SIN KILLER webzine – Interviews: Crossforce [old interview]

Friday, June 3, 2011

Crossforce [old interview]

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Fohose of you who have the Crossforce demo tape from the mid eighties I thought I'd post this interview I conducted with drummer Mark Cassettari to give you a little more insight into the band. For those of you who dont have the tape, Crossforce was a bay area hard rock band that came along in the early stages of the white metal explosion of the mid eighties. The band released a self titled demo tape that garnered some attention and the bands song Rockin Til The Final Day saw some radio airplay on christian hard rock and metal shows around the country. The band saw some features in the fanzines of the day such as Heavens Metal, White Throne and Risen Roxx. The band also has two performance clips that can be seen on the Metal Mardi Gras 87 vhs or dvd re-release from Sanctuary. They didnt make a big splash but were a cool band with some good tunes non the less. mrelectric.39 I know these guys were based out of your back yard so-to-speak so feel free to enlighten us with some memories!

1). What were you doing prior to hooking up with Crossforce and what

compelled you to be a drummer for a christian rock band?

I have been playing the drums since I was 5 years old. I can't remember

wanting to do anything else. My next door neighbors were the Carmassi

family. Denny was the drummer for Montrose, and Heart. Billy was the
drummer for Aldo Nova. So there should be no questions who my influences
were! I was raised in a Christian home and when I turned 18 I played in
a secular cover band. I hung out with the "wrong crowd" and did stuff I
knew I shouldn't be doing. But I LOVED playing so I traveled down that 
path for a year. I had always wished I could find a band that "rocked
hard" but was Christian. I quit playing with the cover band and got my
life straightened out and one day I was looking through a "Classified Flea
Market" paper. This was a free paper distributed weekly that people
advertised in, selling items and services, and they had a "Musicians
Wanted" section. I came across a want ad for a Christian Drummer for a
rock band and I responded immediately. I got the gig and it was a garage
band that we hoped would go further than it did. But soon our guitar
player left and we needed both a guitar and bass player, so we placed an
ad in that same paper. One of the guys that showed up to audition was
Adam Alvarez from Golgatha. Golgatha was the "premier" Christian Rock band
in the Bay Area. They rocked hard, and I had seen them play in one of the
local clubs, so when I heard Adam was auditioning I knew they must have
been having some problems. We jammed and Adam ended up calling me a few
days later and asked me if I wanted to audition for Golgatha. Al Whelen,
their original drummer left and so did Gary Gladson their guitar player.
Tony Crider and Adam Alvarez started the band and they were going to put
it back together. Coincidentally, Todd Price the new guitar player was the
guitar player that had left the "garage" band. I auditioned and got the
gig. I was finally able to ROCK and spread the word of God! My dream had
come true!

2). Tell a little about Crossforce forming.
Golgatha played together for about another year. Tony and Adam, although

friends, bucked heads creatively and Tony decided to leave the band to

start a new one. I stuck around with Golgatha and we tried to keep things
together for awhile. Gary Gladson (Golgatha's original guitar
player)returned to the group and we auditioned lead singers. David Raymond
Reeves, of Neon Cross fame, even made the trip north to audition and had
the gig if he wanted, but felt the Lord wanted him to stay where he was.
Golgatha split for good shortly after. Meanwhile, Tony was hard at work
putting together his new group, Crossforce. Tony Crider had solicited the
talents of Phil Castillo (Guitar), and Jeff Scott (Bass). They were
writing and rehearsing and auditioning drummers. Tony knew Golgatha had
split and had called me to audition. I was resistant at first, as the last
six months of trying to help keep Golgatha together was exhausting for all
of us. I went in and auditioned and it felt like we had been playing
together all along. It was hard to explain. It just clicked, and
Crossforce was born! Are music evolved quickly to the melodic hard rock of
the 80's and we were writing stuff that, we thought, would sound good with
some keyboard accompaniment and Mark Rapley was added to round out the

3). You guys were playing shows around the bay area. churches or clubs

or a mix of both?

I don't recall ever playing in church with Crossforce. It was primarily

nightclubs. We played the Bay Area club scene and were regulars at the

Mabuhay Gardens, and the Rock on Broadway in San Francisco, and the Omni
in Oakland. We played clubs in Fremont, and San Jose as well but their
names escape me. We wanted to play the secular clubs, but unlike Stryper,
who would only play with secular bands, we played with both christian and
secular bands.

4). What other bands did you guys play with?
We played with christian bands in the Bay Area like, Soldier, Valor, and

Believer. We've opened for Barren Cross, Bloodgood, Deliverance, and

Guardian. Not to mention we got to open the Metal Mardi Gras.

5). Tell a little about the Crossforce demo tape.
We had only been together for a short time, maybe three months, when Tony

said he knew a guy that was studying to be a recording engineer at Sonoma

State University. The guy needed to record a band for credit so he asked
if we wanted to record a demo. The only thing we would have to pay for
was the recording tape. So, one Friday night we drove to Cotati,
California to Sonoma State University and pulled an all night recording
session, recording the First three songs on the demo. Tomorrow Will Come,
Our Father, and Smoke Filled Room. It was my first time in a recording
studio and it was awesome! We were exhausted but thrilled to have 3 songs
recorded. It took about a month before we could get back to the studio
and record the final 3 songs. Ready and Waiting (My personal favorite),
Out Of The Darkness, and Rock Until The Final Day. During the month or so
hiatus, our engineer must have learned some new things because the sound
quality on the drums of the last three songs we recorded was a lot cleaner
and there was a definite difference in side A and Side B. In our infinite
wisdom, we decided we could fix it by leaving all the other tracks alone
and erasing and re-recording the drum tracks. Anybody that knows anything
about recording knows that was a HUGE mistake. I had no idea what a "click
track" was and trying to keep time with the old tracks and lay down new
drums was practically impossible. Phil ended up re-recording some guitar
tracks so we could play together and that helped some, but we ended up
with a side A that was less than perfect. The timing is off a taste
thanks to the new drum tracks but we were out of time and we had to settle
for what we had. I must tell you that I was pleasantly surprised when we
won 1987 demo tape of the year in Heaven's Metal magazine.

6). There was some backwards message on the tape, whats it say


Ah yes! The infamous "back masking" message! At the end of "Our Father"

Tony ends the song with, "Don't you forget it!". Well, we decided it would

be kinda funny to run that backwards at the beginning of the song. There
was a lot of people running around back then playing secular records
backwards trying to convince people that there were satanic messages in
the songs. So this was, sort of, our attempt at humor. We weren't
downplaying what they were trying to do or the significance of it. They
were trying to steer kids from Heavy Metal and we were offering up Metal
with a positive twist.

7). Was Crossforce looking to sign with a label?
Most certainly! Frontline Records showed the most interest. They were

recording all the christian metal bands at that time. Jimmy Kempner,

their AR representative, had seen us play quite a bit. But nothing ever
materialized. I learned some years later that there may have been some
creative control issues between Tony and the label, but I don't know if
that's true or not.

. What was the Crossforce mission statement?
Simply to spread the word of God through our music. We took it to the

streets, literally. A lot of bands at that time were trying to bridge the

gap between christian and secular markets. Their lyrical content was
positive but could be interpreted either secular or christian. If you
listen to our lyrics there is no mistake that we were a christian band
delivering a christian message. We took that message to secular clubs and
made ourselves available to talk and pray with these kids if they felt led
to do so. I witnessed many kids turn their lives over to God and THAT was
worth more to me than any record deal.

9). You guys had the honor of opening at christian metals first ever

festival Metal Mardi Gras in 1987. Tell a little about that


That was a blast! The list of bands that played that day was like a Who's

Who in Christian Metal. We got to hang out and get to know everyone. It

was one of the best gigs we ever had the honor of playing. Here's a little
secret you probably don't know. Watch the Metal Mardi Gras tape and watch
the Crossforce performance, then watch the Bloodgood performance. Notice
anything??? Mark, the drummer for Bloodgood, is playing my drumset! They
were on tour at the time and they made a special trip to play the show but
Mark's drums never showed up! During our sound check Mark came by and
introduced himself and explained to me his dilemma. He had been scoping
out some of the other sets and asked me if I would mind if he used my set.
I agreed, of course!

10). There was a bay area branch of the famed heavy metal church,

Sanctuary. What was the bands affiliation to the church and what

was Sanctuary all about?

Sanctuary was a church started in Southern California by Pastor Bob

Beemon. Pastor Bob didn't look like your ordinary pastor. He had long hair

and was a rock and roller! Everyone was welcome at Sanctuary. He knew
that most of the bands were playing clubs on Saturday nights so his
services started later in the morning, even early afternoon too, I think. 
The music they played was rock. It was truly a "Rock for the King" kind of
church. Most of the christian metal bands were based out of the Southern
California area and a lot of them were affiliated with Sanctuary. Well,
the Northern California christan metal scene was in full bloom and Pastor
bob was looking into expanding North. Tony Crider was supposed to be one
of the pastors, but alas, that fell through as well.

11). In 1986 through 1989 christian hard rock and metal seemed to be

making quite an impact. There were other bands making up the scene

around San Fransisco most notably Soldier and Valor. Was there 
comradere between the bands? Any good memories?

We were all friends!! There was no competition between bands. There was

room for who ever wanted to play. Adam Alvarez started Valor after

Golgatha split. They went for a harder edge and they were good! Al Whelen,
the original drummer from Golgatha, was the drummer for Soldier. They all
had BIG hair and were good lookin', and put on a great stage show! Very
energetic! Believer was a three piece band that rocked with the best of
them. Crossforce was a five piece band that wanted to let the music speak
for itself. We tried not to get caught up in the "glam" side of the genre.
We loved to write music and loved to perform it even more.

12).Why did Crossforce split up and why do you think that the scence

ended so quickly?

Unfortunately, after two years, the "business" side of being in a band got

to us. Here's some advice for up and coming bands. Don't lose sight of

why you got into a band in the first place. When we first got together it
was all about the music and putting the best music out that we were
capable of playing. Then you start attracting attention and get a
following. Now you gain some interest from a record label and all of a
sudden, the goal changes. You don't have the right look. Your hair's not
long enough. This guy needs to lose weight, or that guy isn't strong
enough on his instrument, cut him loose and find someone else. The next
thing you know, you're jumping through hoops trying to make sure you look
the part. Excuse me, you LISTEN to an album. What about the music? It was
NUTS! Christian record labels and secular record labels have more in
common than you think. There MAIN objective is to make money. Period.
Tony was the first to leave the band, followed by Phil, and Mark Rapley.
Jeff Scott and I hooked up with Gary Gladson (from Golgatha) and tried to
make a go of it on our own starting a new band. The music was SOLID, but
the Bay Area lacked lead singers desperately and we finally gave up about
6 months later. This was late 1988, early 1989 and the Bay Area christian
metal scene faded fast.

13). I know that Tony Crider passed away a few years back, but do you

still keep tabs with the other guys in the band? Do you ever run into

some of the other guys from other bands around town?

There was a memorial service for Tony in May of 2002 (I believe). All the

guys from Crossforce were there. Adam Alvarez from Golgatha, Rick from

Soldier. It was a big reunion of a lot of guys who knew each other or
played in a band with Tony or Tony had touched their life in some way. It
was great to see all these guys again. The call had gone out for everyone
to bring all the pictures or videos they had and it was going to be a day
of reflecting. Phil had moved to San Diego and was playing in a christian
metal band called Krush. Great music! Mark Rapley had moved to Oregon.
Jeff Scott and I still live in the Bay Area and still see each other on
occasion. He's an awesome guy!

14). Are you current with todays christian hard rock and metal?
No, I can't say that I am.

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