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Track-by-Track: Cross Dog Assess Their New Album ‘All Hard Feelings’

Punk and hardcore act Cross Dog join us for an exclusive track-by-track rundown of their latest full-length record ‘All Hard Feelings.’



Cross Dog
Cross Dog

As a rock band, Cross Dog excels at many things. But what they excel the most at is bringing the noise. That’s the name of the game on the hardcore punk act’s brand-new record, All Hard Feelings. A noisy, experimental hardcore act, they intend their music to be enjoyed at very high volumes. That goes back to being one of their original goals upon forming in 2013. All Hard Feelings is a sonic onslaught with chaotic moments but also plenty of room for some catchy hooks.

Released earlier this month via Stomp Records, the ten-track effort also features some of the band’s poppier moments. When they were writing these songs, the trio consciously focused more on hooks and choruses. The lyrics are also intensely personal, which makes this record very easy for Cross Dog’s audience to connect with.

It’s quite remarkable that the band can conjure up such an emotional and aggressive sound, considering they don’t even have a guitarist. The riffs you hear throughout All Hard Feelings all come from a lone bass guitar. The quite infectious riffs are supplemented by various effects, pedals, and amplifiers. It’s a heavy, cohesive sound with pummeling rhythms meant to get your head banging. This is music to be enjoyed at high volumes, but it’s also music meant to connect with an audience to celebrate and confront the highs and lows that affect our lives.

Joining us today for a Track-by-Track rundown of All Hard Feelings is lead singer Tracy A. She takes us behind the meaning and significance of each song and goes deep into the writing and recording process.

1. “Hard Feelings”

“As soon as I wrote the first line of ‘Hard Feelings,’ the rest just came tumbling out after. But getting to that first line took months. The music was inspired by (bassist) Mark (Rand) and (drummer) Mikey (Reid) listening to Pantera, and the choppiness of the riff in ‘Walk.’ The outro section was originally destined for another song, but we wanted something to really give the song a left turn towards the end into a whole different vibe.

“When I heard the instrumental demo, I was obsessed. I loved it so much that I was scared to ruin it if I didn’t nail the lyrics and vocal part, so I set it aside and let it haunt me for a couple of months. After countless ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got it’ texts, written while I was in fact deeply worried that I *did not* have it. I experienced a pretty major betrayal in my life that I didn’t see coming. I was super hurt and very raw, and while I don’t often bring that energy to the band to write what has essentially become a diss track, the catharsis in writing this song was probably my first step toward healing.

“Everyone has been hurt deeply by someone they care about. After some time passes, they won’t see things from that position of pain so much anymore. That is true for me and this situation; I can see the nuance better, but it changed me and how I trust people. Also, it feels really fucking good to scream this one live. You should try it.”

Cross Dog ‘All Hard Feelings’ album artwork

Cross Dog ‘All Hard Feelings’ album artwork

2. “Inside Job”

“‘Inside Job’ holds a light on the harsh realities of life in Canada and the U.S., where systemic racism, corrupt politics, and capitalistic greed are cornerstones of our society. This is quintessential Cross Dog messaging, where I typically use songwriting as a form of social critique and advocacy for the values we collectively hold as a band.

“However, on this record, it was important to me that instead of just raging into an echo chamber of like-minded folks, that there is a thread of optimism and unity throughout — one I think we all sorely need in these days of doom-scrolling. However righteous our anger, there are so many of us that are united in it. In the words of Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale of the Black Panther Party: ‘All power to the people!’”

3. “Jane Roe”

“‘Jane Roe’ was the first song we wrote for this record, and was born from Mark experimenting with 808 drum machine sounds. The lyrics were written around the time that ‘Roe vs. Wade’ was struck down by the Supreme Court in the U.S. Lyrically, this song uses the name of Jane Roe to represent everyone who has been forced to fight to obtain rights to critically important reproductive healthcare. We have seen repeatedly the way political and cultural ideological shifts in America impact us here in Canada, and while it might not be common knowledge, Canadians are continually having to carve out stronger protections for reproductive rights and access to reproductive care here, despite legal status.

“The issue really deals with more than just abortion. It is a matter of confronting the use of legislation as a form of control over the bodies of anyone not assigned male at birth, and related social issues that disproportionately impact non-men. The line ‘It’s not pro-life if we don’t have rights’ is expressing the fact that the anti-choice faction is not actually concerned with being ‘pro-life.’ If they were, they would be horrified by the day-to-day reality faced by the millions of under-served and/or ‘unwanted’ children living in our society.”

4. “Obliterated”

“For maybe the first time on this record, we got a little bit more internal and personal. Since much of this was written during the uncertain years of the pandemic, we, like so many others, were staring at our own four walls and coming to terms with how our own mental health was faring in the wake of what we’d collectively been through.

“Musically, Mark took inspiration for ‘Obliterated’ from the weird, angular guitar style of Black Flag. I was struggling with burnout and feeling some kind of way about my own neurodivergence and how this combination of struggles was impacting my daily life. There can be a lot of shame that accompanies the internal chaos that I often feel; my brain can be in fast forward, while my body is frozen. None of us will ever know what it is really like to be inside someone else’s head. This was me just being honest with myself about how hard it can sometimes be to live in mine.”

5. “Enemy”

“‘Enemy’ was a song that was written by Mark, both musically and in the first version of lyrics. He was inspired to write something that was vocally more melodic than we typically would, yet was struggling through his own numbness and feelings of apathy associated with depression. Once he had a demo of the song, I wanted to re-write some of the lyrics to incorporate a more uplifting and optimistic perspective.

“We have both struggled with depression in our past, and it is very accurate to our individual natures that I would bring the optimism while he would maybe settle into the dark a bit more (no offense to Mark). The result is sort of a reflection of how depressive episodes can feel, where verse one describes the hopelessness you feel, but verse two is a reminder of those days where you start to feel a bit lighter, something that inevitably comes with the cyclical nature of the illness.”

Cross Dog “Hard Feelings” single artwork

Cross Dog “Hard Feelings” single artwork

6. “Chokehold”

“I wanted to focus on the way those in power in our society have myriad ways of pitting people against one another; othering, individualizing, and stripping various segments of society of rights, etc, as if fragmenting us will weaken us. But the actual effect this has is increasing the proportion of the population that is being directly or tangentially impacted by oppressive forces, increasing the power in the resistance.

“Eventually, you exclude, other, and/or oppress enough people, and you have effectively provided the means to bring them together against you. ‘Chokehold’ is a very loud reminder that there are more of us than there are of them. We have the power to unite against injustice, on behalf of us all.”

7. “Kill This”

“There are a lot of things in this life we can’t control. When you lose something or someone has the power to take something from you, you can feel desperate to stop it. That is what ‘Kill This’ is about. It’s the feeling of watching something slowly dying and being incapable of stopping it. The good news is that sometimes, that ship manages to right itself and you come back from it stronger and more powerful than ever.

“This song was meant to be a fast punk song, super true to our origins; fast and dirty. That little drum machine break in the middle gives it a bit of a Nine Inch Nails thing. It definitely reflects our current songwriting which has become more and more experimental over time.”

8. “Collateral Damage”

“This song has a classic metal feel courtesy of the super chuggy main riff, with (what we hope is) a memorable chorus. The lyrics were inspired specifically by Chanel Miller, the survivor of a sexual assault at Stanford University by total piece of shit Brock Turner. But more broadly, it is speaking about all survivors who have had to make a choice to either navigate a traumatizing judicial system or forgo any attempt at justice at all, in the wake of their own sexual assaults.

“The false narrative that women fling accusations of ‘rape’ like they are crying ‘wolf’; the misplaced blame on survivors instead of the assailants; the crooked system that favours privileged defendants for (according to Turner’s own father) ‘20 minutes of action’ despite destroying safety, security, trust, and peace for the remainder of the survivor’s lifetime. The lives of survivors in sexual assault cases are treated as ‘Collateral Damage,’ with no concern for the continued harm (and often failure of justice) that results.”

9. “Dead Battery”

“‘Dead Battery’ was written during the pandemic, and was then shelved only to resurface while we were putting together a probable track list for the record. It seemed to bring something to the record that felt like a reprieve from the auditory assault of the rest of the album. I was suffering from depression, drinking too much, and struggling with writer’s block. With so much going on in the world, I wasn’t confident in my usual self-assigned role of spewing my opinions at people, when it seemed like everyone was so exhausted by division, online discourse, and life. I decided to write about that very thing. This slowed down, four-on-the-floor groove created the perfect space for it.”

10. “Rodent”

“We love a chaotic album ender, and ‘Rodent’ really does that for this record. We don’t usually write in other time signatures, But the ¾ time of this one makes it feel a bit more frenetic and adds to the intensity of the song. Every now and then, Mark has some shit he needs to get off his chest, and his lyrical style is something that is an important component of our band and something that is represented on each of our albums.

“Typically much more harsh and aggressive, his lyrics cut to the bone and tap into something so different from how I write, but are always so fucking fun for me to perform. This song was a form of therapy for Mark in dealing with a particularly abusive individual who was a perpetual victim, incapable of feeling any remorse. Fun fact: Mark can play the Korg synth and bass at the same time live!”

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