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Playing To Win: An Exclusive Interview With STRIKER Guitarist TIM BROWN

By Larry Petro, News Monkey
Friday, October 26, 2018 @ 10:58 AM

"We do it for the love of music. If we did it for the money, we'd make way more working at McDonald's."

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Live Photos By Larry Petro/Petrofyed Photography
Band Photo By Dana Zuk

Edmonton, Alberta based heavy shredders STRIKER have been on a tear of late since leaving their label home Napalm Records and starting their own label, Record Breaking Records. The band, Dan Cleary (vocals), Adam Brown (drums), Tim Brown (guitars), William Wallace (bass) and returning original member Chris Segger (guitars), has just released its third slab of molten metal through RBR, Play To Win, continuing in the same tradition as the phenomenal Stand In The Fire (2016) and last year's self-titled effort. Combining addictive riffs with melodic vocals and a balls-out live show, people all over the world are starting to take notice of these Canadians. With a band mantra of "shred!", STRIKER just wrapped a nationwide tour with UNLEASH THE ARCHERS and HELION PRIME and are now set to jump the pond over to Europe for a month-long jaunt with SKULL FIST. I had the extreme pleasure of catching up with guitarist extraordinaire Tim Brown to pick his brain about all things STRIKER. Check it out below and if you've never heard STRIKER before, you are doing yourself a serious disservice. Shred!

KNAC.COM: STRIKER's popularity seems to have exploded over the past few years. You've played festivals like Bang Your Head, the 70000Tons Of Metal cruise and tours with bands like DARK TRANQUILLITY and SONATA ARCTICA and have started to rack up a display case full of music awards. Does it ever seem surreal to you?

BROWN: Overnight sensation! Only took a decade. (Laughs) It's great to see our band growing, especially since we are an independent band on our own label. Everything that we do is a result of our hard work and perseverance. We have to dig up all these opportunities and chase them down. If the opportunities ever start appearing with no effort from us, then I might consider that surreal! It's a lot like building a house I suppose, try to complete a small project every day and over time you'll be able to live in it.

KNAC.COM: The band just recently wrapped up a nice 'package' tour with fellow Canadians UNLEASH THE ARCHERS and California's HELION PRIME. How did this tour compare with others you have done in the States?

BROWN: This was easily our best US tour! We had a run of about 10 sold out shows on the East Coast, and about half the shows on the tour were sold out. Can't ask for more than that! Plus, we are good friends with UNLEASH THE ARCHERS, and getting to tour with them was awesome. It's great to tour with friends! Every tour builds on the last one, and our previous tours were good too, but this one was crazy and we can't wait to come back again!

KNAC.COM: By the time this interview gets posted STRIKER will have unleashed its latest album, Play To Win, the band's third album in less than 3 years. Some bands take years in between releases and yet you guys are cranking out a new one every year it seems? What's the motivation?

BROWN: We just love making music. Some people watch TV or go to the gym after work, we pick up a guitar. It's just always been a fun thing for us. That's why we started in the first place, to make music.

KNAC.COM: Instead of the traditional route of trying to get signed with a label for your releases, about 3 years ago you basically said 'fuck it, let's start our own label', and that's how Record Breaking Records came to be, with Play To Win being the third album on your label. In your opinion, what's the biggest advantage to doing it this way?

BROWN: You can do whatever you want, and you keep all your rights! With a label, basically they give you a small loan and in return you give them basically everything. They own you. Label deals are absolutely brutal, especially to younger bands. In the last decade, there hasn't been many big new bands. Obviously there's a few that pop up like GHOST for example, but other than that there hasn't been many break out bands. Even the “younger” headliners like LAMB OF GOD, SABATON, BEHEMOTH, etc, have been at it for nearly 20 years. Labels just can't do what they used to. You can record a song and have it on iTunes the next day. The modern way of doing things doesn't need labels.

KNAC.COM: Are there any plans to branch out and release other bands on your label?

BROWN: One day! Lots of work with just one band already, but we are building our team.

KNAC.COM: For Play To Win, like the self-titled album from last year, you guys approached it like a crowdfunding campaign, without going through GoFundMe or PledgeMusic I might add, in that you offered special perks, merchandise bundles, video shout-outs and even a special, limited edition vinyl and different cover for those that pre-ordered and it looks like it paid off big time for the band.

BROWN: Yeah it's great for both us and the fans. We have lots of fun perks like writing a song with us for example, special edition vinyl and CDs, etc. It goes a long way in helping us pay to make the albums and we couldn't do it without the support.

KNAC.COM: Randy Black (BIF NAKED, ANNIHILATOR, PRIMAL FEAR) laid down the drum tracks for the new album instead of your brother Adam. How did Randy become involved with the project?

BROWN: We are actually family friends with him. His family is also from Edmonton. Small world! Adam broke his arm last year and was still recovering during recording, so we called up Randy and he knocked it out of the park. Randy is awesome and we are super pumped that he could help us out.

KNAC.COM: Speaking of Adam, he recently graduated with a Master's Degree, which would be a huge accomplishment for anyone by itself, but when you combine it with being in a band almost full-time it takes on a more special meaning and I'm sure everyone is very proud of him.

BROWN: Yeah he's our resident nerd! (Laughs) We actually have a fairly well educated band, Chris has a degree in music and I actually have a city planning degree. Education is very important no matter what you do, and to be able to learn all those skills is a huge asset to us as a band and as a business.

KNAC.COM: One of the things I've always loved about STRIKER is how much fun you guys seem to be having. What impressed me the most was a show you played in Houston early last year. You played a little hole-in-the-wall place that did ZERO advertising of the show. In fact, they had another show booked for the same night right after yours. You ended up playing at like 8pm and there were literally like 6 people there but you guys gave us a 100% full-on set in what amounted to a private show. It would have been tempting to just mail it in that night but you didn't.

BROWN: Well like I said, we do it for the love of music. If we did it for the money, we'd make way more working at McDonald's. The way we look at shows like that is it's a private show for your biggest fans. Better shred!

KNAC.COM: You played guitar in KOBRA AND THE LOTUS for a few years before joining STRIKER. What to you is the biggest difference in playing for each of these bands?

BROWN: (Laughs) There's certainly some differences. STRIKER is very much a band and a democratic group of friends. We sit down and work on things together, and then go for beers after. KOBRA AND THE LOTUS is more of a hired gun scenario. Two different approaches to structuring your band and business I suppose.

KNAC.COM: STRIKER is headed to Europe for a November tour with SKULL FIST. Has the band looked ahead past that tour as far as what your future plans are?

BROWN: Yeah that tour is going to be awesome! Very excited to be on tour with our pals in SKULL FIST. After that's done, we are already booking our next tours and hopefully we can announce something soon. We are doing more North American and European tours in 2019, and hoping to get to South America and Asia too.

KNAC.COM: It's no secret that the guys are beer connoisseurs, especially locally brewed varieties. So when is the STRIKER beer coming out?

BROWN: (Laughs) Hopefully sooner than later! That's the dream!

KNAC.COM: Any final message for the fans?

BROWN: Thanks to everyone out there who has been supporting us, we appreciate it and couldn't do it without you! We also hope to tour everywhere in 2019, so come join us for a beer at a show!


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