Anyone’s who’s been with Sentinel Daily since the beginning will know how much we love Canadian metallers Striker. Last year’s superb album Stand in the Fire was a staple on the office radio/stereogram all year, finally making it to number nine on our Top 100 Albums of 2016 rundown – a pic of the band’s stellar six stringer Tim Brown being picked to head the final earth-shattering installment of that epic countdown further signalling just how much we love this band. Well, they’ve got a new album out – cunningly-entitled Striker – so of course we wanted to have a chat with the band. And as luck would have it, here’s the band’s vocalist Dan Cleary, ready, willing and able to chew the fat over all things Strikeresque! What are we waiting for?
The album has been out a while now – Are you pleased with the reception? “Yes it has been great so far! We’ve had a lot of great reviews and people really seem to be digging it”.
The last time I spoke to Striker – almost a year to the day – you were sitting in the airport waiting to fly to Europe to tour with Primal Fear. Now you’re out in Europe again with Sonata Arctica – how’s it going? Is it important to keep Striker out on the road as much as possible? “It’s been awesome so far! Although I think some Sonata fans are a little surprised by our live show at first. We usually go berserk on stage and if you are a power metal fan who has never been to a thrash show before it might be a bit jarring, but everyone seems to be having fun. Yeah I think one of the hardest things to do for a band is be visible. The internet is a great tool for that but it’s also a great tool for every other band trying to do the same thing. There’s definitely something to be said about being out in person and performing live, and it’s a great way to showcase your music to lots of people all at once. Plus playing live is sick”.
All that touring notwithstanding, you managed to get an album out more or less within a year, which is lightning-quick by today’s standards. Was that a conscious decision, or just a felicitous series of events? If it had taken a couple of years to release Striker, would you have been just as happy? “Stand In The Fire was our first independent release and it was kind of a leap of faith for the band. You have to throw so much time and money into recording and releasing an album and just hope that it is successful. That album was really important to us to show that we could do it on our own without a label, and I think we felt like we had no reason to slow down. We are always writing music, for me personally it’s one of my favourite things to do so we always have ideas. The time frame worked out well for us and we had the opportunity so we jumped on it”.
I love the little eighties-inspired instrumental insert Cheating Death – what was the inspiration behind that track? “(laughs) Yeah man, our guitar player Tim watched too much Stranger Things. But we all love that John Carpenter style soundtrack music”.
You have five full length albums to your name now. People keep telling us the music industry is dead. Are you ideally placed within that dystopian prognosis to keep putting records out on your own label? Is that the best model for Striker going forward? Or could you see a time when you might consider going back to a ‘proper’ record label? “For now it is working really well for us, although I think that at some point the workload could be too much for just the band to deal with and to be fair that would probably be a good problem to have. As far as the music industry being dead I think it’s just changing. Things will sort themselves out eventually, but unfortunately we are in that awkward transition phase. People are always going to want to listen to music”.
We’ve established you like to tour – and that touring doesn’t stop you getting an album out quickly – so how does touring impact on your writing? Do you find it easy to write tunes on buses or in hotel room? “Actually we haven’t really tried writing on the road. I know a lot of bands do that but we have just never had the means to do it I guess”.
Each one of your albums seems to have a more ‘radio friendly’ track – I’m thinking Bad Decisions, Too Late, and now Rock the Night – all of which get regular outings still in the SD office – is it important to you to emphasize the band’s melodic side amongst all the shredding and general heavy metal madness? “Personally I just love eighties hard rock and hair metal and I love writing in that style. It’s never been about being radio friendly (laughs), they aren’t gonna play it anyways. But yeah it is a nice breather on the album and when we play live, although those songs tend to be the hardest to do well live”.
Any chance of some Aussie shows? “We have been working on it but it’s such a long and expensive endeavour we haven’t been able to sort anything out quite yet. We would love to tour there, I feel like Canadians and Australians get along well (more laughter)”.
Anything else you’d like the readers of Sentinel Daily to know? “New album coming in one year! Well not really but who knows! Keep banging those heads!”
Striker is out now, and if you’re in Europe you can see the band on tour with Sonata Arctica. Click here to see March dates.