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Issue #616.5 Strange Karma

11 November 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Mini-Issue #616.5
November 11, 2011

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-Happy National Metal Day everyone! Horns up, leather ‘n’ studs for all, get a tattoo, hail and kill, dip it all in chromium-plated boiling metal and so forth. Here’s my interview with Strange Karma guitarist Paul Strange plus a couple of time-sensitive goodies. – Tim

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by Tim Wadzinski (tsw512@yahoo.com)

-Interview w/ Paul Strange (Strange Karma)
November 8, 2011

Australian rockers Strange Karma have been around for a few years, with a different name and different lineups; they spent some time in the UK getting established, and even toured the US a few years back. Things have now coalesced nicely with a solid lineup — bassist Doe Prijono and drummer Jason McDonald joined the Brothers Strange, Martin (vocals, guitar, piano) and Paul (guitar) — and the band’s debut album VOLUME 1 was released earlier this year on FnA Records (home of some vintage ’80s rock acts like Tora Tora, Dirty Looks, and Rumbledog). The band is touring the US throughout November, with bigger plans on the horizon. I spoke to guitarist Paul Strange about the album, the tour, the live show, and what’s coming up next.

DETRITUS: The band is on the bus right now? Where are you headed?


D: You’ve done two shows on this tour so far?

PS: That’s correct, yeah.

D: I saw on your website a couple new ones have been added, in Philadelphia and Dallas.

PS: That’s right, yeah.

D: Are there any more new ones coming up, or is it all set now?

PS: There could be. There could be a couple more coming up. I mean, we’re trying to make the most of our time here, so if we can add, you know, one or two more that’d be great.

D: Originally it looked like you’d be in America for the entire month of November but with only six or seven shows scheduled. I was wondering what the band would do with all that potential down time?

PS: Yeah, well, [publicist] Chip [Ruggieri]’s keeping us busy. (laughs)

D: You last toured the US a few years ago?

PS: That’s correct, yeah.

D: What was the motivation for coming here? You also spent some time in England?

PS: Yeah that was before [the US tour].

D: Maybe I’m wrong but based on what I read it seemed like you were just really trying to get out of Australia. Is that true?

PS: (laughs) Yeah, I mean, it is. The grass-roots scene in Australia doesn’t really exist. There’s not much work for, you know, a new band. And especially with us, we do our own thing and over there doing your own thing doesn’t work as well as it does over here.

D: When you come out of Australia, as a new hard rock band, are you automatically pegged? Do people automatically assume that you’re either going to sound like AC/DC, or that you’re going to play AC/DC cover songs? Is there a stigma like that?

PS: No, I haven’t come across it that much, to be honest. A few people said, you know, that coming out of Australia they expect a quality band. So that works. (laughs)

D: This current round of dates includes two shows at the Whisky in Hollywood, and you’ve played there in the past. What’s the connection with that particular spot?

PS: Well when we were here a few years ago we played there three or four times, and each time we played the crowds got bigger. So we’ve got a pretty good rapport with the place. When we told them that we were coming back to America they basically said that they’d love to have us.

D: Are you headlining these dates in November?

PS: Not all of them. In Detroit we’re playing with Art Of Dying, in Chicago we’re playing with Hanzel Und Gretyl. So we’re joining a couple of people.

D: Okay, well then when you do headline how long of a set do you play? VOLUME 1 runs about 41 minutes. Do you have a lot more unreleased material that you can play? Or do you do other things?

PS: Yes we do. It’s a combination of songs from the album and other songs that we have that will possibly go on future albums.

D: Do you ever play covers or do you stick to all originals?

PS: We stick to all originals.

D: Does that go over well? You sometimes hear about new bands throwing in a cover to help win over the crowd. You don’t have to worry about that?

PS: No, we don’t really worry about that too much. We just, you know, we’ve got a lot of songs in our bag of stuff and we just kind of pull out the ones that work, and the ones that will grab the crowd’s attention. But we just use our own material.

D: The album has a lot of variety. There’s the straight-up rock stuff, the kind of more epic stuff, there are some ballads… How do you choose a set list when you’re on a tour like this, where you’re basically introducing the band to the crowd? Do you play just the more rockin’ stuff, or do try you play songs that show a complete picture of what you’re all about?

PS: It depends. It depends on the night and it depends how much time we have. If we’re headlining we get a good bit of time; we’re doing an hour and 10 or an hour and 20 minutes and we’ll showcase everything that we’re about.

D: For this tour, was there ever a thought to hook on with a bigger band and support them? Or was the plan always to have the tour progress as it has?

PS: Yeah, it’s in the works. We’re hoping to come back out next year for a longer time, and probably hook up with a bigger band to get some exposure that way.

D: As far as some of the songs go… “America,” the opening track on the album — it’s such a good song. It’s fun and cool, and it’s got a lot of energy to it. It seems like one of those songs that a musician would describe as, “It just wrote itself.”

PS: It’s exactly one of those. It was a time when we were coming out here to do a few shows, and the band was kind of buzzed about the whole thing. It came together very quickly, literally just before we jumped on a plane to come to America. Once we were here we decided to knock it out and play it a bit, and people started to really enjoy it. So we added it to the album.

D: Then you have some more complex stuff, like “Down And Out” that has a couple of different guitar parts, and “Time,” “Young And Free,” and “Indian Sun” are a little more epic with piano and strings. How do you pull all of that off live? Are you the only one that plays guitar live?

PS: I play guitar and Marty plays guitar as well, and he moves over to the piano. As far as the string arrangements, it kind of sounds big enough as it is, without the string arrangements. It just works really well. The string arrangements are just to accompany the songs on the album. But it works really well live the way it is.

D: With regards to your guitar playing, there are some cool solos peppered throughout the album, and you have a bunch of memorable riffs. What do you prefer composing, songs, riffs, or solos? What’s more fun?

PS: Definitely the riffs, and then the songs. That’s I guess the most important element, and then the solo’s the flavor on top.

D: I just saw an interview with Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath where he talked about the library of riffs he’s accumulated over the years. How does it happen for you? When it’s time for you to write, do you get in a mindset where you say, “It is time to write riffs now?”

PS: It just happens really naturally, to be honest. There’s no set sit-down time, and, you know, “Okay, let’s write a song.” That way doesn’t really work for us. (laughs) It just kind of happens as it happens, and it happens quite naturally. I don’t have a set time for it — if I do it never really works out.

D: What’s your method for recording solos? Do you come up with them spontaneously or do you try to work them out ahead of time?

PS: It all depends. Most of these songs that we recorded, we’ve been playing live before. Pretty much all of them, actually. So everything’s kind of sorted out ahead of time. It’s a combination of both I’d say.

D: I see in your press materials there are mentions of Led Zeppelin, and a few of Queen due to the piano and string arrangements. But I have to admit, when I first popped in the CD and heard “America,” the first thing I thought of was The Darkness.

PS: (surprised) Oh really?

D: Yeah, because of Marty’s kind of crazy singing style. I was like, “Who ARE these guys?” He seems like he could become unglued at any time. (laughs) Your reaction there already answered my question, but has anyone ever likened you to The Darkness?

PS: No, no, to be honest. It’s funny you should say that because we were in the UK with the previous [lineup] when The Darkness came out, so we saw the whole thing happen. We saw them blow up. I saw them play in one of these little universities in the UK, and then six months later they were, you know, winning the Brit Award. But we’ve kind of been doing the same thing for a while, so we haven’t really been listening to them. I wouldn’t say that they’re an influence on us.

D: Oh no, no I just meant I initially thought there was a similarity there, with the energy. I don’t really like those guys — I find the vocals annoying.

PS: (laughs)

D: As your album unfolded I heard all the different textures and vibes, and it’s certainly a different animal.

PS: Yeah.

D: I wish I could see your show at Reggie’s in Chicago because I want to see what it’s like live. What are you guys like on stage? Is it a crazy, unhinged performance, or are you guys meticulous about the presentation?

PS: Look, we pride ourselves on our live shows, so I would say our live shows are very powerful and there’s a lot of passion behind them. So, I would say our live show is one or two notches above the album.

D: Your back story leaves the impression that it was quite an ordeal to get this album out. Do you anticipate continuing your relationship with FnA Records for the next one? Is there a plan yet?

PS: At this stage we don’t have a plan for the next one. We’ve got it ready to go, and we just want to make the right moves that are going to help the band move forward. So at this stage we’re not exactly sure what’s happening. Like, we’re coming out here and we’re exposing ourselves to a few more people, and we’re planning a tour for next year at this stage. We’ll see how those two things go and then make the next move from there.

D: Are you going to be able to get on some European festivals next summer?

PS: We’ll definitely be working on that for sure.

D: With the number of off days on the current tour, do you have time to roll into a city and then get out and see the sights? Or is it all business all the time?

PS: I mean, it’s business all the time but we’ll be in Chicago a few days before the show, and I think we’ll also be in New York maybe a day or two before the show. After that it gets a bit tighter — in Detroit I think we’ll just kind be in and out, and then we’ve got a couple long drives after that.

D: Do you look forward to downtime? You hear about bands on the road, and it’s always travel, spend time at the venue, do the show, travel…

PS: Sure.

D: It seems like for bands, you can never catch your breath. But this tour seems paced a bit better. Do you look forward to having days off like that?

PS: Absolutely. Absolutely. We’re looking forward to seeing some of these cities we haven’t been to. We haven’t been to Chicago before, we haven’t been to Detroit, we haven’t been to New York — actually, Marty’s been to New York before but it’s the first time for me. So yeah, absolutely, I’m definitely interested in, you know, checking the place out. Because no doubt the next time we’ll be here it will probably be a lot more full-on and a lot busier than what it is now.

D: Is there anything you’d say to someone who might be on the fence, deciding whether or not to see the band live?

PS: If someone’s on the fence I’d like to say, you know, “Come to the show and take a chance on us.”

-Strange Karma’s remaining shows on the current US tour are as follows:

11/12 – Reggie’s Rock Club, Chicago, IL – w/ Hanzel Und Gretyl
11/16 – Sullivan Hall, New York City, NY
11/17 – The Legendary Dobbs, Philadelphia, PA
11/19 – Harpo’s, Detroit, MI – w/ Art Of Dying
11/25 – The Prophet Bar, Dallas, TX
11/30 – Whisky A Go Go, Hollywood, CA

Check out our Mini-Issue #600.5 from July 15 ( posted at http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/Detritus/message/973 ) for a review of VOLUME 1 and an interview with Paul’s brother Martin, and take a look at Strange Karma’s videos for “America” and “Down And Out” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyoKHTnN2z8 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkiW3IpdKWw , respectively.

Relevant links:

FnA Records

Strange Karma

-AFM Records is posting one new Iron Savior song per day for streaming at their Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/afmrecords/ . The old one comes down when a new one goes up, so you have to check back every day to hear all the songs from THE LANDING, which is due out November 18, in CD and limited edition digi-pak (with two bonus tracks) versions.

*** OUT ***

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