INTERVIEW: We Are Strangers

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Thirty Days”? Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

How I get songs done is kind of a mystery. Most of them just come down to me almost as a gift and I just need to finalize the structure. I wrote 30 days not long after I got out of rehab and was trying to put my life back together after what was almost a year of spiraling out of control.

The song is about reconciliation between blaming others for our downfalls taking responsibility ourselves while recognizing we don’t always have control over what the universe has in store for us.

There are many forces at play and some of them are quite dark and looking to take us down.

You hear it in the first verse where the other person in the relationship gets the blame as opposed to the second verse where life and existence itself is the culprit.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

For the video we just had Lance take some footage Luke and I in the studio over a couple of days. We wanted it stripped down and simple since that was the concept for the sparse arrangement on the song. Then at the end I just sat down in the tracking room and played the full song so we could cut some of those shots in with the recording footage

The single comes off your new self-titled EP – why name the record after the band?

The EP is self-titled because “We Are Strangers” is more of a concept than a band. Isolation verses connection. The whole thing The band is pretty much just me using the name as a vehicle to get these songs out. The other members are fluid. Luke Adams would be the closest thing to a full member since as a producer, drummer and keyboardist he was such a big part of the sound. But all of the songs are mine and I’m technically the only full time member while others are falling into place. Actually super excited about the guys I’m working with for the live show.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process for me is kind of a mystery. Songs usually come down to me in groups of 10 and I take a few weeks to work out the structure. Then I get nothing for a period of time until maybe there’s a change in my life and more ideas come.

The recording process was different than my other solo projects in that I worked with producer and multi-instrumentalist Luke Adams. He was a huge part of getting the sound locked in by using vintage synths and getting way better performances out of me than I would get recording and performing everything myself which is how I use to do it. We’d generally start with acoustic guitar, drums and vocals and then build the synth and guitar textures over that.

“Beaches” and “Nowhere to Go” where the exceptions where we started with a groove and a synth bass line.

With such a prominent career as a film and TV composer, do you borrow from that experience or is this project meant to be a complete departure?

Pretty much a complete departure. Since most of the shows I work on are for the Fall T.V, season, I usually get Summers off.

So I’ve put out a few records under my own name really for the sole purpose of doing something completely different than the T.V. scores and getting that other musical side of what I do (mainly singing, playing guitar and writing songs) out of my system. But they were all done pretty quickly and with me playing all the instruments and producing. The “We are Strangers” project was much more carefully thought out and took over a year to finish working off and on.

And I do so much with electronic instruments and synths for the T.V. shows which is why I left all of that stuff to Luke for this album. And very happy I did as he killed it! Was great to just focus on vocals and playing guitar. Didn’t want to be in composer mode for this project.

What is it about the 70s and 80s that you find so fascinating?

Well mainly the 70’s and early 80’s. There must have been something in the ether back then. Especially in the early 70’s. I just love how those records sounded across the spectrum. If you take all of the Rock, Soul, R&B and Singer/Songwriter music from 71-74 I don’t think there’s much I wouldn’t listen to. All the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm and even the sounds of the recordings just came together during that period. Maybe it was the technology that was available back then along with the technology that wasn’t

What aspect of human connection did you get to explore on this record?

Well I’ve always had trouble connecting with other people. As a kid I spent a lot of time by myself. My source of connection has always been with music since I was around four. Listening to music and writing has always been where I’m most comfortable. Once I get in a room with other musicians it can be a challenge expressing what I’m looking for in the sound but I’m almost always able to get it there. It’s all about working through the struggle. If you’re not doing that, you’re not alive.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Well the music/melodies usually come as a gift from the other side and I just have to put the structure together. But I definitely get the most inspiration when I head out to the desert. Have written lots of songs out near Joshua Tree.

Lyrics take a bit more work and time. Usually I draw on my own experiences with relationships and my perpetual search for some kind of meaning beyond the day to day routine. I would love to be able to write a bit more outside of myself someday; more observational.

Any plans to hit the road?

Would love to do some out-of-town dates this Summer and Fall. I just need to lock in the T.V. schedule first. So stay tuned.

What else is happening next in We Are Strangers’ world?

The “We Are Strangers” EP comes out today. And tonight iZombie is featuring two of the songs. “Beaches” and “Nowhere to Go.”

“30 Days” has been getting some radio traction so I’m super excited about that. I’ve been rehearsing with a full band which I’ll debut July 9th at Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles. So far, I’ve played mostly solo acoustic gigs so I can’t wait to get out there and play out with these awesome musicians! We’ll play more shows over the Summer in

California and hopefully get out to other parts of the country as well over the next few months.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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