Crushing Ground has been around in various forms since 1997. Dissolving into a 3-piece with two other players, then having one of them leave, they were forced to replace him and then eventually the other.
The first version of the band that would eventually become Crushing Ground began with two college friends. Both guitar players and Graphic Design majors at Saint Vincent College, Rob Roush and Chris Szekely discovered they had a lot of the same musical tastes as well as the same analytical nature.
Often critiquing each others material from other projects, they never seriously considered joining forces in a band.
That all changed after graduation when founding member Roush began looking for a drummer and Szekely shared his available sources.
Darrin Rathgeb became the second official member of the band in 1996. He and Chris had been classmates in high school. Once Rathgeb was in, Szekely wanted to be a part of the project. So much that he decided to switch to bass guitar for the cause.
Looking for the right singer to complete the band, the trio began working and writing an enormous amount of material. With Roush temporarily singing lead, they began playing the Pittsburgh club-circuit auditioning singers. Eventually, they stopped worrying about the position and became comfortable as a three-piece.
The bands name actually came from combining two separate name ideas. In an era of 'Box' bands, one name on the list was "The Crushing Box", another was the more generic "Ground Zero". They were combined into, "Crushing Ground". Not wanting to be taken so literal, several meanings to the name have been given such as, "A designated area in which to play music" and "anywhere we play is our crushing ground". These explanations came long after the words were combined.
The recording of 'Zero'
Perhaps subconsciously holding onto the last of these two name combinations, the band titled their December 2001 debut release, Crushing Ground "Zero". The disc was recorded at Mojo Boneyard Studios in McKeesport, PA and some additional production was done at Soundscape Studio in the same town. After three different producers on the project, the band cut their losses and released the 8-song disc.
As "Zero" began picking up momentum, with "Feels Like Home" being played on local radio shows on Pittsburgh stations 105.9 WXDX and 102.5 WDVE and Pittsburgh papers giving the CD favorable reviews, internal problems surfaced. Szekely wanted to switch back to playing guitar and no longer found enough room to work within the band. The band parted ways with Szekely for a few months, then got back together for a series of dates. But on October 11, 2003, the original version of Crushing Ground shared it's last stage.
Comcast and Keith
After a year-long search for the right bass player replacement, Keith Uram became the fourth official Crushing Ground member in the fall of 2004. The band went back to Soundscape Studio to record a couple of new songs with the new lineup.
The song, "Simple" was first played on K-ROCK 106.7 on Superbowl Sunday, January, 2005. Out of over 100 applicants, the band was selected to play the first annual "Hard Rock Cafe Winter Rock Challenge". The entire event was filmed for a Pittsburgh-based reality show called "Backline". Crushing Ground was in episode 1. Roush was also interviewed in episode 2 (which aired), but then the show's producers quickly ran out of funds and never aired the following episodes.
Roush and Rathgeb began building separate studios to flush out pre-production demos of the next full length disc. Months dragged into years and before the completion of Roush Studios in May of 2007, Uram and Roush decided to part ways with Rathgeb.
After losing two of it’s original three members since releasing, “Zero”, Crushing Ground finally rebounded with the right lineup. With Roush and Uram holding auditions in the new studio, the drumming position went to Josh Walters (formerly of The Juliana Theory). Walters became the fifth official member of Crushing Ground in the fall of 2007.
The recording of "Rite of Passage"
Armed with a ferocious new drummer, the band began playing Latrobe area clubs in 2008-2010 and posting completed new original demos online. The PRE production slowly improved with each new post and eventually convinced the band to finish the record all on their own.
The record was to be titled "Rite of Passage" and fittingly proved no easy task to complete. In 2010, Walters took a full-time position that included weekends and was no longer available for recording sessions or shows. Uram and Roush kept busy gigging in side projects (Acoustic Fingers CD available here). But after sitting idle for over a year, Crushing Ground was forced to hire an outside drummer to track the three remaining songs planned.
Enter Atlanta's finest: Brock Evans. Suggested to Roush by a musician and long-time friend Patrick Arabia, he was a huge Juliana Theory fan and jumped at the chance to be on the same disc as their former drummer. Taking full advantage of the technology available at the time, Brock's tracking was handled entirely through the internet. As of November 2012 (The release of "Rite of Passage"), he and the band have yet to meet in person.
Brock's drum parts were completely tracked by the spring of 2012.
Uram and Roush finished the remainder of the disc, including two additional songs that Walters already had tracked. One of these additional songs was a new version of "Simple", re-recorded with Walters to include on the finished CD. Not sure who would be handling the apparently open position, they started auditioning new drummers.
In late June 2012, Roush got a sad phone call from Walters confirming the funeral arrangements of long-time friend and band crew member Ryan Kistler. Ryan passed away after a motorcycle accident at the age of 26. Walters, Roush and Uram attended the services together and immediately decided to plan a benefit for the family. The benefit was called "Rock 'N' Ride for Ryan" and it was held on October 6, 2012. Crushing Ground headlined the event.
In the rehearsals leading up to the benefit, the band agreed to book a CD release show to promote a newly finished CD. The benefit show for Ryan was a new beginning for Crushing Ground. Reunited with Walters, the trio was reminded of the brotherhood they had for each other. His untimely passing was a wake up call for the band and consequently, "Rite of Passage" was dedicated to his memory.
Crushing Ground's, "Rite of Passage" and "Zero" are both available online at iTunes, CDBaby, Amazon, etc.
Beginning with a real focus on radio-sized writing and harmony-driven melodies, Crushing Ground's sound has dramatically evolved over the years.
The current lineup proves that the harmonies (which used to be so dominant) are no longer necessary to define it's sound. This welcomed change challenged the band to pen songs that work better with one voice while putting more emphasis on the dynamics of the music.
From the old school style riffing influences of Led Zeppelin and progressive arrangements of Rush, to the bottom-heavy bass of bands like King’s X and Soundgarden, to the straight-forward power of AC/DC and the Black Crowes, Crushing Ground has carved out a new sound all their own that doesn’t compromise the original intent of the band. Time and patience has helped fine-tune this act into writing its most memorial music yet; organic music with beauty and style, impact and punch, melody and lyrical substance.