It’s arguably one of the most important times in a band’s career when they decide to release their self-titled album. It’s not an album you want to screw up. An artist can catch their lucky break and try to take the music world by storm (Slipknot and Iron Maiden) or feel comfortable enough with their sound to state this record embodies every aspect of the band (Alice In Chains and Avenged Sevenfold).
Canadian metal band Striker ( found themselves in the latter position, albeit they had an additional reason for making their fifth studio album self-titled.
“Well, the main reason is Metallica did it, so follow in the footsteps of greatness,” said Striker guitarist Tim Brown. “But we really feel that this album, in particular, is a really good representation of what Striker is, what Striker was, and what Striker will be. We kind of just pared it down and it’s exactly Striker. I don’t know how else to put it. We felt it was very fitting to have it self-titled because it just felt like such a natural album. When we listen to the songs we’re not like, ‘this one’s too heavy’ or ‘this one’s too soft.’ It was all like, ‘Yeah, this song fucking rules!'”
What’s more is this record comes right off the heels of their previous album, Stand In The Fire, which came out Feb. 5, 2016. Striker is scheduled to drop Feb. 24, so it’ll be a little over a year in between releases.
“After we came home from touring in the summer because we did a North American, we had a couple months off and we’re vaguely working on new material because we always like to write music,” Brown said. “And then we got some really awesome tour offers including the Sonata Arctica tour and we’re like, ‘Well, how do we capitalize on that opportunity the best way that we can?’ And best way to do that was to get a new album out so we just kinda kicked it up into high gear.”
According to Brown, the band started writing around July and recording in October, but even then, the album wasn’t initially planned to come out so early with an April release at first.
“Originally, we wanted to have a pre-order start during our Sonata Arctica tour and have the album come out right after the tour was done, and we’re like ‘No, let’s get it out now'” he said. “Because I mean, what better way to go on a big tour like that than have a new album out?”
While cranking out a new album so quickly is possible, it is by no means easy. Being a full-time metal musician nowadays is the exception as opposed to being the norm a few decades ago, so the members of Striker needed to use their time wisely and that’s not always the optimal move financially.
“You have also to take time off for recording,” Brown said. “And by time off, I mean time off of work because nobody makes any money from the music industry anymore, but that’s another topic. So it’s really difficult for a lot of bands to do. You know rapid-fire releases, it’s not like in the olden days where you can work full time every day on being a musician and making your music. Nowadays, you’re lucky if you can just practice on the weekends.”
Behind the Scenes
Getting Striker finished early was no easy task. It required a lot of juggling and little assistance with current technology and is a far cry from spending weeks on end in the studio.
The band would record the guitar, bass and vocal portions at their homes. Then they would go to a studio located in their hometown of Edmonton and re-amp both the guitar and bass and record the drum tracks live. During this process, Striker would convene and share their thoughts on each other’s work.
“Our basic structure is we all kinda write demos and make a bunch of music and then we get together and present everything that we’ve done and we kinda score each song. You know, this song it’s an 85, this song it’s a 60, whatever. We can make notes on each one and then at the end of that process, at the end of that day, we take what’s the best songs and we get rid of everything else. And then, a couple weeks later we do the same thing after we worked on it again. And then, same thing after that. We just keep going until we’re down to the album length that we want.”
It’s a process of elimination to get the cream of the crop on the album. Striker will have nine songs on it and list of demos ranged somewhere in between 25 to 30. Because of Striker’s recording approach, some of these were simply guitar riffs or choruses, so the band would also combine some of these songs.
“This was the first time we really started mashing ideas together. So we have song A, which maybe had a really great chorus, and song B, which had a really great verse, but maybe either of those songs on their own were kinda crappy. They just didn’t really have what it took to be a great song. Well, why don’t we put them together? And so that was the first time we did things like that so it was kind of a new way to do things but it turned out really good.”
Once they successfully whittled and completed the songs, they sent the tracks to Striker‘s producer, Fredrik Nordström, who’s worked on records from At The Gates, Soilwork and In Flames. Since this was a race against time, this was the most challenging aspect of the album because Nordström lives in a completely different time zone.
“We’ll want to get one little edit and then maybe he sent the mix to us at night, his time, and then it takes us an hour to download everything. Then we finally listened to it and say, ‘Oh, we really like this, but we want to change this one snare hit,’ or maybe we want to take a little low-end out of the vocals here or something, or maybe add a little delay. And by the time you email him back, he’s gone to bed so you have to wait a whole ‘nother day. So basically, for one simple small comment, it ends up taking up like a day or two to actually end up getting fixed, so that can kind of be a pain in the ass. But I mean at the same time, it’s really amazing that’s the way that we can record it. It’s so simple and it’s so much cheaper than going in and recording in the studio, so it’s both a blessing and a curse with modern technology.”
The Finished Product and Aftermath
The process may have been as short it needed to be and perhaps a tad unorthodox compared to other self-titled projects, but Brown and the rest of Striker are more than pleased to have this record as their self-titled album.
“This is our no bullshit album,” the band said in a recent press release. “We cut out everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary and kept everything short and to the point. We pray at the altar of heavy metal every day, and there are some musical ideas that persist through time and some that don’t. We focused in on what keeps listeners coming back and got rid of everything else. You can’t climb Mount Everest dragging any useless shit with you; if you want to make it to the top, only bring with you what is absolutely necessary: lethal amounts of shred.”
“For me Striker’s always communicated fun and excitement,” Brown said. “So our songs are very much still about that. I feel that all of our songs are very exciting and fun. They’re upbeat. It’s a lot of fun to listen to. They always put a smile on my face, you know, that kind of cheesy stuff. And another big part of Striker that it’s always been very musician oriented. For example, in Born To Lose there’s three guitar solos. You know, lots of lead guitar. So if you’re new to Striker you can expect fast, exciting tunes with nonstop shred. I hope that sounds enticing.”
Striker will finish touring in the U.S. before their self-titled album releases and then go on tour with Sonata Arctica, which was the major motivation in getting this record out so soon. There is a pre-order for Striker that will last until the end of January. For those who pre-order it, you get a bonus track on your CD or vinyl and also get your name in the liner notes forever.