Crystal and the Cutthroats
By Dulce Balandran
MEMBERS: Crystal Lee (vocals), David Lucas (guitar), Chris Rivera (bass) and Cesar Castro (drums).
CITY OF ORIGIN: Corona.
KINDERED SPIRITS: Wanda Jackson, The Cramps, Little Richard, The Clash, X and Nick Curran.
Crystal and The Cutthroats takes you back to the 1950s with its tough, gritty and doo wop sound perfectly paired with powerful vocals. The band members came together when singer Crystal Lee and her husband and bassist Chris Rivera, decided to start on a musical journey together. From there, they found musicians with a similar taste and simply began playing what they knew and liked. This eventually led to their discovery of a new and unique sound—throw in some blues, a little punk and a ton of “dirty rockabilly and filthy rock ‘n’ roll,” and you get Crystal and the Cutthroats. With songs entitled “Dear, Johnny” and “Backseat Boogie,” this band leaves us with no choice but to rock our socks off.
How and why did Crystal and the Cutthroats come to be?
Crystal Lee: This was an idea that my husband Chris Rivera and I thought up a few years back. We really just wanted to do something different so it stayed an idea for some time, because we didn’t really know what the sound was or how to describe it. Crystal would write the lyrics and Chris would come up with bass lines, but without a guitarist it really wasn’t much. Then when David and Chris’ last band split up, Dave came aboard and our sound was developed. Cesar joined a few months after and filled in the missing piece.
How would you describe your music?
Lee: Wow that’s a hard one; we really are a mix of all the things that we love musically. I guess the best way to describe it would be late ‘50s rock and roll with rockabilly and punk influences. We really just call it dirty rockabilly and filthy rock ‘n’ roll. We couldn’t be one or the other—we had to find a new sound. I don’t have one of those pretty girly voices, even when I try it’s gritty, so we knew the music had to be rougher than what people think of when they think ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll.
Is there anything that gives you guys a unique sound?
Lee: We really didn’t want to pigeon [hole] ourselves to the standard “rockabilly” style, we felt like we were more than that. One thing that really puts us in a different category is we don’t have a stand-up bass, that’s really typical in a rockabilly band and we knew we couldn’t be typical. The boys had been in punk bands together for years and we knew how big of an influence that would be on our music. Also, The Cramps are a big influence on us, the way they covered 1950s rockabilly songs and really made them their own is something that really helps us define our sound.
Where do you see your band going? What are your musical goals?
Lee: We really want to go [wherever] the music takes us, we are going to record later this year and just play, play, play. Our goal is tour, hopefully play overseas and get signed by a small independent label. We are all in our 30s and couldn’t even imagine answering this question when we 20-something, we would probably say something like our goal is beer, AHH! To be somewhat mature
If you had one line to let the world know what you’re all about, what would you say?
Lee: ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll with a dirty, gritty, rough and ready sound! We ain’t like nothing you ever heard because we don’t follow the rules!