Striker – Running on Luck, Hope, and PrayersSunday, 14th February 2016
For those who desire the next generation of traditional metal and wonder what will happen once Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept and the like will retire, look no further than the catalog of material Edmonton, Canada’s Striker are amassing. Encapsulating proper melodies, guitar harmonies, and hook after hook, the band’s songwriting contains a lot of qualities that make for future lifelong anthems that audiences treasure- whether you are a fan of melodic metal, power, speed, and even thrash.
Stand in the Fire is their fourth full-length – and boldly deciding to keep everything in-house as far as self-producing and self-releasing the record. Chances are their worldwide following will be just fine with things- as the band prepare to go on a bevy of tours to showcase their style in the best way they know how: live. Answering these questions straight from settling down in Germany at the start of their tour with Primal Fear and Brainstorm, guitarist Tim Brown seems very excited to see where this new album will take them. In this conversation beyond the normal new album talk we also touch on the struggles to assemble all the elements necessary for touring, the need for hooks in songs, and how the Internet can be a blessing and a curse for all metal bands these days.
Dead Rhetoric: What circumstances took place for the band to develop their own record label for the release of your fourth studio album Stand in the Fire? Did things not work out to your liking on a worldwide scale with Napalm or did you feel at this point in time it is better for the band to take control of all financial, marketing, and promotional aspects?
Tim Brown: We had been talking about going independent for a long time actually, and were even considering going independent for our last album City of Gold. Basically we finished our contract off with our last album and thought that there was no better time to strike out on our own for Stand in the Fire and so far it’s been a resounding success. A big thing people don’t realize these days is that you can do everything a label can do for you. Why give up your rights and almost all of your income for something you can just do yourself? The modern music industry is a totally new and exciting place to be, and unfortunately labels are mostly stuck in the past and force you into using archaic business moves. Our band has never been stronger and actually I think we will have a much bigger reach than anything we’ve ever done before. Having no one to answer to is liberating and inspired a lot of the music on the new album.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us more about your newest guitarist Trent Halliwell who replaced long-time member Chris Segger – what impressed you most about his skills to join Striker?
Brown: Trent is a long-time friend of the band, and even plays with our drummer Adam in a cover band for fun on the side. Trent helped us out for some tours and put down some epic solos on the new album, but he’s now moved on to other things in life and new projects. Trent is very well versed in guitar theory so he certainly knows his way around the fretboard, he has those music school notes!
Dead Rhetoric: You had a session drummer in Randy Black perform on the new record due to regular drummer Adam Brown’s touring obligations. How do you feel about his performance – and where do you see Stand in the Fire in terms of the Striker discography compared to say City of Gold?
Brown: Oddly enough Randy was a family friend of Chris Segger, our former guitarist, and as another stroke of coincidence we are now on tour with his former band Primal Fear in Europe! Randy is an amazing drummer, and we were stoked as hell when we found out he was available to help us out on the album. His resume speaks for itself, drumming for the likes of Alice Cooper, Primal Fear, W.A.S.P., Annihilator, and many more, he’s obviously got the goods. We had a few other guest musicians on the new album and I think collectively it makes the album sound very fresh, and injection of new ideas so to speak, and keeps things interesting. Personally for me, Stand in the Fire is my favorite Striker album, and not to sound too narcissistic, but I actually really love this album a lot and have been listening to it quite often since we got the final master back.
Dead Rhetoric: I’d like to delve a little more into some of my favorite songs on the album- can you give us some insight into the songwriting and performances of “Phoenix Lights”, “The Iron Never Lies”, and the ballad closer “One Life”?
Brown: Basically for those songs, and the rest for that matter, we had a lot of time to sit and work on the songs since we recorded everything at home. We were also able to do a lot of demoing for all the songs, and really put some work into the production and arrangement side of things. I think it really goes a long way, adds that last 5% that you need to really make a lasting impression and emotional impact with music. For this album we put a lot of work into the songs to make them as good as we possibly we could. We have a few drafts of each song, with slightly different solos, vocal lines, small changes in in the riffs and arrangements, etc. Basically if it didn’t make us bang our heads, we cut it.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts on the cover of the new album? Is it a collaborative effort between band and artist to get to the final product? And what have been some of your favorite metal covers through the years?
Brown: We ready dig the artwork, we wanted something super metal, and I think our artist Coki Greenway delivered. Basically we just said we wanted a Manowar cover and that’s that! We had asked a number of great artists to do the album artwork but almost everyone was busy. We really like a lot of the classic metal albums that were painted/drawn, basically those album covers that were a work of art in and of themselves.
Dead Rhetoric: Striker has always maintained a balance between solid songwriting and hooks from a vocal and music perspective. Is it fair to say that this multi-tiered outlook helps the band stick out from other newer bands trying to make a mark in the traditional, power, heavy metal genres? Are you very meticulous when it comes to the flow of piecing parts together or is songwriting a fairly easy process for the group?
Brown: More hooks than a fisherman! Having good hooks is essential for any type of music, and I think it takes a little bit of maturity in songwriting to realize that. All great music is catchy in some way, not necessarily the same way, but you need something that keeps people listening to your music. Especially for this album, we really wanted to break down the barriers when it came to sub genres and all that weirdness. It’s just heavy metal. Why limit yourself or paint yourself into a corner? I think a lot of great bands have done that over the years, and their work suffers from it. All of the biggest bands in metal became the biggest by knocking down barriers and forging new ground and finding new sounds. This is us trying to find our own new sound.
As for writing music, I’d say it’s a fairly pain free process. We are all huge fans of music and we all always have ideas, riffs, and songs that we are constantly working on. The biggest challenge is just finding the time to get it recorded for demoing!
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