Cross Dog
by Interviews

Tomorrow Peterborough, Ontario-based hardcore punk band Cross Dog will unleash their excellent third album, All Hard Feelings, into the world. The band comes out of the gate swinging on opening track “Hard Feelings”, showcasing their hard-hitting lyrics and wonderfully heavy instrumentation that will have you banging your head and singing along within seconds. If you think that they are going to calm down from there, think again! The album zips by in a blur of incredible vocal delivery, killer baselines and bass effects, and superb drums. Throughout the ten tracks, the band delivers on the album’s title and dives into a multitude of hard feelings including dealing with depression, fighting against apathy, and overcoming burnout along with fiercely advocating for reproductive rights, bodily autonomy, and an end to systemic oppression in all its forms. Cross Dog proves that even though the feelings may be hard at times, no matter what there is always hope. All Hard Feelings will be out everywhere on June 7 via Stomp Records. Cross Dog will be playing their record release party the same day at Bar 379 in Peterborough.

Punknews editor Em Moore caught up with lead vocalist Tracy A, bassist Mark Rand, and drummer Mikey Reid to talk about the new album, working with Scott Middleton, finding catharsis through songwriting, being inspired by Gen Z, the ongoing fight for reproductive rights, and so much more. Read the interview below!

This interview between Em Moore, Tracy A, Mark Rand, and Mikey Reid took place on May 27, 2024 over Zoom. This transcription documents their conversation and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

All Hard Feelings will be your first album to be released on Stomp Records. How did you decide who to sign with? What has working with them been like?

Mark: I like the way you phrased that. [laughs] We didn’t have a whole lot of options. They approached us during the pandemic, I think.

Tracy: The end of 2021 was when we started chatting because I think somebody saw us play in Toronto in October 2021.

Mark: That would have been Sean from the Creepshow. Sean McNab saw us play at the Bovine and was stoked about it so he got a hold of Stomp and everything went from there. I guess the long and short of it is we knew of them because we had friends on the label like Anti-Queens and we were getting to know the Creepshow a little bit. I think that’s how that ended up happening. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse. It seemed weird at the time because we thought they were a ska label, but the more we got to know them and investigated their roster a little more we realized that they’re just into everything. If it’s good they’ll take it on and they’re just really great people. It’s been a privilege, really.

Tracy: There have been a couple of other labels in our history that have shown interest but not fully committed. They’d been like, “Oh can we get plus one for this? We’re gonna come!” and emailed us like, “Where have you guys been??” Just saying things like that but then nothing really happened. There was a lot of disappointment in those moments and this was the first time people were all in and super awesome. It just felt like such a good fit.

Mikey: I blocked those memories out of my life. [laughs]

Mark: I don’t want to call out anybody but we had a few labels really get our hopes up, like really get our hopes up. But then nothing came of it. So Stomp was the first label not to tease us. [laughs]

Tracy: Yeah, just to be real.

The album cover is your first to use a soft colour palette and it has a picture of a little girl dressed for ballet. What’s the story behind that photo?

Tracy: That’s me as a baby! The funny thing is that picture hangs in my parent’s guest bedroom at their house. [laughs]

Mark: Their version doesn’t have blacked-out eyes. That’d be weird. But there is a snake on the back of the photo for some reason.

Tracy: You haven’t seen the back cover art yet but the back of the album has a snake on it.


Tracy: [to Mark] Did you take a picture of it one day?

Mark: Yeah. Tracy and I are married so I’m at her parents’ house often and I see that photo all the time. I had this thought come up a few different times that it would be a really fun juxtaposition to have a heavy record with that as the album cover. So that’s sort of how it came about. We manipulated it to make it look a little…

Mikey: Spookier?

Mark: Cooler. [laughs] But that was pretty much the idea just, “That would be funny” and that’s what happened.

Tracy: I’m a sucker for a concept so I was like, “It can’t just be meaningless. If we’re thinking about this, I want to find some way to have everything tie together in a way that makes sense”. Looking back on the themes of the record and at the significance of having me as a child - a ballet-dancing child no less - on the cover, it just seemed like all the “hard feelings” we speak about on this record are kind of waiting for me, this innocent child. It’s all these things that take the innocence of a person and can make you very jaded or angry or sad or whatever. It’s almost like the snake is lying in wait to come for this innocence and turn you into whatever you’re going to become. In my case it’s a really loud, outspoken feminist, I guess. [laughs]

That’s a good thing to turn into.

Tracy: Yeah, I’m not mad about it.

Is the snake that is the single art for “Hard Feelings” the same one that’s on the back of the record?

Mark: Pretty much, yeah. What you’ll see when you get the album is the baby is in this room and when you turn it over, it’s a continuation of the room so it’s almost like the snake is beside her. You’ll see, unless you don’t want the album. [laughs]

You recorded this album at High Wattage Cottage with Scott Middleton, who also produced and engineered the album. How did you decide where to record?

Tracy: I don’t know who reached out to who but we didn’t reach out to him. Somehow we crossed paths and it was immediately like, “I know who you guys are and I’d love to work with you!” It was that kind of vibe.

Mikey: Yeah.

Mark: I think he asked to have a Zoom meeting, similar to this. It wasn’t set in stone that we were going to record with him but we wanted to talk about ideas and get to know each other a bit. I think that’s how it ended up happening. The initial plan was to only record three songs with him so we independently were able to get a FACTOR grant for three songs.

Tracy: It was the Artist Development grant.

Mark: It enabled us to have some studio time to record three songs. We were in the process of recording those songs when we ended up signing with Stomp. As a result, we were able to extend that into a full-length album which is what we’ve done with All Hard Feelings. Getting back to how we ended up working with Scott, we’re Cancer Bats fans to begin with so it was a no-brainer. We figured that if we’re going to have someone capture the heaviness of our live sound, he’s probably the guy to do it.

Tracy: In the first meeting we had we ended up talking about music for hours, just talking about bands and stuff. We spoke the same language so it made sense.

This is also the first time that you worked more closely with a producer. What was that experience like?

Tracy: Hard! [laughs]

Mark: It was hard. In the past, we have worked with Dave Baksh / Brownsound from Sum 41 and he produced our Vigilante album. So we did have some experience. That being said, I think that Scott’s production style is different from Dave’s in that Dave was a little more laid back. Scott was very very concerned with making sure the songwriting was on point and making sure that we cut any fat and that we had songs that were interesting for someone to listen to and not just self-indulgent five-minute noodling.

Tracy: Like our last record.

Mark: [laughs] It was an interesting process. We definitely butted heads sometimes but I think that’s probably for the best because as a result everyone’s voice was heard and I think we probably got the best results possible.

Tracy: Yeah. It only took me walking out of the studio once in a fit of frustration.

Mikey: My experience was a little different. [laughs] It wasn’t as bad for me, I think. Tiring but he and I got along pretty well.

Mark: Oh, woah! Scott is everyone’s friend!


Tracy: We’ve become such good friends through this. Can’t say a bad thing about him. That’s the cool part, that we were able to be so honest with each other about what we thought and how we felt. There is a lot of passion in what we do and a lot of purpose behind how lyrics are written or how lines are delivered. It’s tough to have any conversations that involve compromise when you’re coming from those places. But at the end of the day, we all wanted what was best for the music and that was the common ground we kept coming back to.

How would you describe your songwriting process?

Mikey: This one’s a little different.

Mark: So this album, as a result of the pandemic, was written sort of differently. In the past, the majority of our stuff was written together in a room. Mikey and I, often with Tracy as well, would usually jam in our jam space and come up with parts and riffs and stuff and we would arrange that together. That’s what we did and that’s probably what most bands probably do. For the pandemic, because we couldn’t be together all the time, there was a lot of working remotely. I would demo stuff on my computer and send it to Mikey, send it to Tracy, and they would have ideas. Also, Mikey would send me recorded drum parts from his basement and I would take that drum part and come up with ideas that way in my apartment here. It was sort of a mixed bag of ways to write this record.

Mikey: I’ll say, this is probably my favourite material that we’ve ever come up with but certainly, this was the most disconnected I felt in writing which I’m not as fond of. I like being in the jam space and creating stuff that way. It was missing the stoke of us writing something like, “OH that was awesome!!” and getting really excited. That element was gone a little bit on this one. Some of it was still awesome and we were stoked but you know what I mean, the energy was different.

Mark: I think it was harder to be excited about the songs until we were all jamming them. When you’re writing parts and demoing and sending stuff back and forth it’s not the same chemistry as when you’re all in the room and actually making the song happen. I don’t think the songs suffered necessarily, I think it just took a little longer to get comfortable with them.

Mikey: Yeah. And again, I feel like this is our best stuff.

Mark: It’s interesting the way that worked. [laughs] Maybe we should do this all the time!

If you had a choice, would you write that way again or would you prefer to jam?

Mikey: I’d prefer to jam, personally.

Mark: I think it’s nice to have different methods because you end up with more variety in your songwriting that way. So some of our jammy songs might sound a certain way compared to some of our more demoed, polished songs. I think in the future going forward we’ll probably use both methods.

Tracy: I think so. The song “Jane Roe” that we just released, was a song we wrote all together - we were all in the room and did it the way we had always done it. It was a very different song in the beginning and it was so hard for us to restructure it with Scott in pre-production because we thought, “Oh, this is the song”. We had to switch parts and make it a better song. By that point, we’d jammed it so it felt very much like a song so making changes felt harder.

Mikey: We may have played it live at one point too.

Tracy: I think there’s a benefit to both for sure.

Mikey: I agree.

What was “Jane Roe” like originally?

Tracy: It was still the same lyrics and the same parts. I think it was a little bit less of a concise structure.

Mark: The arrangement was much different and I believe it was a minute longer. Scott’s really good at shortening our songs. [laughs] That’s something that he really impressed upon us like, “Your songs are too long”.

Tracy: Which means chopping parts sometimes but I don’t think that song lost anything. It just got a restructure and a slight rearrangement.

Were there any other songs that went through that evolution?

Tracy: Every one did.

Mark: Scott’s job as a producer was to help us with arrangements and make sure the songs were as memorable as possible so I think most of the songs sort of evolved. If we go back and listen to the demos I’m sure 90% of them are entirely different. However, there were a couple we were really stubborn about and wouldn’t let Scott change. [laughs]

Tracy: I think “Hard Feelings” was one of them with the whole breakdown part at the end.

Mark: The outro. You know the ending part of “Hard Feelings”? The breakdown, the tough guy part? Scott wanted to cut that part! He wanted to cut it!

Tracy: That was my favourite! I was so scared to write lyrics for it because once that song was written I was like, “Oh shit, this is going to be my favourite musically!” I thought it was so cool, it just did it for me, and I was so scared to write the lyrics for it. I sat on it for so long because I was like, “I don’t wanna make it worse!”

Mark: You made it better.

Tracy: I’m happy with it but it was a little scary.

The song kicks ass! I like the description for it too, “The best scream-in-your-car song”.

Tracy: It’s a little intense if people haven’t heard us before and that’s their introduction to us. It’s like, “I swear we’re nice people!!” I was just angry. [laughs]

Mark: Mikey’s not nice, what are you talking about?

Mikey: What??


Tracy: I’m nice.

The one nice member.

Tracy: Pretty much.

Mark: The mean guys wear white shirts. [gestures to himself and to Mikey who’s wearing the same shirt]

Tracy: Because they’ve been in prison. I’m just kidding.


Mark: Look at this! We’re wearing the same pants! We didn’t plan this! We have a music video after this, I’m going to have to change.

Was there a song that was the most cathartic to write?

Tracy: “Hard Feelings” was definitely the most cathartic to write because like I said, I sat on it for a long time. If I’m writing lyrics for something and I come up with a melody or a phrasing or something and I end up not liking it, it’s so stuck in my head and I struggle to reset. Lyrics as well really lodge in there and if I don’t love them, that’s a bummer. With that song, all of a sudden a really awful situation happened in my life where I was blindsided and I felt completely betrayed. I’ve never actually experienced that feeling in that way before. It just happened to be right before I really needed those lyrics done. I sat down in my writing room and it just poured out of me. The first line, “It’s not thank you / It’s fuck you / I’m better off alone” came into my head and it was like, “Holy shit!” It just poured out of me.

Honestly, it sounds so cliche but I actually processed what happened through writing that song. That was a big part of me getting through the other side of it and dealing with my feelings around it. It was definitely really cathartic. I feel so different about that situation looking back. It’s such a diss track and I was so mad at the person or people who did that to me but now I’m like, “It’s life, things happen. Not everybody is for everyone. Things work out the way that they should”. I feel different about it now but it still feels really good to play it live. [laughs]

Mikey: You got a sweet song out of it!

Tracy: Yeah! That’s what songwriting is for. As a songwriter, that’s what you hope to get out of songwriting is that feeling that I got from that song. Sometimes you have to work a little harder. I think anybody who writes songs can probably attest to that, whether it’s music or lyrics. Sometimes you have to work harder to get a good song out of it because that’s where you’re depending on your experience or the craft of songwriting to get you through that writer’s block or sometimes you just don't know what to do next and you have to pull out tricks or look at lyrics you’ve written. It’s not always such a gift to have a song pour out of you.

I know for me, sometimes I’m intentional about what I want to write about. I’m not necessarily feeling fired up about it at that moment but I know that I wanna write a song about this issue. If it’s systemic injustice, I know I wanna touch on certain things and while I’m not necessarily super heated in that moment, I’m generally heated about that topic as a value. Part of my being is being mad about this thing so I tap into it when I’m writing it. But “Hard Feelings” was one where I was like, “I’m feeling this right now. I’m hurt and I’m going to put that hurt into this song in real time” and it’s so much more personal. We don’t often do that personal thing like, “I’m mad at you. You hurt me. My heart’s broken”. That’s not the typical thing I write about. There’s a few songs on this record that feel more intimate and personal, not just sociopolitical but actually private in a way which is a little different for me in this band.

What helped you tap into that?

Tracy: It’s interesting because like we said we started writing this a couple years ago and things have changed since but in that moment I was like, “People are so sick of being preached at, and standing on your soapbox and telling people what to think politically”. I was feeling a little bit scared of what to say if I’m honest. I was fatigued from the news, I was fatigued from everything. There was the pandemic and everything and people were in a very different headspace. I was feeling a lot more insular. I was in my own four walls like everyone else and everything on the outside felt awful and crazy and still is. But it was like, “People need a reprieve”.

When touching on things like that, I wanted to feel optimistic and hopeful in a way like, “There’s other people who are mad about this, we can get through it together” but I wasn’t particularly feeling that way. I was feeling depressed and down and struggling with my own stuff. It was a bit of a natural thing for me to write that way. It’s interesting because now, a few years later, I feel like there’s a rebirth of people’s anger with things that are going on in the world and I feel like songs like “Jane Roe” are welcome again even though a few years ago I felt like they weren’t. Maybe it was more a reflection of my own feelings because I was feeling fatigued and more inward-focused than on the world at large. So we have a mix of everything on the record which I think is kinda cool.

On “Chokehold” you have a line that says, “Break the chains / Free the rage”. What helped you get back into freeing your rage?

Tracy: It was coming from a place of there being more power in uniting over our frustrations, the whole power to the people kind of thing. It doesn’t always have to be doom and gloom when you’re talking about difficult things, it can actually be looking towards the fact that there’s so many people who feel similarly to you. Every time we play a show and I talk to people at the merch table and they share experiences or feelings with me, it just reminds me of the fact that there’s a lot of people who are frustrated but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can actually be a really great thing that we feel that way and we can make change out of that. It was kind of that idea of not letting it hold you down and smother your joy and your power - it being all these systemic problems like issues of trans rights or women’s rights or just rights in general or the political power that allows genocide to happen unfettered as we’re speaking right now. All of these things can really hold you down and take you to a very dark place and make you feel beaten down and apathetic. Instead of that let’s use it to unite together and that’s where the power lies.

Anger as an energy instead of just destruction.

Tracy: Yeah, I think when you’re processing anger, especially when it comes to social issues, it can feel defeating because you feel like you don’t have any ability to fight back against it. You feel like you can’t do anything about it but when you realize that there’s so many people who feel that way, that’s where the power is. So instead of it being this isolating feeling it’s actually a very communal experience when you share it, as long as you don’t let it bring you down which is very easy to do. I’ve been there. You become apathetic and you’re just burnt out from it because it’s so much but when you look around and you find your community of people who feel similarly, it makes a huge difference.

Is that what helps you to feel optimistic about the future?

Tracy: Yeah. As I’ve gotten older I’m able to appreciate that more. I’m not just a martyr in my anger and I want it to be productive anger. I think that Gen Z is a lot more that way naturally. There’s this dark humour and this beautiful absurdist nihilism kind of thing that’s sitting underneath everything they do but being a part of a global community from such a young age online has allowed for that entire generation to have a lot more compassion and empathy for other people’s struggles. I really find that beautiful because I didn’t tap into that when I was that age and now as I’ve gotten older, I really see that that’s where the power is.

Is there something that helps you tap into that now?

Tracy: I don’t know. I think I had to burn out from how I was processing my own grief and frustration with the world and feeling powerless. I burnt out and I have been so inspired by Gen Z for the past however long they’ve been a force on the internet. That does inspire me a lot. I feel like I align a lot with Gen Z ideology like caring about the environment, caring about other people, and having this community-minded thinking instead of self-minded thinking. I think a lot of Millennials didn’t necessarily grow up raised that way so it’s really refreshing to see an entire generation who has really rejected the “self” concept in a lot of ways and thinks more outwardly. That’s something that I’ve always loved about the punk scene and the punk community because that’s how the subculture has operated but now to see it become more common, that’s very cool.

On “Enemy” you talk about fighting against apathy. What helps you come back to yourself when you are feeling apathetic?

Mark: It’s an ongoing struggle, For me anyhow, I have to remind myself every morning that it’s worth it. Like Tracy touched on, it is so easy to become depressed when you’re constantly bombarded with these terrible things that are happening in the world and how cartoonish a lot of it has become, like the political climate in the United States for example. You kind of have to make the effort to remind yourself, “No, what you’re seeing and what you’re bombarded with all the time isn’t everything”. There’s a lot of beauty in the world and reasons to keep going and community is one of those reasons. I think it’s an ongoing struggle and you just really have to check yourself constantly. That’s what I do anyway.

Tracy: I think the biggest thing is I try to walk through the world with a sense of gratitude and being grateful all the time because you never know. We’re all going to die one day, nothing’s guaranteed. Even on our worst day, we’re so much luckier than other people in this world. Without sounding super pretentious or whatever it’s like, “How can I be truly pissed off about all of the privilege I have in this world?” I can be mad about the ways things are unjust on behalf of myself and on behalf of people who have it much worse than me but also I need to recognize the good things in my life every day like I have access to water, I’m not being bombed. What am I even arguing about any of this stuff for or “fighting” for lyrically or in my values? What am I even believing in if I’m not appreciating how good I have it when I have it that way? It’s just disrespectful to not appreciate what I have when other people would literally give anything for it. The people that are being oppressed would give anything to be able to just live.

Your video for “Jane Roe” takes inspiration from A Clockwork Orange and is one of three tracks on this album to feature backing vocals from members of the Anti-Queens. What drew you to that movie in particular?

Tracy: We take our band seriously and we talk about serious things but we like to have fun and be silly, as you can see in the “Hard Feelings” video, but for that one, it didn’t feel right. We struggled with what the concept would be and in talking with Peter Miller, who is the director of photography on that and who helped us with all of the three videos for the singles we’re releasing, it just kinda came up as an idea. We were talking about a dystopia. We were fans of The Shining and I wouldn’t say we’re fans of Clockwork Orange but we’re fans of the directing style of Kubrick.

Mikey: I think having access to the theatre really moved that storyline along as well.

Tracy: We had a few storylines up in the air and then once there was a perfect spot for that one, it was like, “Ok, this is going to work perfectly”. Taking inspiration from those two movies and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and those kinds of gritty, social experiment kind of films, it just came together.

Mark: There’s a few different influences in there too. The Clockwork Orange one is obvious because of the movie theatre and the taped eyes and everything but there’s some Twilight Zone nods and nods to The Shining as well, Kubrick obviously. I think it’s an amalgamation of a few different influences for sure.

Mikey: Fever dream-y.

Tracy: I really wanted it to be visually very relevant to what we’re getting at. I feel like around the conversation of reproductive rights and bodily autonomy people love to distort what it really comes down to. I wanted to make sure we illustrated things in a way that makes it clear to people who maybe aren’t super involved in this discourse around bodily autonomy. It’s not just about not having a baby. It’s about having the right to choose what happens to your body in a way that is more than just that. There’s so many things in society that are fallout from it like unwanted children and underserved children who end up in foster care and who don’t have resources. It stops those who have uteruses who are able to have pregnancies from being able to fully pursue their dreams, their careers, and to live their lives. Financially it’s an inhibition. It can be used as a form of control over a certain demographic of the population. That is unequal. That form of control is not shared by the other 50% of the population. It was really important to me that was depicted visually because it’s more than just, “killing babies” which is not what we’re talking about here. It’s really not.

What can be done to make sure the fight for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy remains strong?

Tracy: When you have the law on your side and you have the legal access you feel like the work is done like, “Oh it’s legal so it’s fine” but there’s lots of money going into organizations that are constantly working to overturn those rights. Those of us who are in support of having those rights retained need to be very aware of that and we need to constantly be asserting our voice about how important that value is to us in society. We’re just sitting thinking, “Oh we have our rights it’s fine” but that’s not really the truth. At this point, there is such a massive issue of access. That’s one way that even though something can be legal, if it’s inaccessible what good is it? In PEI there aren’t any clinics for people to access. They need to go to the mainland if they need to have an abortion. There’s this organization that we’re donating the proceeds from our album release to called LEAF and they partnered with Action Canada to create an abortion access tracker in Canada. It’s a map that you can see where you can access clinics and things like that. The population of Canada is so incredibly underserved. I think 1 in 5 hospitals provide abortion services. You would think every hospital does. It’s not the case. It’s an issue of access. Think about being a young woman who doesn’t have money, who doesn’t have transportation, who doesn’t have anywhere to stay, who doesn’t have supports. Even if you do have any of those it’s still incredibly traumatic to go through. We have to keep looking at that and keeping it in the front of our minds and recognizing that this is something that needs to be accessible to all and until it is, there’s always more work to be done.

Mark spent ten years as a child and youth worker working in group homes and not to speak to the particular place where he worked but just in general, that population is very underserved. There’s such a lack of resources for these kids who maybe their families couldn’t take care of them. There’s all kinds of different challenges that they face. We’re already having a hard time supporting so many children. It’s not just as easy as going and adopting a child. If you have a baby and then put it up for adoption, it’s not like that baby is just going to be adopted. There are families that really want to adopt kids and they can’t even though they are fully capable of raising that child. So what happens to all of these children whose birth mothers can’t raise them? It’s such a huge issue.

Mark: You made me think of another thing on the topic of working with children. I was thinking back to when I first started learning about abortion. I was fortunate enough that my mother was and has always been pro-choice. As a kid, I remember hearing about abortion and only understanding it as a baby being killed. I think that conversation is so wrong but that talking point is used so readily by right-wing talking heads and the conversation needs to be so much more complicated than that. The idea that you’re killing a baby completely takes away any conversation and any nuance around why a woman needs to do this for her own life.

Tracy: And the life of the child too.

Mark: Also the “killing babies” thing is so misleading.

Tracy: It is biologically inaccurate.

Mark: It’s inaccurate and incredibly frustrating but if you tell a kid abortion is killing a baby, what do you think a kid is going to feel? That’s a child’s instinct like, “Killing a baby is wrong” and so they can grow up and go their whole lives thinking that way. I think that’s often what happens.

Tracy: They’re indoctrinated.

Mark: Indoctrinated, absolutely.

You see the anti-choice people with the signs outside of hospitals and schools. That shouldn’t be. Those pictures aren’t real, for one thing.

Tracy: It’s so harmful.

Mark: Absolutely! It elicits an emotional reaction for people who don’t have the education or the information.

Tracy: Even here in Peterborough! There’s this organization out of Calgary that’s anti-choice and they advertise “killing babies”. That’s how they talk about abortion. They were putting ads on city buses and on benches at the bus stop and stuff like that a few years ago. We were out there protesting that for a while and the city said they didn’t have a reason to stop them. They were like, “We don’t have anything that says that they’re not allowed to do this and it would be discrimination because they have the right”. Allegedly the city didn’t have a leg to stand on to stop them without the organization coming for them. These organizations have lawyers, they have money. That’s what they do. Their whole life’s work is to stop people from getting abortions and they have the money to do it. When the signs went up they were all vandalized and after a three-month period, they were gone. Think about all the resources and time that had to be wasted from that. People think, “Oh we have rights so it’s fine” but then those signs show up and the people behind them are still working hard and they have money and legal teams and shit. They’re still doing their work and we’re not because we think we have access and we think we have the legal right. I’m very passionate about this!

I remember seeing that story on Chex news and I was like, “How the fuck’s this happening??”

Tracy: It was so surreal. I was like, “What in the Handmaid’s Tale??” [laughs] It was crazy.

It’s just so frustrating! The pro-choice people should have the same thing, be out there advertising on buses and shit.

Tracy: Right! It was funny because when we first wrote “Jane Roe” which I think was the first song we wrote for the record…

Mark: It was, yes.

Tracy: I was like, “By this time this is going to come out is it even going to be relevant?” And it’s like, yeah, yep. That was right after the fall of the legislation in the States. Everything that happens in the States has a trickle-down effect here obviously and so I was like, “Oh God, what’s going to happen here?” It was a couple years ago now and it’s still relevant. It’s just as relevant today so, yay!

Hopefully it won’t be relevant soon.

Tracy: I know! I want it to not be relevant, if that’s ok.

Mark: In a perfect world we wouldn’t be a band because we’d have nothing to talk about.

It would be only six-minute self-indulgent songs.

Tracy: That’s when you know the world is a better place when Cross Dog is back to writing those.


Your video for “Hard Feelings” was filmed all around Peterborough and you can see all sorts of different landmarks. There’s a lot of Easter eggs too like old tracklists and album covers - for All Hard Feelings and also for Vigilante - and merch. What’s your favourite Easter egg from the video?

Mark: Mikey directed this video so he’s the perfect person to answer this question.

Mikey: I think I liked the Easter egg for the new album, the picture of Tracy in the bedroom when she’s sleeping. You have to really look but there’s a little framed photo of her by the bed and on the fridge as well. I really liked that. But going back to the setlist in the van I thought that was fun.

Mark: I’m surprised you caught that! I didn’t think anyone would really notice that so right on! [laughs]

Tracy: It’s not a crazy Easter egg or anything but at the end of the video the door to the bar closes and it says, “Closed for ‘Enemy’ video shoot”. That’s the final single that’s coming out on album release day so that’s a fun little, “Hey, what’s that mean?”

Mark: We’re filming that video immediately after this interview actually.

Tracy: We’re finishing it, it’s pickup day!

Are they connected?

Tracy: Yeah, it’s a loose connection.

Mikey: It is tied in a little bit.

Tracy: We’re filming the pickup shots for the video at that bar. The whole concept is basically what it is like to be in a band playing shows and being in bars. It was also to let people know, “There’s something else coming and it takes place in bars!”

Mark: I think for the first video we got a chance to use our humour and sort of tell a fun story. The second video has obviously a more serious tone, and this third video is sort of just us.

Tracy: Just us as a live band which is what we do.

Mark: It’s nice to show three different sides to our band.

What was the filming process like for “Hard Feelings”?

Mikey: Long! [laughs] We filmed it in four days. It was a bit more elaborate just with locations and costumes and things like that. But it was super fun and I think we all had a really, really good time laughing until our stomachs hurt. It was awesome! It was my first time doing something like that and I have a really weird brain so it was really cool to see it come to life. [laughs] I’d spent nights writing it. Peter, who worked with us, understood everything I was throwing at him so it was a really cool experience to see it come to life. It was just awesome.

Mark: Mikey thinks in cartoon. If there’s a way to have a snapshot into what the inside of his brain looks like, it’s just wild colours and creatures. [laughs]

Mikey: It’s just the monkey with the cymbals going, “Crash, crash, crash!” [laughs] Or a donkey sleeping with flies around it.


Mikey: That one was inspired by a lot of Mr. Show, definitely The Simpsons, and shit like that I grew up on.

Tracy: Your zany sense of humour.

Mikey: Definitely with the Mr. Show stuff I wanted the bits to tie together like where Tracy’s watching the TV and it goes in and I’m on the bicycle and everything flows that way like the show.

Tracy: We filmed enough that we could make a short film out of it. We really could so maybe one day. Mikey did a good job.

We need the uncut version, all 50+ hours.

Mikey: Yeah!

Tracy: I’ve been meaning to release so much stuff as content on socials and it’s just been so busy that I haven’t but we will. Maybe we’ll get there and do an extended cut just for fun.

Mark: There’s lots of clips of me interacting with Satan that didn’t make the final cut. I spent an entire day with Satan and I got to know him really well.


Mikey: That’s played by my brother who’s a recurring actor in our videos. He was the masseuse as well.

Tracy: He was in the “Tight Shirt” video.

Mikey: Local hero is what we call him. He’s always, always hungover for it. [laughs] Every time he’s brutally hungover for film day. I’m like, “Why do you do it??” and he’s like, “I don’t know…” But he pulls through! That mask apparently was trying to take over his soul. It was clinging to his face and sucking the life out of him. [laughs]

Mark: And we didn’t pay him a dime!


This year you played Pouzza Fest for the second time. What does this festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Pouzza memory?

Mark: For me, it means having something go wrong with my equipment. Second year in a row I’ve had amp problems so I feel like from now on I’m going to associate Pouzza with gear failure. So thanks.


Tracy: It’s funny because, knock on wood, that doesn’t usually happen. That’s not a common thing. But if you’ve only seen us at Pouzza Fest you must think it happens every show.

Mikey: I associate it with the most fun. It feels like summer camp!

Tracy: It’s the best!

Mikey: Yeah, it’s amazing. And our show was just bonkers! It felt like we were playing inside a sauna before we even started. It was crazy. But it was so much fun and Turbo Haus rules. The people there are the best. It’s just all around a great time.

Tracy: By the end of the weekend us and our friends would keep saying to each other, “I wish we could do this every weekend!” There’s so many friends and good vibes and support. It’s just so much fun. I wish we could do that all the time.

Mark: Last year we got to Montreal, we played, and then we left afterward which was unfortunate.

Tracy: Because we were in the studio.

Mark: But this year we got to stay the entire weekend and it was so worth it and so much fun. We get along so well with the rest of the Stomp roster who happened to be there as well. There were so many good vibes. It was just so much fun. Hanging out is more fun than playing I would say.

Mikey and Tracy: Well…

Mark: Maybe they don’t agree with me because their gear doesn’t break down!


Tracy: I had a great time!

Mikey: Montreal just keeps getting better, I think. Every time we go back there the shows keep leveling up and it’s so rad.

Tracy: I love Montreal.

Mark: It’s also nice to get to hang out with the Stomp folks as well because that’s where they’re based. Any time we get a chance to go to Montreal, we’ll take it for sure.

Your record release show is on June 7 at Bar 379 and tickets sold out within 48 hours. What was it like to see that response?

Tracy: It was cool! It’s a pretty small venue. I think it’s smaller than the place we played in Peterborough for our last release show. You just never know, it’s been a while since we played here and to see that support was great. We thought it would sell out just because again it’s a smaller venue than we’ve played in the past but I did not expect it that fast. We would’ve liked to do two nights. We were going to do a back-to-back thing and make it Friday and Saturday, but we’re playing Canadian Music Week the next night in Toronto so it didn’t really work out. It’ll be a packed, sweaty, had-to-be-there kind of show.

What are you looking forward to the most about it?

Mark: Playing Peterborough because we don’t do it that often. When we do get a chance to do it we like to make it an event. So really it’ll be cool to play these songs for friends and for people who haven’t seen us in a really long time.

Mikey: I just love the smallness. The interactive, tight, sweaty shows and this one’s going to be that for sure. That’s my favourite kind of show. Whenever we’ve played bigger stages that’s great, but I like the ones where my drums might be on the floor or something like that. It’s more fun.

Tracy: I like being able to get right in the crowd. I remember when we played Foufs in Montreal, I got down off the stage and it’s so tall that I couldn’t get back up so I was like, “Now I’m here!” [laughs] I had to wait and take the long way back onto the stage because I didn’t think about it and I wanted to get out there. I’m excited because when we do these kinds of things, like an album release show, it’s just a party. We get to donate the money and it’s not about the stuff you have to think about when you’re touring like gas money and this and that. We’re having a hometown party! It’s gonna be packed with good people and good vibes, and people finally get to see the physical copy and pick up the vinyl. We have new merch and it’s just going to be so much fun. No pressure, just fun. I’m excited for that.

How would you describe the punk scene in Peterborough?

Mark: Small. Very small and eclectic. I would say no two “punk” bands in Peterborough sound anything alike so that’s interesting. Tracy and I used to live in London, Ontario and no shade to London, Ontario but when we lived there anyways, I found that all the local bands had the same sound. They were clearly influenced by the same bands. I would say that happens in most music scenes because people have similar interests and are influenced by similar things. But in this city, for whatever reason, I feel like no two bands really sound alike which is cool.

Tracy: It’s a weird little place.

Mikey: Unfortunately there’s not many venues here anymore to play so that’s hard for these bands too.

Tracy: It’s hard because you can’t even find accessible places. The venue that we have played at in the past has a huge staircase so it’s not accessible which sucks because we’d rather play places that are physically accessible for people. Here, it’s a little tough to find a spot you can play that the people who run it are decent, the venue itself is accessible and is the right size, and all that. For this one, we knew we were compromising on capacity. Keeping it under 100 people is gonna be tight but it’ll be worth it.

What part of All Hard Feelings are you the proudest of?

Mark: I think the songwriting is what I’m most proud of on this album because I feel like we were a little more cognizant of making the songs the best they could be and memorable within a certain window of time instead of having a five-minute song like we talked about before. Now they’re more like three minutes. I think this is our strongest songwriting and that’s what I’m proudest of.

Mikey: I’d second that. I find with our older albums when they were done I would typically just shelve them. Like, “Alright, that’s in my record collection now and I’ll never listen to it again”. [laughs] Where with this one I found myself singing Tracy’s lyrics or humming the songs and being like, “Oh clearly this is catchy!” because usually I’m pretty like, “I’m done with it! I want to write new stuff now!” This one’s sticking with me which is a good thing, I think. [laughs]

Tracy: I agree. I’m interested to see what people think, I’m curious. I really like it though.

Mark: Our last album was dark and meandered. I think we’ll all still proud of it but I am definitely more excited for this one to come out into the world than I was for the last one. I was excited about it but for this one, I really want it to hit a bigger audience than just noise rock fans. We’re all very excited.

Mikey: Big time!

Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you’d like to add?

Tracy: We’d love to encourage people to save our record on streaming platforms and to keep an eye out for us touring and give us a reason to go places if you like us. [laughs] We’re going to be going out West and doing a Western Canada tour in the fall and that’s being booked right now. We’d love to go overseas so if anybody wants to come see us play, tell us and we’ll make it happen!

Mark: Also you didn’t ask us much about the Anti-Queens which is unfortunate because I was hoping to trash-talk them in this interview. [laughs]

Tracy: That’s our whole bit, we have an inside joke about beefing with them. We’re such good friends with them as people. Our music is obviously very, very different but as people, we’re such good friends so we’re just forever beefing and it’s super fun. Just for our own entertainment.

Mark: Maybe…

Mikey: [Turns to Mark] It’s mostly you. [laughs]

Mark: It’s mostly me.

Tracy: Him and Val are always beefing.

Mark: In the “Jane Roe” video I got to sort of fight with both Val and Emily. I think if you watch the extended cut you’ll see it gets pretty aggressive. There’s some frustration that’s being let out on everyone’s behalf. [laughs]

Jun 07Bar 379Peterborough, ONRecord Release Party w/Heartless Romantics, Garbageface
Jun 08The CathedralToronto, ONCanadian Music Week Showcase w/Full Throttle, CMAGIC5, Yester Daze, Public Health