Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Spotty Blog Interview: Meet the Strayers!

Introduction: What can I say about the Strayers that I haven't already said in last week's review of their DIY CD?

A lot probably, but if I told you, THERE WOULD BE CONSEQUENCES!

They were great fun to interview.

As you check out what they have to say for themselves... er, I mean, say about the musical path, you'll see an initial in front of the answers to indicate who responded.

Sometimes they merge into a three headed beast, but for purposes of less confusion and terror...

B = Bill Strayer
D = Denise Strayer
J = Joshua Troup

Let the inquisition... er... interview... begin!

The Interview:

Q) When was the first time you each knew that you wanted music to be a big part of your lives?

B: Bought my 1st album at 8, Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind. I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face when I showed it to him. Music’s always been big since.

J: When I was as young as 3, I would go to my parents den in our basement and find
their copy of The Beatles “let it be” and take it upstairs to my bedroom so I could play it on my Fisher Price record player. I’m sure I didn’t realize then, just how important
music would become later in my life...but now I cannot imagine an existence without it.

Nietzsche said it best: “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

D: I have been playing the piano since 9 and continued to play all throughout high
school, however, it wasn’t until I went away to Penn State Main as a Communications
major that I realized how much I missed it. My boyfriend at the time and I one night
went to the Music Building to one of the basement practice rooms and I played for him
for the first time, he was the one who told me I should be a Music major. I later did get
into the School of Music and graduated with an emphasis in piano pedagogy and have
been teaching piano since. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Q) What was the most surprising or perplexing element of your experience with
recording the debut album?

B and J: How much money we spent on booze

D: Agreed but for me especially it was the evolution of opening up to a third member of the band. Prior to recording I was extremely reluctant to have anyone enter the band
full time, wanting to preserve the sanctity of what Bill and I had all by ourselves. Bill and Mark Ross (who produced our album) eventually broke me down to the reality that we needed a drummer for the “album only” to keep time and fill in the sound. My first
choice was Troup and after 4 sessions and hearing Troup’s tracks on Remind Me I’m
Kind come together I knew I couldn’t allow my fears hold me back from the reality that we needed him be a part of what we had. Luckily he said yes.

Q) What drew you to your respective instruments? Can you remember the first time you touched one?

B: 14 years old. Guitars are cool.

J: I was drawn to percussion because of the simplicity and rawness of it. You find a
beat and sink into it. First time I touched one was when I was 6 and my family moved
into our new house, my uncle returned my dad’s 1967 Ludwig 5 piece drum set to my

D: Being a piano player I jammed a few times with other people and Bill and I began
playing music together with the digital piano we have in our family room. However,
when Spring time rolled around, it really blew that Bill could take his guitar outside and I was left opening a window. At the time, we started listening to bands like Old Crow Medicine Show and The Felice Brothers, and after hearing the accordion on the Felice Brothers album, I decided that I wanted to make the accordion my portable piano. I didn’t know what all the buttons were on the left hand side but figured I could teach myself, and I did. That was 2009.

Q) How did the 3 of you meet?

D: Bill and I were encouraged to come by the Gamble Mill for Open Mic nights by our
friend who ran the event, Mark Ross, and who subsequently produced our debut album.

It was after the first or 2nd time there that we met Josh and he introduced himself as a
drummer and gave us a business card. We surprisingly didn’t throw it away, because as
I mentioned earlier I was not interested in having anyone else in the band.  Nonetheless, we would see Troup from time to time there and downtown with friends
and when it finally came time to record our album in October, he was our first choice
when it was revealed we needed to add a percussion to the album.

Q) What do you think most influences you as individual musicians and as a group?

B: Music or people who perform with passion heart and soul.

J: I truly believe music is a celebration. A celebration of everything that we experience
in life. Good times, bad times, and everything in between. I try to find positive
inspiration from all aspects of life. From the moments that change us and make us
grow to the seemingly trivial...

D: Music helps me keep my sanity. The revelation of TRUTH and LOVE.

Q) Cola or Pop?

B: Soda

J: Ale

D: Neither because they both contain High Fructose Corn Syrup and countless other
artificial ingredients that are really bad for you. Water.

Q) What have ben some of the most gratifying moments for you as a band so far?

Our first gig at the Gamble Mill as a TRIO in December. Plus the way we all felt after
hearing Remind Me I’m Kind put together during recording.

Q) When writing original material, what role do you each fulfill in the collaborative process?

B: I did all the writing for originals on the album, but moving forward we are all equal
collaborators with full artistic freedom.

D: I like having a classical background and knowledge of music theory to assist in
finding ways to move the harmony.

J: I hope to suggest new condiments, herbs, and spices to be uses as axillary
percussion instruments.

Q) Long Johns or onesies?

B: I would really like to get a “Forever Lazy” but until then, long johns.

J: Never ate at Onsies before but Long Johns is ok.

D: I like my long johns. Both kinds.

Q) Will you tell us a story about your tattoos?

B: I got my horseshoe when I was really hung-over. My friend bought it for me, after I
agreed to it the night before.

J: Most of mine are from prison and I don’t like to talk about that.

D: Each one I have is a celebration: the sun to celebrate life; the tree to celebration my
family of choice: my husband and my kids; the orchids to celebration my womanhood;
my kitty paw to celebrate the life of my first kitty who past away a few years ago.

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