“Yes, totally, we’re lucky. I can’t think of many independent metal bands that are actually out touring. We’re kind of off in our own little space. Sometimes it can be hard to get on those tours but if you have a good network, you can definitely get your name out there.”
There comes a point in everyone’s life when they think they’ve got things figured out. A cozy complacency that allows you to set the whole world on coast. Then along comes a conversation that changes your whole perspective.
Striker is a heavy metal act from Alberta, Canada. Established in 2007 and I can honestly say they are a group that I admire. Not only for their blazing throwback style of street metal but for their achievements in this industry. Striker is a touring band but they are completely independent. I have never heard that term used in metal before. I thought all touring acts depended on label support, I was wrong.
Intrigued, I had an opportunity to interview Striker in the flesh last month but I screwed it up. I transcribed the wrong area code and ended up texting the wrong phone number. I realized my mistake a few days later and apologized, to my surprise the band was still up for the interview!
Please enjoy some excerpts from my 9/24/17 interview with Striker guitarist Tim Brown.
David Halbe: Tim, Dave with The Metal Channel how are you doing?
Tim Brown: I’m doing well Dave. How are you?
Dave: I’m good. Thank you so much for taking this call.
Tim: No worries Dave.
Dave: I sent a text last night saying sorry that I missed you. Best of luck with the rest of the tour and I got a nasty response saying who the hell is this?
Dave: So I went back to my email and realized I had the wrong area code.
Tim: (Chuckles) There you go.
Dave: So I thought I’d contact you and at least apologize. I appreciate you taking the time to answer a couple of questions.
Tim: No problem.
Dave: What happened with your relationship with Napalm Records, what made it the right time to self-release?
Tim: Well, we released a couple of albums with Napalm (Napalm Records) and those were Armed to the Teeth (2012) and then City of Gold (2014) and then they re-released the first album Eyes in the Night (2010). So we were in negotiations for our next album and just looking at what they were offering us, it didn’t make any sense to do a deal with a label.
Tim: You can go to any branch of any bank anywhere and get a way better deal. The big thing was when we started looking at the services a label provides, we can get the exact same services ourselves. Nothing is stopping anyone from doing anything on their own.
Dave: I get it.
Tim: I mean, your money is as green as anyone else’s. If you wanna go get a promoter, you just call one up.
Tim: Hey man, do you want to do some promotion for us? They’ll say, yea sure. If you have a bit of money let’s face it, everybody needs to work. Especially in this industry, it’s so wiped out. Nobody is going to be turning you down if they want to work.
Tim: You’ve got to have a good product though. It’s worked out for us because nobody will work as hard as you will for yourself and that’s a big thing for this band.
Dave: Hell Yea.
Tim: When you’re on a big tour it’s really easy to just get lost in the chaos. You’re label rep might have ten or more bands they might be working with simultaneously and sometimes you get stuck on the bottom, you know?
Tim: Things are different since we’ve gone independent. We’ve got two albums out (Stand in the Fire – 2016 & Striker – 2017) and we’re already working on the third one.
Tim: We’ve been on some great tours with Primal Fear, Sonata Arctica and Dark Tranquillity. So we’re really happy that things have been working out for us.
Dave: Would you accept an offer from a label if the price was right?
Tim: Yea, I guess but I really don’t see that happening. Being independent offers so many advantages. For example, we have the ability to print our own merchandise, our own records and CDs, stuff you’d sell on tour. If you’re on a label you have to buy it.
Dave: Right. That sucks.
Tim: We think stuff like that is just ridiculous. One thing we are always looking for is new partners. I’m taking distro partners, promo partners, marketing and all that fun stuff.
Tim: We’re building our own little empire here, one step at a time.
Dave: Right. I never really thought about it like that before but it makes perfect sense. Your moniker is your brand. It’s investment in yourself, the entire creative process is all yours.
Dave: How do you land a tour then? How did you guys hook up with Dark Tranquility?
Tim: We are on tour with Sonata Arctica in Europe.
Tim: Their (Sonata Arctica’s) booking agent in North America is the same as Dark Tranquillity and that guy ended up getting in touch with a promoter we know who suggested to him Striker get added to the bill so that’s basically how that happened.
Tim: That’s another advantage to being independent. I remember when we were with a label we kinda got pushed to the side on tours because the label was busy with other things. Now, if something isn’t working whether its promotion, booking or some other kind of representation you can just stop it and go somewhere else. Finding the right partners is a process and it’s hard to find them.
Dave: I can imagine. Hey, I noticed the Canadian government helped out with the video for the song “Former Glory”. What is Factor (Foundation, Assisting, Canadian, Talent, On, Recordings) and how did that come about?
Tim: Yes, we are a unique band in the fact that we get help with grants from the federal government and even the local government. I guess our situation is unique in the fact that we have university graduates that would be myself and my brother (Adam Brown – Drums). We do a lot of literary projects outside the band. We are really good at writing reports so we’ve had some success applying for grants and stuff like that.
Dave: That’s kick ass.
Tim: That helps us get our music out. So we’re blessed in that regard, we are good at paperwork.
Tim: We are one of the few if not the only metal band that’s fully funded by FACTOR which is the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings which is great because it’s an unusual thing, especially in Canada because most of the funding goes to Toronto and we’re way out there in Alberta. So that’s pretty rare but when you add to that the fact that we are a metal band it makes it super rare.
Dave: Fuck yea. Have any other videos been planned?
Tim: We actually filmed a music video a few weekends ago.
Dave: Is it a live video?
Tim: We will be performing. It’s not like a live setting at a show or anything. It’s for the song “Pass Me Bye” and it should be coming out in a month or two.
Dave: Awesome. I just saw how great the band is live, are there any plans to record a show?
Tim: Thanks. Yes, definitely. We are planning to do something live. We are just waiting for the right tour. We’ve been doing a lot of supporting recently so our sets are a lot shorter, they’re only a half hour so if we were going to record something we want to record a full headliner show, something to fill up a whole CD.
Dave: Hell yea.
Tim: If we’re going to record the audio we might as well do a full DVD and record the whole experience.
Dave: Kick ass.
Tim: It might take a while but we will definitely get it done.
Dave: A behind the scene Blu-Ray would be fantastic.
Tim: Now you’re talking, yea.
Dave: About what you were stressing before about being independent. I think it also allows you to decide for yourself who and when to tour with, you decide what metal micro-genres to attack to open up your fan base.
Tim: Yes, totally, we’re lucky. I can’t think of many independent metal bands that are actually out touring. We’re kind of off in our own little space. Sometimes it can be hard to get on those tours but if you have a good network, you can definitely get your name out there.
Dave: I noticed you covered Ozzy’s “Desire” off No More Tears – Why that song, anything to do with Lemmy writing the lyrics?
Tim: We were just drinking a bunch of beers one day while we were doing the album and we still needed one more track. What the hell are we gonna do? Somebody suggested the song “Desire” and it was like fuck man, done. It really wasn’t something we put a lot of thought into but yea it worked out great, we’ve even played it live a few times.
Dave: That’s kick ass Tim. Ozzy rules! Thanks a lot for your time today.
Tim: No problem Dave, thank you.
- William Wallace – Bass
- Adam Brown – Drums
- Tim Brown – Guitars
- Dan Cleary – Vocals