STRIKER has been one busy group of guys since their latest album Stand In the Fire came out on their own Record Breaking Records label in February. It seems as though everytime I turn around they’re on the road, shredding one venue after another. I was able to chat with guitarist Tim Brown during a break recently. He took us inside all the things that make the band tick, what it was like to tour with some major heavyweights, and the all important question: Who wins in four-way band fight? Have a look:
Amps: The band has shown a marked change in sound, moving towards more traditional metal, starting with the second half of the last record, in my opinion. I love this new direction. How did it come about?
Tim: I wouldn’t say there was any focused effort to change sound or direction, we just write what we want to hear. It’s a very natural process for us. When we want to mosh we will write a thrasher and when we want get sleazy we write more hair-metal-esque tunes. I think the big thing is that we have been focusing a lot on improving the quality of our recorded music in every way, especially the writing. A lot of the time that comes down to melody, and melody used to be such a strong component of metal in the 80’s. In the 90’s and 00’s things really shifted to a rhythmic focus, very percussive, especially everyone jumping ship from clean vocals to gutturals/screaming/pig farts.
All that stuff can be cool but ultimately melody is what really sticks out and lasts in people’s minds. Think of all the famous melodies you can remember, there are thousands! But for rhythms, it’s a lot more limited. “We Will Rock You”, maybe a few others. There aren’t many beats or rhythms that instantly jump out at you and stick with you for life but everyone knows the melody to twinkle twinkle little star, or thousands of other songs that just stick with you forever.
Amps: “Too Late” is such a cool throwback tune that old school guys like me can’t get enough of. Hell, it’s been my ringtone for a month! You do know you’ve written one of those “Forever with us” songs now, right?
Tim: Ha ha I’m glad you dig it! We like to have fun with our music and I think that if you listen to a STRIKER album or song you can really hear that come through the speakers. I often think of music as the communication of emotion, and for us that emotion is fun, happiness, excitement, all that good stuff. Most metal guys like to be brutal and evil, and we like that too, but we also are pretty happy dudes and like to have a lot of fun. I challenge any other band out there to have as much fun as we have! Having people react to our music the same way we do is just icing on the cake.
Amps: How was the run with PRIMAL FEAR and BRAINSTORM? What was it like to not only share the stage with two giants, but to also watch them night after night?
Tim: It was awesome! We are huge fans of PRIMAL FEAR, so touring with them was a dream come true. Everyone on the tour was great, not just as performers but also as people too. For us it was especially fun because we would always go into the crowd to watch their set every night, and it was always awesome. We can’t wait to hit the road again and make new friends!
Amps: Stand In the Fire is album #4. How do you feel you’ve grown as players, writers, and performers?
Tim: I think we are slowly maturing, writing with more depth and breadth. Now we are a swiss army knife of heavy metal, Stand In the Fire has tracks that go from hair metal to ballad to balls out thrasher, even stuff bordering on hardcore. Not just a speed metal band anymore! We try to incorporate all good ideas we’ve experienced, regardless of genre or who is performing them. We take cues from both METALLICA and JAMES BROWN. Why limit yourself?
Amps: What should people expect from a STRIKER live show?
Tim: Lots of energy! We like to run around and get crazy. The crowd feeds off the energy you project, which in turns feeds you as a performer. We want to make our shows memorable and we want to connect to everyone that comes out, so we like to interact with everyone as much as we can. A lot of bands sort of stand there and shred in your general direction, but we will get down on our knees and shred in your face.
Amps: How long do you think you’ll sit with Stand In the Fire before you start doing any writing? Or is that something you’re always doing?
Tim: We are always writing! We will probably head back into the studio right after our North American Tour in the summer. Never stop writing!
Amps: What albums, old, new, metal, or non-metal are currently on rotation in your CD players/iPods?
Tim: I’ve been listening to DISSECTION lately, some wicked old school black metal. I also listen to a lot of top 40 bullshit on the radio, it’s like eating candy. You can’t eat too much or you will vomit though. I’ve also been listening to a lot of SAVATAGE, VAN HALEN, SOILWORK, and YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN. Basically we listen to everything in the van when we are on tour.
Amps: What is the single greatest piece of advice or wisdom someone gave you when you were first starting out?
Tim: No one will work harder for you than you will. A lot of bands go out there with the intent to get signed thinking, “Once we are signed it’s easy street!” but that’s a huge lie. Once you give away your responsibilities, unless you are making someone buckets of money, you are getting demoted to the back burner.
There are a lot of creeps out there in the music industry looking to take advantage of that old idea, and they will rob you blind. The more you can do for yourself the better off you will be.
Amps: In a full-band, no-holds barred Battle Royale, who would win and why?
Tim: Well, Dan (Cleary) our singer has the most farts. Basically he would just gas the rest of us to death immediately as soon as the rumble started.
Amps: What would you like to say to all your fans out there in the world?
Tim: Huge thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years, especially now that we are independent! Every time you come to a show, play our music, introduce your friends to us, get our music, or anything else, you are helping us put out more music and hit the road more often and in more places around the world. We owe everything to our fans! We wouldn’t be here without you.
STRIKER definitely has something for everyone. Whether you’re into traditional, NWOBHM, or extreme metal there are songs to sink your teeth into across all four records. Some of the staff here at A&GS have seen them live, too, and come away very impressed. Here’s hoping I get my chance one day soon. In the meantime, check HERE to see when they’re playing by you!