KEV- After high school I hung out with friends at this storage place that also housed some bands. The one guy’s brother played the drums and we went out to see them all the time, also, at this place was a band called Razor.  Then we talked about putting a band together. At first I wanted to be the drummer, which I started drums just before Jr. High, but, my friend said he was getting drums, another was on guitar so what we would need was a bassist. I said, “I could do keyboards” and he said, “no way I don’t want keys in this band”…lol …the rest is history they say, I started to play bass at this point.

Deb:   Would you consider yourself a shredder or a “feel” player?
KEV- FEEL.  I love playing melodically. That’s generally my approach to bass playing. I feel it and let it breathe and fill in what feels natural. But, on occasion, the feel is or could be obscure or a strange style depending on the goal or the creativity involved in coming up with something unique.
Deb:   Your influences today includes Geddy Lee of Rush, John Entwistle of The Who and Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, can you tell us why they influence you?
KEV- They all influence me, as each have similar yet, different approaches to the bass and their techniques they use.  Each are great finger players and I like their delivery of their love of the bass and music. They use their fingers to pick and strum instead of using a pick. Also, each performer has different styles and stage presence like Micheal Anthony from Van Halen, he influenced me by creating my stage presence. 
Deb:   Kevin, you have 23 years experience as a bassist, with a strong rock-heavy metal background (Altered State, Dirty Angel, Heart and Stone, Psychotic Authority, Demolition Rage, currently 6 yrs. & going strong) and Crossdockers.  Is there a difference in your creative process from metal to the Crossdockers progressive rock style?
KEV- Yes.  My main focal point in music has been Metal, Hard Rock as well as, Classic Rock as it is my preference to my feel and approach to playing. The time I formed Dirty Angels with Mike Astins and Ray Krause of Guelph we ventured more into Alternative Rock, at that time it was big and new. But, Crossdockers, is Rock that’s for sure, but the beauty of the Crossdockers music is it integrates different genres and techniques and it puts a Rock spin to it, creating something very unique and alive. I think no matter what genre of music people like listening to, they will find they can’t help but enjoy listening to or watching whatever Crossdockers presents. Jay is a talented song-writer and the way we all feed off each other allows all our creative juices to flow.  Jay is loving all our creative differences that we add to his songs it’s very seldom that you will hear Jay say, ” hmmm I am not quite digging that, can you try something else or can i suggest this?? ” This doesn’t occur often because this entourage of musicians are actually engrossed in a conversation of music proportion and all of us fully understanding what the other is saying.
Deb:   You relate mostly to Rush, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica & Lacuna Coil.  However, you think outside the box, and like blues and other genres too.  As a multi-instrumentalist, back up singer & song-writer you love creating, performing and making that musical connection with your audience.  Would you say you entertain strictly to please your fans and to see their smiling faces, or is there a deeper personal purpose as to why you perform music?
KEV- For me it’s “all about the bass bout the bass no treble”…lol. No, of course I want to give each and everyone that comes to our live shows and buys our music or just listens to us, a lot of fun, excitement, a release and escape from the daily grind but, it’s also the way the music makes us feel as well, it’s therapeutic, none the less for me, it’s everything and more. Creating, accomplishments & challenges they are all elements I feed off of, like and live for. I just wish this day and age was a better place & time and that music wasn’t suffering and wasn’t hard on musicians.  To be able to live off of a music career, it is hard work and it isn’t easy but, it is so dam exciting too.  Some people think it’s easy and that it’s just a hobby and for the most of us die hards, it isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way of life.  I would say 5 to 10 Percent of musicians only do this as a hobby but, the ones you constantly see out there playing and doing shows, we’re there because we want to be making money & a career at this.  You don’t put out hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment, travel, merchandise, recording and production costs because it’s just a hobby. (lol) You are proving you are in it for a long haul and this is a career in our eyes. We keep investing but, there are some that just keep taking advantage of hard working musicians.  I truly wish the governing bodies would see this and help change this behavior. 
Deb:   Is it best to work mostly with the root notes of chords and lock in with the drummer’s kick and snare drums?
KEV- Well, you always have to have the bass…ics…(lol). It all depends on the flow and feel or what you are wanting to say musically with the composition.
       
Deb:   You are the rhythm, primary bassist for Demolition Rage and the Crossdockers new sound. Which DR and CD songs would you say you get your groove onto the most? 
KEV- I love them all. They each grab me differently but, it’s what I mentioned earlier, it’s conversation going on between the guys and their instruments that is the clincher, that’s why I love them all.
Deb:   Describe how you evolve when you pick up your bass and what does music do for you?
KEV- I went from being a robot learning other people’s music to becoming free to create my own and experiment more efficiently.  I barely drink and I don’t do drugs, music and everything abut it is my high, my escape, my freedom to express myself.
Deb:   If you were under a table listening to 2 music Icons chatting, who would they be?
KEV- Lennon and Morrison…lol. I think that would be enlightening & one of the most  honest conversations one could ever experience.
Deb:   Have you been in musical contests? 
KEV- In bands we have entered a few. 
Deb:   Have you endorsed before? Who would you represent?
KEV- No endorsing as of yet.  However, I would love to endorse B.C. Rich guitars and or Fender but, that’s not to say I wouldn’t work with other brands, as long as they were decent. Amps, I would go with Ampeg or T.C. Electronics or Harke or Eden or Orange.
Deb:   What’s next musically for Kevin?
KEV- Quite honestly, financial bankruptcy. Musically I would like to have a shot at playing stadiums or tours with some of the worlds greats but, that looks like it may not go that way as the music industry has changed so much & no one is willing to ever take a risk or a chance these days, not like the old days. They all want an act that is already out there and that have already made it. They don’t want to work hard to achieve the next greats they want us musicians to do it first for them, so investing is easier. I don’t know what else to say, however, that’s the truth.  The hard facts are musicians are a dying breed and we are loosing hope.  We need money to buy product for merchandising, advertising and operational costs.  Like I said previously, so far we have to invest in ourselves and our day jobs are paying for it all. Music should be paying and were not making any money from music to put money back into it.  It’s giving us nothing to keep investing with to cover the pay out or to make things grow, to expand into larger markets or to get us out in the public around the world. Sure, internet helps but, it’s way to slow.
Kyle Gee photo by Jeff Chisamore
 
Kyle Gee is a legend in the making a guitar wizard!! Kyle can play any style with ease.  He adds fillers and
color creating searing guitar solos, every note with precision.
When Jay Alan, of Crossdockers was asked – If you were hand picked to play with an icon in the future, who would you like it to be?  JAY responds,
That’s easy..my guitar player. He’s going places
Deb:   When did you start playing music and why?
Kyle:  I started playing when I was 14; it wasn’t really until then that I garnered my addiction to guitar based music.
Deb:   What instruments do you play?
Kyle:  Guitar is perhaps my one true love, so it’s all I’ve ever dabbled in extensively.
Deb:   What was the first tune you learned?
Kyle:  I can hardly remember, it was either the Super Mario Bros. theme song or something from the first Fall Out Boy album.

Deb:   Was your family musically inclined and supportive?
Kyle:  Yeh, my dad appreciates great music and had plenty of cassettes and CDs I listened to when I was a kid, Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young.  Always had the radio blasting too.  My mom was a professional singer before I was born; she was a wonderful performer so I hear, ha ha.
Deb:   Your mom is very supportive; she attends all your shows. 
Kyle:  Indeed.
Deb:   Which famous musicians do you admire most and why?
Kyle:  I was influence by everything from folk to heavy metal, but the musicians that I admire most are those that never forgot where they come from and how they arrived to where they are.
Deb:   Have you been in competitions?
Kyle:  Not really, performed at a talent show with my best bud once in High School, that’s about it for competitions.
Deb:   Describe the high felt when composing on your guitar?
Kyle:  It’s like a philosophical epiphany when you find that great riff some times, ha-ha.  Otherwise, when you’re performing for a crowd, and you’re linked in with your band mates & everybody in the room feels it, no matter how big, then that just becomes the world for awhile.
TJ Smith on Drums
(SUBMITTED PHOTO) 
Troy Smith is a mere 26 years old, yet, he has 22 years (that’s 2 + decades) worth of musical wealth, making him a seasoned musical veteran. I shot him some questions on his musical life and 
this is what he brought to our Crossdockers spot light.
Deb:   When and why did you start playing music?
TJ:     I was 4 when I started drumming. I didn’t start my first band until grade 6. My dad and uncle got me  into music really young.
Deb:   Which instruments do you play and which is your favorite?
TJ:     Drums, bass, guitar. Not bad on ukelele, that’s my favorite.
Deb:   What was the first tune you learned?
TJ:     I don’t even remember. 
Deb:   Is your family musical?
TJ:     Yes. 
Deb:   Describe your families musical interest and abilities?
TJ:     Growing up, my dad and uncle were both in bands. They wrote their own music and did vocals and guitar.
Deb:   Which entertainers do you admire & learn from ?          
TJ:     I admire so many musicians from so many different genres so it’s hard to choose just one. They all  influenced me in different ways. If you held a gun to my head, I’d still say I don’t know. 
Deb:   Who was your first teacher?
TJ:     I’m self-taught for the most part but, like I said, my dad & uncle were really the ones who got me  started. 
Deb:   Describe your first instrument?
TJ:     My first instrument was a drum kit. My dad got me a little kid sized kit but I always wanted to play on his. 
Deb:   Which old records/tapes influence you?    
TJ:     My uncle has a huge vinyl collection, so there was always something from Van Halen or Iron  Maiden playing in the background when I was growing up. I was probably 7 years old and they  would put on a vinyl and quiz me, so I’ve heard it all. 
Deb:   Who are your favorite musicians, groups, CDs?   
TJ:     It’s so hard to narrow down. Right now, my favorite band is Every Time I Die. We go see them  in Buffalo for their Christmas shows, and the guitarist is a hero of mine and he wrestles so we try  and catch his shows and wrestling matches whenever we can. 
Deb:   Have you been in competitions, any prizes?
TJ:     That grade 6 band I was in, we entered battle of the bands and we won against 500 bands. We opened up for Silverstein. My mom still has the newspaper clipping. It was hanging  in her bathroom for a while for some reason. 
Deb:   Have you performed in public: concerts, radio, TV?
TJ:     I used to perform shows up north when I was younger and we had a bit of a following, but I  stopped playing for a while. I really regret that. Recently I’ve done a few shows with Crossdockers  and will be appearing on Durham Region Rogers TV DAYTIME show with Crossdockers TRIO on April 26th at 11am to promote our April 29th opener spot in Oshawa on the Lukas Rossi show (9pm).
Deb:   Do you play for dances?
TJ:     Does moshing qualify as dancing?
Deb:   How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
TJ:     What mistakes?
Deb:   Do you get nervous before a performance?
TJ:     Yeah, but it’s a mix of emotions, it’s never a bad thing. 
Deb:   What advice would you give to a nervous artist?
TJ:     Just play. A few seconds of nerves are worth the feeling of doing what you love for a crowd. Don’t let anxiety take that away from you. 
Deb:   How often and how long do you practice?
TJ:     Twice a week, at least 4 hours. I should practice more. 
Deb:   What do you practice-exercises, new tunes, hard tunes?
TJ:     When I practice I’m always with a band, so I practice what they’re playing.  I never practice on my own, which is bad, don’t be like me. 
Deb:   How do you balance your music with obligations mate, children, career ECT?
TJ:     Barely. I’ve slept 4 hours a night for weeks at a time trying to fit it all in. 


CROSSDOCKER DATES AND TICKETS


April 27th 9pm 
Open for Lukas Rossi at The Brass Monkey 250 Greenbank Road in Ottawa contact crossdockers@gmail.com or members of Crossdockers or www.ticketweb.ca

$20
April 28th9pm Open for Lukas Rossi at La Maison Tavern 900 Montreal Road in Cornwall contact crossdockers@gmail.com or members of Crossdockers or www.ticketweb.ca 
$20 
April 29th 9pm Open for Lukas Rossi at Music Hall Nightclub and Concert Theatre 36 King St E. in Oshawa contact crossdockers@gmail.com or members of Crossdockers or www.ticketweb.ca  
$20  
Saturday May 13th 4th Annual Peterborough L.I.V.E Music Festival 2017
Alternative Rock Afternoon Matinee – Hosted by Break the Trend
1pm at Dr. J’s BBQ and Brews 282 Alymer St North, Peterborough
(entire Alternative Rock Afternoon Matinee runs 1pm to 5pm)
featuring 
2pm The House Call, 3pm My Affected Reality (featuring drum celeb Dan Todd of Platinum Blonde)  
& host band Break The Trend at 4pm
contact crossdockers@gmail.com or members of Crossdockers 
or  https://www.ticketscene.ca/events/17708
$15 ALL ACCESS PASS – entrance to this show at 19 others to see over 150 artists in the 5 day festival. Or
$5 event ticket ONLY.
My overall view of Crossdockers is simple.  They create and present what music is implemented on this planet to do; reach and captivate people, take their fans on a musical thrill ride, allowing stimulation to occur in the mind of many.  Giving the audience a rare kind of musical adventure, the truest connection one can experience musically.   
FOLLOW CROSSDOCKERS at www.cdr.rocks
by Volunteer Contributing Photojournalist & Columnist
Deb D. www.thewiremegazine.com