Recently, we at Muses Of Metal had the opportunity to interview the California-based progressive metal band Stryfe, where we got to discuss the band's debut release Beyond Reality, the challenges of being a musician and cake!
Stryfe was founded in Armenia, quite a distance away from the band's current location. What prompted the relocation to California?
The relocation was never a planned band decision or anything like that—two of the founding members, Kay and Kore ended up moving to California at different times and decided to rebirth the band. They found the missing pieces in due time and thus the current incarnation of Stryfe was born.
How would you compare the metal sub culture in Armenia to that of the USA, or more locally in California?
It’s similar in many ways but also different. The main difference that we see is that the metal culture in Armenia seemed to be a lot more grass-roots and smaller than it is in the US. You can even go so far as saying that it was a bit more “true”; however, that certainly differs from person to person. The great thing about playing in the US is that you have a much greater potential reach and a greater number of musicians and bands that you can work with. Regardless of where you’re playing, the core of what makes metal, and the metal community special is the same and that’s what we like focusing on.
How would you, personally, define Stryfe's sound?
We pride ourselves in having a clean and polished sound and work very hard in order to achieve it. We like to keep our music fairly progressive and interesting. We don’t like to be bored while listening to music and we write our music as such. We have a very wide range of influences and believe that those influences particularly help us produce music that is unique while also familiar enough to grasp right from the first time you listen to it. If you listen carefully, you can always hear influences from Armenian folk and Armenian classical music, but we decidedly don’t over-do it either, subtlety is key for us.
How much do you feel that American culture and the style of music present in the US, has influenced the band's style?
It’d hard to say how much it has influenced is, it’s hard to measure it because those types of things happen subconsciously, but we can definitely hear a significant difference between our older material and our newer material, so we know that the influence is definitely there. I think it would be easier for our listeners to measure the difference than us.
Stryfe's debut EP, Beyond Reality was released this February, around 12 years after the band's initial formation. What were your main inspirations behind this release?
It’s pretty simple, really, we had some new material and wanted to put some of it out there. We wanted to get the songs to sound as good as we possibly could. Though we took a very long road to get there, we’re happy with the results and are proud of the material.
Could you tell us a little about each song from the EP?
Speak to Dream – that’s definitely the heaviest song on the EP. We wanted to make something that’s seriously worthy of a furious head-banging session while also providing an interesting rhythm which is present in the verse.
When all Hopes are Gone – This song is a bit more about dynamics than anything else. You’ve got the big heavy epic chorus and the toned done verse with a bunch of strumming and the quiet sections in between. The big ups and downs in the tune make it really fun to play and interesting to listen to.
Beyond Reality – The title track of the EP is the mellowest one. You could even go so far as to say that it’s more of a hard rock tune than a metal one but we feel that it fits in the EP just fine. There’s a good bit of Armenian influence in the music, it’s got a lot of groove, and a nice chorus that’s pretty catchy and easy to remember.
Are there any plans to release a follow up EP, or an album in the near future?
Definitely! We’re making plans to start recording again soon. The idea is to get as much material out there as possible. The process is really fun for us and the results are even more rewarding.
There have been numerous line up changes since the formation of Stryfe, and in June the departure of guitarist JD McGibney from the band was announced. How is the recruitment drive going so far?
Very well, actually. We’ve had a number of really talented players show up and jam with us, but we’re being really picky. We want someone that’s ideal for the band which is why we’re not rushing into anything.
I understand that it can be tough and pretty demoralising as a band to experience constant changes to a line up, how do you stay motivated?
The songs motivate us, actually. We feel that we owe it to our music to stay motivated, to keep going, and to make sure that we don’t let anything get in the way of that.
In another interview I read that in the band's previous line up Stryfe had a male vocalist. How did you find the transition between the two vocalists, and how easy was it to adapt the band's sound to the new vocal style – especially in a live setting?
It was pretty easy. Nicole’s a very powerful vocalist so she kind of fit right in. The crowd was very receptive to the change and it was almost a no-brainer for everyone. Obviously you can’t please everyone, but when it makes sense for you and it makes sense for the songs, there’s not too much else you should be thinking about.
What would you say have been the toughest challenges of being a musician?
Time management is probably the biggest difficulty. When you’re working in a band, you have a number of people who have completely different schedules, and completely different things going on. Finding the perfect slot of time for everyone to get together and work on whatever needs to be done is a challenge sometimes.
What are your thoughts on the use of the 'female fronted metal' tag?
We don’t like or dislike the tag. We found the right voice for our music and that’s really all that matters to us.
In the band's biography, present on the website, it is mentioned that Stryfe, and yourself personally have been involved in festivals aimed at promoting social and political improvements. This mostly took place in Armenia, with festivals Rock The Borders and Rock the Referendum. Are you involved in many social and/or political movements in the US?
At this time, we’re not affiliated with any social movement, political party, or political movement. What I can say, though, is that Stryfe is a proponent of justice, peace, and fairness. If we happen to see something that we can really get behind and provide aid to, we’ll do it.
On the subject of social improvements, what are your thoughts on the Supreme Court's ruling to legalise same-sex marriage throughout the US?
We feel that people should be able to do what they want so long as they’re not hurting others or society in general.
On a less serious note, and a more 'fun' question – what is your favourite cake?
You’re asking the hard hitting questions now! Damn, it’s hard to say. At this very point in time, I’ll go ahead and say red velvet, only because I wouldn’t mind a slice right about now.
Thank you very much for taking your time to do this interview with us. Do you have any final words for our readers?
We only want to say that we’re very appreciative and thankful to all of our fans and friends. This whole thing would be pointless without all of you. Thank you.
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