To be a member of Cross Canadian Ragweed is to live in a world that doesn't always make sense. For example, the Oklahoma-based act has spent the past decade or so under the alt-country label. Such pigeonholing would be fine with the quartet, if it were accurate.
"We never said we were a country band," says guitarist Grady Cross, calling from Farmington, N.M. "We just kind of got that. It definitely started with having a Nashville label. That'll do it, but I really don't think we're that country. I always say we're an old country-influenced rock 'n roll band. We're huge into rock 'n roll, too."
Following the release of the band's most recent album, 2007's Mission California, Universal Records South released a live performance of lead single "I Believe You" (a Todd Snider cover) to Country Music Television and other outlets. As with prior CCR video releases that weren't up to glitzy Nash-Vegas standards, the clip quickly fell into obscurity. However, the weirdest thing happened recently, leaving Cross lost for an explanation.
"It kind of just sat there for six months," Cross says of the video. "And now, CMT is spinning it. So that one, I don't know. Usually we don't get a lot of videos [on television]. We're kind of laid-back on it, I guess."
That's also how CCR approached the recording of Mission California, which took place during a month's stay in a San Diego house. Cross said it was first time the band let its material breathe while recording, with the result being a "California vibe and lots of acoustic-driven songs."
While CCR may be exploring its unplugged sound now, there is one skeleton named Eddie in the band's closet that Cross says comes out on occasion to keep everybody on their toes.
"Oh man, we'll bust out some Iron Maiden late at night," Cross says. "I mean, it's Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, and then it goes to Robert Earl Keen. It's just all over the board."
One can only imagine how mind-blowing it would be for fans to hear their favorite outfit actually cover an Iron Maiden track in concert.
"You know, we talked about it a while back," Cross says, laughing, "but I'll tell you what: Iron Maiden is so good, there aren't a lot of people who can pull it off live."
So what level of hard rock is CCR capable of pulling off?
"We're working on some stuff, but I can't tell you right now," says Cross, who quickly acquiesces. "We have been doing Stone Temple Pilots' "Creep.' And they're back together now, which is great."
In the crazy world of CCR, a tour with STP could be just the thing to take the band to the next level.
"Bring it on," Cross says, laughing. "We're ready."