Striker – interview with lead vocalist Tim Brown – February 16, 2016.
Canadian rockers Striker are back on the road with a mammoth tour that will see them take to the stage in cities and towns from Eastern Europe to South America and most places in between. Their latest studio offering was released in early February and it would appear the fans have given it their seal of approval. I managed to catch up with the band in Hannover, Germany.
You are a little over two weeks into the tour now, how has it been so far?
It’s been great. Every show has been pretty much at capacity and the crowds have been really receptive.
It’s early days but any stand out moments yet?
You know, honestly, pretty much every show has been stand out. We’re really happy to be back in Europe. I can’t say enough good things about it and this is a great tour.
You guys are all from the Edmonton area, how was Canada when you left it?
Yeah, we’re all from Edmonton. Canada was still there, still snowy and still cold!
I’m fortunate enough to have chatted with many Canadian artists and bands recently and the impression I get is that Canadian music, in general, is in a good place right now?
I would probably say that it is never really been in a bad place, although it has a lot of challenges when it comes to music, the biggest being the scale of the country. For example today we travelled from Hamburg to Hannover in around 90 minutes. In Canada there is no drive between major cities that’s under a 2 hour drive. The shortest drive is perhaps Edmonton to Calgary which is 3 hours. Calgary to Vancouver is at least 12 hours by road. European cities are definitely more accessible.
As we mentioned, Striker are currently on their European tour after which you head to Mexico and South America. In all you will complete 33 shows in 15 countries over a two month period. How do you stay sane such a full schedule?
Drink a lot of beer!!! We’ve all been doing this for a while so I guess we’re kinda used to it. We all really love playing and every show we do sort of reinvigorates us. We don’t really have the space or the equipment that allows us to write when we are on the road but we do listen to a lot of music when we travel. We are also all comedians at heart so we take pot shots at each other. No-one is safe. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
On this tour you are accompanied by the guys from Brainstorm and Primal Fear. I am sure it is not the case but, as an outsider looking in, that would appear to be the perfect recipe for a return to the days of Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll. What is the reality of touring together in 2016?
Wouldn’t that be great! I think many people don’t realise how much work goes into a tour like this.
We all have jobs back home and when we are leaving to go on tour the folks there are like. “hey, have a fun vacation”. It’s a lot of work and the furthest thing from a vacation. Don’t get me wrong, the fridge is full of beer and we end up drinking most of it. We don’t get too crazy though, normally we’re up around six or seven the next morning to head off to the next place. The reality is we will probably need a vacation at the end of the tour. Perhaps when we have our own Nightliner things may change.
The new album Stand in the Fire was released last week, to high expectation, and went straight to number four on the Deaf Forever chart. This is your fourth studio album, has the recording process evolved over the years and how has the album been received?
We recorded the album at home in Canada and Fredrik Nordström mixed and mastered it for us in Sweden. It has a slightly different sound I think. We had guest musicians on this album, Randy Black [ex Primal Fear] did the drums for us. In the past Dan [Cleary] has done most of the writing, this time round I wrote a couple of the songs. It’s pretty much the same Striker, perhaps a little bit fresher. The album has had a really great reception so far, I would even go as far as to say it’s our best received album to date. We are on our own independent label now [Record Breaking Records] so there was no-one telling us “you need to have a more Rock n Roll sound” or “You need a song that’s faster paced”, There was none of that so we were able to record songs that we liked and the songs wanted to record. There was no pressure on us at all. The main thing is that people like it and for that we are really happy.
You mentioned your record label Record Breaking Record, how did the decision to form your own label come around?
When you first start out maybe you don’t really understand what a label does for you. If they are gonna give you, say a $10,000 advance then take 80% of your sales, you have to ask yourself if it is worth it. We’ve been around for a while now and between us we’ve worked with a lot of other labels from big ones to the biggest, so we have a quite bit of experience. We decided that we are at the stage where whatever a label could do for us, we could do ourselves.
We now live in a digital age. How much difference, if any, in terms of sales, do physical albums make a difference?
I guess we are in the unique place where people like to buy physical things. Some want to get it signed, some are collectors and many are people who grew up when albums and vinyl were all that was available, you know pre internet. At the same time we have managed to maintain a digital presence. In fact, we have just sold out of CD’s and at the current rate we’ll sell out of vinyl too.
Is there anything that you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out? What advice would you give to anyone following in your wake?
I think probably I’d advise about what the record labels can do and what it will cost you. They will give you a loan and they will do promotion for you. Instead of giving away your rights and your money though, there are other ways to work. Go to a bank, that’s what we did. You can then pay for your recording, pay for your promotion and you’re already half way to what a label would have done. You can also make all the decisions and have the satisfaction that it’s your own work. It’s worth a go.
You have started 2016 with a bang. European tour happening now, next month you start your South American tour. What else do you have planned for the rest of the year?
Next month we also have some UK dates in Sheffield, Glasgow and London. After South America it’s Western Canada in April then around 30 dates in the US followed by Eastern Canada. So we are pretty much on the road until the end of June. There is also the festival season hopefully followed by a return to Europe around September.
All photos by Spike Porteous
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January 16, 2016