The Canadian heavy metal band Striker have been making waves in the last few years and along with Skull Fist, Enforcer, Cauldron and White Wizzard (among others) have been leading the revival of traditional heavy metal bands. From lineup changes to opening for Metallica to signing to Napalm Records to finally taking matters into their own hands, Striker have seen it all. We caught up with Striker at the end of their European tour in London where they supported Exodus and Lost Society and set up an interview. This is how it turned out…
HB: Thanks a lot for taking the time off to do this interview. Striker was on a long European tour with Brainstorm and Primal Fear. Tell us more about the tour, and now that the tour is done, what’s next on the agenda?
ST: That tour was amazing! Every show was sold out or close to it and the crowds really ate up our new material. Everyone on the tour was a real hero and honestly nice people, would love to go do it again! After we finished that tour, we did a short tour in Mexico which was a lot of fun and right now we are just getting ready to start our North American tour which runs from end of April to roughly the end of June! After that we are already planning our next European and North American tours for the end of 2016 and we will have new music out by then as well!
HB: ‘Stand In The Fire’ came out earlier this year on the brand new label Record Breaking Records. How’s the response been so far?
ST: So far it’s been amazing! Everyone has been so supportive of us and our new album, it’s really quite amazing to be on this end of it. The conventional wisdom in the music industry is that you need to work with a label, but then again convention wisdom in the music industry is an oxymoron in and of itself. There were some people who didn’t think it would work out but we’ve proved to be very successful and I think when we look back at “Stand in the Fire” we will see that this album was a big turning point for us and really helped push us onto doing bigger and better things. The fact of the matter is that in the modern music industry, there is no room for labels to exist unless you are at the top 0.01%. If you are a band and you sign to a label these days you are basically chaining yourself to a sinking ship that’s already half sunk. Labels certainly are not innovative enough to keep up with new changes in technology, and by going independent we’ve been able to try so many new things that have been incredibly helpful for us.
HB: ‘Armed To The Teeth’ and ‘City of Gold’ were both on the Austrian label Napalm Records. Why the shift towards a house label rather than a traditional ‘big name’ label?
ST: We finished our contract with them and decided to move on. We’ve been in the industry for a long time and have seen all kinds of contracts from major labels down to tiny local labels. There’s just no room for labels these days, that business model doesn’t work anymore. The name of the game is totally different these days and labels are stuck in the 90’s. By being independent we can do anything we want, which has been liberating. We want to promote our new tour or music video? No problem! But on a traditional label, you have to jump through all these hoops, and even you deliver a great music video or album to your label, there is no guarantee they will even promote it for you, which is a very real thing.
HB: Musically, there has been a shift towards ‘thrashier’ music but maintaining a strong melodic flow. Was this a planned, intentional shift or did the music take its own course? How does the song-writing usually happen on a Striker album?
ST: We just write whatever we want! No real overarching theme. We just write some music and whatever comes out is what we go with. I think a big thing is how our production has changed. Going to Fredrik Nordstrom for ‘City of Gold’ and ‘Stand in the Fire’ really brings a brutal element to it, since he was so instrumental in creating that melodic death metal sound. I think overall it makes everything sound significantly heavier and more thrashy.
HB: Striker have had their fair share of lineup changes in the last few years. How has every change impacted the band?
ST: Well for us a big thing is that being in a band can be very difficult. We all work full time jobs to pay for touring and albums and things like that, and it’s hard to blame somebody when they don’t want to spend their 20’s sleeping on strangers floors around the world. It’s tons of fun but sometimes reality will creep in and remind you that in fact, you do need to pay for rent or your phone bills or whatever. We are still great friends with everyone who has left the band which I think is a rarity. But with each change we try to improve upon ourselves and make our situation better.
HB: This is a question I ask to almost every Canadian band I speak to – how’s the Canadian metal scene and how’s the Edmonton metal scene? How easy/hard was it to grow in a ‘smaller’ city, compared to say, Toronto or Montreal?
ST: Edmonton has a good scene, most of my best friends come from the metal scene here. We are all good pals I’d say, everyone is very friendly. Obviously Toronto/Montreal are in the prime geographic location for basically everything in Canada, but Alberta has its own advantages too. The thing about Canada is that it’s so enormous yet so sparsely populated. Sometimes you can drive 5 hours on the highway without even seeing a gas station. I think this creates sort of an East/West separation, mainly for the fact that it’s so hard to tour the entire country. The bands that do are usually pretty awesome though! If you can survive on tour in Canada, you are ready for anything.
HB: Seeing that Striker have toured far and wide (Mexico and Europe with a US tour coming along this year), what would you say is the biggest difference between the metal scene in Europe with Canada?
ST: Well, in Europe they have a much deeper respect for music as a profession I would say. For example, lots of venues in Europe have showers, catering, green rooms, even accommodation! In North America that’s pretty rare unless you are playing bigger venues, and even then it’s not the same. Metalheads are metalheads everywhere in the world, and for the most part it’s a very global culture and we are all pretty similar!
HB: Any plans to tour Asia/India in the near-mid term future?
ST: We are trying our best! It’s a priority for us for sure!
HB: Thanks a lot once again for taking the time to do this interview. Best of luck and see you on the road either in Europe or in India soon!
ST: Thanks for the interview! And a special big thank you to all the friends and fans out there who have been supporting us and our new album! We couldn’t do it without you!