Reggie Parks, along with bandmates Gregg Shapiro and Jack E. Roth, both former MCA/Universal recording artists with Floodnine, are making waves as Crushed on the Curb.
What started with Parks recording a few melodies and sending them Shapiro to write music for is exploding into a 20-plus song catalog, with the band’s second single, a cover of David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans” released on Inauguration Day. Their first single, a subtlety pandemic-themed original titled “It Won’t Kill Me,” received more than 100,000 views on Facebook. The first two singles are available on all major streaming platforms, as will all future releases.
Crushed on the Curb has never performed or rehearsed together, with all the tracks being recorded independently in their own studios. Parks has written all the lyrics and melodies, and Roth, who is Las Vegas-based, has done all the drums and percussion and assisted on production. But the majority of the work has been done by Shapiro in his Queen Village home studio.
The group’s video for “I’m Afraid of Americans” was filmed in an abandoned lot in Devil’s Pocket. Mike Tripi, a Graduate Hospital resident and creative director at Tempest – the Philly-based digital marketing and software company Shapiro co-owns – chose the location and directed and filmed the shoot. Plans for the next several releases include shots throughout the city.
PW recently caught up with Crushed on the Curb to talk about their new music and more.
How did the band come together? How did you, Gregg and Jack all meet?
Gregg: Jack and I were in a band called Floodnine that was signed to MCA/Universal in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Jack has remained active in the music industry in Las Vegas, but I was last active in 2005 when I worked with producer Sylvia Massy on the Swiss band Henchman’s album, “Unmistaken” in 2005.
Reggie: Gregg and his business partner moved their company, Tempest, from Tucson to Philly in 2015, and when I was interviewing for a position with Tempest in 2018, Gregg mentioned that a few times a year he brought members of his old band back to play at tourism-industry events. Anyone working at Tempest was welcome to perform a song or two if they sang or played an instrument, and at an event in Louisville that summer, I performed for an audience for the first time since I was in middle school.
Where do you find inspiration for your music? Can you describe the writing process?
Reggie: Being able to perform a few times at those events motivated me to start thinking more about creating my own music for the first time. I began making notes on my phone when I had waves of inspiration for lyrics and eventually started recording voice memos when a melody came to mind. When we began working together, much of my material drew on latent emotional and philosophical struggles, and I soon discovered expressing myself with music was a potent catharsis. It was exciting for me the first time Gregg entrusted me to write for some older work he had created, and our current body of work is a balanced mix of songs I delivered to him simply as melodies recorded to a click, and those he gave to me fully-arranged to write on.
Gregg: For Jack and I, music has just always been a part of our lives and a means of expression.
The three of you have never rehearsed together, let alone performed together. What challenges does that present, both technically and creatively? Do you find it difficult to collaborate?
Reggie: We were at least acquainted with each other from those few performances, so that helped. And since I had never created music before, I really didn’t know how it was supposed to work. So, for me, this is all I’ve ever known. We have used GarageBand, and Gregg’s ability to get the most out of that platform has been amazing. I have had to learn a lot about recording equipment – different microphones, interfaces, preamps, etc. – and how to use it. Gregg has been a fantastic “remote producer,” and I have been lucky enough that I have a knack for self-producing. There have probably been times when we could have worked through things more quickly if we were in the same room.
Gregg: Working remotely has probably had some advantages because Reggie taught himself as he went along, and didn’t pick up any bad habits he might have gotten in a normal studio setting. A more rehearsed or formally trained singer may have forgone some of the experimentation that resulted from working in isolation.
You’re working on a 20-plus song catalog. Is there an EP or LP in the works at some point in the future?
Reggie: We had originally envisioned an EP, but as our body of work grew, we realized we easily had enough for an album. Now, we’re in double-album territory, and the plan is to release that late 2021. Our singles have been mastered by Francis Buckley, and we plan to release 2-3 more of those before the full album. We’re hoping we can convince Francis to master the whole thing.
What’s it like being a musician in Philly these days? What’s the local music scene like?
Gregg: There has obviously been none to speak of for the last year, but I have actually heard some really great performances on the street. I can’t wait to be able to get back into the live music scene when things start opening up again.
What’s ahead for the band if or when the pandemic clears? Will there be more studio work, or do you hope to get together for some live performances?
Reggie: We definitely plan to play live here in Philly when we can. If not before, we have plans to play some of our work at an industry event in the city in June.
What are the best ways for your fans to keep up with you?
Reggie: We’re active on Facebook and Instagram, and we would love more subscribers on our YouTube channel. We’re also working to build out crushedonthecurb.com.