Striker’s third release ‘City of Gold’ is quite a catchy traditional metal release and as a band they have upped their game and are now on the brink of a couple of major tours which will no doubt enhance their persona, and deservedly so. So I got the opportunity to put a few questions to vocalist Dan Cleary, here is what he had to say about their latest album and upcoming tours.
AN: First of all, ‘City of Gold’, is a great album, it does exactly what you guys said it would, did you approach the recording in any different way to that of ‘Armed to the Teeth’?
DC: Thanks dude! I think a huge part of it was thanks to producer Fredrik Nordstrom. We wanted to give the album a bit more of a modern sound to it and he was the perfect man for the job, him and Henrik Udd did an awesome job!
AN: How do you feel now that the album is complete and the release is imminent? Would you do say you have learned through this recent process that will help with album number four?
DC: We all feel really good about this album. A lot of the time you listen to the album a month or two after it’s done and go “oh man I wish we did this differently” but we have stayed consistently satisfied with it. As far as what we learned, well, beer is expensive in Sweden….so we will have to save up a bit more for next time.
AN: Gradually over your three releases I have heard so far, would you agree that you have now tailored your sound and are more powerful than ever, especially the vocals? I read somewhere you spent more time in pre-production, obviously this worked out well for you! What was the main focus on this pre-production, if there was any pin pointing?
DC: Totally! We pretty much recorded the album in its entirety on our own in the jam space before hitting the studio. It gave us some time to work on things we weren’t sure of so we didn’t end up wasting time in the studio. It helped a lot to figure out vocal ideas especially.
AN: How does Striker approach song writing: as a group, with ideas from all?
DC: I do most of the writing, it’s what I like to do. I usually write all year long and by the time we get to wanting to record a new album we just choose the strongest songs, or the ones everyone likes the most, and then work on them together. The songs are always changing, and everyone gives their own input by the time it’s all said and done.
AN: Was there any recent influences that inspired you for the recording of ‘City of Gold’? Musical or lyrically?
DC: Musically we wanted to get a little bit heavier with this album. We channelled some Testament/Slayer/Exodus type elements, or at least tried to haha. Lyrically it’s all over the place but I think this one is definitely more “serious” than some of our previous albums.
AN: What is the inspiration for the stunning album artwork, who penned this also?
DC: The artist is Eliran Kantor! After seeing his work on the Testament album “Dark Roots of the Earth” we knew we wanted to work with him. He did an amazing job!
AN: Do you have favourite tracks from ‘City of Gold’? I guess you can tell me after the touring schedule what looks killer live!
DC: Right now the title track is my favourite, although I’m sure that will change!
AN: There is a tour coming with Bullet and Stallion, this is a pretty damn good line up. I noted no UK dates this time. But thinking about your last UK visit, what was the impression and how did that go?
DC: It was great! We have had a lot of people wondering why this tour isn’t coming their way. Unfortunately we didn’t have much to do with the booking for this tour, but maybe we should have pushed for some more places. Maybe we will be able to do it again and play everywhere else!! We are always ready!
AN: Have you played or had contact with Bullet or Stallion in the past?
DC: No not yet, just by email. We are super stoked to rip it up with these dudes. I hope they like beer.
AN: Something to think of in Europe – still or carbonated water!?
DC: Fucking still man! I can’t stand the bubbles.
AN: Do you have any plans between the few days following this tour before going out on the tour with Onslaught and Artillery in the USA and Canada? Busy times ahead for you guys!
DC: We will probably just recover from the euro tour. Hook up the dialysis machines ya know?
AN: What is your standard “gear” set up? Guitars, amps, drums etc?
DC: Just the basics for us pretty much. We are more of a plug in an play type band, nothing too fancy. Sound guys like us haha.
AN: Is there a must-have piece of kit you couldn’t work without, or a piece of kit that in your eyes IS metal music!?
DC: We have only played one show ever without beer. It sucked.
AN: Are any of you taught musicians or self-taught?
DC: Everyone is mostly self-taught. I think some of us took lessons here and there but never went that far with it. Chris bullshitted his way through music school, I think he just drank beer the whole time.
AN: Canadian bands always seem to do very well in Europe, why do you think that is?
DC: British colony maybe? Maybe they feel bad for us because of the weather! It was colder than Mars last winter!
AN: Is there a music program in the Canadian education system like that of Sweden for example? I ask as I generally find where this is applicable, bands from such countries are always..well..they are better than the average band that dreams of rock stardom!
DC: No not really, not the same. There are music programs in school but I think they are fairly typical.
AN: Who is your favourite Canadian artist or band?
DC: Annihilator! And our boys in Skull Fist.
AN: Name three albums you think that every metal fan should own? These don’t necessarily have to be an influence on Striker!
Painkiller – Judas Priest
Ride The Lightning – Metallica
Peace Sells Who’s Buying – Megadeth
Thank you so much for your time, I wish you well with ‘City of Gold’. It is a solid release that will do very well. Enjoy your tours!
Interview by Paul Maddison