Circa October 2006 – Fazer Magazine
Before I get into this article, I must first admit to how much I like this band. They are pretty much unknown in North America. So how the hell did I find about them, you ask? Read on…
There is a marketing vehicle in the United States called Cornerstone Player. I don’t even know if they come out anymore, as the internet pretty much does what Cornerstone used to do, and does it at a fraction of the marketing costs involved. Check out http://www.cornerstonepromotion.com for more info. For years, this company has put out a 2 or 3 disc package that usually consisted of a mixed collection of new music, a dj mix cd, and an assortment of videos (for a few years these were dvds. Usually showcasing videos that would NEVER see the light of day on any commercial music video station). I used to buy these things off of ebay whenever they showed up online. As it happened… I had just gotten the newest set in the mail. This would be a few years ago now. October of 2004. I was driving into Detroit to see the Killers play at St Andrew’s Hall. I threw this Cornerstone player into the cd player and headed into Detroit (oddly, it was at a time when I couldn’t get anyone to come with me to see the Killers. The band was still at the lower rung on their massive rise to fame with Hot Fuss). This particular Cornerstone was good. New tracks by a bunch of bands that all sounded great. The Secret Machines. Calla. At the end of this mix was a song by a band called Strip Music called Desperation. This song instantly caught my attention. I replayed Desperation a few times… great track. Goth-like vocals over a pleasantly poppy sounding synthesizer mix.
I was impressed enough with the Strip Music, that I did my homework on them. (and I don’t recommend you punch Strip Music into Google without being prepared for the relentless dirge of porn you will be submitted to). After some digging… I found that Strip Music had a website, and a few tracks online. The cd, however, was impossible to find. I found an obscure Swedish website that sold it. Nothing on this site was in English… and I was afraid I’d order the wrong cd. There was nothing on eBay. In fact – nothing ever sold related to Strip Music on eBay in the site’s 6 month sold items section. This is the way it was to go for maybe 2 months… until I finally found the cd on iTunes in the USA (of all places). This presented another problem for me, as iTunes remains region policed. I couldn’t buy the files as a Canadian. I wound up wiring a friend in the States the $10 bucks, and had him buy the cd for me. It was finally mine. 10 tracks. 45 minutes long. Every song on the cd a winner. And I went on to play this disc to death. It reminded me of both older goth music I enjoyed when I was younger, and also older synthesizer music I really enjoyed in the past. Henric de la Cour’s vocals are very strong. He has an excellent voice. I could totally see them appealing to any fans enjoying what the Killers were doing, or even the Bravery… but their song writing and appearance suggests a darker fan-base might embrace them as well. The band remained anonymous in North America. No record lable would touch them here. It was baffling to me.
I traded a few emails with the band, and then with their management. I had a few promo cd singles sent to me from a representative at their lable in Scandanavia. I then took it upon myself to package them all up, and mailed them out to different radio stations and record labels in South Western Ontario, into the States, and even out to Vancouver. Not really suprising to me – I may as well have just lit them all on fire. The only person I heard back from was a fellow at Vice Records in new york – who liked them, but gave them a pass. Otherwise… I couldn’t confirm that any other cd single arrived at it mailing destination. My reasons for doing this were purely selfish – I want to see this band live. And to see them live, they either have to get an audience in North America, or I’m boarding a plane to see them play somewhere in Stockholm. And that would take some Hollywood dollars.
I now have a few Strip Music converts locally. Friends who have heard them at social gatherings I’ve hosted and have asked about them. Some of my more musically inclined friends have jumped on them as well (of course! My own little posse of music-heads. Everyone into music has a core group just like mine I’m sure). I still find when their music comes up in a shuffle on my iTunes… I notice how discerning their sound is. How different than most of the other music I enjoy. And how clean their sound is.
Two years have gone by. The band has a second cd that has just been released in Sweden, called Hollywood and Wolfman. Their rep was kind enough to send and advance of it over to me. And it’s just as amazing as their previous disc. If anything… it’s a bit more musical. Some of the songs are a bit more structured than their debut with material that stands up to well to the first cd. The band still have no North American lable interest as of yet. They remain a favourite of mine. One day, I will get to see them play. I feel they could easily have a successful run of it here in North America… they’ll just need a break of some sort. I remain hopeful they get it. They are a deserving band.
What follows is a short interview with Henric. Conducted via email during the last week of October 2006.
1. What album did you listen to as a kid that made you know you wanted to be a rock star?
For me, KISS was the ultimate band, even before I’d heard their music. I collected thousands of pictures of them, and to this day I still have somewhat of an obsession by the group, especially the period 1973-82 of their career.
2. What was the one thing that happened that you never imagined when you were starting to put together the band?
That one day my music would put me on the same flight as Blackie Lawless and Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P. Our bands played at the same festival up north.
3. Is Strip Music a full time commitment for everyone involved in the band? (Do the band members keep day jobs?)
From time to time I can make a living of my music. Most of the band members have jobs on the side.
4. Strip Music’s sound is synthesizer driven, with a strong vocal element. Reminiscent of some of the better eighties ‘new wave’ bands. Do you feel this is an accurate assessment of your sound? How would you describe your sound?
We do have elements of the 80’s in our music, but we are by no means a retro band. We like bands such as The Cure, OMD, Einsturzende Neubauten, Suicide and My Bloody Valentine to name a few. Our first album “Strip Music” is the sound of a brisk wind at dawn, hurting but not unpleasant. The second album “Hollywood & Wolfman” is absolute midnight with a thunderhead moving in, dark and threatening. On both albums you find a wall of sound of string machines and guitars, blasting drums and choruses that will melt you.
5. What’s your take — Did Tom Petty *really* invent New Wave?”
(something he claimed recently, perhaps in jest)
I don’t really have a take on this one.
6. Strip Music remains relatively unknown in North America. Are there any plans to change this? Like North American distribution and/or some tour dates?
Not right now, no. But I think our record company is sorting it out as we speak. After touring Sweden four times over in the last two years, our aim is to play Europe during 2007, and of course, if we’d get the chance, do some shows in the US.
7. One of the things I personally enjoy about your band, is how lush your songs sound. Are there any challenges reproducing your sound when you perform live?
No, not really. We just go for it.
8. October 2006 has seen the release of Strip Music’s second cd, Hollywood and Wolfman. Has the response to the new cd been good so far?
Some critics hate it with a vengeance, others love it. Some think it’s pretentious, others think it’s a masterpiece. The fans seem to really like it though, and I guess that’s what really matters.
9. How long did you spend on the making of the new recording?
The first demo was made in May -05, the last one in February -06. Album recording started mid July and was done by the first of September, mixing and all. It was an awful experience, the band was spread all over the country for most of the time (we actually just spent three days in the studio together at the same time). We heard the mixed songs over the internet and argued over the phone for several weeks. It sucked. We sucked. The album sucked. But at the last minute, during the mastering of the album, it all came together and now we are very proud of it.
10. I like all of the songs on both of Strip Music’s released cds. I seem to play ‘The Cat and The City’, and ‘When the Red Light District Feels Like Love’ the most from Hollywood and Wolfman. Would you talk a bit about where these songs came from? Do you write them first, and then figure out the orchestration? Are they composed first?
Christian wrote the music to Cat in his hometown of Tranås, where he spent the better part of the fall of 05 at his parents´ house. He recorded it on his computer (strings and drums) and sent it to me on a cd. I wrote the melody and some lyrics about two friends drifting apart and finished it in our studio in Stockholm with help from the others in the band. This song was a favourite of mine for the longest time, but I think it lost some of its edge on the album. Red Light I wrote on my 5-stringed guitar (the upper E-string is missing) at home, inspired by the riff of “The number of the beast” by Iron Maiden.
11. You had a track called ‘Torley Gala’ posted on your site a while back, and it now appears on the new cd as ‘Headlights’. Do you find you tinker with your material like this over time? Or do some songs just come out ‘finished’ quickly?
Törley Gala is a cheap, sparkling white wine we tend to drink when we get together. We thought it was a good working title of a song about being drunk. We changed it because we realized that it would have been named Jack Daniels if we had been a rock’n’roll band. And that just doesn’t sound cool to us.
12. Recent photographs of the band have you as four members. Did you lose somebody recently?
Yes, two of the members left just after the album was done. Patsy has a family and Fredrik wanted to pursue his writing career.
13. Heikki Kiviaho produced Hollywood and Wolfman. How did you decide to use her as your producer this time around?
Well, for starters Heikki is a guy (he’s Finnish). We knew he liked our band and our sound. When we pick a producer we want somebody we like and we know can lead the band under a recording, not so much for creating a sound. We know what we want, and our producer is there to help us get what we want.
14. Musically, is there anything exciting you as musicians right now? Bands you enjoy?
I really like M83, French I think, they’re great. And of course Blixa Bargeld and his Einsturzende Neubauten, they are always exciting.
15. What music do you follow that sounds nothing like Strip Music?
I’m getting more and more into the Black Metal scene.
16. If you could, describe what motivates you as a vocalist/songwriter Henric.
The usual stuff: life, death, hate, love, desperation and our failing bodies. (I know how all this sounds, but I don’t care).
17. Jens and Christian are both excellent keyboardists… Some bands have multiple guitarists – Strip Music boasts multiple synths. Is it more of a challenge to write music that features synthesizers over guitars?
No. For us the synthesizers are perhaps the most important instruments. Many of our songs were born out of the blast of the string machines.
18. Lastly… consider this an open question. Say anything that’s on your mind. This interview will be read by an audience that likely hasn’t heard of Strip Music. What would you like to say about your band that i may not have asked you about?
We believe in simplicity, we believe in not holding back, we believe in desperation, we believe in Sturm und Drang, we believe in euphoria, we believe that more is more, we believe in the sound of string machines and we believe in those three chords that we all love.
Thank you for listening.
< visit http://www.stripmusic.se and myspace.com/stripmusic for pictures, videos and music>