After four previous albums, The Cringe was determined to up its game for the forthcoming Blind Spot.
“The first order of business is we wanted to work with a producer,” frontman and group founder John Cusimano tells Billboard.
The group had received some tips previously from Steve Lillywhite, a friend of Cusimano and his wife, TV host Rachael Ray, but as it prepared for Blind Spot, Cusimano and company made a list of producers they’d be interested in working with, with Don Gilmore at the very top thanks to his work with Linkin Park, Pearl Jam, Good Charlotte, Korn and more.
“Our goal was we wanted to get a song on active rock radio,” explains Cusimano — and he’s hoping that may be Blind Spot‘s first single, “Anything You Say,” whose video Billboard is premiering exclusively below.
“We need spins. All these records we like, Don’s name is on them. He was just the right guy, and it turned out he was interested,” says Cusimano of working with Gilmore. Cusimano let Gilmore know quickly that The Cringe was interested in having the producer not only tighten its sound but help the band find focus that the frontman feels was missing from its previous releases.
“I guess the best way to describe it is (Gilmore) brought a cohesiveness to the record,” Cusimano says. “Some of our earliest records are a bit eclectic. That can be a good thing, but it can also be a confusing thing, especially for people who are trying to figure out what you are exactly. So we have a rock record from beginning to end; every track makes sense, and each one sounds like a smaller part of a larger piece of work. That was important to us and critical to us this time.”
Blind Spot‘s 13 tracks were chosen from 20 demos Gilmore and Cusimano selected to work with. Many of the ideas were products of Austin singer-songwriter Bob Schneider‘s Song Gang; each week he gives the participating artists a word or phrase from which to build a song from, which gave Cusimano a surplus of material to bring to the studio.
“If you do 52 songs a year, you should have eight to 12, 13 things that can give you the basis for an album,” Cusimano notes. The title track, however, was actually conceived and written in the studio during the recording of the album.
“We’ve done entire tours where we’ve played in front of less people total than we play in one or two nights with Crue,” Cusimano notes.
And he’s been pleased — and relieved — by the generally positive response.
“We’re in a tenable position to say the least. No one is expecting to see us. We’ve just got 25 minutes, so it’s like, ‘Here goes nothing…’ But we’ve been having great responses from the crowd and getting a lot of good comments when we sign CDs and stuff.”
With Blind Spot due out Oct. 16 on Cusimano’s Listen Records, The Cringe is looking to do more road work — and possibly some more shows with the Crue during the fall. The group is currently hatching other promotional strategies, and it can certainly count on Rachael Ray’s continuing support.
“She’s our best and biggest fan, tremendously supportive whether it’s on social media or talking about it on the show, which is great,” Cusimano says of his TV star wife. “We’ve done the show a few times already. Sometimes people have preconceived notions if they know Rachael and don’t know The Cringe and they scratch their heads; it’s a disconnect for them. But by and large it offers more exposure for the band in a good way. Her support of the band is undeniable.”
The full track list for Blind Spot includes:
1. “Anything You Say”
2. “Whole Lotta Nothin’”
3. “A Little More Sleep”
4. “Lake Michigan”
5. “Blind Spot”
7. “Don’t Know Where I Belong”
8. “You’ve Changed”
9. “Big Trouble”
10. “Gravity’s Pull”
11. “Good Man Down”
12. “Give Me Some Time”
13. “Kind of Dead”