|Also known as||Sons of Angels|
|Origin||Japan and United States|
|Genres||Hard rock, alternative rock, heavy metal, melodic rock|
|Labels||Wave Master, Frontiers, Victor|
|Associated acts||Cash Cash, Bentley Jones|
Crush 40, formerly known as Sons of Angels, is a Japanese-American hard rock band formed in 1997. The core of the group consists of guitarist and composer Jun Senoue and vocalist Johnny Gioeli. Currently, their line-up for live shows also includes bassist Shoyo and drummer Act.
They are known for their contributions to several video game soundtracks, and their songs are well known among Sonic the Hedgehog fans. Crush 40 has released two studio albums, an EP, a live album, and a compilation album. The group's debut album Thrill of the Feel, included songs they did for NASCAR Arcade and Sonic Adventure, released exclusively in the Japanese market through Victor Entertainment.
The main songwriter for Crush 40 is Johnny Gioeli, while the main composer of the songs is Jun Senoue.
Formation and Thrill of the Feel
Crush 40 began with Jun Senoue and Sega. After graduating from college, Jun Senoue was hired to be a music composer for video games. His first project was creating two songs for Sonic the Hedgehog 3. He worked on games such as Dark Wizard, Sonic 3D Blast (Sega Mega Drive version), Sega Rally 2, and Daytona USA: Championship Circuit Edition.
In 1998, Senoue contacted Johnny Gioeli during the recording process for the game Sonic Adventure, and recorded their first song, Open Your Heart. After making the track, the two stayed in contact.
The original band had Senoue as the guitarist, Gioeli singing, and Naoto Shibata and Hirotsugu Homma playing the bass and drums, respectively. In 2000, the band released Thrill of the Feel through Victor Entertainment. The album contained the tracks they had written for NASCAR Arcade.
The band resurfaced during the development of Sonic Adventure 2. Naoto Shibata and Hirotsugu Homma could not take part because they were performing with Loudness and later Anthem, so Katsuji and Takeshi Taneda were brought in to play the songs for the game. The resulting track was "Live and Learn", the main theme of Sonic Adventure 2.
When the Norwegian band "Sons of Angels" reunited under this alias that they had before, they decided to change their band's name to Crush 40. When asked why he chose "Crush 40", he said, "When we had to pick one, we chose the word we like…“Crush” is one of them, and Johnny added the number. Crush is the name of the soda too…that's my favorite!"
Two years after the release of Sonic Adventure 2, the album Crush 40, a version of "Thrill of the Feel", was released by Frontiers Records. The album contained the music from their previous album, but without the album's instrumental tracks. Senoue claimed that Crush 40 was the project of himself and Gioeli. There were, however, both prior Sonic theme songs "Open Your Heart" and "Live and Learn", as well as two bonus tracks: "It Doesn't Matter" and "Escape from the City".
Continued work with Sega
Crush 40 did not release any new albums between 2003 and 2009, instead, the band wrote and recorded original music for several video games. The songs the band performed for these games were released on the soundtracks of each game, under Sega's Wave Master Entertainment label.
In 2003, Sega announced the first multiplatform Sonic game, Sonic Heroes, which featured two new Crush 40 songs: the theme tune "Sonic Heroes", a "bright, melodic song", and "What I'm Made of...", a "distinctly dark hard rock song with metal sensibilities". The music itself was also released on the Triple Threat: Sonic Heroes Vocal Trax soundtrack. In the booklet for Triple Threat: Sonic Heroes Vocal Trax, Katsuji is credited as the drummer for "Sonic Heroes", but Mark Schulman is credited as the drummer for "What I'm Made Of..."
When Sega announced Shadow the Hedgehog in 2005, Crush 40 returned to perform the game's theme song, "I Am... All of Me". There is a second song by Crush 40 in the game, the ending theme named "Never Turn Back". Both of these songs also appear on the soundtrack called Lost and Found: Shadow the Hedgehog Vocal Trax. For Crush 40's contributions to this soundtrack, the drumming duties were passed on to Toru Kawamura.
Crush 40 also made contributions to Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. The band created its own rendition of "All Hail Shadow", previously performed by Magna-Fi in the game Shadow the Hedgehog. Crush 40 also recorded a version of "His World", the main theme of Sonic the Hedgehog in 2006. The latter of these two did not appear in the game, but both of these songs are on this game's soundtrack, Sonic the Hedgehog Vocal Traxx: Several Wills.
The band also contributed several of its songs, including "Live and Learn" and "Sonic Heroes", to the video games Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The song was also featured in an episode of the Japanese version of Sonic X.
In 2008, the album True Blue: The Best of Sonic the Hedgehog was released in Japan, and featured Crush 40's cover of the Sonic and the Secret Rings theme "Seven Rings in Hand", originally performed by Steve Conte. Also included on the album are Crush 40 songs "Live and Learn", "What I'm Made Of...", "Sonic Heroes", and two versions of "Open Your Heart". The band recorded several songs for Sonic and the Black Knight, including the game's main theme, Knight of the Wind.
In 2010, Johnny Gioeli confirmed that Crush 40 was collaborating with Sega once again for Sonic Generations, released in November 2011 to coincide with the series 20th Anniversary. The game featured a Circuit Freq remix of "Open Your Heart".
In 2008, Jun Senoue and Johnny Gioeli performed their first ever live concert, at the Tokyo Game Show. Later, in 2009, the band released a compilation album through Wave Master, called The Best of Crush 40 – Super Sonic Songs, covering the band's 11-year history. It featured a new song, "Is It You," and two new cover songs: "Fire Woman" (originally by The Cult) and "Un-gravitify" (originally from Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity).
In 2010, Crush 40 performed live at the third Summer of Sonic convention, which was held at the Shepherd's Bush Pavilion in London. It was the band's first ever concert outside of Japan, and also their first full-length concert. Senoue and Gioeli also hosted a live Q&A session at the event, where they answered fan questions from the audience and questions submitted online. Johnny Gioeli announced that they were planning concerts in Japan for 2011. This was supposed to happen on April 2, but has been postponed to July 30 and 31, due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. In these concerts, they performed live with bass player Takeshi Taneda and drummer Toru Kawamura, and revealed their new song, "Song of Hope", a single dedicated to the victims of the natural disaster. Crush 40 also appeared at the Sonic Boom Event, performing a concert where they revealed another song, "Sonic Boom", featuring Alex Mahklouf of the group Cash Cash.
In late 2011, most of the band's material was released on iTunes. These included The Best of Crush 40 - Super Sonic Songs and the charity single "Song of Hope." As of January 23, 2012, they have finished three new songs: "Rise Again," "One of Those Days," and "Sonic Youth". These songs were released on iTunes as singles.
Their four singles were later released in physical format as an EP called "Rise Again".
On the July 7 and 13, 2012, Crush 40 performed at two Sonic conventions, the first one was on July 7 at the Summer of Sonic event in Brighton and the second show was at Sonic Boom in the US on July 13 during the San Diego Comic Con where they teamed up with Alex and Jean Paul Makhlouf of synthpop band Cash Cash.
On May 8, 2013 Jun announced on the Crush 40 Facebook page that the band would be at Japan Game Music Festival 2013. Most of the pictures taken at the festival were uploaded on Twitter. Most photos did not include Johnny Gioeli. During their performance, they played a total of 10 songs including His World, Sonic Heroes, Free, One Of Those Days, Sonic Boom, Knight of the Wind, I Am...All of Me, Open Your Heart, What I'm Made Of... and Live ＆ Learn. The performance also saw the introductions of two new members into the band who replaced Takeshi Taneda on bass and Toru Kawamura on drums. The new members are Shoyo (bass) and Act. (drums). This lineup was changed again for the 2014 concerts with Takeshi Taneda back on bass and Katsuji on drums.
The band performed at the St. Louis Sonic Boom Festival in August 2013.
During the last week before shows the band released short previews of 2 songs titled '2 Nights 2 Remember' and 'Down & Dirty'.
In a review of their self-titled album, the band's style was referred to as "melodic hard rock, somewhere between XYZ and Burning Rain" by Bjørnar Bevolden of ProgressiveWorld.net. Among the songs of this album is "Live and Learn", a "cool in your face rocker", according to Michael of RevelationZ Magazine. However, Crush 40 has also experimented with other forms of rock music. For example, "I Am (All of Me)" is a darker song with elements similar to heavy metal.
When interviewed about his style and that of the band, Jun Senoue said, "I know what my style is, and I know what my favourite genres of music are. I listen to a lot of metal music, as well as other genres of music, and my inspiration is always there. The style of the music in the game does change, and it gives a great sense of progression... When we got together to write stuff for Shadow, we found that our fresh ideas were a lot different to the songs we’d written back in 2002 – our sound had changed."
Kofi-Charu Nat Turner's 2008 study of media usage in an American urban middle school listed the band as a common interest within the group studied.