WHO THE HELL ARE STRATOCRUISER?

Posted: January 4, 2008 by dillion in Indie rock

I’ve written about Stratocruiser many, many times. In fact, I interviewed them back in 1996, on my old blog. They’ve got a new album mastered and ready for y’all, and asked if I would take a listen and, if I dig it, pass something along to whet all of your appetites until they’re ready to release it. Of course, I said yes.

Also, since you can’t see the interview I did with them anymore (because my old site is dead, and now sells ads for wet suits), I thought I’d reprint it, for nostalgia’s sake . . .

Here’s the title track from the new record, titled “Egg Shells.”

Egg Shells-Stratocruiser

And something a little older:

Top of the Morning

And some covers:

Come On, Come On (Cheap Trick cover)

She’s Tight (Cheap Trick cover)

Here’s the old interview:

EKKO: How long did it take you to record this latest album?

CLAY: We worked on this cd for about a year, – the rhythm tracks were
recorded in July 2005 at Rick Miller’s Kudzu Ranch studios, after which Mike
Nicholson (guitar player co-songwriter) polished at his studio. When all was
finished, I wrote and recorded vocal tracks at home.

EKKO: Do you like to work the songs out at shows first, or are you a write first/perform later kinda band?

CLAY: They are always written and recorded before we attempt them live- being that Mike and I live a couple hours apart, we co-write everything via mp3 tracks . . . Mike will produce all the music, and I provide all lyrics and melody.

EKKO: That’s how Postal Service got started, too. But if you aren’t together when you write or record, do you find the tunes change when you finally meet and play them together?

CLAY: They do evolve over the course of time, as I learn what parts I should Play on the guitar. I play rhythm guitar on every song live, but I have yet to record a single note with stratocruiser- no need, Mike handles it all very well on cd- he just picks one of his parts, shows it to me and I modify it to fit my style live. Usually, the songs end up packing more of a punch after they evolve into their live state…

EKKO: I’m a big fan of the power riff, so Stuck to You is my favorite song (musically) on the record. Did the riff come first there, or was it added after you had the rhythm section nailed down?

CLAY: Thanks, after “Heavy Heavy Daze” it is my favorite too. “Stuck to You” was the last song added to the cd. In fact- we have 1000 copies of “revolutions” that do no contain the track , as it was written after we had the whole album mastered. Needless to say, those 1000 cds will sit, or maybe turn up as our Japanese release. Mike and I wrote it and realized that it has to go on the cd. Mike has mentioned that the riff was just there, and he and Matt and Jack just fine tuned it one evening at a practice. Probably no more than 2 hours worth of writing work there. The lyrics reflect my mood toward the day job I had at the time… no longer stuck, however, so if anybody needs an out of work graphic designer…

EKKO: At what point in the writing process did you come up with the chuggala sound of Vegas to Memphis? Is it an homage to Chuck Berry?

CLAY: Vegas to Memphis. – driving chugalug riff again is courtesy of Mike Nicholson. Like several of the songs on the record, written to fit the sound we have developed as a live act… Lyrically, it tells the story of a random kid from Vegas who is tired of his life- and heads out to make a name for himself. I had the flick, “Love and a .45” in my head as I wrote the lyrics. Very fun song to play live…

EKKO: You told me your choice, Clay, was to cover a Billy Squier tune instead of Misty Mountain Hop. I swear I thought “Rock & Roll City” was already a Billy Squier tune (or Doobie Brothers.) Which BS tune were you gunning for? (And can you please record it and send along?)

CLAY: Don’t get me wrong, Led Zeppelin rocks!, I was just worried about trying to pull off Robert Plant. It was done as a lark, but I dig the results . . . “Rock and Roll City” is our homage to Starz. True story in that song about a few local musicians I know personally, never wrote down the lyrics to that one- kind of just stream of conciousness’ed them . . . As far as Billy Squier, I wanted to do “Everybody Wants You.” We are recording it for a Billy Squier tribute cd being released by JustPlain Lucky sometime in 2007. I’ll send it to you the minute it is complete.

EKKO: Revolutions is much more classic rock, much less indie rock, than your last album. Did you do this to reflect the current trend away from the indie sound, or is it a natural progression? (Or should I say, natural regression?)

CLAY: We did not set out to write any certain type of cd. We just wanted it to rock, you know? Big guitars, big vocals, and drums mixed like they were on all those great albums of the mid to late 1970’s. I think with this sound in our minds, and the momentum of our live shows, this is a natural Progression for us. I have always been a fan of well recorded and produced rock music, ie., Cheap Trick and the like.

EKKO: Cheap Trick are my all time favorite studio rock band. I played Surrender for my 7-year-old over the weekend and he didn?t like it. Said there wasn?t enough screaming and loud guitar. He loved your Misty Mountain Hop, though. Digs the hard rock.

CLAY: Funny though, the demos we have recorded since we finished the record In February have been much less “rock.” Who knows, maybe we’ll release that under a pseudonym.

EKKO: Well, keep us in mind here if you choose to do that. As for Stratocruiser, when is the tour, and will you reach the East Coast?

CLAY: Playing random shows until we get the press ball rolling- thanks for helping kickstart it… tour plans are being worked out. We did a small East Coast tour in early May- would love to do it again [and] hit DC along the way this time…

EKKO: Who do you wish you could tour with?

CLAY: The Shazam. Cheap Trick.

EKKO: And who are you actually touring with?

CLAY: We are from North Carolina- not to far from you, in fact. Mike, Matt and Jack all live in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area of the state, and I live right outside Winston-Salem. Love to hook up with someone from the DC/Baltimore area and do some shows…

EKKO: Well, readers, if you’re in a band and want to contact Clay, you can do so through his websites or by e-mailing me. Anything you want to add at the end here?

CLAY: Love your blog.

EKKO: Thanks!

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