Introducing the Craze
The Craze is: Jesse Vaz - Lead vocals and guitar Chris 'Giddy' Pastor - lead guitar and vocals Sammy Ballante - bass and vocals Ainsley Hubbard - drums and percussion Palmdale, California, The Craze's hometown, is only an hour's drive from Hollywood, but it might as well be another planet. Located in the Mojave Desert, this probably isn't somewhere man was supposed to live - it reaches 120 degrees in the summer, and because this is the 'high desert' 3,000 feet above sea level, it can also snow in winter. But extreme environments produce extreme people, extreme forms of expression and art. And The Craze are definitely a product of their environment. After winning a 'battle of the bands' at local rock station 100.1 'The Edge', - the prize being a 4-song demo cut at a local studio - The Craze decided to try their luck and make the move to Hollywood. They landed gigs at all the famous clubs: The Viper Room, The Whiskey, The Roxy and The Troubadour. After 6 months, having their equipment stolen and realizing that all these historic venues had become little more than 'pay to play' affairs - no A&R reps, no big deals being signed in the back room, the band headed back to Palmdale to regroup. Back in the high desert, the band landed a meeting with Gary St. Clair, a vetern, producer and A&R exec that happened to be living in the area. 'They had terrible equipment,' St. Clair recalls, 'They pulled up to the studio in a 1970's primer-ed pickup truck with their gear in the back, no cases for the drums and dust on everything. But when they played their songs, these catchy little pop songs played with such intensity and passion, I instantly knew why they were getting so much attention from the locals.' That passion and those perfectly crafted pop tunes had made a veteran feel like a kid again. St. Clair was realizing what the locals already knew. These guys are cool - and they rock. Jesse, the pompadoured lead singer and songwriter is a charismatic character - an irrepressible spirit onstage - and the entire band is irresistible live. Girls scream, people dance, everyone smiles and has fun. Their shows are often a bizarre mix of longtime fans and first-time listeners, hipsters and cowboys, but it somehow makes perfect sense. The Craze's influences range from 60's rock to 80's new wave: imagine the Beatles putting together a Duran Duran tribute band - in 2005. And although their songs are really about the experiences of being young, young and old alike enjoy this band live. The Craze released their debut CD, Introducing The Craze, in October 2005 on Dynatone Records. Co-founded by St. Clair, the label takes a back-to-basics approach with the singular goal of providing it's artists with old-fashioned development and support. The band will be touring extensively this fall with shows in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Salt Lake, Portland and Seattle. From everything we've seen, The Craze will be winning over fans with their quirky, rocking, high-desert sound - one city at a time, if they have to.