by Jeff Niesel
Updated: Last year, a Kickstarter campaign aimed to generate enough revenue to reissue the back catalog of the Cleveland metal band Craw. That campaign fell short of its goal but Hank Shteamer, the guy behind the campaign, hasn't given up. He's just launched a new Kickstarter campaign with a much lower price. As a bonus, he's offering Cleveland folks the option of avoiding shipping charges and picking the finished product up in person at a Cleveland recording studio.
Original Post From 3/24/2014:
If Kristen Bell can use Kickstarter to raise enough money to make a Veronica Mars movie, then Hank Shteamer should be able to raise the $23,500 he needs to reissue the back catalog of the Cleveland avant metal act Craw. His Kickstarter campaign just went live this morning.
A self-professed “metalhead,” Shteamer became a fan of Craw after reading a review of the band’s first album. It was at that point that he went “down the rabbit hole,” as he puts it, and became a super fan and caught several of their shows in his Kansas City hometown.
“I got to see them play six or seven times,” says Shteamer, who now lives in New York. “There would be ten people at the shows.
Shteamer befriended members of the band and kept in touch with them even after the group went on an indefinite hiatus.
“Once this got started, I rounded everyone up and have been touch with six of the seven band members,” he says. “I’m still chasing one guy. The band is fully behind this. In the end, it is me doing the legwork.”
If the campaign is successful, Shteamer will reissue the band’s first three albums as a six-LP box set on 180 gram vinyl produced locally by Gotta Groove Records. The albums will be remastered and will arrive with new liner notes featuring interviews with the band members and vintage photos from local photographer Karen Novak. Some of the packages will come with vintage posters by local graphic artist Derek Hess.
“It is mostly Hank’s thing,” says bassist Zak Dieringer. “I tried to get as much product to him as I could. I’m extremely happy and amazed that he’s put this much energy into it.”
While the band never rose above cult status, it did have a strong local following and regularly played at the now-shuttered Euclid Tavern, a stronghold for the heavy bands on Touch N Go, the influential Chicago label.
“We fit into the Cleveland scene pretty well,” says Dieringer. “The rest of the world didn’t mesh with us. We weren’t aiming the music at the right audience. Younger, hardcore kids were into it, but we were aiming it at the Touch N Go Chicago scene. Cleveland has got weirder taste than most other places. It wasn’t out of place for us to play with Neurosis and then play with the Jesus Lizard.”
Shteamer realizes that raising 20 grand to reissue the back catalog of a band that few people know is a challenge. But it’s a challenge he says he’s ready, willing and able to take on.
“This is a labor of love thing for me,” he says. “There’s no profit. It’s just to commemorate the music. I have high standards. I don’t want to do it mid-way. The goal is very high. When people see the dollar amount, it will freak them out. You can’t know the market value until you launch it and then you have a viable answer. I’m not going to chuck it if it doesn’t succeed. I’m trying not to think too far ahead of that. At the very least, I will have helped spread the gospel of the band. People say ‘progressive rock’ and you think of Yes and bands like that. I think of them as a progressive band with a lower case p.”