Most bands would be disappointed if the follow-up to their platinum debut bowed at #120 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, but with a glass-half-full perspective Crazy Town say the only way to go is up.
"I'm glad that we charted at all," Bret "Epic" Mazur said with his chin up.
The band was in Europe during the weeks leading up to Darkhorse's November 12 release. So without much stateside promotion — no promo tour, no radio hit months in advance, no in-store pressing of the flesh — Crazy Town simply floated their second album into the abyss, moving less than 13,000 units in its first week.
"We're letting this just be about the music," guitarist Craig "Squirrel" Tyler said. "If this record works, then people will realize that this is a legitimate band."
Added Seth "Shifty" Binzer, "We're not going to be known for one song."
That "one song" to which Binzer refers is "Butterfly," the groove-based tune that gave Crazy Town their wings in the summer of 2001. Critics skewered the band for liberally borrowing a Red Hot Chili Peppers riff, while deeming Crazy Town "the new Sugar Ray" for scoring with a song so obviously unlike the rest of 1999's The Gift of Game, which was dominated by brutal, distorted riffs in a confrontational aesthetic.
At Ozzfest they were bumped up to the main stage against their better judgment and were forced to perform before crowds waiting for sets by harder acts like Marilyn Manson, Slipknot and Black Sabbath. They were mocked as the "Butterfly Boys."
A swift rise to ubiquity combined with a less than flattering designation as pretty boys singing soft rock made for a backlash to rival the surge. It's the push and pull of enjoying success while trying to keep their feet on the ground that made the bandmembers feel they were getting in over their heads. The result was Darkhorse's first single, "Drowning."
"It's about trying to figure out who you are in the midst of being in a band on tour," Mazur said, "and being that person that everybody wants you to be and finding yourself in between everybody else's expectations of you and your own expectations of yourself."
After only a couple of weeks at radio, "Drowning" is #35 with a bullet on Radio & Records' alternative radio chart. The short time spent on the airwaves, combined with relatively modest promotion, might explain Darkhorse's poor first-week showing, but it also sets the stage for the album to live up to its name.
"We're in the middle of the game right now," Mazur said. "We'll see where it takes us. The people out there who have our back, our fans, they're the only ones who can put it there. The kids gotta request it; it's gotta come from the source. It can't come from the label, and it can't come from critics."