Questions By Harvey Kubernick
Q: The name of your band. The origin of it. Obviously there is the television series with a similar name but your spelling is different.
The name of the band is Sumthing Strange and yes we have similarity with the word Strange but aren’t we all a little strange. The name was created because the sum of all things is the strange life we live.
Q: Before Sumthing Strange was formed, can you both discuss some of your musical influences Kate Bush? Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Psychedelic Furs?
Well the influences had many more like David Bowie, Bauhaus, U2, a ton of 90’s music as well (those were the high school days) Bush, Nirvana etc. The vibe from the 80’s music era had such a tone and some darkness that has always been an attraction for us. The nostalgia that was created from that era was sort of a breakthrough in the use of electronic synth sound becoming more mainstream.
Q: Can you share some information about previous musical ventures and groups you were in or recorded with? Alex was in Smack Jonez and Johnny in Still Standing. And, how did you guys meet? Where do you both hail from?
Alex was the singer and guitar player in SmackJonez (Blues Rock), the Reverend and the Doctor (Blues/Jazz), Shadows of the Wind (Lounge Music), also sang with Robby Krieger from the Doors. Johnny was the guitar player and background vocalist of Still Standing (Pop Rock), also Rock Sugar (A novelty cover band) and Budderside (hard rock).
Both Alex and Johnny have worked with a ton of artists and collaborations. They met through an Electrical Engineering career and became great friends and started to create music together that they genuinely both love. Alex hails from Queens, New York and grew up in Texas and spent a few years in Germany then moved to Los Angeles we’re he resides. Johnny was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and moved to Los Angeles in 2004 where he resides.
Q: Your group has a very modern sound and your sonic influences can be traced to the popular and alluring music that emerged in the eighties. How big an influence did MTV or KROQ the alt rock radio station in Southern California inform your record collection and your current audio endeavors?
Thank you! We have been influenced by many different artists from the last few centuries and we found our voice in this particular style of music and generates the electricity that we need to exist on a day to day basis. Each and every day that we wake up, music is a must. It sets the mood. MTV had a huge influences on both of us. The music, the shows just pure entertainment and feelings.
Q: I’m sure going back a while both of you played in groups or recorded with traditional bass, guitar and drums. One of the elements in the sound emulating from Sumthing Strange is the use of drum samples and synth drums. Was that one of the musical goals of your group to implement drum samples in lieu of a traditional drummer in the studio, although for live shows you will employ a drummer.
Well we did start with real drums but what we found through different recordings is that the drum machine wasn’t flakey ha ha! Seriously, the electronic drums are way more controllable and they are real sounds, just samples. Cymbals are very scarce on our recordings because they are too washy and we feel they take away from the clarity of our sound. Yes live we use a drummer and a kit although the drums are limited to playing too much. :)
Q: One aspect of Sumthing Strange that appeals to me and many new listeners discovering your work is the low voice lead singing coupled with many harmonies. Can you both comment on the lead vocal and background harmony parts that drive your recordings.
Alex is a character who has many voices. The low voice really works on these songs because they hit a frequency that really resonates. This leaves so much room for Johnny to sing harmonies on many levels. Ultimately it really depends on the key of the song and the tempo. We still want to keep that energy even if we are being moody. We do have both our voices in unison on some choruses as well.
Q: You now work very closely with musician/record producer and remixer David Chatfield. Can you reflect on his collaboration with Sumthing Strange.
David Chatfield surprised us with his love and affection for Sumthing Strange. Someone of his caliber with such a genuine nature and honesty is a unicorn in this industry. He imbibes the spirit of generosity. We believe his talents lie in his natural ability to bring a piece of art to its greatest potential. We are truly blessed to have the opportunity to work with David.
Q: Can you talk about the Sumthing Strange recording studio and some of the gear?
We have 2 different studios. 1 mobile and a static studio in Glendale Ca. We have done multiple recordings while on the road and brought them to the Glendale studio. The studio is filled with 4 different keyboards, a ton midi sounds, analog synths, bass guitars, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, Orange amps, Marshall amps, and Trace Elliot amps. We record and mix in Pro Tools.
A: “Where I’m Going.” Can you share some insights about how this recording was birthed. How do the both of you traditionally work as songwriters? One as lyricist and the other as musical component or is it a tandem exploration?
Well the song “Where I’m Going” was released as a cut on our album Collide. The song was written on an acoustic guitar and analog synth keyboard. The lyrics rose at that very moment while free styling. The message was simple, live in the moment, we don’t need all of these other distractions.
Q: Tell me about “Electric Eyes” that is being issued during August. “Electric Eyes” seems to describe how a man has been electrified by the electricity flowing from the eyes of a woman, a look that takes control of him, but he believes that each of them needs the other’s energy after the electric shock of their meeting leaves them both breathless, vibrating through their heads, each energy revitalizes and refreshes the other’s energy…it frees their souls. They meet again. The two of them are invigorated, recharged, strengthened, with the energy that each creates being refined by the other – pure and clean energy – he has given away control to her. He becomes caught inside a bright electric fantasy as they are dancing in these lights that have captured them on a dance floor…leaving them breathless again.
Ok “Electric Eyes”….. well you answered it! This song was written about that very moment when you meet someone that you know that you were supposed to meet. That energy is the feeling that you get when you meet someone that touches your spirit from just a look.
Q: You are currently recording a version of the Tommy James classic “I Think We’re Alone Now” that Tiffany also recorded a few decades ago. What drew you to the tune? What inspired you to use a female vocalist to add live progressive instrumental tracks on the song? Which version, if either, was most influential in your remake of the classic '60s hit.
“I Think We’re Alone Now” is such a well crafted song by Richie Cordell. It embodies the beginning stages of every relationship in the “fresh stage”. This was hit song then and Tiffany did a remake which brought a whole new age group and vibe to the song. It obviously became a hit again. We couldn’t lay off of doing our own remake version in our style. Both versions had equal influences on how we performed it but I will say the tempo for us was better upbeat.
Q: Collectively, Sumthing Strange offers healing a revealing tonic to a very distraught world. The mixture of sound, spirit and hope. Is this a spiritual-based directive you both feel and want to integrate into the music and recordings you are releasing? You have mentioned it’s about igniting a flame in all of us and the empowering result that can free us from fear and control. Can you elaborate on this. Is it a mission?
Our goal in writing and performing music is to reach out and touch people in their hearts and souls. Our hope is that when people hear our music they can’t stop listening. We want to be your music addiction. We will tag team your ears.