They Liked to Be Fast: In Remembrance of Cruciform

Cruciform: Mark I 

After the fresh burial of an unsuccessful metal band in early 2008, members and close friends Mark (vocals), Kevin (guitar), Ken (bass), and I (drums) felt it was time to simplify musically. Mark offered that a new project should revisit the early 1980’s style of hardcore punk, a genre he, Kevin, and I had represented in our teenage years. Thus, with a name from a Vespa engine part and concept credited to Mark, our scooter-core band, Cruciform, commenced. Practices included a few songs from one of our old punk bands, Now or Never, and new tracks composed by Mark and Kevin. Our mission was to be direct and efficient, a relaxing departure from our metal years. Intentionally, our set list was kept to a brisk ten minutes, as our past experiences in live settings overestimated the general audience’s attention span.

Cruciform’s debut was at Mark’s house for his birthday party in March of 2008, and was an exhilarating event supported by friends and family. In the following months before our next show, we recorded a demo on a 4-track cassette recorder in Mark’s basement and self-released it on cassette with a bonus mini-CD.

Our second show was at The Picador (formerly and currently known as Gabe’s) in July of 2008, with the entire set recorded to audio.

In August, we rocked the Knuckle Draggers Scooter Club’s Monkeys For Nothing, Chimps For Free rally for our third show.

That same summer, Ken decided to pursue his first musical love, metal, and retired as Cruciform’s bassist. Soon after, I vacated the drum throne to prepare for marriage and a move out-of-state. With our complete support, Mark and Kevin decided to continue Cruciform. On drums, they recruited our mutual friend Ed, a local scene vet we had admired for years, but the low-end position remained open through the cold seasons as the trio tweaked the existing tunes and most notably cranked up the tempos.

Cruciform: Mark II

My wife and I moved back to Iowa in early 2009, resulting in my welcomed return to Cruciform, now as the bassist. With the lineup again completed, we focused on new compositions and revamped the set list. Practices were fairly steady and shows were infrequent, yet Cruciform made a public return in June 2009 at the Knuckle Draggers Scooter Rally. That evening showcased our near-train wreck speed and, based on a cute conversation at the end of the live audio, confused an older, unwitting audience member.

Later in the year, Mark, ex-bassist Ken, and I stomped back into metal territory and formed a new band with our friend Andy V called Chance In Hell. About this time, too, Ed was crafting his exceptional and far more skilled punk rock act, Hott. Cruciform continued to practice, though it was not until the following year that we played our next gig.

The darkened basement of a house venue called The Mold Nugget hosted Cruciform’s return in May 2010. For some reason, the hosts decided the bands should play sans visible light. What resulted was a terribly filmed, sloppier-than-usual performance.

Again, it was many months before we confirmed another concert. Ken perfectly captured my personal favorite performance and recording of the Ed era at Public Space One in November 2010.

Cruciform: R.I.P.

Mark, Kevin, and I were sad when Ed stated his decision to leave Cruciform and focus on Hott. We understood and encouraged his choice, though regretted that we never recorded an album or demo in the time with him. With this change, Mark felt the end of Cruciform was necessary. Not being ready to end our work as a band, Kevin and I offered the option to regroup the original lineup. Though Ken was receptive to rejoining, Mark firmly desired to maintain Cruciform’s legacy. Therefore, officially, 2011 was the year we slashed and buried another one of our many bands.

Of the numerous bands of which I have been a member, Cruciform will always be a favorite. I enjoyed playing live and creating music with honorable friends. The stress was minimal and the group worked without the typical band egos and struggles for control. In the time since, we have all continued our friendships while taking different routes in life. I played drums for the goofy grindcore band Cop Bar, and thrash band Chance in Hell before leaving both by 2013. I am still drumming with other friends in a band called VanAllen, and am content with the work pace and dynamics of the group. Ed further recorded and performed with Hott before peacefully suspending the band in 2012 and retiring from music. Kevin started a family and occasionally jams on guitar with me. Mark played guitar for Chance in Hell until 2012 and collaborated with me and producer Greg of Rotary Club on a few trapunk songs. Mark and I also played a one-off reunion of our high school punk band The Stereotypes for a friend’s birthday in 2011. Ken is a writer and continues to seek a new band to play bass and growl vocals. Unfortunately, he was recently diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment. He is looking forward to a benefit show this November and is appreciative of medical bill assistance.

Regardless of our current situations in life, if discussions ever arise to resurrect Cruciform, whether due to nostalgia or circumstance, I will emphatically reply, “Hell, yeah!” I will also implore the The Flying Spaghetti Monster to invoke the same affirmative response from my perpetual friends Mark, Kevin, Ken, and Ed.

2017 Update: Cruciform is back with Mark, Kevin, Andy, and new drummer, Greg.

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