Detroit’s pop-rock trio TURN TO CRIME are preparing for a short stint of dates up the East Coast next week. Before they take off for tour, I had the pleasure of catching up with lead singer Derek Stanton, formerly of Awesome Color. After moving back home to Detroit, Stanton started writing and recording under the name Turn To Crime, releasing 2014’s debut album Can’t Love. Now the band are preparing for the release of their follow-up album and the release of its first single next week.
Boston Hassle: The band is working on a follow-up to 2014’s Can’t Love. What sort of stylistic changes can we expect on the new album?
Derek Stanton: The first song on the album is an auditory illusion, something not found on the first album or on many albums in general. You can expect the new album to sound very different from the first, but there are still all the elements that make up Turn To Crimes’s style; minimalism, ambience, repetitiveness, space, different guitar tunings, layered melodies, surprising hooks, distinct or unique vocal and guitar performances.
The fact of the matter is that the first album, second album, and third album were all recorded over a period of time before I decided to start my own label [Mugg and Bopp Records] and release the material myself. I had, and still have, a large body of work recorded from 2010 to 2013 to pick from. The songs where allocated to three albums and those albums planned out to move from one to another in a certain way. By no means are they chronological.
BH: I heard that you wrote most of the material on Can’t Love on your own and then added Ian and Dorian to the project as it evolved. Did you approach the new album in a similar manner, or are they more involved in the writing process this time around?
DS: Yes, the new album was written and mostly recorded by myself before they joined the band. I wanted to get Ian and Dorian on the album, though, so I asked them to sing backup on a song or two and Ian played bass on a song. These are parts they developed live that I really liked, and I wanted to get them on the album before it came out.
BH: When can listeners expect some new material to be released?
DS: Our second album, Actions, will come out sometime in late April or early May. We’re still working on the exact release date, but the first single from the album should drop in a week or so.
BH: The entire Detroit-area scene is totally supportive of each other, and often seem to draw from similar influences. While you were in New York playing with Awesome Color, did you find that to be the case?
DS: Yes, New York City was very supportive. There are a lot of great people there.
BH: Was the scene in Detroit a contributing factor to you moving back and starting Turn To Crime?
DS: No. I didn’t know much about the Detroit scene. I had a few good friends here still, but like me, a bunch of my friends had moved away sometime after high school and were spread all over the map.
I left Brooklyn because I lived at a venue called Glasslands, and after a while I had about 5000 roommates a month. I just couldn’t handle it. I looked to stick around, but times were changing rapidly. I knew I couldn’t afford to stay in New York City and have a practice space and recording studio. That’s the one thing I need wherever I live. So I just came back home and started Turn To Crime to do something different.
BH: Neighborhood Watch #1 is a tribute album to some of the staple Detroit bands. Is this a project that you plan to continue in Detroit, or is it a project that you’d like to pick up again in another time and place?
DS: Yeah, I hope to continue the series. It’s fun. I’m constantly writing so much music that it’s a nice break to be able to do someone else’s songs. I’ll do another this year for sure.
BH: If you were to work on Neighborhood Watch #2 today, which bands would you feature?
DS: I would love to do another city, maybe the Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti area. Maybe Brooklyn. I really wanted to do a Wolf Eyes song on the first Neighborhood Watch. If I did a Detroit one again, I would cover them.
BH: Why didn’t you cover them on the first one?
DS: I was not able to get any lyrics off my boy Nate [Young] at the time. He was probably busy and I couldn’t understand what the fuck he was saying in the song that I wanted to cover.
BH: Any bands in particular that have been inspiring you lately?
DS: It’s hard to say where inspiration comes from. Sometimes I see a band that inspires me mostly on what not to do. I could be wrong, but I think Turn To Crime is not inspired by any particular bands. I’ve set out for it to be more of a project that explores my own subconscious, what’s hidden inside, by using experimental, often restrained, and different techniques to reveal it.
BH: What differences can people expect from your live performance as opposed to your recorded material?
DS: It’s louder and three-dimensional. Some songs are stripped-down live, some songs the opposite. Arrangements will often be different. We’ll have more ambient parts and experimental noise parts, the stuff I would love to have on the LP, but you can only get so much time per side.
BH: What about Ian and Dorian?
DS: Ian and Dorian do their own thing, things that aren’t on the album. They bring a lot to the show.
Make sure to catch Turn To Crime with LAIR and Andy California next Saturday (2/28) at The Womb!