Bassist Dan Andriano notes that:
it was kind of the same as always. We just spent a little more time in all areas of the recording process. We spent a little more time in pre-production, where we worked on the songs with Jerry. Before we started recording, he came out to Chicago and [came to practices] and he was listening to the songs, and we had an opportunity to ask him what he thought. It kind of gave us more time to re-work some stuff that we thought could have been a little better but were a little stumped on, as Jerry had good ideas for the songs. And as far as the actual recording, it was great working with him. It was more like working with a friend. We've known Jerry for a long time, and he's really easy to work with and be around for 12 hours a day. He's got an amazing gear collection. Any kind of guitar you want to use for a song or any kind of amplifier, he probably has it—and he probably has one of the nicest ones of that model. To me, recording was like being in a playground. It's just like, "Let me play this one. Let me try this." Every bass track on the record was recorded with an old Marshall guitar amp.
The record is produced by Jerry Finn. A tentative title for the album was Church and Destroy.
The song "Sadie" is about Susan Atkins (aka Sadie Mae Glutz) a murderer in the Charles Manson family, who took part in the Sharon Tate murders in 1969. The quotation near the end of the song is a quote from Susan's testimony which is spoken by Heather Gabel, the band's merchandise and artwork creator.
The song "Prevent this Tragedy" refers to the West Memphis Three, whose trial and conviction for the murder of three children in 1993 was widely publicized and is still considered controversial.
Skiba on "Sadie":
That song was actually the first song that we wrote for Crimson. We were still touring on our previous record and I wrote it just on tour. We started playing it at soundcheck and we had planned to do this split with One Man Army on BYO. That’s where that song came from originally. But we knew even then that we were probably wanting to re-record it and putting it on an album, which it was on Crimson later. So yeah, I think that came from knowing that we were starting to write a new record and wanting to take a different approach. As I said before, you don’t ever want to write the same record twice. So yeah, I think it was just a fresh start and it just had a different kind of feel and sort of set the tone for Crimson, not that there is other songs like it on the record. But it’s definitely a good thing to get the ball rolling.
Andriano on "Smoke":
It's the last song on the record. I actually wrote that song like two years ago. I knew I liked certain aspects of the song, and those were basically the aspects of the song that made it to the final version. For the two years before we recorded it, I had been kind of toiling over this. It was kind of the bane of my writing existence. It scared me, because I knew I liked parts of it but was really unhappy with other parts. I couldn't make the vibe work. There was a time when that song was really soft, actually. I tried to make it like a loud, mid-tempo rock number, but nothing really worked. That was one that we spent a lot of time on actually, making that groove that we wanted that's there now, almost a ballad [like] kind of song. It gave us a lot of time to think about cool effects, effects we could use on the chorus and string parts that are in the song.
The album's cover art features drummer Derek Grant and Matt Skiba's then fiancée (and now ex-wife), Monica.
According to Matt Skiba, the band were:
"doing the photo shoot and we had a completely different idea of what the record was going to look like. And Monica was there doing our styling; she got a bunch of outfits and she did the styling for pretty much all the new pictures for the record. She was there and the photographer was just doing all these different things and he had her stand in. He was toying with these different ideas with just a small portion of her face in the picture and then, lo and behold, she's our cover star. So we thought it looked cool and the people at the art department are in cahoots with the photographer who is amazing. Everybody who worked on the thing was cool and hands on and saw these pictures of her and were asking “who is that?” I said “that's my girlfriend” and they said “that's perfect, we have to use her." I think it looks very cinematic, and that's what we were going for. Once it was coming together, it was like film noir.
Crimson was released on May 24, 2005. "Time to Waste" was released to radio on May 24, 2005. "Mercy Me" was released to radio on September 27, 2005. The band went on a fall tour with My Chemical Romance. A two-disc 'Deluxe Edition' was released on December 6, 2005 through Vagrant. The second disc features demo recordings, acoustic versions of songs on the album and music videos. It is presented in a color slipcase based on original artwork. From March to May 2006, the group went on The Occult Roots of Alkaline Trio: Early Songs for Eerie People tour, on which the group played material from their back catalog. They were supported by Against Me!. The group went on a brief tour of the west coast in late May and early June, with support from The Lawrence Arms and The Draft.
BuzzFeed included the album at number 25 on their "36 Pop Punk Albums You Need To Hear Before You F——ing Die" list.
All songs written by Alkaline Trio.
Deluxe edition bonus disc
- "Time to Waste" – 4:11
- "The Poison" – 2:04
- "Burn" – 4:05
- "Mercy Me" – 2:49
- "Dethbed" – 3:03
- "Settle for Satin" – 3:49
- "Sadie" – 4:39
- "Fall Victim" – 3:18
- "I Was a Prayer" – 2:36
- "Prevent This Tragedy" – 3:06
- "Back to Hell" – 2:54
- "Your Neck" – 3:15
- "Smoke" – 3:00
All songs written by Alkaline Trio.
Bass guitar and vocals by Dan Andriano.
Drums and vocals by Derek Grant.
Guitars and vocals by Matt Skiba.
Piano and keyboards by Roger Joseph Manning Jr..
Lead guitar on Sadie by Nolan McGuire.
Spoken word on Sadie by Heather Hannoura.
Additional string arrangements by Warren Fitzgerald.
Produced and mixed by Jerry Finn.
Engineered by Ryan Hewitt.
Assisted by Seth Waldmann.
Drum Teching by Keith Schubert.
Recorded at Conway Studios, Los Angeles.
Mastering by Dave Collins at Dave Collins Mastering
Production by Cass Productions
- "Time to Waste" (Demo) – 3:24
- "The Poison" (Demo) – 1:34
- "Burn" (Matt's Home Demo) – 2:57
- "Mercy Me" (Acoustic) – 3:12
- "Dethbed" (Demo) – 2:56
- "Settle for Satin" (Demo) – 3:31
- "Sadie" (Acoustic) – 3:19
- "Fall Victim" (Demo) – 3:04
- "I Was a Prayer" (Acoustic) – 2:54
- "Prevent This Tragedy" (Demo) – 3:40
- "Back to Hell" (Matt's Home Demo) – 2:56
- "Your Neck" (Demo) – 3:14
- "Smoke" (Demo) – 3:07
- "Time to Waste" (Acoustic) – 4:21
- "Time to Waste" (video)
- "Mercy Me" (video)
- "Burn" (video)