When it comes to recordings, “The tempo is the heartbeat of the song,” says Franklin Hoier, half of drum-and-guitar duo Crushed Out. “I’d rather have something OK quality but a really excellent tempo rather than the opposite of that.” In fact, the band — which guitarist Hoier shares with his percussionist/artist wife Moselle Spiller — is known for its old-school rock ethos and raw performances. Tempo is their business.
So is touring, which Hoier and Spiller have done nearly constantly for the last three years. They not only live out of their van but also run an independent record label from the road. “We’re a true mom-and-pop outfit,” says Hoier. “We do everything ourselves. We’re in our own little world, so anytime anyone reaches out, it means so much.” Crushed Out has been getting a lot of fan feedback for the new album — the band’s third effort — Teeth. The tour for that release brings Hoier and Spillman to Jack of the Wood on Friday, Dec. 5.
But as important as feedback is to Hoier (and it means a lot: He recently posted a roundup of listener quotes on Crushed Out’s website), he’s quick to note that he doesn’t write songs with marketing in mind. “That’s making a product of art,” he says. “That’s not my path. The only thing that inspires me to write a song is to listen for a song.”
Inspiration for Teeth came from new sources. The crunchy, lo-fi production of debut Show Pony and the bombastic immediacy of sophomore release Want to Give make way for desertscapes and Western tones. There’s also a lot of romance, from sun-dappled surf-rocker “True Love” to the boomy, dusky “Two Lovebirds.” Lead track “To Sing True of Love” is “probably from driving these wide expanses and that kind of feeling,” says Hoier. But it’s also about duality, “concerning America and how polarized it can feel sometimes — angry bumper stickers and people fighting for one side or another.”
He adds, “When you travel as much as we do, it’s inevitable that [your albums] will have some of the people, places, vibes and colors that you’ve encountered.”
While Teeth wasn’t intended as a departure (“What album isn’t a departure?” Hoier asks), Crushed Out was excited to delve into elements of rock ’n’ roll beyond the garage and surf sounds that early on defined the band. “I think people see the duo and lump us in with The Black Keys,” says Hoier. And while he and Spiller share a visceral sensibility with that twosome, there are few other commonalities.
Crushed Out — originally known as Boom Chick — formed in 2007 when the couple met in the Brooklyn apartment building where they both lived. Though Spiller wasn’t a musician at the time, she picked up drums quickly. Hoier’s father was in the Motown group The Messengers, but the guitarist says he never dreamed of being in a band. “I got into [music] way later, and I got into it because of singing,” he says. “I felt like singing was drawing me out of the social and regional trappings of where I was from.”
Spiller comes from a background of visual art and graphic design. She designs the band’s posters, album covers, T-shirts and other projects, such as the galloping horse animation for the “To Sing True of Love” video.
Crushed Out is about to release its fifth video for Teeth, all created by Hoier and Spiller. Among those is one for the album’s final track, “Summer Sunset,” inspired by the true story of a Chapel Hill psyche-rock band that survived a terrible wreck on the way to Los Angeles — Hoier’s hometown. Happy to be alive, the North Carolina group flew the rest of the way to California. “They got out there and took all these silly [vіdeo] clips of themselves [skateboarding] up and down Santa Monica and Venice Beach, just so stoked to be there,” says Hoier. “I saw the footage on Facebook and thought, ‘That’s amazing and beautiful.’ It worked so well for ‘Summer Sunset,’ which is about yearning for something that you don’t even know what it is.”