Sometimes success can be a double-edged sword. Just ask Crazy Town, the rap metal act that scored a major radio hit in 2000 with the lightweight pop song “Butterfly” and then suffered the consequences.
“Drowning,” the first single from the band’s new album, Darkhorse (out November 12), was written on Ozzfest 2000, and at the time, Crazy Town felt as if they were underwater gasping for air. The group’s lineup was unstable, vocalists Brad “Epic” Mazur and Seth “Shifty” Binzer felt uncertain about the path they had taken and some metal audiences were greeting Crazy Town with showers of water bottles and other debris.
“We were on the main stage taking a slot away from Mudvayne or somebody,” Mazur explained. “So we’d go out there and we’d be on the main stage playing to a really weird crowd. There was definitely a contingency of haters, and that’s cool because, you know, love us or hate us, just don’t say we’re ‘OK.’ Sharon [Osbourne] said she put us on the tour for the girls, but, uh, it was mostly guys in the crowd.”
“Drowning” starts with a mid-paced guitar rhythm, reminiscent of Linkin Park, then shifts into a softer passage colored with dribbling undistorted guitar. Rapped lines are interchanged with sung passages, and for the chorus, Crazy Town crank the volume back up with a chugging riff and hooky vocal harmonies. A middle-eighth with a distorted rap, skittering beat and urgent, scribbly guitar intensifies the track’s impact.
“It all began with a great guitar part that Trouble came up with, and then we put a beat to it and rapped over it,” Mazur said. “I thought the crazy, dark shift on the chorus was so cool. We just wanted to write a great song and not be swayed by what we think anybody would want to hear from Crazy Town, because all we can do is what we do.”
A video for “Drowning” was shot last week in San Pedro, California, by the Malloys, who have recently worked with New Found Glory, Papa Roach and Blink-182, among others. The clip, a take-off of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” involves a high-school rock geek who falls for the sister of a jock. When the athlete finds out, he and his friends beat the kid up on the docks while Crazy Town rocks out. Then the humiliated kid seeks revenge.
“They go out looking for these guys, and they find them and there’s a chase scene, and the kid ends up squaring off with one the jocks,” Mazur said. “He’s on his hands and knees and you think he’s totally beating this [jock] up because there’s blood flying from his fists. But it turns out he’s just pounding on the concrete. He’s just tormented. These people tormented him to the point of like insanity.”