A big hail to all of you guys down there in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. How things going outhere at the moment?
Things are going well; we recently played the Milwaukee final round of the Emergenza international music festival and have already started writing new material for our third album.
To be honest, I never heard of a band called Strange Land until that day Lance from Nightmare Records delivered me a package aboard your album "Blaming Season" which is a great piece of Progressive Metal. Well guys, can you look back in time and tell me how everything started?
In 1998 Chad (bass/vox), Brad (drums) and a keyboard player had already been playing in a band together for some time when they suddenly found themselves looking for a new guitarist. Chad met Sean at the university they were both attending at the time. We talked and decided to get together to jam and we all hit it off fairly quickly. Shortly after that we reformed the band under the name Strange Land. At that time we were a four piece. Less than a year later we parted ways with the keyboard player and started playing out on the local scene as a three piece.
Strange Land contains three members. Please give me some more detailed info about each one of them?
Chad Novell (bass/keys/vocals) - Age: 29
Chad has been playing piano since the age of 5 but became a bass player in middle school and has continued to play both all through college and after.
Sean Gill (guitar/baking vocals) - Age: 28
Sean has been playing guitar for 15 years now. He studied mostly jazz and classical in college but rock and metal was always his first love. He's also a guitar teacher at a couple of local music stores.
Brad Klotz (drums/backing vocals) - Age: 27
Brad studied percussion & now is a music educator teaching middle school band in Wisconsin.
Did you find each other through auditions or maybe some long time friends, just tell me about it if you like.
Brad and Chad are long time friends going back to high school. Sean and Chad met in the music department at the University. Sean was wearing a Fates Warning shirt in class one day and Chad approached him to compliment him on it. Strange Land has been together for six and a half years now, so it almost feels like we've always known each other.
Which bands are your inspiration when you write music for Strange Land? Actually, who is the writer anyway?
Our biggest influences include Fates Warning, Savatage, King's X, Galactic Cowboys, Zero Hour, Dream Theater, and Pain of Salvation
As far as writing goes, we all bring songs and ideas to the table. All three of us hold degrees in music so everyone contributes to both the music and the words.
You released a very first 'independent' album entitled "Anomaly", right? Can you tell me some more about that release?
We had reached a point after playing a lot of shows and writing a bunch of songs where we decided the next step in our career would be to record a CD. As much as we don't like to admit, music is a business and we needed a product to sell. We went to a local studio and recorded it over about 4 month's time. We think we can be pleased with it as a first release but looking back there are a lot of things we learned to do different with Blaming Season.
Then the opportunity shows up to sign a record deal with Nightmare Records. What lead you to this record company? Did they approach you or backwards? An explanation please.
Chad contacted Nightmare after seeing that they were distributing a CD by some friends of ours, a band called Outlander. Having Lance and Nightmare behind us has been nothing but beneficial and Lance is one hard working guy.
Signing a record deal, going straight to the recording studio's making new songs…must be one hell of a great feeling knowing that your own band / music will be heard around the world, isn't it?
It really is cool to think about sometimes. Even though were not huge or anything the idea that at least some people around the world listen to our music is very humbling.
So, I've heard the album, which has very good production, and the songs are pretty much influenced by many greats of the Progressive Metal scene. To name a few Fates Warning, Shadow Gallery, Psychotic Waltz, DGM, Rush, Enchant and so on. What's the intention of playing Metal the progressive way?
We write the way we do because it's emotionally and intellectually satisfying for us. We always want to challenge ourselves to be better with each song. Anything less would be unsatisfying. If you don't write music that pleases you then you are doing a disservice to your fans. Plus, thrashing around onstage while playing something heavy is just plain fun.
The progressive Metal scene still growing on and on each and every day. Must be damn hard to stand tall between numerous bands playing a progressive form of Metal? What's your point of view about that?
Well, this may be for other people, such as you, to decide but we think we manage to absorb our influences without being copycats. And our influences are all over the map. Living Colour and Dream Theater are very different but we don't have any hesitation about bringing both influences to an album, or even to the same song.
And we also think we're fairly unique for being a trio. Our instrumentation filters the way we show our inspiration. Aside from the music there is also the need to remain determined to survive in a land of one hit wonders and not get discouraged, and to just carry on with a professional attitude.
Finally, I like the album and joyful varieties all over the line. Are you satisfied with the results?
Yes, we are really happy with Blaming Season. We recorded in our own studio so there was no pressure of being on the clock and paying for studio time and we think that shows in the confidence behind the playing versus Anomaly.
Can you tell me some more about the lyrical subjects? Do you guys want to spread a special message to the world we live in right now or just making songs and that's it?
We write what we feel. Some songs are more abstract and some are more direct. On Blaming Season for the most part the lyrics are more personal, that is, about one on one relationships as opposed to being to the world. If there is a message we'll leave it to the listeners to find their own meaning.
We do tend to write about darker or more depressing subjects. But that is because music is cathartic. When you're happy you don't have to do anything about it but when you're mad or depressed you can't just stay that way. So we write songs to work out our demons.
Please compare your first album "Anomaly" with the new one "Blaming Season"?
In a nutshell: Blaming Season cost considerably less money and yet it sounds better than Anomaly. Another big difference is that most of the songs on Anomaly were written as a four piece with a keyboard player and on Blaming Season we are fully comfortable as a trio. This makes a significant difference in the sound, style and structure of the songs.
How does a live performance look, do you guys play some covers too?
We like to put on a show, we're very conscious of not just standing there. We really enjoy being on stage and it shows, which then hopefully gets the crowd into it as well. We don't usually play covers unless we find something fairly obscure or unexpected we can mold into our own thing.
Is playing in a band a way of living to ya'll or is it just for the inner pleasures or hanging out with the rest of the crew?
We're not making a living at it but we do have that goal in mind. We do treat it as a job, a profession even though it doesn't pay the bills (yet). It's definitely much more than a hobby. Sean and Brad are thrilled to be able to make a living in music and all three of us feel blessed that we are able to actually enjoy our day jobs and then make our own music on top of that.
The most embarrassing moments in your career as musician so far was …
Sean: Playing in the backing band for a swing choir festival in high school. Nothing against swing choirs but spending a day around hundreds of WAY to happy people kinda disturbs me.
Brad: So many to choose from! Probably the time I stood up during a show & tripped over my drum throne. Falling on my ass keeps me humble.
Chad: Nothing specific comes to mind, but my first few gigs in front of decent sized crowds as a teenager were very nerve racking and looking back at the videotape of those performances is terribly embarrassing.
Any plans for the future, something you're dreaming about in hope to become reality?
More music, more shows, more cds! We'd really like get into some festivals like Prog Power. We're looking at (and are very excited about) the possibility of opening for some of our bigger influences in the not too distant future.
Thanks a ton in every way guys. I wish you all good luck with the band and all the works you do in the future. Point the sign up high and let's keep on playing music the way you like. Rock On!
Thank you very much for the opportunity and best wishes!