It isn’t that Casey Crescenzo, lead vocalist of Boston-based prog-rock outfit The Dear Hunter, doesn’t enjoy Los Angeles appearances as a rule; it’s the Knitting Factory specifically that rubs him the wrong way.
“I mean it’s not like we don’t like playing LA — we love playing LA,” said Crescenzo, the group’s multi-talented frontman and a Southern California native. “We love playing Hollywood, Pomona and San Diego, everywhere in Southern California…”
From being denied a parking space for the band’s tour van to Crescenzo’s own mother being barred backstage access, it’s suffice to say that the men of The Dear Hunter have been spurned by the well-known venue on more than one occasion.
A forgive-and-forget tactic is probably the best approach at this point: The Dear Hunter has a gig at the less-than-hospitable Hollywood Boulevard music club tonight. The band will be opening for the hardcore New Jersey group called Thursday, and play alongside two other supporting acts, Fall of Troy and Comadre.
The Dear Hunter embarked on its current tour with Thursday on Oct. 5, a scant two days after wrapping up its own headlining tour in Denver. Crescenzo maintains that the band does not mind going on the road again without any semblance of real downtime.
“If it was no break and then we were going out with a band that we hated, it would really suck,” Crescenzo said. “But it helps that we like the bands we’re going to be touring with.”
While the fellows of The Dear Hunter — having had positive past experiences performing with Thursday and touring with the Fall of Troy — are looking forward to the rest of its tour dates as an opening band, Crescenzo and his bandmates definitely enjoyed the headlining leg of their lengthy cross-country road trip. The headlining tour — a series of eight stops largely concentrated in the Midwest — made for an altogether different experience for The Dear Hunter as a touring band.
“It’s different … It’s obviously not the same size turnouts as when we’re opening for somebody, but it’s really amazing to have everybody in the room excited to see you,” Crescenzo said. “We can play every song that we really want to play and we want people to hear, as opposed to, you know, songs that we’re trying to … gain new fans [with].”
For Crescenzo, the most basic function of a headlining tour is not to win over new fans, but to please existing ones. No one is pretending, however, that the recently completed headlining tour — with the North Carolina-based group Annuals opening — comprise some sort of philanthropic crusade to bring smiles to the lips of The Dear Hunter devotees: The band has an album to promote.
Act III: Life and Death, released this past summer, is the third installment in a planned six-part saga detailing the exploits of an unnamed central character often referred to as “the boy.”
The Dear Hunter put out a total of three full-length studio albums with its current label, Triple Crown Records. The two previous chapters in the developing six-part tale were released within eight months of each other from late 2006 to early 2007.
The story for the second chapter, Act II: The Meaning of, and All Things Regarding Ms. Leading, first came to Crescenzo in the winter of 2004 while he was still a member of the post-hardcore group The Receiving End of Sirens. Although Crescenzo — who formed The Dear Hunter as a side project — was the sole creator behind the concepts of Act II, the band’s third installment of the saga was more of a collaborative effort with his band mates.
“I have a very stubborn idea of where things are supposed to go, so the big difference [with working on Act III] is just having more people around to kind of validate or turn down, you know, what you’re doing,” Crescenzo said of the changes to The Dear Hunter’s creative process.
He was quick to clarify the extent of the collaboration, however: “I don’t necessarily think it would be called ‘co-writing.’”
Crescenzo is also working closely with Australian artist Glenn Thomas in the creation of an animated video for “What It Means To Be Alone,” a track from The Dear Hunter’s most recent album. Crescenzo recently finished his part in the process — filming people act out the scenes in the video.
Now all that’s left is for Thomas, who has also done album artwork for the band in the past, to trace the clips. When the video comes together, the visual style will be most similar to something like A Scanner Darkly.
The band has a standing interest in incorporating visual elements into its music, from issuing deluxe edition of Act III that comes with a storybook for Act II to the upcoming animated music video.
“I’ve been, you know, trying to get something visual for the records for a long time,” Crescenzo said. “I think we’ve always been interested in doing something visual to accompany our recordings but … There’s no money to accomplish something like that.”
With the a video about to drop, the bulk of an ambitious tour still laying ahead of them and exactly half of their epic six-album saga still to go, The Dear Hunter has more than enough on its plate to keep Crescenzo and his bandmates busy until the saga comes to a close.