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Punks Strayfare talk about their debut album, “Semi-formal”

At Distrolution, our ambition is to highlight independent underground bands. We are very happy to introduce to you the punk band Strayfare, who recently released their debut album, “Semi-formal”. Check out the full interview below!

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Hello Strayfare! Hope you’re well. Would it be possible to introduce your band to our readers, as well as your roles in it?

Hey! We’re Strayfare. I say ‘we’ but the band has always been one dude writing songs in his bedroom. I’m that dude, my name’s Terigio nice to meet you! I’ve been called Teddy my whole life and have been with a guitar for what feels like just as long. And when it comes to Strayfare, I tumble through everything else that makes a band and somehow come out the other end with music in my hands. Granted I hit the pavement more times than one, but I like to think I do that with some style.

I can’t thank my family and friends enough. I sort of learned to take what’s given and make a picture you know? So, it feels kind of weird to say otherwise. One day we’ll be a group of friends just jamming, though that feeling has always been here since the beginning. Thank you for taking the time to interview me, and thanks to all of you who are reading this. It means a lot.

How’s the punk scene in Long Island, New York? Are there bands that we should be following closely?

It’s difficult to describe the scene here partly because my experiences in it are very few and far between. It’s a bit of an oxymoron I know, and I don’t mean to sound ignorant, so I’ll try my best to explain. From the outside the scene looks alive due to all the shows and nightlife in NYC, but those lights dim quickly as you make your way east through the suburbs. Where I live in Hauppauge, the scene feels invisible. It’s like I’m drifting in a canoe watching these sailboats struggle to reach that lighthouse, when there are so many tiny islands hidden in its shadows that have exactly what we’re looking for.

There are local bands here that I’m a fan of, and I owe them a lot for paving a way for bands like us who are just starting out. Same goes to the artists that went on to break out of this bubble. Especially to the few venues and labels out here who allow all this to happen, regardless of the genre. But yeah, I’m literally that dude who just writes songs in his room. There isn’t anything wrong with that, It just feels like the only thing I have control over sometimes. It’s how I feel connected with everyone.  

At the end of the day that’s how the cards fell. Those immediately around me aren’t really into punk music, and that’s all fine and good. Growing up I was too focused on that lighthouse, I often felt helpless as I didn’t always have a paddle to get there. I can’t complain though, you just play the hand you’re dealt. I don’t think it’s fair to say that this is true about the scene here though. I’m just sharing what I see from my canoe. And when you can’t paddle, you write music. If anything, this gives me more of a reason to raise awareness of all the rad people who make this scene so special. There’s nothing wrong with that lighthouse either, it’s a beacon for sick shows and great people. Just don’t forget all the smaller islands out there. Now that I have somewhat of a paddle and a little more confidence, I’m looking forward to visiting each one when the time comes.

Here’s a list of some of my local heroes and inspirations I admire from afar, even though we’re kind of neighbors:

Alumni, A Little More Tragic is an underrated album this band rules.

Oolong, check out their album About Your Imaginary Friend. It gets better and better each time I listen to it. And this Fatal 4 Way (Split)  they were a part of is sick.

Innerlove, their EP Fine By Me is sound for the soul.

dorks., listen to “Terrior” this EP is a trip.

Shirt Club, their debut album Talent Show hits you hard over the head with a bit of everything.

Career Day, Pride Was Somewhere Else is a promising EP from a promising band.

And Shouts out to Jam Eater, Totally Real, Triple Crown, VuDu, The Tin Can Collective, anxioushum, and SOULED Out!

You recently dropped your debut album, “Semi-formal”, on major streaming platforms. How long have you worked on the release?

I thought it was around 9 months, but I was going through old recordings and found some demos that date back to December 2019. So, I guess it took me around a year. I finished writing in May, recording wrapped up towards the end of November. And my little mixing know-how took me into the first week of this past December. That sounds about right. It’s funny how it’s all a blur in my mind now. I really didn’t do much else.

Any funny stories to share from your recording or writing sessions?

I think it’s hilarious this thing even got made. I mean honestly the world was just trying to do me a favor. Most of the songs were recorded onto a laptop that decided to fall apart during the writing process. Everything had to be MIDI except for the guitar and vocal tracks. The vocals also had to be done between 2:30 and 5 in the morning on my phone in the garage bathroom, along with the acoustic tracks. There’s more clipping than stars in the sky, and more and more cars just kept adding to the pile up. It was the most fun I ever had!

While I was recording “Black-Tie Affair”, I fried one of the pickups on my guitar. After a mild panic attack, it started to sound pretty sick, the mix was suddenly louder and I loved the energy behind it. So, I just kept going and pretended to know what I was doing, put that on my gravestone. You can hear the change happen right before the first verse. And it just builds from there as the song goes on. Each song after it is played that way, except for “House By The Nightstand”.

There’s a bunch of little things that made it in the album too. Like a car racing up and down my neighborhood in Perennial and birds chilling outside my window in My Dearest. All of this was getting on my nerves, but when I came back the next day these sounds unearthed so many memories I forgot I even had. There’s this charm that keeps everything together and that alone makes these songs incredibly important to me. I have all my family and friends to thank for that, this album was a team effort in that sense.

Can we talk about the process of creating the artwork of your album and the overall idea behind the visual?

Given that the album is centered around growing up, I wanted something like the doodles we all did in our school notebook or something out of a comic. I’m not the best artist so I was sifting through old newspapers and magazines looking for “inspiration”. The artwork was taken from the Dec. 1934 issue of a British story paper called The Modern Boy. I came across an ad for an old card game in it that had a simple sketch of a kid. As soon as I saw it I knew I was looking at the cover. He looked like he was enjoying life, regardless of what was happening or what others thought about him. He was being himself, that really resonates with me.

Strayfare

I’m sure you are, like a lot of people, missing live shows. Do you already have any dates planned for 2021?

As of right now 2021 is empty in terms of shows. I’ve been tossing the idea of possibly doing a livestream around in my head, but that’s highly unlikely. I lack the equipment and the resources necessary to do something of a decent quality. Even then they’re so many acoustic renditions of songs out there nowadays. I’ve seen some great live streamed shows like Finter Fest, but I’m not really interested in doing that. I owe the people that like my music the best and with the given circumstances I can’t offer that right now. I would rather use this time to come out swinging when all this is over, but I’ll keep the door open just in case.

Apart from live shows, what are your other plans for this year?

We’re getting a band together! Somehow, sooner or later, it’s going to happen. That’s at the top of the list. I’ve also been looking into a physical release for the album if there’s a demand for it. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that got put on the back burner that I need to take care of, a website is one of those things. I can’t help but pretend the pile doesn’t exist and write more though. Speaking of which, if all goes well, we should be seeing something soon. After that I want to have something out towards the end of the year that doesn’t sound like a tin can. I’m usually too ambitious for my own good so I’m not making any promises. I’ll have my nose to the grindstone and we’ll see what happens.

To finish, what is one lesson you’ve learned that you think is important to pass onto other bands?

Be proud of what you make. No matter what others or more importantly, what yourself tells you. It’s a balancing act. This album was a proving ground in a sense that I had to convince myself if I should be even doing this. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Have some confidence in your music, you made it and that alone makes it special. Loosen up and have fun.

Thanks for your time!

About Valentine Klipfel

As a huge fan of pop-punk, easycore and punk-rock music since forever, I officially started my career in 2011 by offering press relations and social media services to underground bands and labels. In parallel, I also worked for other magazines and webzines, which allowed me to understand what a media wants to receive! I've finally created my own webzine in 2015. Since then, I've continued in this direction in order to help bands and labels develop their visibility and notoriety worldwide.

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