The Strookas – What You Want To Hear

Album cover

Summary

  • 20-track CD spanning the 1991-2000 era of The Strookas also released on Moving Change Records.
  • For Fans of Husker Du, Radio Birdman, Dinosaur Jr, Bob Mould, Descendents

Track Listing

  1. hey you
  2. too slow
  3. some kind of wonderful
  4. tomorrow’s world
  5. nothing happens here
  6. goatboy
  7. bambi
  8. watch you down
  9. best laid plans
  10. it makes me
  11. emmerich
  12. my sister dolly
  13. different sound
  14. shake
  15. structure
  16. pointless
  17. this easy life
  18. syrup
  19. let me drive
  20. freight train sheep

About this Release

“Fairly unheard of Maidstone three-piece who’ve produced a diamond of a single on Moving Change Records.”
(Spiral Scratch, January 1991)

What better way to describe the disc than from the band themselves? A current interview of the Strookas:

“What made you decide to release this compilation CD?”

John: We loved playing and we also loved recording too. We worked a lot with Graham Semark (Cyclone Music) in the days when he had this little hut stuck in some woodland in his parents’ garden. This little hut was infact a brilliant recording studio and we recorded so many demo tapes there that we always dreamed about putting some of these tracks onto CD.

We released 2 EPs in the late 80s and when Tony joined the band in 1991, we released the “Deaf by Dawn” LP on vinyl. In 2000, we released the CD LP “Cumagutza” yet we still had loads of other stuff we had recorded and we just wanted to get it out on CD and hear it blasting out in style.

It has been flattering to see on the internet that there are fans of our music all over the world and so we thought it would be cool to release the CD for all those who have bothered to give us the time of day and listened to and enjoyed our music.

Why is it called “What You Want to Hear”? 

John: Although I have written and sang the vast majority of our songs, Dave wrote and sang one of the tracks on the CD called “Syrup”. Dave is not the kind of person to analyse music too much but for me, Syrup is one of the best songs I have ever heard. The structure is different to alot of our other songs, the guitar solo is breathtaking and comes in very early on in the song and lyrically, the words mean alot to me. “How can I tell you what you want to hear? You and me are a million miles apart. We’re getting deeper now. For all the good it does, there’s still no light at the other end”. Just that one verse probably captures more emotion and feeling about relationships to me than any of the lyrics I have worked on over the years. I think just about anybody can relate to those words at some time in their life.

So the title pays homage to Dave’s lyrics. Also, on a more simpler scale, I guess it’s just a brash statement about our band. Forget about all the rubbish you hear on the radio or see on mainstream music channels. THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR!

Dave: I always thought that Syrup was about premature hair loss, which I am experiencing.

Tony: The music is cracking, if we had been on the ball and pushed ourselves our music would have been what you would have heard.

Why have you used the image of Alexandra Bastedo on the cover?” 

John: I think Dave and I in particular are TV junkies and watched alot of tv when we were growing up. We loved programmes like “UFO”, “Randall amnd Hopkirk (deceased)”, “Department S”, etc. The 1960s UK cult tv programme “The Champions” has always stuck with us. It looked cool and still does, the plots were cheesy but fun.There were 3 central characters who were spies, working for an organisation called “Nemesis”. The trio are involved in a plane crash in the mountains of Tibet and are healed and given supernatural powers by a strange order of monks. They use these powers to defend themselves and foil subversive plots from foreign enemies (very cold war!).

Alexandra Bastedo played a character called Sharron Macready and she was very stylish and very british. The myth of TV is always better than reality. The beautiful Ms. Bastedo now writes books about dogs!?

Dave: I’ve got a signed copy of her book about dogs and animals.

Tony:
Sophisticated, glamorous, intelligent � a female John.

“What are the songs on the new CD about?”

John: The songs span a 10-year period, so the themes have changed. The early stuff I penned was probably about the usual relationship stuff – unrequited love and all that! There are other songs on the CD that touch on subjects such as bigotry, religion, boredom, love and being trampled by sheep! We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Goatboy is an instrumental named after the alter-ego of the legendary Bill Hicks, the greatest comedian ever to walk the planet. “My Sister Dolly” takes it’s name from a phrase often used by Private Godfrey in the classic UK TV comedy “Dad’s Army”.

In relation to the lyrics, I would sooner people make of the lyrics whatever they want. If any of the songs mean something to somebody when they listen to them, then that’s cool.

“What are your favourite tracks on the CD?”

John: If I had to choose, I would probably go for “Some Kind of Wonderful”, “Different Sound”, “Syrup”, “This Easy Life”

Dave: “Nothing Happens Here” is the one for me. Also “Different Sound”, “Syrup”, “Hey You”, “My Sister Dolly”, “This Easy Life”.

Tony:
Structure, Hey You, Pointless, Syrup, This Easy Life, Emmerich. Mind, their all simply lully.

If you had to explain to somebody what you sound like, how would you sum it up?”

John: Very loud. Live, I think we could be a bit hit and miss, depending on the venue, PA system, etc. Most of the time, you were given 5 minutes to set up and soundcheck and very rarely were we ever totally satisifed with the sound but in the end we loved playing so we got a buzz out of that, even if the crowd were deafened!

Dave: I think everyone in the band has such varied musical taste, even though we like guitar music on the whole; so you will find a heady brew of pop, rock, punk, hardcore and general warbling.

Tony:
Loud guitar, bass and drums played fast and melodically. I always felt that the guitar/bass interplay was paramount and really enjoyed that dynamic.

“How do you put your songs together?”

John: Fairly straightforward. Dave would throw together a few basic riffs at home. We would all then jam along to them at a rehearsal for a few hours. Once the structure was sorted, I would write lyrics to fit the tune. I could never write lyrics with a melody in my head and then try and explain it to Dave and Tony. Far too difficult. Most of the time, Dave and Tony had no idea what I was singing anyway (they still don’t!). The overall sound was more important to us.

“You are no longer performing as a band. Has the band split up or do you think you will perform again as a 3-piece?”

John: I would love to play again and you never know what might happen. It would be cool if we did. “Dinosuar Jr.” and “Radio Birdman” reformed so why can’t we?

Dave: I would really like to play live again, although it might be wise to wear earplugs.

Tony:
I�m doing all right on my own � I have a weekly residence at school where 150 kids are subjected to my marvellous renditions during singing assembly. I wish young good looking bands would play our music so that we can enjoy a decent pension. Three piece, more like hair piece these days.

“What was it like to play in a band in the 1990s?”

John: It was brilliant. Admittedly, we could have done so much more but there was a real buzz with loads of bands playing in the medway towns in Kent such as “The Claim” and “Somersault”; both bands should have become famous. You got to play with a lot of bands who you liked to go and watch too and alot of us became friends.

Dave: I think that it is exciting to play in a band at any time, as long as you have a good chemistry with each other. I think it helps if you are young, then you don’t have to worry about bad backs and having to go to the toilet half way through your set.

Tony:
Always great, even to deranged backpackers in Southampton.

“Who were your musical influences at the time when you were gigging and recording? You seemed to be heavily influenced by american guitar bands?”

John: I was, and still am, really into “Dinosaur Jr.”, “Husker Du” and “Superchunk.” I also like the australian bands “Radio Birdman” and “Happy Hate Me Nots” too. My favourite british bands of all time are “The Beatles”, “The Smiths” and “Echo and the Bunnymen.”

Dave: Husker Du, Jawbreaker, Jawbox, Radio Birdman, MC5, New Christs, Samiam, Celibate Rifles, early Saints, Bad Religion, Clash, Mickey and the Milkshakes, Pegboy, Mega City 4, All, Rocket from the Crypt, Starmarket, Eddie and the Hotrods, Dinosaur Jr, I could go on …

Tony: Pixies, The Who, Dinosaur Jr, Chameleons, The Jam, Kitchens of Distinction, The The to start with, then when I met Dave and John, their wonderful compilation tapes that were played at The Minstrel opened up the whole American band scene for me. The whole Strookas shebang has been worth it just to lead me to the holy grail of �Birdman and MC5.

“What were the highlights for the band in the 1990s?”

John: To tour France was an incredible experience. People were so friendly. For total strangers to let you stay at their house overnight, to feed you and look after you gave us such a brilliant feeling. The two weeks in France was definitely the highlight. To play in the UK with “Green Day”, “Mega City 4″ and “Midway Still” was exciting too. Wiz and Paul from MC4 and Midway Still were so friendly and supportive. To have your records played on Radio One by John Peel and Mark Radcliffe was like a dream come true. But for me, the best bits were when we would get fanmail from people all over the world who were so into our music that they wanted to write to you to tell you – very flattering!

Dave: The French tour was definitely the highlight for me. French people are nice, especially the ones we met and I tasted the best vegetarian quiche I have ever had at an afternoon punk tea in Rouen.

Tony:
Normally yellow, that�s Australian gold to you my friend � a sort of Waddle mullet for Dave and strawberry blond for John (especially the goatee).

“Why do you think you did not make it big when you were playing regularly?”

John: At no stage did I ever think I was playing in a band to be famous. I just wanted to play gigs and release a few records and that was it. When people started paying a bit more attention to us, all of us had jobs and none of us were in a position to just jack in our day jobs and see if we could go full-time with the music.

I sometimes wish that all 3 of us had met at the same time, with no job and with nothing to lose but it was not like that. We did it for the fun and that is what’s really important.

Dave: I just don’t think any of us took it that seriously, even though we put a lot of hard work into the recording, rehearsing and gigs. We didn’t really want to impress anyone, we just did it for the fun of it and if people enjoyed it that was a bonus.

Tony:
Well I certainly put on weight.

“What do you think of the music scene now? Who are you listening to?” 

John: Pretty dull. Over the past 10-15 years there have been great bands that I have got into that have made me tingle with excitement. Bands such as “Swervedriver.” “The Lemonheads,” “Nada Surf,” “Jawbreaker,” “Pixie,” “Foo Fighters,” “Matthew Sweet.” At present I guess I like “The Killers” but not a lot else in mainstream music. Dave introduces me to lots of bands and I really like “Skeeter,” “That Special Goodness” and “The Get Up Kids” to name but a few but “Dinosaur Jr.” and “Radio Birdman” are still my faves.

Dave: You have to dig around a bit to find new stuff you like, but there is still plenty of it out there: Radio Birdman, KVLR, Futureheads, International Noise Conspiracy, Division of Laura Lee, Karate, The Briefs, Hotsnakes, The Sultans, The Catheters, Celibate Rifles, The Special Goodness, Starmarket, The Trans Megetti, The Weakerthans, Kate Bush…

Tony: I�ve chilled out and got into folk and jazz. I really like well recorded live music, or stuff done live to tape � a lot of Black Francis� output has been fantastic to listen to because it�s so immediate. Still you can�t beat high octane rock and roll like early Who, MC5, Sonics Rendezvous Band et al.

“Guitar bands are at the forefront of british music again? Why do you think that is?” 

John: Probably cos people are bored with listening to dance, rap, hip hop and r “n” b on the radio. Also the internet now allows bands to get themselves heard quickly through websites such as myspace.com. which is fantastic. It gives people the encouragement to grab hold of an instrument and play.

Dave: I think people will always come back to the classic line up of guitar, bass and drums. Basic and beautiful. So why can’t the White Stripes find a bassplayer? I’ll tell you why, it’s so that Jack can make a mistake, do it again and everyone will think he meant to do it that way in the first place, because there is no bass player to look at him in bemusement.

Tony: They never really went away did they?

“Music is obviously a passion for all of you. What other passions do you have?”

John: I love laughter. Luckily I have great freinds, all of whom have a great sense of humour. Without music and laughter, the world would be pretty pointless for me. Bill Hicks is the man for me. He was not only funny but also a wonderful human being. If only the world was full of people like him. I am also pretty passionate about football too. I am a Chelsea fan but I am one of those fans who does not wear blinkers and am more than willing to accept the beauty of a way another football team plays. (bollocks)

I hate racism and I hate violence. Luckily, most of that has gone from football but it’s still there and it needs sorting. Oh and I’m a greedy git and I love food!

Dave: Obviously, my family first. I am also really into films, especially old horror and science fiction. A good night for me is to relax on the sofa watching “Quatermass and the Pit” for the twentieth time, with a pint of Adnams Broadside. I don’t have a pipe, or slippers, or a beard.

Tony: Family, friends, Tai chi, reiki (contact me for a treatment if you are in Cornwall), having a good dump, reading, ten pin bowling.

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