Striker – Iron Hot SteelTuesday, 2nd September 2014
Dead Rhetoric: Touring from one end of Canada to the other can be an endeavor in of itself, taking you a couple of weeks to go from one end to the other, right?
Cleary: Oh yeah. We did a Canadian tour of 16,000 km just across Canada. People don’t realize how big it is. It’s really spread out too. Our guitar player Chris once said you could fit the entire country of Germany into our province of Alberta and Germany still has more people than all of Canada. That gives you perspective. When we were in Europe our bus drivers would be like ‘oh we have to drive for 6 hours tomorrow, I better get tons of sleep.’ 6 hours is your average drive from one place to another in Canada so we started laughing.
Dead Rhetoric: Never mind dealing with the harsh winters…
Cleary: Even in vans, everyone is sort of used to it. One day we were coming back from Red Deer which is about an hour and a half south of Edmonton and it took us 3 hours because you couldn’t drive fast at all. We counted 39 cars in the ditch on the way back that was ridiculous. It was a sheet of us all the way back.
Dead Rhetoric: Are there particular singers that you look to for developing your own personal technique, as your voice has a lot of classic power in multiple ranges a la Eric A.K. of Flotsam and Jetsam, Warrel Dane during his Sanctuary years and even parts of Carl Albert of Vicious Rumors? Did you take any formal training and how much warm up do you need in studio vs live situations?
Cleary: Carl Albert was a huge influence on me when I first started out. I used to drive a delivery truck and I would put on Vicious Rumors albums and try to sing like that. As far as warming up, I haven’t had any real training or lessons, I’ve been picking things up as I go along. That might be a bad thing, because I’ve had shows where I struggle from the touring. The last tour in the UK everyone got really sick, it was freezing cold everywhere so I coughed for like a month straight. The more often you sing, yesterday’s show helps you warm up for the next show. I only end up doing 10-15 minutes of warm up, I make sure to get enough sleep.
Dead Rhetoric: Discuss some of your favorite moments of the animation series The Simpsons through the years? How do you think they’ve been able to stay around successfully for 25 seasons?
Cleary: (laughs). I can honestly say I may only be able to comment on like the first 12 seasons, because I don’t think I watched much right after that. Favorite Simpsons moments – Hank Scorpio, that’s a pretty good one, where he’s talking about the Hammock district. What else… I can’t stand Who Shot Mr. Burns! For some reason I really didn’t like that episode.
Dead Rhetoric: You will be going on an extensive North American tour this fall with Onslaught and Artillery. What can the fans expect from Striker in terms of a live presentation, and what have been some of your favorite shows through the years in the band (I would guess two shows opening for Metallica in your hometown being an obvious adrenaline rush)?
Cleary: Those shows were crazy, sort of surreal moment for us. We found out we were on the show a week before, it was the weekend, and before we knew it they were over. We like to have fun on stage, keep the energy up and be loud!
Dead Rhetoric: Considering you’ve been over to Europe four times to tour, do you notice distinct differences between the audiences there and here in North America?
Cleary: I have talked about this before, I can’t remember specifically with who. I think most real metalheads who are coming to our shows are similar wherever you kind of go. There’s definitely a difference in the attendance, and more people who like the underground speed metal in Europe I find. There is a bigger audience in general for it too.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your views on the current metal scene? Are things healthy in your eyes or are there particular areas that could be improved upon to make things stronger?
Cleary: From what I can tell everything seems to be going pretty good for heavy metal in general. With the music industry it’s taking a turn; I like the idea of the crowd funded album, but at the same time you sort of can’t help but need a label. The Canadian band Protest the Hero, they crowd funded their album and got over $200,000, and recorded their album, but in the end had to sign distribution deals so they almost are on a label, but not really. It would be interesting to see if that could really happen, the band getting enough support directly from their fans to not even need a record label.
Dead Rhetoric: Are there still opportunities for Canadian bands to apply for government grants and funds to cover expenses?
Cleary: Yes, actually we’ve gotten quite a few. Early on when we first went to Europe we got a government grant which paid for some of the flights, which was a really good boost because we are younger musicians and bringing everything over to Europe can be sort of daunting, so that helped us out. We actually got a grant for our last album, which was really cool too. So the Alberta provincial government has been surprisingly supportive of our heavy metal endeavors.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you enjoy collecting any special metal merchandise through the years? And what are three bands that everyone can agree on in terms of road music as you travel from show to show?
Cleary: As far as collecting, I’m not as much into that. Ian (Sandercock) on the other hand, he brought back 80 vinyl albums in his backpack on one European trip. I don’t know how he fit them all but when they scanned it through x-ray at the airport there was this big brick of vinyl records going through the conveyor belt (laughs). As far as bands we all can agree on: Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, those kind of bands.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you think personal chemistry matters in terms of sustaining a successful band?
Cleary: You can’t go on tour with someone who is a dick. I mean you can, but it won’t last very long (laughs).
Dead Rhetoric: What do the next 12 months look like for Striker in terms of tours, videos, product?
Cleary: We just shot a video that involves a lot of kung fu fighting, it will be over the top. We have gotten some good reviews on the album, and we’ll be touring as much as we can.
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