The Strays – Artist Interview
Written by Matt Zin on September 13, 2020
BTD would like to welcome The Strays to the studio!
I am so excited to get started with this interview but before we do, could you tell our listeners where you are from? Also, can you go around the room and introduce each band member? Who does what in the band?
I’m Stella, lead vocalist and head dork
I’m Sam, I play guitar and have the biggest quiff
I’m Krisztian, I play the bass and I am from Hungary
I’m Gaz, I’m the one at the back on drums, trying to keep some sort of order. We’re based in Gloucestershire, UK.
You have an exciting new album out. I was honored to listen to the pre-release of Drop Out Zone. The album is hot, thirteen rock’ in songs from beginning to end. Let’s talk about it. In your own words, how would you describe this album and how did you come up with the title?
Sam – Drop Out Zone is a unique and exciting mix of genres and styles, that was brought about by our nothing less than our wonderfully diverse range of influences. I think for this reason anyone should be able to find something for them on this album!
The concept of Drop Out Zone illustrates the spirit of moving away exploring the territory outside of society’s expected norms.
Stel – Essentially we are a rag-tag bunch of odd-balls and wanted our album to reflect that ha ha.
As I was listening to Drop Out Zone, I was trying to figure out which song was my favorite. It was difficult to choose, they all are awesome, but I will go with the song “Oh Baby No.” I want to talk about that one in a second but I would like to ask a question first. What song on the album is your most favorite and why?
Stel – Thats tough, but I think I’d have to say Hey Little Lady, as it speaks directly from deep inside me, being a woman in a sometimes difficult and male-driven industry. I like the power in it, and I love performing it! Also the guitar solo is sweeeeeeeeet!
Kris – I do like all of them. But if a have to choose one :- Oh Baby no, because that song is full of natural vibes and feelings.
Sam – My favourite song has to be “Get Outta This Town”. It’s just so satisfying to play, and who doesn’t love a good bass and guitar duel?!
Gaz – It changes every time I listen to it but at the moment it’s ‘Fire and Ice’ , Stel’s harmonies in the chorus give it a weird haunting sound. I like weird.
Ok, back to the song “Oh Baby No”, that’s a sexy song! This song is like a story. At least that is what I gathered. But I would rather you tell our listeners all about the juicy lyrics to this song.
Stel – Yep its a story about a lady using a random guy for a ride home from a bar, resulting in a one night stand. The guy then falls in love with her, and won’t leave her alone. So while it seems like a sexy song its actually saying that its not cool to use people and treat them that way.
I would like to break away from the album for a few minutes, we will come back to it. Could you tell our listeners how you came up with the band name?
Stel – Actually it came from when Sam and I were a duo, and we just felt like we were a bit different to other acoustic duos, with our choice of material, so called ourselves the Strays because of that. Wherever we go everyone thinks its coz of the Strays Cats though. While we love them, we aren’t named after them…. soz!
I am on an imagination trip right now and you asked me to come over to the studio while you are recording some songs. I arrive there, I knock on the door and you let me in. Dang, I can’t seem to tune in to my imagination, I guess it’s your turn to take over. What would I see in this studio? What would I hear? How long would I be there, You get the idea… fill in the details.
Gaz – We spent a week in the studio to record the album, the drums were recorded first so if you came in after day one you would see me drinking cups of tea and eating bags of crisps. It’s a hard life.
Stel – …And pot noodles…..and generally acting up…… ha ha. I think we all have short attention spans so when it wasn’t our turn to play we were generally being silly. But hey when its time to turn it on, we work hard don’t you worry!
Sam – Apart from that, what you would see is all four of us supporting each other through their individual parts and really helping each other play and perform to their full potential.
Stel – Apart from when Kris was sleeping…..
Alright, back to the album. Who wrote the songs for this album and how long did it take to complete all thirteen songs?
Stel – I tend to write the songs, although for this album we had a bit more collaboration between us, with the guys putting forward some great riffs and structure ideas. So a real team effort. Took about 6 months to write the album, I’d say.
What’s the story behind the alignment of these songs? Like, why is Hey Little Lady First and Oh Baby No (radio edit), last? I know some artists like to tell a story of where each song is placed on the album. Maybe you just went for how they sounded together. Can you fill us in with the details?
Gaz – We approached the track placement like we do a live show. Start with a punch in the face, give the crowd a breather and then smash on until we have no energy left. Just Another Day is technically the last song as Oh Baby No was tagged on as a radio edit. Just Another Day was inspired by a close friend of ours and thought it fitting that we end on a sentimental note.
Does the album cover have a story to tell? Who designed it or came up with the idea of the album cover?
Stel – Its amazing isn’t it. We found the image on google and thought YES! It depicted the retro feel alongside total chaos, which is exactly what our band and the album are like. But we couldn’t immediately find out where the image came from and it took a bit of detective work to find amazing retro-style artist Bruce Emmett. He has done some great commissions for big companies and bands. His portfolio is insane! I dropped him a sheepish email expressing that we would love to be able to use his image and he graciously agreed! Couldn’t believe our luck! Of course we sent him a copy of the album as soon as it came out!
What does the band like to do when they are not recording or writing music?
Kris – Nothing, We eat, breathe and sleep music.
Sam – We do have to try to relax as much as possible outside of our crazy gigging and rehearsing schedule.
Stella – Yeah, to be honest we aren’t left with a huge amount of free time at the moment. I like to recharge with a night in, popcorn and a horror flick. But I also like to go and see live music where I can. Supporting other live music is important to me.
Gaz – I relax by doing admin! Posters, gig booking, promo, networking. It’s hard to switch off as you never know where the next opportunity will come from or lead to.
Stella – God we sound sad……
I have one of your basic run of the mill typical questions and that is, who are your musical influences?
Sam – When I was growing up Stevie Ray Vaughan was my biggest influence… you will hear nods to his soloing style in “Hey Little Lady”.
Gaz – My Dad was a rock drummer in the 70’s so I was bought up on bands like AC/DC. As I started drummer myself I got into Metallica, Green Day, Faith No More etc.
Kris – Elvis, Gary Moore,Marcus Miller. From Hungary: P Mobil , Hobo, Hungaria.
Stella – In my teens I listened to a lot of indie rock and loved female fronted bands like Skunk Anansie and No Doubt. People say the No Doubt influence is present in our sound. So as you can see we all have very different musical backgrounds, which accounts for the strange and unique sound we produce.
You have some other great music out on Spotify, I would like to open this up to the band and inspire our listeners on what other songs of yours should they listen to? If you could, give a little story about the song or songs you are suggesting.
Gaz – I’d suggest the first song on our first EP called Cat-a-walling. We don’t actually play it live anymore but when I first heard it I remember thinking ‘how are we ever going to write a better song than this??’ Whether we have or not is open to interpretation… We are hoping to get to play it live, but as we wrote it without bass it needs a little re-writing to get it to sound perfect
Kris – I’d say “Alright” from the first EP. It was the first song I ever played with the guys and I always remembered the track name wrong . I kept calling it “Anytime” and they kept saying to me, we have not got any song called “Anytime”
Gaz – Ha! The language barrier can be rather funny sometimes!
We have come to the close of this interview and I would like to ask if there was anything I missed? Please feel free to tell our listeners now. Any tour dates coming up or special projects? The floors open.
Gaz – We’re gigging most of the time but we have our album launch at The Frog and Fiddle in Cheltenham on 9th August which is looking like it will be a sell out. After that we have a 23 date tour over the autumn. We have a gig guide on our website www.thestraysmusic.co.uk or on our Facebook page.
Stel – Ooh also we did write and record an extra song while at the studio. Its a christmas song to appear on the Western Star Christmas compilation. So look out for that!
It was a pleasure getting to know the band. Please keep us up to date on your musical journey.
T Dawn (BTD Radio)