Sitting somewhere in the realm of punk, metal and grunge, Strangers with Guns have become one of Dublin’s most profilic bands, powering through the covid lockdown with a rapid-fire series of releases that have them all reayd to burst back onto the live scene.
Fronted by Jeff Crosdale, who has historically also done most of the writing, the band are ramping up around the release of new record ‘All Pleasure Is Just Relief’, which they view as their opus, but also accept sits between two stools, making it something of a marketing challenge.
I caught up with Jeff ahead of the launch to talk it over…
I understand there was a long period of trying to get a band together through Gumtree ads before it finally happened. What’s the backstory to that?
I did use to post on Gumtree and Boards.ie maybe 3 times a year looking for musicians for close to 4 yearrs, although our new bassist “Watchy” says he only ever looks on Bassist Ireland for these things so I may have been trying wrong places. I already had a few songs done up and online and I’d try jam them out with people, it never clicked, we never clicked, maybe 3/4 rehearsals in, it would all be done. Lots of the time seemed to be people who had just started looking for a new band to be in and then would jump ship to something more up and running. Till I met Rennick of course
‘Degenerate Art’ launched you, but also came at a time where we didn’t know it, but covid was on the horizon. How difficult was it to build momentum?
We have been terrible at post album tours and follow up, a big part of that is how much is put into promoting and getting the attention on the initial release. We do be flat out for months and burnt out long before we have the album launch show, definitely harder to plan what to do post release then pre. Actually, we found we built more momentum during the pandemic then at any other time because we never sat it out, we never stopped releasing music and videos when others were sitting back.
How do you view that debut album three years later?
Jeff : Still extremely proud of it. Like ‘lies of omission’ is 10yrs old but its sounding better than ever now and we close shows with it a lot. It is our most “Grunge” sort of effort, I actually thought once released we would be off to the races, industry doesn’t work like that. Although we got 5 songs on national radio which is quite a feat for a band like us I think, and working with Mik Pyro is still a personal highlight.
I understand the new album is heavier – is that a general direction for you all?
We are definitely a band, for the record we make decisions together. But I(Jeff) do write the songs, every line, every lick, at least pre Watchy (New Bassist), PW if you will, maybe AW will be different. I just write what comes out for the most part, I jam and listen if I start enjoying something or feeling like it rips I’ll build on it and send it to Rennick, jamming is amazing, just switching off and ripping.
How difficult have you found breaking into the Irish music scene?
Incredibly difficult haha, maybe it is our sound, we aren‘t pure metal, never pure punk, but we have a toe dipped into most genres so haven’t been embraced particularly by any. The gigs we tend to get, either I have chased hard or we have thrown ourselves. I think, and this is no word of a joke, we have been offered 3 maybe 4 shows. There is the “Irish Music Industry” and then there’s the underground, we are trying to bridge the gap and I think we are doing decent at it.
What’s your writing process and what influences your songs?
There really isn’t one, a few times I’ve purposely tried to write faster music for a live setting because my natural inclination is to groove and nod the head, but like sometimes I’ve gone for something fast with a few parts, ‘lies of omission’ I wanted something dark, bass driven and dancey, it predated me on vocals. ‘Dial It Back’, I just wanted to write something over tribal drums so asked Rennick to throw me a riff in that mold and then just nearly one take figured out that song. I will say however, the funny lyrics just weren’t coming to me for this album, last year has been hard and flat out so it just didn’t come to me. And I was listening to a lot of Rollins Band’, I think the influence is fairly clear.
Does your live set up differ to your recordings in style or approach?
We can’t copy and paste live together. I suppose sometimes I double track guitar and live I’m just playing over bass. I find I can do better vocals in a booth then when I’m playing and doing vocals together. But we all record separate over a metronome. I try free time parts to have it sounding more real in studio and leave in some quirks and mistakes.
What are your hopes for the new record?
It blows up! we are extremely proud of it and really, really believe in it. So, we are going to sit on it for a while. Our release schedule has been unparraled, we have been relentless with it. We have about 33 songs out and only together since 2019 we have lives outside this and this release we think is that strong we want to give it real time to breathe. Ideally it will get reviewed by half the outlets I sent it too. I love it, I thought our last release ‘Become A Pope’ was probably a C plus just, this is an A.
What kind of state is Irish music in more broadly at the moment, do you think?
Its thriving, definitely. I have been in bands before over the years and it felt like it didn’t exist, now its thriving, I question what’s getting backed, what’s getting pushed alright. I wish there were more people and more variation in the Industry, definitely in terms of sound, and it seems like once you are in, you are in indefinitely. But artists are getting great slots, they still emigrate which I don’t think is necessary, but they are getting the chance that I don’t remember them getting few years back.
In five years time, what’ll you be doing?
Roadie for Fontaines D.C.
Strangers with Guns album ‘All Pleasure Is Just Relief’ is out now.