Half a decade ago, Crippled Nation looked like one of Memphis' nü-metal breakout bands, a quartet of guys who fit within that then ascendant genre but were already too ambitious to be hemmed in by the constrictions of that scene.
This month, the core of that band, now called Streetside Symphony, will release its first nationally released album, The Curse, for Ten Star Records, a new indie label started by producer Rick Beato (who's worked with Trey Anastasio and Shinedown, among others).
"For the most part, we've been playing together for over a decade," says singer/guitarist/piano player Jeremy Stanfill. "But this is a different band. We started Crippled Nation when I was 14 and I'm about to be 27. When you don't change members, you have to change the name [to signify that it's a different band]. It was about us growing up and wanting a name to represent what we are now. Otherwise, it's like growing up and still being remembered as that awkward kid who had braces."
The band, which also includes guitarist Chris Mitchell, bassist James Godwin, and drummer John Emerson, made the stylistic change in 2006, christening themselves the United to signify a new band with a new sound. But that name became complicated when the band negotiated its current record deal: Legal issues regarding other bands and companies with similar names became apparent, as did the complications of potential fans looking for a band called "the United" in cyberspace.
"We thought it was a good opportunity to come up with a name that we thought fit us the best. That's original. That people can find when they're Googling without digging through a bunch of [stuff]," says Stanfill. (When you Google "the United," the first hits are for the United Nations and United Airlines.)
The moniker Streetside Symphony fits the band's current sound, which is more expansive and hopeful. The name sounds like it could be the title of an early Bruce Springsteen song, an influence echoed by the rampant use of Stanfill's piano on such standouts as "The Runaround" and "Heartbreak Street." ("Oh yeah, dude, I'm completely obsessed with Bruce Springsteen," Stanfill acknowledges.)
"It's like we've come full circle," Stanfill says of the Streetside Symphony's style. "When we were kids growing up, we listened to a lot of classic rock and Motown and stuff. Then, when we became teenagers and started a band, we were being rebellious and wanted to play everything completely against what we grew up with. For me, I'm just loving being from Memphis and writing very classic-rock soul-and blues-oriented music."
Stanfill says Beato's name first popped up when Crippled Nation struck a demo deal with Maverick Records and were talking about potential producers. That deal fell through, but a loose connection with Beato remained. The band later went to record a demo with the producer, who took a shine to the band and asked them to be the first act on his new indie label. The band then recorded The Curse at Beato's home studio in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Streetside Symphony will celebrate the release of The Curse with three performances Friday, February 29th: Stanfill will be interviewed and perform a couple of solo, acoustic songs at 8 a.m. that morning on Fox 13's Good Morning Memphis program. That afternoon, at 5 p.m., the whole band will play an acoustic set at Spin Street, the record store at the corner of Poplar and Highland. Later that night, the band plays an official record-release show at the Hi-Tone Café, with Hi Electric opening. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $5.
Copies of The Curse can be purchased at the band's concerts, but the album is otherwise available at Spin Street, on iTunes, and at Amazon.
Introducing Flyer Radio
Attention, musicians: The Flyer has started a new interactive feature to help connect local bands and potential fans: Flyer Radio. The streaming feature can be found at memphisflyer.com and is open to any local or regional band or musician who would like to submit a song and direct listeners to their own website. To submit music, click on the Flyer Radio logo on the main page at memphisflyer.com and click the "Want to be added?" icon for instructions. For more information about Flyer Radio, contact Matt Writt at email@example.com.