Prog Veterans Crack the Sky Return With 'Raining Rain,' Talk Stepping Outside 'Comfort Zone'

Crack The Sky
Rei Perri

From left: Glenn Workman, Rick Witkowski, Bobby Hird, John Palumbo, Dave DeMarco, Joey D’Amico of Crack The Sky

A whole lot of Crack The Sky is coming our way this week.

The veteran West Virginia-formed prog rock troupe is delivering not one but two albums on Friday, Aug. 24: Living In Reverse, whose metallic "Raining Rain" premieres exclusively below, is a set of all new material; while Crackology features a dozen previous tracks re-recorded by the current sextet, which still features founding members John Palumbo, Rick Witkowski, Joey D'Amico and Bobby Hird.

Palumbo tells Billboard that the double dose of CTS was the idea of the group's new label, Loud and Proud Records. "They suggested that we do an anthology because a lot of people aren’t familiar with our early work, and release it along with the new album," Palumbo notes. "This is what they do; They take acts like us that have been around for a while and kind of give them a fresh start. I'm not gonna argue with them. I'm just happy to put the music out."

Living In Reverse, however, will be something new to CTS' fan cult. Though it has the expected touches of prog and hard rock, the 12-song set also finds Palumbo and company incorporating R&B flavors throughout, and even a bit of rap on the track "Hit."

"It's really an eclectic record, I think," Palumbo says. "I was just having a good time, letting loose and playing with loops and stuff that's really outside of what we've done before and outside our comfort zone, even." What drove the change, he adds, is "a low threshold for boredom. After I wrote the stuff that I felt was in Crack The Sky's wheelhouse I started to experiment a little bit. I'm familiar with the machines and loops and things; I thought it would be interesting to pull off if we could do it, and the guys did a great job here."

CTS has a few live shows on its itinerary, including the 4th Annual Veterans Benefit Concert on Aug. 25 in Baltimore and some dates in November. And despite the major stylistic changes, Palumbo isn't apprehensive about how CTS fans will react to it. "We've changed things up before," he explains. "When we did White Music (in 1980) people considered it punk, and they responded to it -- it just took them a little while. But, again, we went outside of what Crack The Sky was known for, and we learned from that not to be afraid."