Striker is an absolutely skilled Canadian power/thrash act, with their latest record City Of Gold, showcasing them at their absolute finest. I spoke with Dan Cleary (Guitars/Vocals) about this latest effort, as well as their decision to opt for a more modern sound, so as not to sound like a 80s throwback. He also talked about his love of (but not belief in) conspiracies, his love for craft beer and his dream band!
First off, how long have you guys been playing together? Who are your influences? What bands were you in previously?
Striker has been together since around 2007. Kind of crazy to think it’s been seven years actually. When we started out our influences were pretty much all old school 80s heavy metal, that’s always what we loved and wanted to play, like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and other bands like Helloween and Metallica. Before Striker we all played in local bands doing similar kinds of stuff but nothing too serious. Before Tim joined the band he was in Kobra And The Lotus for a bit.
Let’s talk a little about the power/thrash attack that is City Of Gold. Where did you write/record the album and how long did that take? Did you run into any issues during the process?
We pretty much wrote the album over the course of a year, just kept busy always writing new stuff, then when it came down to recording we just picked the stuff we liked the best. We recorded the album in Sweden at Studio Fredman with Fredrik Nordstrom and Henrik Udd. Everything went great for the recording except for some of my vocals. We had just come off a tour where everyone was sick for what seemed like the entire time and no matter how much beer I drove into me I still couldn’t shake the sickness. So by the time we got into the studio my voice was pretty fatigued. In the end it worked out fine and I just finished the vocals at home, but it did push the release back a bit.
What was the goal behind City Of Gold? What did you want to do with this album that you didn’t do on your other records? What are some new things that people won’t expect?
There is a lot more thrash elements on this album I think. We have always been kind of torn between what sound we are doing, so we kind of just smashed it all into one. We also wanted to go for a more modern production in order to get away from the “retro” stigma. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind that but it does sort of dismiss us from the get-go as a less relevant band I guess. Like, “Oh yeah, one of those throwback bands. 80’s metal yeah.” so we wanted to, while still doing what we do, at least sound more modern. Plus since stuff like drum recording has come so far, it’s nice to have a monster drum sound that doesn’t fuck around.
For a band whose lyrical content is listed online as “Metal, Beer and Death” it’s interesting to see City Of Gold taking on some new elements. The title track appears to deal with an ancient legend, while the track “Mind Control” deals with something of an Orwellian nature. Tell me a little bit about the lyrics.
They are kind of all over the place on this album. Generally it’s all just things that I am interested in and think are worth talking about. I got really hard into conspiracies for a while though I’m not really a “believer” in them; but more just interested in the different ideas. Some of it is really cool, mind expanding shit. So there’s stuff about the Mayan religion and distorted history and like you said “Mind Control” is about that “Big Brother” kind of thing. Fucking NSA, “There’s no way they would do that”…..”Oh shit they are definitely doing that”. It’s like right out of the X Files where they go into that big compound full of documents on every person. Also we are desperately in need of updating our Facebook info. My religion still says “Yngwie Malmsteen” although I probably won’t change that. (Laughs)
Let me just say, the playing on this fucking thing is incredible. It definitely seems steeped in the roots of classic eighties metal and doesn’t at all seem like just another throwback record. It sounds like you’ve been doing a lot of studying.
That’s good to hear! Since that’s what we’ve been trying to do! Tim and Chris did an amazing job with the guitar work on this album and even I got to do a solo or two. Everyone stepped it up on this album I think, which is definitely in some part due to recording with Fredrik and Henrik. We were able to be in the studio after hours and really put in extra time on solos and ideas, which is huge and a really awesome feature of recording at Studio Fredman!
What songs on the record do you guys think are the best, and why? Also, what songs do you think fans are going to go crazy for during the live shows? There’s a lot of stage ready material here, guys.
That’s one of those hard questions, like “which child is your favorite?” We have been playing “City of Gold” a lot live and it has been going over great. I think once we get some feedback from the fans we will know what songs we should be bringing into the set. We are doing a handful of the new ones on this upcoming tour with Bullet, so we will see what works!
\What do you guys do when you’re not playing music? What are your hobbies, side jobs, exc? What other bands can we see you in?
Right now everyone is focused on Striker. Tim plays in a Metallica/Megadeth tribute band but that’s about it. Our side jobs all suck shit so fuck them. (Laughs)
What are your top five records of all time? Do you prefer Vinyl or tape or CD or digital?
I’m big on the digital stuff. I use iTunes for everything; it’s just so goddamn easy. As far as top five:
1. Perpetual Burn – Jason Becker
2. Blue Murder – Blue Murder
3. Painkiller – Judas Priest
4. Digital Dictator – Vicious Rumors
5. The Bronx – The Bronx (Odd one out but I fucking love this album)
Tell me a little bit about the live shows. Out of all the tours you guys have done, what have been some of your most memorable and least memorable moments? Who have you had the opportunity to play with live on the stage?
We’ve played some amazing shows over the past seven years. We opened for Metallica on the biggest stage ever here in Edmonton and played all over Europe and Canada. We haven’t been into The States, South America or Asia yet but that’s on our radar. And like every band we have played some real shit shows along the way, playing to bar staff and that kind of thing. We will never forget the first time we played in Spain. Sold out show with everyone singing along, it was really inspirational.
So what’s next for you guys? Are we going to see you bringing some heavy fucking metal to the states and Europe? A trip to Japan perhaps? This is one of the most memorable heavy metal albums I’ve heard in a while, so I’m pretty sure a hefty touring session is going to happen. If not, it should!
At the moment we have a European tour lined up with Bullet in Sept/Oct and then Onslaught/Artillery right after that in North America. We want to jump on getting over to Japan and Mexico/South America too. We would pretty much like to play wherever people will come see us! And hopefully get the chance to tour with some of the other awesome metal bands that are coming up these days, there is so much good stuff!
What are some things about you guys that people wouldn’t expect?
I’m not sure really. We do love beer, like in a real “fan of the craft” kind of way but everyone probably already knows that and everyone reading is probably the same way. We are all pretty normal dudes, with a slight obsession with AOR music at the moment.
What would be your dream line-up for a band to play with on stage, with musicians both living and dead?
Let’s see here, Michael Anthony on bass….Jason Becker/Marty Friedman combo on guitar…. Randy Castillo on drums…..and myself on vocals obviously, or maybe Mark Free on vocals.
Thanks for answering my questions and for a record that truly lives up to its title. City Of Gold is truly GOLD and I can’t wait to see where you guys will go in the future. This is what heavy metal sounds like! – Eric
Cheers dude! – Dan