MC Roads thoughtfully travels along a bluesy, alt-rock-fueled highway.
“To me, this is the magical part. I look for souls, and that’s what wisdom has taught me. I look for good people who want to work together like a family, and that’s when the magic starts,” said Mike Cross, MC Roads’ lead vocalist-guitarist and Sponge founding guitarist. “The songs are there, but the band comes in and embellishes it and makes it that bluesy alt-rock, guitar-driven sound.”
Along with Cross, MC Roads bandmates Bobby Guskovict (guitar, background vocals), KK Scofield (background vocals) and Dearl Poore (drums) will fuse that magical sound before a live audience Saturday. They’ll be sharing the stage with Stompbox and The Analog Dogs as part of a special show to benefit Detroit Dog Rescue.
“We’ve been working up the set, and there’s going to be some surprises. All of the tracks from No Nostalgia will show up in the set, and we have some new music that we’re excited to get out there in front of people,” Cross said.
“And we even have some covers. You never know, there might even be a song from my previous band in the set. It should be a good time with Stompbox and The Analog Dogs.”
Outside of their live shows, Detroit’s MC Roads demonstrates their musical magic on their reflective debut EP, No Nostalgia, now available via Golden Robot Records. With one eye in the rear-view mirror and the other on the road ahead, it’s an insightful five-track expedition through past relationships, experiences and emotions.
“They’re all from personal experience, so that makes it easy for them to come out. I like to look at things more picturesque or descriptive than your typical boy-meets-girl kind of thing. Those five songs seem to work together so well that we decided to put those out first,” Cross said.
“We can say, ‘This is the beginning, and this is where we’re starting.’ This is No Nostalgia because we’re not gonna go out and do something that might sound similar to what I’ve done in the past. I’m gonna do my own thing and carve my own path.”
Cross starts his No Nostalgia journey on the haunting opener, “Smile Like a Knife,” which binds raucous acoustic strums and resonant electric guitars with rugged bass, thumping drums and crashing cymbals. The band’s powerhouse instrumentation allows listeners to prevent past toxic friendships from reentering their lives.
In tandem, Cross boldly sings, “And all your loyal friends are star-crossed lovers/Hooking into your vanity/You’re well-articulated and so predictable/Oh, how you take the bows when others take the fall/You get what you give my friend when it’s all said and done.”
“The ironic thing is some people say it sounds a little nostalgic,” said Cross, who’s inspired by Alice Cooper and Aerosmith. “That’s where our influences come in. Hopefully, we’re doing something that’s carving a little bit of a different path.”
While “Smile Like a Knife” revisits past friendships, the spirited “Stoned in Love” addresses a torrid relationship that’s forever cemented in time. Fiery electric guitars, sonorous bass, hammering drums and clicking cymbals recall the relationship’s brief, but turbulent connection.
Cross soulfully sings, “And that was the beginning of the end for them/Such a tragedy or was it fate/She’s so simple he’s so complicated.”
MC Roads thoughtfully depicts the “Stoned in Love’s” tempestuous storyline in a stunning video. Directed by Kenny Mugwump, it chronicles a couple’s rise and demise while interspersing live performance footage from the band.
“Kenny was the singer of Loudhouse, and he did a lot of things for Loudhouse when we were putting out that stuff. We always remained friends and saw what each other was doing,” said Cross, who played with Mugwump in Loudhouse from 1989 to 1992.
“We saw it as an opportunity to work together, and he really came up with the right theme for that. He listened to the lyrics and had a feel about the way the song was. I think he hit it spot on.”
One of No Nostalgia’s most compelling tracks includes “My Insane Friend,” which examines the deep-seated emotional pain of someone experiencing despair and isolation. Forlorn electric guitars, placid acoustic strums, earnest bass, firm drums and ticking cymbals soothe those battling internal struggles.
Cross wistfully sings, “Broken wings I know that you will fly again/Like a moth or butterfly in the wind/Tell me why you see the end, yeah/Tell me why my insane friend/With golden wings you will fly/Away.”
“The first chorus talks about broken wings, but at the end of the song it talks about golden wings. I have hope for humanity, it’s still there. This particular song is about an actual individual, and you need to hope for the best for people,” Cross said.
The Path for MC Roads
For Cross, No Nostalgia was born out of a need to create during the pandemic. After years of taking a hiatus from past projects and focusing on his personal life, he decided to revisit writing and recording his own music.
“Right around this COVID time is when I said, ‘I’ve got this group of music, and maybe I want to just start doing something different.’ I wanted to put a local band together and start playing some gigs. This is how we rolled into this new thing,” Cross said.
“I’ve always liked the ‘70s guitar tones, especially the two-guitar player type bands. I was always interested in how those two guitars kind of work together dynamically.”
With that sound in mind, Cross recorded a series of demos at The Loft in Saline. Originally recorded on two-inch tape, the demos were brought into the digital world.
“Dave (Feeny) at Tempermill helped me get that there, and then we used Chuck (Alkazian) over at Pearl Sound to get us some mixes,” Cross said. “I wasn’t really looking for a record deal. I was just gonna put it out on our own, and things started moving a little quicker when we started talking with Golden Robot Records.”
In addition to a record label partnership, Cross wanted to bring new MC Roads band members into the fold. He met guitarist Guskovict after purchasing a studio desk from him, auditioned karaoke songstress Scofield over the phone and added drummer Poore via Guskovict’s recommendation.
“I remember when I first heard the stuff that he wanted to do. I was like, ‘This is exactly what I’d like to write.’ It’s just this great stuff, and the guitars are all over it, but it cuts through a lot of noise due to his vocals,” Guskovict said.
“I love the stylistic vocals, and I love the stories in the songs. Every rehearsal and every time we’re together, it’s just a joy because everybody is so solid and so good.”
By having a solid lineup in place, MC Roads plans to focus on the path ahead in 2022. They’ll continue to promote and perform songs from No Nostalgia, but are ready to tackle the next batch of new material.
“It’s just a brand new band, and we’re trying to build our following. We’re trying to get music to the people,” Cross said. “We’re writing music all the time, and we have a new group of music that we’re looking at recording soon.”
7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8
The Token Lounge, 28949 Joy Road in Westland
Ages 18+ | Tickets: $8
Ticket proceeds benefit Detroit Dog Rescue