Q&A: Dugan Cruz of MADUS

MADUS

LA-based alternative rock four-piece MADUS is set to be one of the most buzz worthy bands of the year, and with catchy singles like, “All The Way,” who’s to stop them?

The band is currently prepping for the release of their upcoming EP, All The Way, recorded by Keith Armstrong (Rise Against, Bruce Springsteen). The EP is set to drop on May 19th, and the band has many plans for the summer. So, of course, Planet Stereo sat down with vocalist Dugan Cruz to talk about the new release, what it’s like to hear your own music on TV, and much, much more.

Planet Stereo: Thanks so much for doing the interview. How are you?

Dugan Cruz: Thank you for having us. Life is really great right now 😀 

PS: Your new EP, All The Way, is getting ready to be released. What are you most looking forward to about the release?
DC: We’re really excited/nervous to see what people think. We’ve heard everything a bunch, so we feel the way we feel. But, to get the opinion or perspective of someone that has nothing emotionally invested in their first listen of it…That’s exciting!

PS: Do you have a favorite song from the EP?
DC: Somehow, my favorite is still the single “All The Way,” but if I had to have a close runner up… I am torn between “Eyes” and “Changing” :/

PS: What is your favorite part about going into the studio?
DC: Hearing back the first cut of a drum mix is pretty magical. Drums can really make or break a recording for me, so to hear them full on for the first time is really special. And of course, I LOVE getting creative with guitar sounds. We did some pretty goofy stuff with guitars this go round with like paper-towel rolls, and reverse recordings and stuff. That was really fun.

PS: Would you mind walking me through the creative process?
DC: It usually starts with something small. A quick 4 bar melody, or a chord progression, or even an idea of how much I love or hate something. As ridiculous and pseudo-spiritual as this sounds, there has to be some kind of emotional energy base to start from. A consistent theme that takes place on an intangible realm of thought and emotion. Take “All The Way,” for example. I had the guitar riff, and I just kept playing it. Then I got this kind of attitude towards certain people and things. I had a Red Bull, locked the garage door, and six hours later I had the skeleton of the song. Not every song gets written that way, and even with that one, there was a lot of scrutiny to detail, but I can confidently say that every song starts with that “spark” I was trying to explain. That’s kinda why when I hear a song written solely about an ass, or how awesome someone thinks they are… it urks me. Unless I turn my brain off. Then it’s awesome.

PS: Between writing, touring, etc. how do you manage to find time to write new material?
DC: Hah. We’re still figuring that out now! It usually comes from having friends understanding, or introverted enough to still wanna hang out even if you disappear for 3 months at a time. I don’t know how Lenny and Kirby do it while also having significant others. That must be really tough.

PS: What would you like people to come away with when they hear your album?

DC: A desire to come see us live. Recording and making the “best” version of something is rad, but the most magical part of all this is playing shows. As naive as this may sound, we want to be able to connect with people in our own unique way, and create memories worth fighting for. Memories that when I die flash before me, and provide a sense of comfort and reassurance that I lived a life I really wanted.

PS: The EP was recorded by Keith Armstrong. Did pass along any tips of the trade?
DC: Keith is the best! He’s like the best friend we never knew we always had. Which made referencing other songs or ideas a lot easier. There were also a lot of laughs. Short answer: Yes. We learned a lot about EQ, recording drums, exploring a live room, pedals, mixing boards, and all kinds of other boring technical stuff that no one cares about when they compare your stuff to what they hear on the radio. Hah.

PS: What would you say is your favorite part of performing?
DC: Being in the middle of some riff or musical moment where I can turn away from the mic and make eye contact with the rest of the band. Especially when the sound on stage is good. We played at this place in Vegas with good monitors, and there was a cool moment during “Running From Your Truth” where we were all just rockin out. It was was awesome.

PS: How did you get involved in music?
DC: I promised myself I couldn’t graduate High School without playing in the talent show. So in senior year I threw some chords together and wrote my first song. It was about some girl I was really into. It was super lame. Fortunately my friends were down to help support me in my lameness, and we got a group together and performed. As stupid as that song was, and as meaningless as it was to everyone else, that experience blew my mind. 

PS: If you could work with any artist, past or present,who would it be and why?
DC: You’ve got some really good questions up your sleeve! There’s a bunch of names racing through my head right now, but I’d have to go with John Lennon. If our music lent itself more to his style I may go with Michael Jackson, but I feel working with John would help me stay focused on what really matters as an artist and songwriter. 

PS: Your music has been featured on TV shows and a documentary. Do you watch the shows, or at least the episodes your featured on?
DC: Yes! It’s a trip. Makes me wonder if The Black Keys ever watched all of HBO’s “Hung.”

PS: If you could pick a show to be the soundtrack of, which would it be and why?
DC: If were talking about taking the songs we have available and putting them on a show, I think it’d be cool to be a part of some smart adolescent-angst show. Like, “Freaks and Geeks” or “Skins” or something. If we’re talking about writing new music for a show, I’d wanna do something weird like “Black Mirror” or “Twin Peaks” or “True Detective.” I feel like it’d be a lot of fun to get in touch with some super dark sounds for a show like that. Trent Reznor’s probably a little further ahead in the queue than we are for that job though. Hah.

PS: What was the first album you ever bought?
DC: “Nimrod,” by Green Day! 

PS: In music, especially with social media coming into play, which do you believe to be more important: quality or like ability?
DC: You with your good questions! Important in terms of lucrative: Like-ability. For one, we literally live in a world where people compete for “likes.”  Also, pop artists have proven time and time again that the highest selling product is the one with the lowest common denominator. Everyone likes something predictable, everyone likes sex, and no one wants to think with their entertainment. Now, important in terms of Dugan Cruz: Quality. I could have just said quality and talked up any number of artists on my “favorites list,” but I wanted to stand on my virtual soap-box for a second ;]

PS: Any last words?
DC: Thank you for making the time to contribute to the music world with Planet Stereo. We need more people like you. Anyone visiting the blog can immediately see the ethics and honesty you pour into your work, and for that we are truly honored to have been a small part of it. Namasté.

Don’t forget, MADUS’s All The Way EP is out on May 19th! 

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