To support the release of their third album, Inhale, Exhale, we spoke to Those Damn Crows drummer Ronnie Huxford. Humbled by fan reaction to the latest release but also proud of the record created by the band, we chat about all of this, plus how they have maintained a close relationship with their adoring fanbase.
Listen along to the audio below, or via SoundCloud here.
Ronnie, we’re here to talk mainly about your new album, Inhale, Exhale, the follow-up to Point of No Return.
Ronnie Huxford: “We did do Murder and the Motive and at the start Point of No Return it kind of escalated and in all fairness that tour was sold out. It got to 14 in the charts and it started to create waves. Unfortunately, due to the world shutting down, everybody had their issues and ours was that the momentum gone, which was tragic. So, this is the new album, it’s exciting.
“We managed to start putting it together, piecing it together whilst doing our Crowcast, our podcasts during COVID, and just fell in love with it instantly from the moment we started jamming and demoing and it was just like, “oh my god, there’s some cracking great feels to the record, good vibes”, especially when we grew up and the bands that we enjoyed there was like elements of that in there, but with our own style.
“We got to record the album with Dan Weller who has worked with some incredible artists, like Enter Shikari, and he put his vibes to it, which made it sound kind of 90s, what we wanted it to sound like and then there was also shades of 80s, but it was predominantly like 90s with like a modern twist, and captured the whole light and dark, inhale, exhale, it all kind of starts to get into that nice cooking pot.”
“Murder and the Motive got to 14 in the charts and it started to create waves. Unfortunately, due to the world shutting down, everybody had their issues and ours was that the momentum gone, which was tragic.”
Now, obviously, Point of No Return that was kind of the one album that really elevated you. Me personally, I discovered it last year at Download, I got told, by the way, this is Shane (Greenhall), you’re going to be interviewing him and I thought I better listen to the band quickly. And honestly, I was blown away. So that is quite some big boots to fill. With Inhale/Exhale, what was some of the inspirations behind it? Did you find there was anything that you really wanted to accomplish with this given how successful its predecessor was?
“With Inhale, Exhale, the name for example, there were a lot of names coming into the table and Shane, we went on a zoom call as everybody did, threw in Inhale, Exhale. I just remember, personally, just going that’s the one and I couldn’t hear anything else, even though people are still coming up with names in the background, personally I was very tunnel-visioned and going I’m really buying into that.
“He (Shane) explained the mood of the record, and when he was penning the the lyrics down what they meant as well. There’s certain songs, “This Time I’m Ready”, which was a message to his dad who passed. Then we’ve had our own bad luck over the last year so myself Lloyd (Wood), Dave (Winchurch) latched on to that and that became personal. “See you Again” has become one for the fans because the whole COVID thing and then there were other tracks and we were like, “oh my god, it has got this light and dark vibe to the record the whole life and death, anxiety mental health and trying to control that.
“Some days, you just have those bad days or dark days where you’re not thinking straight. Then some days you have really happy days, and it’s trying to keep that line in the balance. He (Shane) was swimming of all things and you’re obviously focused, you’re breathing, you don’t think about how you kind of move and he looked down and every day he had been swimming, it was fine and this one day, there was a mosaic tile out of the place. And because he stared at it, because it was so different, it stopped him in his tracks so he couldn’t focus and then the swimming became flat and he was like, oh my god, yeah, inhale, exhale! you got to kind of keep yourself focused, just make sure it’s all right.”
If a tile was off like that for me, that’ll just set me off. I’ll be like, I’ve got to fix that somehow.
“Yeah, he’s very detailed. So when he saw that it was almost control your breathing, just make sure it’s okay. Then it just reflects on like, sometimes you know, something happens, and you can get really agitated or you can get angry and you’ve just almost got to kind of take a step back over a few breaths and then go right can we sort this, because sometimes maybe anger isn’t the best option.”
You’ve mentioned like there was a lot of negativity, I think that’s the wrong word, but a lot of dark emotions that helped feed this record. What would you say were some of the most crucial parts you brought to the table in that respect? If you if that’s all right to ask?
“Yeah, I mean, for me, it was all about the mood, especially from a drumming point, you’re in some of the riffs or know the context of what we’re writing, and then trying to make it heavier so a little bit more maybe influenced by some of the metal bands that I grew up listening to, or just making those drums sound a little bit more fierce. Just giving it a bit more of a backbone, and a bit of progression from Point of No Return because I came out of that record feeling totally pumped and really motivated to be better myself and working on that record was just perfect.
“It was almost like, how do we kick on from that, and I think it really helped us all individually, anchor collectively and how to be better musicians on our own and together and how to keep improving and how to keep picking each other up. If somebody’s not always right, like, it’s always the case of how can you improve others and yourself at the same time without pissing people off?”
You’re kind of framing it as you are a bit of a perfectionist…
“I think all of band are and and Shane will say that as well. We’re very hard on ourselves, whether we do a show or a song, we’re always kind of trying to make it the best that we think it can be and if you fall short we’re so disappointed in that and even from a performance thing we’ve always got to feel like we’ve left everything there. Especially like the early days of making sure the tempos for me were right, or I didn’t get too excited and then it looks great, and people go that was the best gig ever been to but really, you know your singers like choking you guitarists got smoke coming out their hands like so it’s always keeping everything kind of balanced and what’s best for the band what’s best for the song.
“I think with this record, it all just come together with the lyrics like I said, when you got an idea of where it’s going like “Wake Up”, for example It’s anthemic. It was like this record, we could start to hear a playlist. It wasn’t just like here’s an album. It’s almost like there’s something there for everybody. You might not like every track, but there’s more dancey songs on there as well. There’s just more soulful songs as well. So it’s a nice playlist and I think it’ll go down great at festivals and especially when we come to like mixing the set up and start to mix it around. There’s options.”
“Some days, you just have those bad days or dark days where you’re not thinking straight. Then some days you have really happy days, and it’s trying to keep that line in the balance.”
You’ve got some great songs on the album, I’ve listened to it. What would you say is you’re personal favorite, what is your absolute top level tune from this record, if you have one?
“I’d say when I’m listening to it in the car, I can’t answer that. When I’m playing it live at the moment. I’d say it’s a real toss up between “This Time I’m Ready” and “See you Again” just because you can feel the emotion from the crowds, you can genuinely feel it, and it’s electrifying so it kind of makes you feel even more….. I can’t explain it, like it’s such an adrenaline rush when you play and perform anyway, but you accelerate that in any way. It’s just like it can become overbearing sometimes, but yeah, that, especially on this tour so far, those two songs have just been been immense. Just the vibe and the energy with you and the crowd.
“See you Again”, they even starting to sing it reminds me of like the days of watching Pennywise like in “Bro Hymn”, where they are chanting as they walk in the room and stuff and then Bad Religion and stuff. Just that whole chanting sing along and then Foo Fighters as well got that vibe. So it’s got that crossover. I think it’s just got that whole connection. Band fans, fans band, we’re all one.”
You are a band that really does like to connect with their fans more so than others. What’s one of the best ways you like to personally connect with your fans? You’ve got your Crowcast, the podcast? Are there any other ways that you like try to connect and get involved with them?
“Yeah, multiple, festivals and stuff. So yeah, we just like where some bands like to hangout backstage, we like to get out there and have a beer with everybody and watch other bands and be a music lover. We’ve had it before where we will go to like Steelhouse Festival, for example. You get people kind of walking past, and asking what are you doing here and you like, “just chillin’, I’m gonna be here with our mates or whatever.” It’s good because you get feedback for the band or what they like, what’s their favorite track. They’re always giving us feedback, and that’s important.
“I think when COVID happened, and we couldn’t get out and connect to the fans that’s how Crowcast happened and become a highlight for me personally, because every Tuesday night, we got to check in on people, because we knew like there was a lot of people who were vulnerable, or they were having really hard times, and that became their source of communication with each other more than just us, it was a real community happening, because everybody was like, how are you doing? It’s Tuesday night, I’ve got my drinks and got my snacks, and we were just chatting away.
“I mean, you listen and some of it is absolute rubbish, but it’s good rubbish, because it’s the case of it just felt like you’re in a pub with your mates having a conversation not like, oh, my God, you know, anybody could be watching this, we forgot sometimes that, especially when we had a few drinks, that anybody could be watching it. But that’s what made it real as well and inviting them into our homes, which a lot of bands don’t do, which is their prerogative. For us, it was more. This is our living room and then as the Crowcast got bigger, we were like doing the rooms up and people started in noticing. It’s all like they’re streaming now in proper streaming rooms. I thought I was just fun, man, it was great. I think it’s important to connect with your fans. Without the fans there’s no gig.”
“I think when COVID happened, and we couldn’t get out and connect to the fans that’s how Crowcast happened and become a highlight for me personally, because every Tuesday night, we got to check in on people, because we knew like there was a lot of people who were vulnerable, or they were having really hard times, and that became their source of communication…”
I try and stay away from talking about COVID these days, I’d like to think of it as old news now, but obviously the Crowcast really helped you guys through that. Would you say it helped you survive as a band, because so many smaller bands had to call it a day at the end of it. I mean, but there are some that that actually thrived because of it. I mean, I’ll use Punk Rock Factory as an example. They were literally birthed out of COVID. Was the Crowcast what basically saved you?
“We love the boys from PRF. We had them on Crowcast, because I think they deserved it, it was almost like you’ve done really, really well, like so it was a case of like you said, you’ve birthed out of a bad situation, you’ve made something really, really good and entertained, everybody. So yeah, we were advocates for that, and there’s a lot of bands who were kind of like, come on, like this stuff you could be doing you can make an effort if you want to, like you know, if you’re in a position where you don’t have too financially, good luck to you to have a break for a bit, you probably toured the world, I don’t know how many times but when you’re trying to fight for a career these days, and if you care about the people you have built a connection with, I didn’t want it to go away and I know the boys are exactly the same. So we felt it was important to.
“We started getting people on as guests. And that was cool, because it was almost like going on tour and having other bands, and hearing their stories and like everybody was loving that and even some of the bands are starting to come up with stuff that they wouldn’t in this scenario, because it felt so natural. Like some of them are like, Oh my god, I forgot like we were live then because it felt so comfortable, it was just few minutes just hanging around on a Tuesday night and I’m gonna drink. I’m talking about random stuff. It wasn’t always PR driven.”
In other words, not parading you out in front of people like me.
“No, no, we never mind that because you’ve got to sell a record, you’ve got to try and get more people interested in your band and we’ve always got time to do that. So we never shirk away from any responsibilities or any way to get the message out there. So it’s always for us. It’s fun. I know a lot of bands can go, no not another one but I love doing interviews or chatting to people, especially like yourself when you just discovered us so it’s almost like, well, there’s so many layers you probably don’t even know and then it’s like, the more you get into it, you’ll be like, Oh, wow, I didn’t know that, that’s wicked, or they’ve done that or I like that song. So it’s like you said, I discover new bands that have been around for 30 years. You know what I mean? You just haven’t heard of them.”
I suppose that’s the Godsend of music really. I mean, tonight for me, it’s actually kind of special because Download was the first time I became aware of you. Did I see you? No! I was working. I was busy. So this is actually something great for me. I’m looking forward to this. So is there something special that I can expect?
“Yeah, we love everybody to get involved with the show. So the more we get them involved, the better. I feel like with this record now, you’re seeing us at a great time because this mix with some of the other stuff that we play really does bring a great energy to the show as well so we’re constantly evolving and having a laugh with each other. So every show is kind of different because stuff happens, the other night Shane was walking across a balcony like a tight rope like, you know, so that was a bit scary, but it was entertaining. Because nothing happened. But yeah, you never know what’s going to happen like so keeps us as a band fresh as well and we’re kind of excited by it.”
Thinking about different shows, have you been to this venue before? It’s crazy, isn’t it?
“We have played here, we played here in November with Monster Truck great guys, fell in love with then and I met them at Download, and we already had the tour in the bag. So it was just really great fun to be out on the road with those guys and played similar venues. When we were with them, they could see the crowds reaction, which you might see later and the way they chant the band’s name, or they’ll sing Crows and stuff, and they were like, fuck, we gotta bring our A game tonight.”
So essentially you showed them up?
“No, I wouldn’t say we showed then up I’d say it was more like we did our thing but they hadn’t seen a support band kind of ramp it up like that, so it was a complement more than anything and it was more of just a way for each band learn off each other they never knew what we did, they never seen us live so they really like got into what we do and the love the connection yet again with the fans. There’s so freakin talented. So it’s hard to show them up.
“It was more, this is what we bring to the party and they were like, holy shit, you’re awake. You know what I mean? they heard when we would walk out with a bit of an intro. It’s a bit different we’d walk out and the crowd would be the first thing they hear in the way that they were singing our name like and they’d be like, we’ve never seen that. So it was like so real compliment.”
I guess it is always actually hard to be the support act sometimes because I mean, I’ve been in venues like the support acts especially if there’s three bands the first one almost plays to barely anyone and that can be an issue with the doors opening and filtering everyone in but I mean, would you want to promote your support acts tonight who have we got?
“We got two amazing support bands, there’s for Valhalla Awaits and there’s James and the Cold Gun. Both Welsh bands because we were just like, there’s a lot of bands we play with within our genres, a lot of bands you’ve played with within the scene. They’re all talented bands, but we just wanted to shine a bit of a spotlight because the tour was pretty much sold out. Apart from the arena, which I think is only a few tickets left, it was a chance where we could kind of go let’s bring out some Welsh bands that we haven’t done enough with and give them a run out, like you know, and some of the boys have been in other bands as well and they’re talented buggers. They’re bringing it every night.
“So, we love that, we love the whole bring your A game because the whole fact is you’ve got a full crowd out there who appreciate music. Go and do your thing go and get new fans go and sell the merch, survive. If we don’t help other bands, we don’t make the scene very successful or we don’t help promote or sell the venue’s then it’s another venue gone another band gone, as you said, so we want to kind of help that and, you know, we don’t care what happens to them, like, you know, so we’ll try and do that as long as we can always try and bring a local support or bring a band that that can kind of kick on with it and the two bands that we’ve brought in particular not just because they’re Welsh as well, they’re doing all the groundwork, they’re doing everything right. I think from this, they can go off maybe to their own tours as well and build on that and you’ll see them on big festivals, etc. So great energy.”
So one more question is really about you more than anyone else. So Ronnie, what was your inspiration? How did you get into this scene? And what is your favourite band?
“Oh, that’s a cruel question because that will always change.
I got into the scene I was brought up around music with my dad. He was a session musician, so he was not into rock it was all like pantos, shows and TV work and stuff but I heard Queen and then going on to Nirvana and stuff like that just completely my generation of bands like that in the Seattle scene and I looked at Dave Grohl in a gym sweating and the way that they were like proper against the teachers and all that being a kid I was like, I want to do that. So I think that was kind of like a big moment of I want to be in a band and then from 14 till like now. That’s why I’ve always tried to do I love traveling, love that energy that you you get from a stage and playing live and love the energy you get from creating a song and the buzz you get from creating a song. Favourite band, that’s a cruel one. I’d say the Foo Fighters.
Good call. RIP Mr. Taylor Hawkins, what can we say? Ronnie, thanks so much for chatting to V13 today. Good luck with the show. Can’t wait to see it. Thanks.
“Thank you very much.”
For all the latest news from the band as well as details of their UK tour, head over to their Official Website.
10/11 – GLASGOW SWG3
10/12 – LEEDS Stylus
10/13 – WOLVERHAMPTON Wulfrun Hall
10/14 – MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
10/16 – BRIGHTON Chalk
10/17 – LONDON O2 Forum Kentish Town