Northern California hardcore band STRIKE TO SURVIVE have just announced their debut LP called “Yesterday’s News”, to be released on June 25th. Below you can check out a preview of the outing in the form of the track “Scapeghost”, which brings a fresh taste to their 2 previous releases: “Sore Losers” EP (2011) and a split with San Francisco’s HIDES.
They have come back with a bang and created an album that make you stop whatever you are doing and just listen. Recommended for fans of aggressive, energetic, passionate, yet refreshing hardcore punk / post hardcore tunes.
I caught up with them to talk about the new stuff, their legacy, Northern California punk scene, American beer vs European breweries and a lot more :)
Hey, guys! Welcome to IDIOTEQ :) So, you have just released your debut full length “Yesterday’s News”. Finally! What can fans expect from and how do YOU feel about it now?
Thanks Karol! Well first of all, the album won’t be officially out until June 25th. But we are very excited to share the details of the record with everyone. We’ve been on hiatus since last August working on writing, recording and pressing this record. I feel confident in speaking for everyone in the band when I say that these are the best songs we’ve written, it really feels like we’ve developed our own sound. An abrasive mixture of punk rock and hardcore.
Wow! No idea what made me think it should be out by May 29th ;)
When do you think some new songs are going to come out? Are you planning on teasing us a little?
We are absolutely planning on streaming the record before July. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the date because that’s a surprise and everybody loves surprises.
On that note, there will be a few “surprises” during the month of June so everyone will get their fair share of teases.
Cool, can’t wait for that :)
Could you tell us why is the album entitled “Yesterday’s News”? What messages are you trying to bring across to us from your new joint?
“Yesterday’s News” is the name of the title track on the record. I can’t speak for our singer as far as the messages of our band go but I know that the songs are about everything that we’ve learned or experienced over the last 3-4 years as a band and as individuals. Some songs are more positive than others on the record, but that’s just how things are sometimes. Everything you know can go from absolutely perfect to shit. But that’s OK, you can just work on putting it all behind you and move forward.
Ok, so could you tell us about the process of how the album came together? Who did you record it with?
As far as the process of this album goes. We have been a band for quite sometime now and we had never released anything substantial before this, 3 EP’s (two of which were digital) and a demo that no one can even find on the internet.
After coming home from our US tour in the summer of 2012 we realized that we had nothing to show. You see, after being a band for so long, people expect to hear more than 6 songs from you. And to some extent, I think we put it off for so long because it was something that horrified us. We decided to spend the next 10 months writing, recording and pressing our record just in time for some very special plans this summer. It was great not being distracted with shows while we were working on this record and we really found a writing style that works for all of us.
The record was recorded at The Atomic Garden Studios with Jack Shirley in January 2013. He is a boss.
Considering the full collection of these new songs, are there particular tracks that mean the most to you?
There are a few tracks on the album that I enjoy particularly more than others. Especially the first track, it’s called Dead Reckoning and it’s a very fast-paced heavy song reminiscent to REFUSED or AFI, which are some of the most influential bands to me. Also, the sixth track is called Ringer. This song is different than the others on the album and our writing style in general, I love that track for that exact reason. It shows us stepping out of our comfort zone.
Do you have some extra songs left after the recording? Any chance for another split perhaps? :) Your last year’s collaboration with HIDES turned out pretty well, huh? Would you consider releasing another double-release sometime soon?
We don’t have any songs besides the 11 tracks on the record but we’ve already started writing new material for what’s next to come. We’ve tossed a few ideas around, we love splits and EP’s so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the plan. There are so many cool bands around that we’d love to do splits with. Also, HIDES rules.
You’re based in North bay area. I wonder, how has living there impacted on the sound of the record? What other local scene’s characteristics do you find inspiring for STRIKE TO SURVIVE’s sound?
Haha, I think living here has had a major influence on our sound. Mostly, the amount of coffee that we consume. We live in Santa Rosa, CA which is the biggest city between Portland and San Francisco along the coast. I think to some extent our location has helped bring bands from all over the world to our tight-knit scene, which in-turn has given us a lot of exposure to touring bands.
There’s also a lot of progression from the bands that come out of the North Bay. Everyone is trying to create their own sound and step out of the box, which is awesome. It makes everyone playing music want to step up their game. That’s the best inspiration.
Yeah, and there again, there are many smaller towns in California, right? Are there tiny punk scenes around those, or do most of the bands rally round centers like Santa Rosa?
You know for the most part every city seems to have their own little community even if it’s not the largest. Santa Rosa is kind of like that. It seems like the biggest shows in the Bay Area are places like San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and Santa Cruz. Note that I say biggest, some of the best shows I’ve played have been in small towns with a very tight scene.
Are there any significant differences between northern and So Cal music scenes?
Oh wow, this is a hard question to answer because I don’t wanna step on anybody’s toes. First off, Southern California is awesome. There are some quality bands that come from there. I personally think that there is a certain sound that comes out of LA as far as punk rock/hardcore goes. It’s very good, I think it has more attitude than bands from Northern California.
What local bands would you recommend us to check out?
STATE FAULTS, NO SIR, SABERTOOTH ZOMBIE, THE NEW TRUST, CREATIVE ADULT, THE VIBRATING ANTENNAS. Shit, there is so many more but the list would go on forever. All these bands put in so much work, don’t sleep on them!
Sure thing. By the way your local grounds, how does it feel to live there?
Living in the North bay is amazing, after touring the US twice I still come back here thinking its the best place in the world. The weather is great, the food is awesome and the beer is even better. Oh, also were only an hour away from San Francisco and the East Bay.
The American beer?? You gotta be kidding me ;) There’s nothing like central European breweries! You need to come over here and taste it, bro!
Shoot me some names, I’ll find it in my local store with imported beers and sip it :)
Haha! Wait a minute, I’ve heard that everyone in Europe thinks that Americans drink nothing but coors light and Budweiser. This is NOT true, we have 5+ breweries in our county alone.
Also, STRIKE TO SURVIVE plans on coming to Europe at some point in our career. You’ll have to give us a full tour of all these breweries ;)
You bet! But I don’t think you’ll havy any trouble with finding one. Here’s a typical shelf in a random tiny store, and here’s a list of Polish beers, not to mention hundreds of imported brands. The beer market is pumpin’, no doubt about it ;)
You know Karol, I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we released our own beer. We did something like that a few years ago. A buddy of ours brewed a batch of 40 California steam beers and we gave them away at our tour-kickoff show. That was probably the biggest accomplishment of my life, haha.
Great! Yeah, but it’s cool you earlier mentioned touring Europe actually. When do you think it will be possible?
We would all love to come to Europe as soon as we can but we want to make sure that we come over when we’re ready as far as finances and having enough of a following goes. It’d be great to come to Europe but it would be even better if people KNOW that we’re coming to Europe.
Last year you toured the US West Coast, did a couple of gigs with MATAHARI, and so on. How many shows did you play in 2012?
Let’s start off by saying MATAHARI are the best group of guys I know, they’re our east coast brothers. We played about 15 shows with them in 2012. I didn’t do a great job at keeping track of all the shows we played but it was probably about 40, this is because we spent the time from August-December writing the full length.
What have you learned throught these journeys?
Everytime we go on tour we all learn so much. It’s crazy to see where we were when the band started versus where we are now. If it wasn’t for us putting ourselves out there, regardless if we play shitty shows and lose all our money then we wouldn’t have learned how to progress. We would have no clue what music scenes are like in other cities. But most of all, we wouldn’t have learned how much effort it takes to really make things happen for your band.
It sure makes you easier to manage your next treks, right? How will you continue to grow as touring artists this year? What are your plans for the rest of 2013?
Yes it definitely does! Right now we have a BIG tour planned in July that we’ll be announcing on June 11th. I’m so excited for this tour because we’ll be going out with some good friends of ours, I’m sure that this will be our best tour yet because we’ll have our full-length out. Also, I’m not booking this one. We have someone that’s more qualified than me which is ideal. We’ll be working on writing new songs on tour for whatever our next release might be.
Ok, before I let you go, let’s go back to your rookie days and learn about your foundations. How did STRIKE TO SURVIVE form?
Oh man, let’s take a time machine back to 2005 or 2006. STS started as a high school project with 4 dudes who wanted to start a band like AFI. I played in a shitty punk band called BAD CASE at the time and we broke up right around then. When I first heard the demo that STS dropped in ’06 I KNEW right away that I wanted to be in the band.
For about the next 3-4 years we really didn’t do much besides record demos and play shows in Santa Rosa and the bay area. Around 2008-9 we decided to work on releasing our first 7’inch and planned out our first tour. It was just a small 10-day California tour with one show in Nevada, it was rad leaving Cali for the first time. I think from that point on we realized that we were gonna put 100% into this band and see how far we could take it. We’re still here doing the same thing and we just released our first LP, it’s been like 5 years and it took us this long but I’m SO happy with the record.
Taking time machine ever earlier, what was your introduction to punk and hardcore?
I used to listen to a lot of really mediocre street punk when I first got involved with the music scene. I really liked fast music so it was exactly what I wanted to hear, until my good friend Bob Cook and a few other friends started introducing me into bands like SET IT STRAIGHT, ALLEGIANCE and Santa Rosa natives SABERTOOTH ZOMBIE. I listened to these bands and was like “Oh shit, this is faster than street punk and they know how to play music.” I started listening to bands that we’re heavy and melodic, I think you can hear that more in our first EP ‘Mirror, Mirror’.
Over the years, we sort of changed our sound after hearing bands like REFUSED, SHOOK ONES and THE BRONX, focusing on better riffs rather than heavy parts. I think you’ll notice these bands as a bigger influence on our new LP.
As time goes on, a lot of people come and go from the scene. What has kept you involved with punk and hardcore and how lomatahang do you think you will stick around with it? :)
You know, I guess that’s true. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of people stop going to shows and a lot of new people being introduced to the hardcore/punk/indie scene. I’m not sure what’s made me stick around, it doesn’t seem difficult. I’ve dedicated most of my life at this point in time to playing music/touring because it’s what I love. It’s not always rewarding, it’s a shit ton of work and it’s a financially destructive hobby but it’s all so worth it in the long run.
I feel like I’m documenting my life through the years by putting out music and doing rad things all the time, I’m sure I’ll look back at all of this someday and remember this as the best time of my life.
Great! Sounds like a happy man here :)
Ok, do you have any final messages you would like to say to our readers?
Yes. Keep on living in the free world, don’t become a slave to the corporate machine, start a band and play as fast and loud as you can and don’t let anyone tell you how to live your life.
It was really nice talking to you. Thank you for your insights and answers, very helpful to understand what’s behind STRIKE TO SURVIVE. Kind regards, buddy!
Thanks for having me Karol, I’m real excited to catch you in Europe soon so we can grab a beer.
Live long and prosper.
Live pic by Matt Gill.
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