Total insanity

Crazy Spirit earn their name and then some

I have been a big fan of New York hardcore band Crazy Spirit since my White Lung bandmate Anne-Marie Vassiliou showed me their self-titled EP in 2009. The 10-minute six-song EP was driving rough and catchy: everything I want a punk record to be. Frontman Walker Behl’s vocals were creepy in this demonic finger-nails-in-your-skin way that when blasting from my stereo made me want to move faster faster. That’s what hardcore should do. It should make you want chaos. At the same time Crazy Spirit have this boyish innocent charm. It’s like watching a shitty toddler throw sand at other kids in the sandbox: hilarious yet destructive.

I met Behl at his show at Beerland in Austin Texas during Chaos in Tejas 2010. He was friendly dirty and kept a smile glued on his face. When I bumped into him the next day at the D-Clone show we sat on the sidewalk in the annoying heat talking Japanese hardcore and watching the parade of studded leather drunkenly run through the streets.

Live Crazy Spirit are the perfect hardcore band. They play fast and carelessly ensuring aggressive violence with every song. No one stands still. You just can’t. Dressed like a Mafia intern on welfare Behl sticks out like a broken thumb.

“Our first couple shows I’d throw the mic stand and swing around chains and shit but it felt a little forced to me” Behl says from his home in New York. “I’m really not a very violent person and Crazy Spirit has always been a release for me but not really a violent one. Our shows can get violent and I really don’t care about that except when it’s like 15 people on one. Sometimes I feel like I have to intervene but I’m usually too distracted or apathetic. I really enjoy the chaos more than the violence.”

Crazy Spirit made a name for themselves in the New York hardcore circuit and eventually beyond. They went on a few tours travelled overseas and finally after a string of EPs on Toxic State Records put out their debut full-length LP in 2012.

“We wanted to make a rock opera of sorts” explains Behl. “A big theme in most of our releases has always been weird little fucked-up children. The batboy on the demo cover is kind of a spirit guide or some bullshit like that. Usually when we wrote lyrics in the past we wouldn’t really like having a set meaning to them but there are always undertones of creatures growing up or armies of children roaming the streets.”

Like many of their earlier releases the LP was a sonic blister full of scraps and chaos but with an undertone of real musicianship — punk hooks. “I Become A Man” the album’s last track (and my favourite) distills the record’s theme “about the glorious development of the batboy from a child to a man from a gross little shit to a golden god.”

Although Behl admits they have been “taking it slow for a while” Crazy Spirit just released another tape and hope to do another later in the year. In short they don’t really care about being a real band “getting big” or any of that stupidity. They just want to play when they want to play. That said Behl is aware that his band has received its fair share of online hype.

“I don’t think being on [major music media outlets] makes you lose your integrity” says Behl. “Why not get publicity? It happens either way why not embrace it and actually get paid for shit? All I want to do is to get flown around the world and play music. I don’t care if it makes me rich I just love travelling and of course I would prefer if it made me rich.” He pauses. “At the same time I never read those websites ever and don’t actually know what I’m talking about.”

Like a toddler throwing sand.