Now more than ever, the idea of music genres seems to be going the way of the dinosaur, with terms like “chill wave” and “no core” working to classify bands while describing nothing at all. Fortunately, such is not the case for S.B.’s Crimson Scarlet. The four-piece occupies every nook and cranny of their “post-punk goth rock” label, and manages to appeal to the masses to boot.
Since forming in early 2011, the band has cultivated a small but fervent following both in and outside its hometown, and the arrival of their Sanctuary seven-inch is sure to keep the fanbase growing. The two-song vinyl, released late last month by Santa Barbara’s Cool Summer Records, is rife with dark, driving guitars, pummeling drum-machine beats, and frontwoman Chelsey Crowley’s sinister-but-sexy vocal turns. Better still, it evokes the kind of mysterious ’80s dance-club feel that helped put bands like Depeche Mode and Sisters of Mercy on the map.
Fittingly, Crowley and guitarist Chuck Franco cite a myriad of influences. “I grew up listening to heavy metal and punk … Iron Maiden, Slayer, Black Flag, Circle Jerks,” said Franco, while Crowley confessed that she was raised in “the church of Brian Wilson.”
As the founding members of Crimson Scarlet, Crowley and Franco say that the band was a dream long in the making. “Ever since we met he was all over me to start a band,” recalled Crowley, an S.B. transplant by way of the Inland Empire. “Once the opportunity arose, we didn’t really consider the logistics.” Soon after, Franco recruited bassist Jason Stoops from S.B, while Crowley brought in longtime friend Samantha Albright. Despite lengthy drives and long-distance practice schedules, the group pressed on, ultimately landing a recording opportunity and a string of West Coast and Canadian tour dates.
“I had a blast,” said Franco of life on the road. “The Distort Vancouver festival was essentially one big party with friends from all over the continent — days of belligerence and more shenanigans than Gibbon Island at the S.B. Zoo.”
As for the vinyl, which is available online, as well as on the shelves at S.B.’s Warbler Records & Goods, both Crowley and Franco are stoked about the prospects. “Vinyl has become a way to support the bands, to keep gas in their tanks, and keep them playing wicked shows in a time when we’re lucky enough to enjoy and share music without spending a dime,” explained Crowley. “It’s really become a way for both bands and listeners to show appreciation for one another, and I dig that.”
Crimson Scarlet play an all-ages show at Muddy Waters Café (508 E. Haley St.) this Friday, February 10, at 9 p.m. with Blasting Concept. Call (805) 966-9328 for info.