By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
By Michele Eve Sandberg
By Abel Folgar
By Ashley Zimmerman
By New Times Staff
By Abel Folgar
By Laurie Charles
"Ironically, all of LeBlanc's ballyhooing might end up helping [Cross'] career," Frasier says with a chuckle before calling Cross' earlier controversy "a case of indie-rock snobbery exposed for the utter hypocrisy that it is." It was none other than notoriously opinionated producer and self-proclaimed antipop stalwart Steve Albini who first thrust Cross back into the spotlight when Albini was caught speeding in an exclusive Chicago suburb at 3:30 in the morning -- while blaring Cross' 1983 sophomore album Another Page. A misunderstanding ensued between Albini and the arresting officer, who thought Albini was trying to bribe him to drop the speeding/public disturbance charge, when in fact Albini simply didn't want word to get out that he was listening to Cross.
Albini was cleared of bribery in court, but the indie-rock establishment was scandalized. For months, tortured Albini supporters across the country have searched their souls to see if they could, in fact, accept that Cross was now hip or if the Rev. Albini had merely slipped. Either alternative was unthinkable. "Perhaps he was just studying how antithetical that music to his approach really is," was the typical accompaniment to sobs oft-overheard at dimly lit nightspots and record stores. At his trial, Albini was pounced upon daily on the steps of Chicago's Municipal Courthouse by a throng of music journalists. For once in his life, Albini appeared penitent -- and at a loss for words.
The real twist to this story, though, came when an alarmingly high number of musicians came forward to defend Cross' music, among them Kid Rock and Slayer's Kerry King. (The Slayer song "God Hates Us All" also made it onto the Art Program's list.)
"Dude," King says, "you ever played that stuff backwards? When we went out on the Reign in Blood tour, we were gonna use 'Sailing' as our intro music, really whip the fans into a frenzy, but we thought they'd start fucking shit up, and this was before all the problems we had with property damage. We didn't have the balls to do it at the time -- mainly because Rick Rubin nearly had a cow and we were kinda scared of him then -- but now it's like our wish comes true. The fact that aliens might hear 'Sailing' and 'God Hates Us All' on the same tape, it's just... sick -- especially if they come down wanting to kill us because of it. I think it's just... a lethal combination."
It is Kid Rock, though, who speaks with the most reverence.
"Actually," he says, "'Minstrel Gigolo' is the first tune that gave me the right idea about how to treat groupies -- [starts to sing, painfully off-key:] 'All the young and lonely girls wait for you/They're by the backstage door/hoping to be the one.' I had a revelation with that shit. From that moment, I was hooked. I like the menace under that squeaky-clean image. You just know he knows how to smack 'em around. Motherfucker's hardcore! I love to close my eyes and imagine the girls he's singing about are all underage. Man, he was on his way to becoming the next fucking Sinatra! I already want him in my next video, with him playing me and vice versa. I wanna rock in that pink outfit on the inside sleeve of Another Page. Hell yeah. It'd be the two of us backstage, with all these underage Japanese schoolgirls in fishnets climbing over each other to get in the door. You think he'd go for it?"