Boomer Simpson of Crooked X
Some might think that the only fifteen year olds they’ll see at this year’s Music as a Weapon Tour (Disturbed, Killswitch Engage, Lacuna Coil) are those in the crowd, but they’d be mistaken. The foursome that make up the band Crooked X (appearing on The Ernie Ball Second Stage) may only be fifteen years old but this is no novelty act, these guys came to rock.
The band (Forrest French on vocals and guitar, Jesse Cooper on lead guitar, Josh McDowell on bass, and Boomer Simpson on drums), who met in school in Coweta, OK, and coincidentally are still IN school, have been playing together for the past few years and recently released their debut self-titled album. The songs, with obvious influences from the rock Gods of old and new (Led Zeppelin, Metallica, AC/DC) are a testament to the bands roots and upbringing. Noting musicianship as the most important factor, the band offers up a sound that will transport you back in time with a new spin on things.
With a documentary already under their belt, an album on a major record label and now an integral part of a national tour, it’s hard to remember that these four still have so much ahead of them but clearly this is only the beginning.
Drummer Boomer Simpson took some time out of their busy tour schedule to chat with us about the band.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | May 2009
I wanted to start off with talking about the Music as a Weapon Tour, you’ve been on the tour for about a week now. How how has the experience been for you so far?
It’s amazing! We’re playing with Born of Osirus and I loved that band before I found out we were playing with them! We’ve been able to hang out with them and they’re all great guys. We’re having a blast. So far all of the bands have been very nice.
When should people be there to see your set?
As early as they can! We have an early time slot, right when kids are getting out of school and that’s a large majority of the crowd.
The band use to watch videos from the 80s and 90s and wanted to recreate that kind of atmosphere at your live shows, do you think your live performance delivers that for fans?
Definitely. If you have our CD and you like it then you’ll definitely love our live shows. We have such a blast and our stage performance is crazy. There’s a point in one of our songs where I pour water all over my snare drum and kick into the song so the water shoots up everywhere. It’s crazy.
On tour, what’s a typical day like for you, can you walk us through it?
We wake up early, there’s about 10-12 of us. We rush to take showers, after that we’ll head to the show, we’ll probably play some Call of Duty on X-Box or Guitar Hero in the back. After that we get to the venue, hit the catering room. Actually I was at the catering room a few days ago and the singer for Disturbed walked up to me and said our set was awesome and shook my hand. He was a really nice guy. That freaked me out because he’s been a huge idol of mine for a long time now so it was definitely awesome to meet him and talk to him. Then we’ll probably head up to the “Quick Trip” booth to do a signing beforehand, maybe a radio interview, and then we’ll play our show.
Crooked X Drummer Boomer Simpson behind his kit
What do you think have been both an advantage and a disadvantage to being successful at such a young age?
There’s a lot of stuff that we miss out on. We’ve lost a lot of friends due to the band because we can’t spend time with them. But we do have friends that have stuck it out. I think that’s the disadvantage of it, missing all your friends from school. A huge advantage is that we get to grow up playing music and doing something we love and we have a blast doing it. That’s a huge goal in life – to find something that you’re good at and something that you love to do and make money at it.
You worked with producers Spencer Proffer and Michael Wagener on your album, knowing what artists they’ve worked with in the past did you feel any pressure?
Definitely. It was awesome meeting Michael Wagener when we went to record our album. He worked with a bunch of great bands like Metallica, Ozzy, Megadeth – he’s been involved with a lot of our favorite albums so it was kind of freaky going in there and talking to him. First he mixed our idols albums then he mixed ours.
If you had to pick just one of the songs off of your album that you feel sums up the band’s sound as a whole, which song would you choose and why?
I’m going to go with our new single “Gone”. We’re trying to make our music sound more like “Gone” than anything else. It’s got that heavy edge to it with a lot of chord progression and it’s just an amazing song that we all love. I think that if we all had to agree on one song, it would definitely be “Gone”.
You attribute the start of your career to being on the CBS Morning Show, how did that get the ball rolling?
We submitted our tape into the show and people voted each week in a contest to pick their favorite performer(s) and we ended up finishing in second place. We actually lost to an opera singer.
As far as your training, are you all formally trained or self-taught?
I’m basically self-taught up until about a year ago. I took lessons for about half of a year. I just finished those up, I didn’t have the time. I learned a lot from the lessons though. Actually the drummer who gave me lessons was the drummer from the band Caroline’s Spine. They had that song “Sullivan”. He’s an awesome guy and we use to do some local shows with him so that turned into the lessons that I took and here I am because of him. As for the rest of the band, Forrest has been taking lessons most of his guitar life.
A few of your fathers and other family members are out on tour with you, how does that work out – it must be tough to be with them all the time but on the other hand I’m sure there are times when it’s nice to have them around?
Our parents are our roadies, they work as merch people every now and then – they do whatever they can to help out. We put them to work!
One of your first big shows was opening for KISS in Sweden in front of 35 thousand people, can you describe that experience for us?
I almost threw up, I had butterflies! It was freaky, we walked out to a sea of people and everyone raises their arms at the same time, your stomach just drops. We made it through the show and couldn’t believe that we just played to 35,000 people with one of the greatest (KISS) bands in the world.
So was it tough to go back to playing to smaller crowds after an experience like that or can you appreciate any crowd?
I really appreciate them all. You’d think it would be harder to play in front of a bigger crowd but really the bigger the crowd the better. Everyone looks smaller, it’s like you’re playing to ants! When it’s a smaller crowd you can look right at individual people. I definitely appreciate them both though!
Have you been given any good advice by musicians you’ve met or your parents about how to handle success at such an early age?
Ted Nugent actually gave us some advice but I don’t know if it would be appropriate to share it in an interview! He’s talked to us, Black Stone Cherry has given us some advice, they’re a huge inspiration to us. We did some shows with them and they took us under their wings, they did a lot for us. They hooked us up with pedals, we did some pedal swaps, and John (their drummer) was amazing to me.
I know it’s really important for the band to let the music speak for itself, do you ever feel that sometimes pre-judge you based on your age before hearing your music or do you think you’ve been given a pretty fair shake?
That’s one of the reasons that we didn’t have our picture on our album cover, it’s just the X. We want people to go out, listen to the songs, and hopefully like them. Then they can find out that we’re fifteen after they hear the songs. Usually if someone hears of a fifteen year old band they’re going to think we’re The Jonas Brothers, so that’s one of the reasons that there’s no pictures of us on the album.
What do you feel has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve had to make to be a part of the band?
Probably just what we talked about earlier, not getting to hang out with my friends as much. We’re on this tour for two months, and that’s a long time away. You get a little homesick.
So far this year has been pretty epic for you – an album on a major label, this tour…do you have any other goals that you’re reaching for as a band or are you really just going with the flow?
I think we’re going with the flow. Right when we get off of this tour we’ll probably try to get right back out there on another tour to spread the word about the band and get the word out!