"You seem to have actually come up with something new, not an easy feat these days." -James "The Hound" Marshall
The Lost Crusaders is the outgrowth of New York City garage-rocker, Michael Chandler's appreciation of Southern and urban gospel music and its often hard-edged message of hope and comfort in a turbulent world. Chandler's own musical history began in the early 1980s, with his country-western/folk/comedy duo, Tchang & Chandler at Club 57 on Manhattan's lower east side and with the seminal '60s garage rock band The Outta Place. Tchang & Chandler formed the basis for The Raunch Hands, a rhythm & blues, surf, punk powerhouse which has endured, recorded, and toured for over twenty years and boasts record releases and an ardent fanbase on four continents.
Throughout his musical career, Chandler wondered how to incorporate the great sounds of gospel music -- the very basis of all popular R&B -- into a form that could be appreciated by a secular audience without outright theft (a la Ray Charles), and while bypassing the trite sterility of today's "Christian contemporary" music. The answer was helped along by two things: the declining moral and environmental state of the world, and a show on Ludlow Street in New York City by Chandler's side-project, Chandler & The Chasers alongside Atlanta's Tiger! Tiger!, fronted by Buffi Aguero (SubSonics, Vendettas). The two found an instant collaborative affinity and set the wheels of The Lost Crusaders in motion. With Buffi in place as rhythm guitarist and long-distance motivator, Chandler enlisted the help of recently-transplanted St. Louis native, Brian McBride, the over-the-top bassist and co-frontman of the Queens-based band The Visitors (and current member of the Electric Shadows), to co-write and arrange the material for an LP. Brian's by-rote, fingerpicking style on bass meshes perfectly with the band's rhythm which was provided by the phenomenal drummer, Joey Valentine, formerly of the Star Spangles and, more recently, Brooklyn's Coydogs. With a top-notch rhythm section in place, Chandler and Buffi needed to add some flavor to the mix, and she suggested the talented lead guitarist, Johnny Vignault, with whom she had played in the Vendettas. Also originally from Atlanta, now a New Yorker, Johnny has played and toured with The Woggles and NYC's Brother Reverend. The next necessity was a piano/organ player, and Chandler figured Craigslist was as good a place as any to look; he received this sparse response: "Jerome here. I play keys and organ for Kelly Temple church of God in Christ in Harlem. Born and raised in Savannah, GA, I've been in church all my life and my father was/is my pastor. You know the rest!" Over dinner in Harlem, Chandler brought Jerome Jackson aboard without ever hearing him play.
It had always been Chandler's notion to share the musical spotlight in this project, and he spread around the the lead and back-up vocal duties to others, as well as inviting an array of very talented and established musician friends to participate in the recording of the Lost Crusaders' LP, now named, Have You Heard About The World? Brian sings lead on "Wasted On The Wind," and Buffi has featured backing vocals on "I Don't Ask Why" and "It Don't Worry Me," the latter being the song featured in the closing credits of Robert Altman's Nashville, and written by Keith Carradine. Jon Spencer (Pussy Galore, Blues Explosion, Heavy Trash) sings along with Chandler on "I Wonder What Ever Happened," and plays acoustic guitar on a few songs as well. On the two country numbers, country/folk heroine Laura Cantrell lends her plaintive voice, doing Emmylou Harris/Graham Parsons-style duets with Chandler. Also featured are Keith Streng of The Fleshtones, providing a killer lead guitar track on "There Used To Be A River," and Matt Verta Ray (Speedball Baby, Heavy Trash), on lap steel guitar. Former member of the Fleshtones and Andy G. & The Roller Kings, Steve Greenfield plays alto and baritone saxophone.
Finally, Chandler enlisted experienced producer, Dean Rispler (Little Killers, Candy Snatchers, Bad Wizard, among many others) for production duties, who brought the band to Alap Momin's Dead Verse studios in Union City, NJ. Alap (who is also a member of experimental hip hop group, dälek) engineered the sessions. When everybody converged, Have You Heard About The World? was recorded and mixed in ten days, and in spite of The Lost Crusaders' wealth of talent and experience, the band all feel that the whole is actually far greater than the sum of its parts.