Country USA

Style Hard Rock

Crush 40, formerly known as Sons of Angels, is a Japanese-American hard rock band made in 1996 that is known for their help to the soundtracks of several video games. The group is the guitarist and composer Jun Senoue and vocalist Johnny Gioeli. Crush 40 released two studio albums, an EP and a compilation album.

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 1994, Senoue contacted Johnny Gioeli, 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”.

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 three 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, who remains the band’s current drummer to this day.

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”, to the video game 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” (2007 Remastered Version)”, “What I’m Made Of…” (2007 Remastered Version), “Sonic Heroes”, two versions of “Open Your Heart”, two versions of “It Doesn’t Matter” (with Tony Harnell), and “Escape from the City” (with Ted Poley and Tony Harnell). The band record 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 the then-upcoming Sonic Generations, released in November 2011 to coincide with the series 20th Anniversary. One of the tracks is a ‘remix’ rendition of “Open Your Heart.”

 On October 12, 2008, Jun Senoue and Johnny Gioeli performed their first ever live concert, at the Tokyo Game Show. The songs of which they performed included shortened versions of “I Am… All Of Me,” “His World,” “Sonic Heroes,” “What I’m Made of,” “Knight of the Wind” and the full version of “Live and Learn.” A live recording of this concert has been uploaded on YouTube and is linked from Crush 40’s website.

In November 2009 the band released a compilation album, The Best of Crush 40 – Super Sonic Songs, covering the band’s 11-year history. It featured a new Crush 40 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 August 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.

At the Summer of Sonic Q&A session, Jun Senoue confirmed that Crush 40’s second studio album of new material is currently being worked on, with an aim to possibly release it before the end of 2011. Johnny Gioeli also announced that Crush 40 are planning a tour of Japan in 2011. This was supposed to happen on April 2, 2011, but has been postponed to July 30 and 31, due to the recent earthquake and tsunami.

On June 8, Crush 40 appeared at Sonic Boom, alongside Alex Mahklouf of the band Cash Cash to perform a Sonic the Hedgehog 4 medley, Green Hill Zone, “Open Your Heart,” “His World,” “Sonic Heroes,” “What I’m Made Of…,” “Free,” “Speak With Your Heart,” a new mix of “Escape from the City,” a new mix of “Super Sonic Racing,” and a new mix of “Sonic Boom,” the last of which has been confirmed to appear on their next studio album, and lastly “Live and Learn.”

For the first time, Crush 40 performed live with bass player Takeshi Taneda and drummer Toru Kawamura on July 30 and 31 in Tokyo. They performed “Sonic Boom,” “Free,” “I Am…All of Me,” “With Me,” “Seven Rings in Hand,” “Un-gravitify,” “Love Leads the Way” (by Johnny’s band Hardline), “Revvin’ Up,” “Fire Woman,” “Song of Hope” (a new Crush 40 composition), “Everything” (Hardline), “All Hail Shadow,” “Never Turn Back,” “Into the Wind,” “Watch Me Fly,” “Open Your Heart,” “Sonic Heroes,” “His World,” “Knight of the Wind,” “Hot Cherie” (Hardline), “What I’m Made Of,” and “Live and Learn.”

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 an EP called “Rise Again” which also includes “Song of Hope”, and on iTunes as singles. They also performed two concerts in Tokyo on March 29 and 30.

On the 7th and 13th of July 2012, Crush 40 performed at two Sonic conventions in the UK and US respectively. The first show was on the 7th of July at the Summer of Sonic event in Brighton where they performed their old and new songs. The 2nd show was at Sonic Boom in the US on the 13th of July during the San Diego Comic Con where they teamed up with Jean and Alex of the synthpop band Cash Cash to perform old and new songs from the Sonic franchise.

Currently, a live album showcasing the March 2012 performances in Tokyo is underway. It is going to be released on October 3, 2012 and will most likely be called Live!.

– Thrill of the Feel [2000]
– Crush 40 [2003]
– The Best of Crush 40 – Super Sonic Songs [2009]
– Rise Again [2012]EP





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