Rik Cribb might have the weirdest (or roughest) day job of any local songwriter. He currently works as a technician for the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Last week, he survived a series of long flights back to the U.S. with three things on his mind: family, rock music, and a sweaty tumbler of Crown and ginger.
He and his long-running local pop-rock band The Problems celebrate his brief homecoming this weekend with two gigs at Iacofano's.
"Most of the time, I'm surrounded by the military, so I never really felt like I was in danger," says Cribb of his recent six-month stay in Afghanistan. "When I was at Camp Leatherneck, no one fucked with the Marines. Bagram was a little different. It was a NATO base, so there were all sorts of people coming in and out. It got a little hairy at times."
Cribb grew up on and around the Isle of Palms, playing music through his teen years. He fronted the horn-driven ska-rock ensemble SKWZBXX in the 1990s and early 2000s. The Problems took shape in 2005 when Cribb and drummer Jeff Mangan started playing as a rock duo. At this week's show, Mangan, bassist Jason Ridenhour, and guitarist Doug Walters (a City Paper contributor) will be on stage with Cribb, handling a variety of material.
Cribb gigged quite heavily in the last two years, both as a solo acoustic act and in front of The Problems. The band independently released a self-titled album in 2009. Halfway through the making of the disc, Cribb took several months off to work on an industrial project in Kuwait. That's when his international routine started.
Living in cramped quarters with little free time and limited equipment has made writing songs and recording demos a major challenge. Next week, when he returns for the next six-month shift (this time in Jalalabad), he'll have his own space and an extra mic and recorder on hand.
"In a tent with 20 other guys around, they don't appreciate it when you get inspired in the middle of the night, break out the acoustic guitar, and start strumming," he says.