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Verra Cruz

 

Marc James (guitar/lapsteel/vocals), Henry Cross (bass) & Jimmy Cooke (drums). 

A significant preface to the Verra Cruz story took place in June 2002 when Marc and I were in Nashville for a Vineyard Music showcase and hired a car on our day off and drove south to Memphis. Driving through the Memphis suburbs Marc spied a small boutique guitar shop and hanging on the wall was an original 1920's lapsteel guitar that had been found in the back of a Tennessee church. Shop-owner Billy Hatcher grabbed a slide and plugged the lapsteel into a small combo and as soon as he started playing we instantly knew that the lapsteel was to become a significant part of the Verra Cruz sound.

 
 
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In 2003, the band recorded their first EP Soul Collides in a disused factory in Harpenden, UK with producer Jason Corsaro (Soundgarden). 'Soul Collides' was released as single in 2004 and received some airplay as Jed The Fish's "catch of the day" on LA’s KROQ and Zane Lowe's "fresh meat" on BBC Radio 1. During this season the band played a handful of showcases at some very cool rock venues including Hollywood's Viper Room and Key Club and Arlene's Grocery in New York. During 2004-5 they toured the UK hard in their ex-police riot van and opened up for bands including X Is Loaded, The Datsuns and Biffy Clyro.

In 2006 Verra Cruz released their debut album Emancipation Day on Delirious’ label Fierce! Emancipation Day was produced by Paul Burton & Tom Mills and recorded at Paul's home studio in Littlehampton, UK.

A 2 year stint of touring followed which saw the band playing all across Europe. Fierce! helped open up the elusive bigger stages and festivals and they began to learn the art of rocking the bigger crowds. In early 2007 they toured with Switchfoot opening up for them on their European tour. At a sold-out show at London's Shepherds Bush Empire, they filmed a live version of 'Hell Hound' that won them an opening slot on the Gibson Stage at Download Festival a year later.

2007 also saw the departure of long term friend and original bass player Nicko 'McBrain' Bright and Henry Cross picked up the bass for the Cruz. Henry was an instant fit and shaved his head into a killer mohawk for his first show in Germany – Verra Cruz’ 'neuer man am bass' rocked like a beast and the new lineup was born!

In late 2007, they started work on a second album tracking drums at Sam Gibson’s studio Chapel Lane in Herefordshire, UK and finished vocals and guitars at Martin Smith's Street Studios on the south coast of England. Sam mixed the record back at Chapel Lane and Innocence was released in April 2008 just as the band were embarking on their first tour bus experience supporting German band Crushead around Switzerland and Germany. 

2010-13 were quiet years for VC as they tabled recording plans and played just a handful of club shows and small festivals. In August 2015, they were invited to play at KingsStock, a small but beautiful festival at Moggerhanger Park in Bedfordshire, UK on a perfect English summer's night. Despite being a little rusty, the band ripped through a set that reminded of them of why it is good and right to rock as hard as is physically possible with your friends! 

The KingsStock show unexpectedly turned out to be the fuel they needed to pursue making a new record and so in 2016, they took the plunge and crowd-funded a new EP through PledgeMusic. The result was the self-produced Violent Sun EP which was recorded and filmed over two days at The Old Chapel Studios in Chichester, UK with old friend and collaborator Paul Burton. Violent Sun EP was released on November 18th 2016 and is available to download and stream on all major digital platforms.