Interview: StrateJacket Break Down Their New EP, Talk About Surviving The Pandemic, And Look Ahead To The Future

GID: Did you get any downtime to hang out and do some fun stuff in Canada when you weren’t recording?

FA: We went to Vancouver Island to lay down tracks and after that, both Brian and Karl would be like, all right we have a couple hours to kill while Karl fixes up stuff. So, we’d go to restaurants, go to little clubs, and bars, and just explore.

JR: I remember eating a lot of Chinese food because that was the only thing we knew how to make. We’d just make a plate of noodles. You remember?

FA: We went to Costco and the Costco run was so bad because we’re not used to cooking at home. So, we went there and got eggs, milk, and some other bull crap. And we’re like, nah, we need more, man. So, we got chicken and stir fry and rice. It was a fun time learning how to be an adult.

JR: We kind of learned how to cook up there. But we did travel around. We went to Comox which has this beautiful bay view where you go right up to the coast. We saw jellyfish and stuff.

NM: Yeah, but there were supposed to be Orcas. I was really excited to see an orca, man.

JR: We did see one orca, remember?

NM: Oh, yeah. We saw it on the ferry!

JR: We were on the ferry back. We saw an orca. We had just finished the record and we were having a little celebration with Brian and Karl. Oh, man. Good times. Never will forget.

NM: All the orca.

JR: All the orca.

GID: Thinking about when the band started to where you guys are now, what would you say are some of the challenges or struggles new bands face with the state of the music industry, the emphasis on streaming and numbers, and just the world post-pandemic?

JR: You know, I don’t even think I know how lucky we are to be where we are yet. I can’t really gauge it because it all happened kind of quick. We played a lot of shows in skate parks and beaches and under bridges, just anywhere we could.

FA: Our journey was tough. There were moments when our venue would be under a bridge or at a park, as Jack said. I think as hard as you work it really is about knowing the right people sometimes and getting lucky. We worked extremely hard, but if it wasn’t for speaking to people who helped us make connections, I don’t think we’d even be here.

The best advice I can give for those who are struggling is always – I don’t like using the word network, it sounds too fucking corporate-y. Just talk to people, make friends. At the end of the day, the more friends you make, the more connections you’ll have. It’s important not to look at it from a business standpoint but to look at it as connecting with people. I think you’ll make it far if you do that.

JR: We’re also just looking for the best possible time we could have playing in a band, you know what I mean? We obviously wanted to play big shows and sign a record deal but at the end of the day, we really wanted to have a good time after the pandemic. And I think a lot of people were looking for that, too. There’s a lot of talk about live music never being the same but I think post-pandemic proves it’s really important. It’s an important thing to keep going because that’s a large part of the culture in general.

GID: Very true. If anything, the pandemic showed how important live music is. When lockdown lifted, people were so hungry for shows it almost didn’t matter who was on stage.  People just wanted to go to shows and be with other people. We tried the livestream thing, and it was all right for a little while, but it didn’t come close to being at a live show.

JR: Yeah, I think a lot of people like the fact they can go watch live music with like-minded people and have the opportunity to make friends. You don’t really have that when you’re watching a livestream; there’s no sense of community. That’s what I think the Bay Area scene is really good for. You can go to a show and you might make four friends. If that band didn’t play, and you didn’t go, then you wouldn’t have made those friends. That’s a big part of it, too.

GID: You guys have already achieved quite a bit in the short time you’ve been together. What do you hope StrateJacket achieves in the near future?

JR: I’d love to play Outside Lands. And if we ever ever ever got the chance to open for Green Day I would die. Simply pass away [laughs].

FA: I’d like to visit London and play there. I didn’t realize a lot of my favorite bands are from across the pond – Arctic Monkeys, Nothing But Thieves – so I’d feel like I’m at home with my musical tastes. I’d like to play there.

NM: Definitely going overseas. In four or five years, if we get to be in a cameo for a movie or a TV show that would be sick too.

JR: A Smiling Friends cameo would be so sick. Holy shit [laughs].

GID: I like it! You’re thinking beyond music now! So, EP’s coming out. You have festivals booked for the year. The album’s coming at some point. What’s next for StrateJacket?

NM: Well, we’ll be writing more new music after we drop the album. Hopefully, we get another album if it does well. And hopefully, we get to play bigger shows and go on another tour where we could play throughout the US and overseas, too.

JR: I want to go to Europe or Japan. A large number of our streams come from there, so it would be sick to play there. Things that are happening now are the new EP and the shows we have booked. I’m just excited to see new places, traveling was a big part of why I wanted to be in a band in the first place. I’ve never been to Florida before. I’ve never been to Omaha, Nebraska. I’m excited for all of that.

StrateJacket’s self-titled debut EP is out now. Catch StrateJacket live at 89.7 The River’s Summer Bash in La Vista, Nebraska, and Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, California.

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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Illinois Entertainer. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Creeper, and Green Day.

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