Edmonton’s Striker may be the hardest working band in the nation, forever on the road. They recently toured with Steel Panther and just mere days later are headed back out on another tour with Holy Grail and Bewitcher. So, what is? Do they dislike being in Alberta? Or do they just live for the road? The long drives on hot nights. Sleep deprivation and fast food. Striker have crossed many nations on several continents, and have their minds set on reaching further lands. As far away as Asia and Australia.
With their new album, “Play To Win”, hot off the presses, and scorching ears of anybody smart enough to give it a spin, it seems time to rack up the airmiles points. And hell, if Grandma’s 80’s fashion sense can make a comeback, then why can’t we rock the fuck out like they did back then, too? While I’m not sure why nipple hugging shorts and massive camel toe has made a resurgence, it sure makes sense, however, for tradition heavy metal to keep on keeping on.
We had a chance to chat with Dan Cleary (not to be confused with the former Edmonton Oiler) , while on the road, somewhere between Orlando and Atlanta. It’s a week into their current tour and according to Cleary, “So far it has been great!”
Striker just finished up a cross-Canada tour with Steel Panther, who will be appearing at Heavy Montreal in a few short weeks. Known for a comical and over the top stage show, that somewhat pokes fun at tradition metal. In a way. Yet still pays homage to the music and lifestyle. Steel Panther suit Striker to a tee. I’ve oft wondered what the Steel Panther lads are like offstage. Some bands are far from what they portray themselves as. It would seem the Panthers are rad away from the limelight too, though. “They are really awesome dudes to tour with.” exclaimed Cleary, ” You never know what it’s going to be like with bigger bands that tour a lot. Sometimes they can be kind of reclusive but the Steel Panther guys are really chill, even so far as to throw the football around with us backstage at some of the bigger venues. The hospitality was great, can’t say enough good things about those dudes and their crew!”
Living in a van or bus, with anybody for a prolonged period of time can be difficult. Showers are not always accessible and concerts can be hot and heated places. That said, it stands to reason that touring can have severe highs as well as crushing lows. Hopefully the good outweighs the bad. “I think the only low is that it’s over to be honest” said Cleary, adding ” It was an awesome tour. It was great to play for a bit of a different audience than we are used to, I think Steel Panther gets a lot of rock fans rather than a mostly metal crowd. And of course people who just came to party.”
Especially in London, Ontario it would seem. “It was completely sold out in a massive venue and everyone was going crazy, it was sick!”
Spending lengthy periods of time on the road can be tedious. Many bands have ended as a result of intensive touring, while others form brother-like bonds on the tarmac. Striker are surely one of the hardest working bands in the nation, and we’re talking about a country that boasts many hard working artists, here. With the music industry still unstable and the modern age of piracy and streaming in full effect, bands have to work even harder to survive. The days of huge album sales have dwindled, although fans of non-mainstream music have always been, and will always be, more supportive of the sounds they adore, the truth remains sales are down. Vinyl continues to surge, true, but not like in previous eras. Artists rely heavily on shirt sales and touring to keep them going. Youtube and Spotify likes don’t pay rents and grocery bills.
“Touring can be a grind but it can also be a blast, it depends on your mindset mostly. I think it’s hard to grow as a band if you aren’t touring, especially a band like us that has a real focus on playing live.” explained Cleary. “Plus it’s awesome to get out and meet fans, we’ve had people who have been at every one of our shows in their city every time we come, and we get to know them really well after a while. It’s kind of incredible to know so many people and have so many friends in so many cities!”
Because there is no rest for the wicked, Striker went right back to work following the Steel Panther tour and are currently crossing the United States with fellow traditional metal group, Holy Grail. “This is a tour we’ve been thinking of for a long time. We’ve always thought our styles would work well together on a tour and here we are! Took a while but we got it going. When we started there weren’t that many bands doing a more traditional heavy metal style and Holy Grail was one of those bands so it’s been a long time coming I think.” Personally, I couldn’t agree more.
With the North American continent soon to be covered once again, Striker will soon focus on overseas adventures. A European tour had been planned for the fall but is now on hiatus due to the band learning that their drummer of eight years, Adam Brown, is leaving the group for pastures new. Although there are no hard sentiments between the parties, there will be a regrouping period while the band replace Brown and gear up for future ventures on Asian and Australian shores.
Until then, be sure to catch Striker on tour with Holy Grail and Bewitcher, and keep spinning “Play To Win” – trust me; it fucking shreds!
Written by Kieron Yates.