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Something not around twenty years ago, at least in highly accessible form, was video equipment to document the goings-on of DIY-touring bands. Cross Examination has recorded two memorable videos for its fans: One features the band smashing its broken-down tour van to bits on the side of the highway during an ill-fated trip to Chicago, while the other is a short film of two vans traveling side-by-side at 88 mph (see: Back to the Future), with a beer bong connecting the two.
"Honestly, we don't really set out to do silly shit just for the sake of video, but after the first couple of tours, it got pretty clear to us that if there wasn't some form of documentation of the idiotic crap we do on the road, we would be doing the world in general a great disservice," Hill says. "You should see the stuff that doesn't get filmed. It's like the perfect storm: To get video of the stuff we do get, all the elements have to be just right, and the one that usually isn't right is that somebody has to be sober enough to operate a video camera."
Despite all the partying, YouTube infamy and a locally cultish following (Google "Awesome Party Squad"), the crossover thrash band has grown into an arguably more creative and prolific version of the Richmond, Virginia, band Municipal Waste, which is widely credited with shoring up a thrash metal revival in 2003.
"It is a little weird to me when people behave as though Municipal Waste were the first to play [thrash metal]," Hill says. "It is fair to give them some credit, though. When they came out, and the now-defunct Holier Than Thou? [another thrash-revival band], they were the only current crossover bands in the country that I knew of, and we thought, 'Man, crossover revival, good idea!' That was all before Municipal Waste got signed to Earache [Records] and became a household name amongst metalheads. The funny thing is, at the time we didn't think we'd ever even be heard outside of St. Louis."
Despite legal troubles among some band members that limited out-of-state touring, Cross Examination is starting to be heard outside of St. Louis. It has conducted three tours so far, and is hitting the East Coast with California's thrashing Hatchet in the coming weeks.
Appropriately, Cross Examination is kicking off its tour on July 29 with a show at the recently opened Fubar along with New York's Murphy's Law — arguably the original punk-rock party band. As for that fist-banging crowd at Cross Exam performances, Hill says he wants more "antics" at shows. The band doesn't take itself too seriously during performances, so Hill wonders why the people sometimes do.
"Fun reigns supreme over nearly everything that we do," he says. "I wouldn't want anybody to hurt anybody! All we care about is having a good time; no tough-guy posing or macho bullshit. I would like to see some crazier stuff at shows, though. Like, it's cool that people are running around and having fun and circle-pitting, but how about some crazy stuff?
"Like an impromptu human pyramid, or a dramatic re-enactment of the end of the first Ghostbusters movie. That would require many bags of marshmallows. Basically, I want look up from singing and be utterly baffled as to what I see in front of me. Make it happen, St. Louis."