A “Cross Country” Trip

Cross Country is a guitar pop band from Cincinnati, Ohio, who stopped by to play at a GR house venue. Picture this: a tall, lanky boy with a brown bowl cut and doc martens. You catch glimpses of him from the far side of the basement, (yourself standing by instrument cases and a couple other guests), as he bobs back and forth pulling at strings on his guitar in between breaths at the microphone, sometimes the colored light screwed into the ceiling of the basement catches him, sometimes not. He is swaying back and forth with his head hanging. He is behind another downward-gazing tall boy picking a guitar and a small girl thumping out a bassline. The singing boy’s name is Ezra Saulnier. And he absolutely hates being compared to Parquet Courts.

Their stage presence of solemn sways and emphatic jerks is neat to watch, but contrasts with how dancey their tunes are. Guys, they are dancey as hell. If I had to compact it into a sentence, they could be the lovechild of Weezer and Nirvana, maybe with Tiger’s Jaw as their fun uncle. Nothing like Parquet Courts. Not even close. Ezra’s nasally, half-spoken vocals is matched with Thom’s equally nasally lead guitar tones. The bass is low and thick and carries the melody, and always swings up to the next riff. But the drumming is what really makes their songs great. They are simple, (a theme of this band), but pops on the upbeat and John carries the choruses along on his ride cymbal.

I got a chance to talk to Thom Meyer (lead guitar) and Emily McColgan (bass) when I ran into them on the front porch. Things I learned about them: Thom is a huge metal head, and is the frontman of another (metal) band called Milk Man. You can listen to them here, and they are HEAVY. Aside from metal, Thom and Emily listen to bands like hoops (who played the pyramid scheme for the Winspeare Records showcase not too long ago) and the Balcans.

I asked them about the music scene in Cincinnati. Thom and Emily told me that there are a lot of active house venues on the north side and OTR (a gentrified neighborhood there). “It’s better to stay on the north side, though,” Thom said. At some point, someone walked by and said, “Hey, I went to Cincinnati once!”

Emily responded with, “Good choice.”

Photo credit: Cross Country

After that, the conversation digressed into a lot of jokes. John (drums) walked out, and Thom and Emily both leaned in real close with big grins and whispered, “Hey, hey, John’s breath sucks. Hey, you should know.” And John laughed when he heard them. We talked about how Ezra (guitar, vox) absolutely hates being compared to bands like Parquet Courts and Pavement, and how he will cut songs from their set if he hears too many comparisons to them, but they are usually everyone else’s favorites to play.

The conversation ended a bit after a cop walked up to the house, asking if anyone in the house drove a Dodge Caravan, because it was parked illegally and was going to be towed. We couldn’t find the owners.

“We don’t hate anybody,” were Thom’s last words, out of context but still nice.

You can find their latest release on Bandcamp here, and their last album, released by infinity cat records here.


Article written by Schyler Perkins

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