There’s no time wasted when it comes to one of Canada’s most thrilling metal bands Sriker. In 2016, they unleashed their award winning Stand In The Fire, their fourth album and first release via their own independent label Record Breaking Records. Wasting no time kicking off the new year, the shredders return with their fifth, (self-titled) studio album released on February 24 along with tours across the USA and Europe. We caught up with guitarist Tim Brown while the band are on tour in Europe to chat about the new album and more.
Andrew: So I know you guys are on the road at the moment, how has the tour been going so far?
Tim: So far it’s been going really well. We’re on week 4 I guess in Europe with Sonata Arctica and it’s been going really well and before that we were in the U.S. for 3 weeks, playing 70,000 tons (Of Metal Cruise). So a lot of touring but it’s a lot of fun!
Andrew: How do you find the crowds between Europe and the U.S.? Is there much difference with the interactions of the crowd and all that kind of stuff?
Tim: I think every region is a little bit unique especially in southern Europe like in Spain, Italy and Portugal, they really love singing along to the words and they really get into it. With that being said probably the biggest difference in crowds is just who is probably headlining because we’ve played a lot of different shows with a lot bands so some bands bring out the crazy thrashers who start circle pits and other bands have more tame fans so that’s probably the biggest difference.
Andrew: What about Sonata Arctica, how are they to tour with?
Tim: Yeah they’re really cool dudes. You have lots of fun on a tour this long and definitely have a few beers with everyone, it’s cool to get to know everybody.
Andrew: I guess that’s one of the best things about touring aside from seeing the world is to get to hang out with some cool people and bands along the way I suppose.
Tim: Yeah definitely, we’ve definitely met some cool people on the road. Not just bands and promoters but we’ve met lots of cool fans and became good friends actually. We visit them and they come visit us, I’ve met most of my friends through music so it’s very cool.
Andrew: Yeah very cool that no matter where you are in the world, music is one of those things that unites people and has something that everyone has something in common with.
Tim: Yeah you bet!
Andrew: You are supporting your latest album, the self titled. It’s something I ask a lot of bands whenever they bring out a self titled album, was there any particular reason why you decided to go for that title for this one?
Tim: Well I think the biggest thing is that we felt that if you were a new listener to Striker, this would be the best album to start with so to speak. It kind of encompasses everything that we do, it has a little bit of everything and on top of that we were also going for a kind of minimilist aesthetic for the album. So we wanted to keep things very simple, very straight to the point. And last, Metallica did it so we should too! [laughs].
Andrew: [laughs] What spawned that idea? What made you decide to go for that kind of thing for the new songs?
Tim: I guess there were a couple of different things but the biggest thing was that the past albums have always been fairly long and really dictated by the label that we were working with. You have to have an album of a certain length and we felt that people don’t necessarily listen to albums the same way as they used to and we just think that cutting all the crap and getting straight to the point and that we wanted to have a shorter album but with more attention being paid to each song which we really focused on with this album and I think it turned out pretty good.
Andrew: Yeah I have heard a few tracks from the album and it does sound a little bit more simplistic maybe than some of the other stuff that you had done in the past. But I guess from a live perspective did you think about making it stripped down like this maybe translates better for the live shows?
Tim: Well I think a lot of the arrangements and stuff on this album are actually way more complex than a lot of the other albums we’ve done so there’s a lot more layers and stuff so it’s actually a little bit more confusing and difficult for some of them. A lot of how we wrote on this album was strip the songs down, make them as simple as possible and then build them back up, adding more and more layers of cool stuff. We wanted to make sure every single song had every single part beat and something cool was happening in it all the time. Something catchy, some hooky, so that’s kind of what we did.
Andrew: And the process for writing music, has that changed over the years? Was that part of why you decided to go for this kind of thing on the new songs? Or do you try to keep the same process for every writing cycle?
Tim: I think we’ve always had the same kind of process but I think the main thing that has changed is where you stop because with music you can just go on forever tweaking a song and kind of knowing when to stop is the important part. So now we know a lot more than maybe we did in the past when we were younger so I think it just goes with like I was saying, trying to make every single part in every single song the best it possibly could be whereas maybe in the past for myself at least it would be, ‘That’s a pretty good part, we’ll keep it for now’. But now it’s, ‘No let’s jam it and make sure it has 10 guitar solos in it!’
Andrew: Because of that then, was the process a little bit longer than usual or did you find you were a little bit more efficient in your writing because of the way you were approaching it?
Tim: Yeah it definitely was more efficient but I think the biggest thing is we’re just getting more and more experienced at it. We’re going on our 5th album and we’ve all written lots of other music outside of Striker when we were younger as well so we have lots of experience doing it now especially in having “Stand In The Fire” come out just a year ago, it’s still all fresh in our mind. For us recording and writing this album was actually pretty easy, it was a lot of fun so I guess that’s all we can hope for.
Andrew: Yeah definitely you want to have fun doing this because a lot of bands I have spoken to will say, ‘oh the process was so tedious and boring’, and others will say it was a lot of fun. How do approach the songwriting in a band? Do you enjoy doing that kind of thing or do you prefer to be on the road and playing the songs in front of a crowd?
Tim: Well the biggest thing for us is we all are musicians and for us at least being a musician means you like music in every single part of creating music. So for us that’s what we signed up for, we love all aspects of it. I mean I love being in the studio recording, I love song writing and playing it live and I think it’s the same for all of us. I think it’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, a lot of people don’t quite understand and are maybe not ready for that kind of work and when going under the microscope it can be difficult if you are not prepared. But if you’ve got everything together it can be a lot of fun so I guess it all boils down to preperation and getting yourself ready for it.
Andrew: What about going on the road and touring, how do you prepare for that kind of thing? Especially when you do so many dates like that, how do you manage mentally and physically prepare yourself for that kind of thing?
Tim: [laughs] Well you gotta get your liver in tip top condition first, I guess that’s the biggest one.
Andrew: [laughs] I guess for a lot of bands it can be a lot of fun out there but it can also be a bit scary especially for bands just starting out. When you guys were first starting out and did your first tour, what was some of the things that you learned that you didn’t really know about being on the road?
Tim: [pauses] I’m just trying to think here, that’s a good question. I guess every tour kind of has it’s own unique experiences, I think the biggest thing is just heading out there on your own especially as a band. When you make that jump from playing local shows and maybe get a show in nearby cities and then do a weekend somewhere and then you make that jump suddenly and it’s like, ‘Now I’m gone for 2 or 3 weeks’. There’s no safety net out there and that can be kind of daunting. I think the biggest thing you quickly understand is just because you’re in a different city, doesn’t mean you can’t get help or something. If you break guitar strings or run out of guitar strings, there’s a guitar store in every city so it’s not a big deal.
Andrew: Yeah I guess you learn as you go along I suppose, a lot of local bands can struggle with that kind of thing. Obviously you guys are pretty comfortable in knowing what to do these days, if you had any advice for younger bands out there just starting out, what would be the one thing you wish you were told when you were first starting out?
Tim: Well I think probably the biggest thing is making sure all your band members are on the same page. I mean I’ve been in a number of different bands and even in Striker we go through people, we’ve always had a lot of members choose to retire because maybe were more interested in pursuing a different path and it can be very hard if you want to pursue music professionally and there’s a lot of work that goes into it. So if you sit down and everybody is on the same page, things will go a lot smoother. If you have one guy who only wants to play once a year and you have another guy who loves the touring, it can pull the band in different directions and that can be tough.
Andrew: I guess some people have that mentality that it’s still all sex, drugs and rock n’ roll but I guess it’s not really like that is it, or at least not anymore these days.
Tim: [laughs] Yeah it’s not. I would say it’s more work, work and then more work but it’s a lot of fun so it’s all good.
Andrew: Well it’s been great chatting to you today, really appreciated and congratulations on the new album and hopefully someday we will get to see you in Australia to do some shows down here.
Tim: Yeah we’re trying to put the puzzle pieces together to come down to Australia so hopefully we will be there soon