Dead Cross prove resilient in the face of mortality on album number II

Dead Cross prove resilient in the face of mortality on album number II

- By Alex Distefano

Guitarist Michael Crain reveals how his brothers Justin Pearson, Dave Lombardo, Ross Robinson and Mike Patton helped him battle cancer with a nine track mission statement.

The old school hardcore, thrash punk amalgam forged as Dead Cross is back, resurfacing for the first time in five years with a new album - the band’s sophomore full length, titled II. While the "supergroup" moniker seems less like their style, the personnel of the band is one comprised of true luminaries in the space of heavy music. Vocalist Mike Patton, guitarist Michael Crain, bassist Justin Pearson and thrash's percussive pulse in Dave Lombardo, first made their volatile introduction in 2017 with their no frills, brass tacks barrage packages on their self-titled debut album - a passion project fully realized under the production tutelage of Ross Robinson.

Establishing what seemed to be an indication of a prolific streak ahead, just one year later Dead Cross delivered an extended play - another self-titled release that further asserted the band's direct, often times drubbing musical disposition. As musicians often hailed for their work with wildly innovative, uncompromisingly intense outfits ranging from Faith No More, The Locust, Slayer, and Mr Bungle, Dead Cross proved effective in skipping the theatrics and going straight for the jugular.

Though the band's trajectory took on instant traction based on the intrigue of their collective resumes - the hot air of hype was undeniably substantiated by their performative prowess and songwriting horsepower. It was clear Dead Cross had well superseded the supergroup thing and forged a very real identity of their own - one that allowed the unit of extraordinary individuals with respected credentials to converge creatively to craft yet another extension of their artistry.

As life would have it however, the band's upward momentum ran into reality of circumstance. Dead Cross guitarist Michael Crain, explained how an unexpected life event, coupled with an unprecedented global pandemic proved unsuccessful in derailing the determination of Dead Cross - though it did a helluva number in delaying the completion of the band's next chapter.

“In 2018, after our European tour, we got back together as a band in the studio and we came up with a good handful of songs. Then everyone got busy with their own things, so Dead Cross got put on the backburner for a tiny bit,” Crain said. “Then, in July, 2019, I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, and this cancer diagnosis changed the course of my summer, “ Crain shared.

He would go onto confide the healing power of motivation and how the music of Dead Cross remained an integral focus, even in the darkest of times. “My treatments started in October, and ended around Thanksgiving, and they were incredibly brutal. At one point, I literally thought I was going to die. I fought it though and had this will not to quit or give up on anything, because i wanted to play music. I decided not to waste another day.”

Crain explained how the music offered a sense of respite and compelled him to connect with his DxCx cohorts, get into the studio and further flesh out ideas - even if he was incredibly sick while working. “They were unsure if I could do it, but I told them I was ready and needed to do this,” he said. “We started tracking in December 2019 and finished in January 2020. In the studio during the time when we were recording it was very emotional, brutal and rough. I was physically ill from the chemotherapy treatments. It was all will, and mental attitude. I was in constant pain, sweating, constipated. It was hard to stand up. I was coming off of all the meds. The chemo itself is so heavy. I had a rough life. I experienced sickness before. I am 16 years in recovery; in my younger years I understood sickness but nothing compares to chemotherapy and radiation sickness.”

Crain further explained that while he didn't think his cancer diagnosis had an effect on the record, the en result completed changed his perspective.”Now listening back I think it definitely had a huge impact,” he said. “I was like HOLY SHIT when I heard it, I had no idea at the time. It’s intense. Brutal and full of emotion. I personally love the track ‘Animal Espionage,’ that’s my favorite on the album for sure. I just really love playing that riff and I don’t know what it is but I love the vibe of that song."

After the music was tracked, Crain said Dead Cross took another small break. “I went on tour with Cunts supporting the Melvins, Patton and Lombardo went on tour with Mr. Bungle then, of course, we all know March 2020 happened. Covid hit and put the brakes on everything. And of course we all went into lockdown.”

Crain said that despite the instruments all being tracked and recorded, unfortunately, at the time of the pandemic, the new album was not done. “We hadn’t gotten to Mike’s vocals yet,” he said. “So, Patton had it but during the pandemic, and unfortunately his illnesses came up and he was unable to finish the vocal tracking for a while.”

Crain said this uncertainty of what would happen left the band in a place wondering if their new music would ever be released. “There was a period when we were unsure if this record would ever come out. But, eventually, thankfully Mike was able to pull through and he knocked it out of the park on this one.”

Though it can be cliche to lean on the saving power of music, in this particular case, Crain explained that making this album truly did truly did nurture his survival. Speaking to the kinship of creativity amongst the members of Dead Cross, the familial connection and the resilience captured in these recordings, Crain underscored how these nine songs packaged the power of preservation. “My band members, Justin, Mike and Dave, plus Ross Robinson and all those guys in the studio are all my brothers. They all helped to save my life, 100%,” Crain said. “ In the grand scheme of things I was so fortunate I had so much support and financial help from GoFundMe. I am eternally grateful to have been in that position going through fighting cancer. That support made such a difference, it really does take a village.“

Crain added that unfortunately, as of yet, despite the new album, Dead Cross haven't made plans to tour in support of the album. Back in 2021, Patton cancelled a run of tour dates with Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, citing anxiety disorder that was further exacerbated by the isolation of the pandemic. “The thing is that we are all waiting for Mike to get totally healthy and be in a position where he wants to tour,” Crain said. “Although of course, it would be so much fun to play those new songs live, we are all supportive of Patton 100%. We all have other projects which are good. I just saw Dave last night with the Testament, so everyone is keeping busy. But we all understand where Patton is coming from and have empathy for our brother.“

With Mr. Bungle confirmed to perform at Knotfest Chile and Knotfest Brazil next month, Patton's first shows back since his break, there is reason to be optimistic about getting to eventually experience II from Dead Cross live.

II from Dead Cross is currently available via Ipecac Recordings. Get the album - HERE

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