Before the show starts, you might see a slender, young man with vibrant green eyes, bouncing around the bar, wandering up onto the stage, setting up, drinking, perusing, chatting with friends, Instagramming his set list and making jokes. Eventually the crowd quiets down and he gets up on stage to tune his guitar, all the while making clever quips and awkward introductions. It’s charming and strange, and everyone is laughing, entirely unsure of what to expect. Perhaps even wondering, who the hell is this kid?But as soon as he plucks the first chord, the room falls silent. He clears his throat, and the magic begins.Cody Crump’s intimate lyrics and soft voice pull the crowd in immediately; they hang off every word, every dripping melodic line. Occasionally whimsical, though more often heart-breaking, his songs explore the more fragile side of his personality; one fraught with loss, love, longing, and leaving.Broadstroke Records released Crump’s first album in 2013. Featuring an impressive 19 songs, “Good Luck” details the beginning, middle, and eventual ending of a relationship. Tender and playful, “Good Luck” moves from sparse love songs to haunting melodies and intricate guitar lines. By the end of the album, and the alleged relationship, Crump’s songs gradually become stronger and more assured.And here enters Crump’s latest masterpiece, an EP titled “Death.”“I’ve been fascinated and terrified of death since being a small child,” Crump comments on the new EP. “It remains a big theme in everything I do; and what better inspiration than not knowing if you’ll be here tomorrow?” Clearly moving into heavier musical and emotional territory, Crump reaches a higher level of maturity with this collection of five songs. Fearless as ever, Crump delves into deeper themes, darker melodies, and more creative instrumentals on this synth-heavy collection. A far cry from acoustic-pop, “Death” rockets forward, propelled by a rapid energy. “It isn’t really a new direction [for me],” Crump says of “Death.” “I have actually been writing and recording electronic material [long] before I started doing more folk-based material.” So when it comes to Crump’s inspirations, the trajectory of indie-folk to dancey synth-pop starts to make sense. Just imagine Elliott Smith walks into a smoky L.A. bar and has a PBR with Johnny Cash, while Thom Yorke dances alone to the broken jukebox in the corner, playing a love-to-hate mash-up of Trent Razor and Paul Simon covering “Hot in Herre.” Did I mention David Bowie looks on, thoroughly drunk and bored with the whole scene? And Crump is just fangirling behind the bar, saving up his pennies to “be somebody;”and now you might understandwhere he’s coming from.A primarily self-taught musician, Crump was kicked out of school band and choir for bad jokes, and impeached as his junior class president for getting arrested. Obsessed with the film scores of John Williams and Danny Elfman, Crump chose music as his path after a Metallica concert at age 17. A man of many contradictions, Crump hails from a sleepy town in Colorado where he worked various jobs, including dishwashing and waiting tables, to fund his musical ventures, before moving to Denver. A few years later, Crump moved to Los Angeles and has performed at Soho, The Roxy and The Standard.
Never a dull moment, Crump has also written music for various web series’ and films, including the score for the upcoming film, “The List.” (LINK) Crump is slated to release another album comprised of covers later this year, including his creepy-cool rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” (LINK)The show is winding down, and Crump’s banter is back and witty as ever. Like coming out of a dream, you’ll regain awareness of your surroundings, throw back that drink you’ve been ignoring for an hour, and look around at a room full of stunned people.And the set is over, and maybe Crump will buy you a beer and thank you for coming and make some random joke about Mel Brooks or Taylor Swift; you know he wrote “1989” first? And much like his music, you’ll still be caught in a wonderful, nebulous middle space, where the humor is light, the mood is a little dark, but the music is oh-so-sweet.And when it’s all finished, you realize that Cody Crump is already somebody.