Monday, October 4, 2010

Meet The Strainers

There is a new band in LA, formed by a guy who is quite adept at making noise.

Michael Fox formed The Strainers, a band he describes as Big Beat Voodoo rock and roll. It is yet another venture into the music business for Michael who is a seasoned pioneer when it comes to the '60s style Swing and the Pyschobilly Surf sound. He has collaborated with his brother Stirling to form this new act and hopes for once that a little luck will fall on his side... His previous ventures into rock and roll haven't been so successful.

"We have been around, playing on and off, in several bands over the past 32 years," Michael said. "Nothing ever really stuck or lasted. The last band we had together was 10 years ago, and that was also the last time we played live together. I called it quits for ten years. No band... Very little song writing... No nothing."

Surviving in the music business is hard enough without the pitfalls of  real life kicking you in the teeth every step of the way. It's a spawning ground for drug abuse and a catalyst for hard times, and the people whom you meet aren't always in it to serve your best interest. Keeping a band intact can be next to impossible when you add this combustible cocktail to your daily life, and in Michael's case, it has been a slippery slope which eventually led to the demise of every band he has formed.

"I was a punk rocker in LA going to gigs in the late 70's and early 80's." Michael explains. "A drunk, a dope fiend, a recluse at times for years... A starving musician living in Hollywood on Hollywood Boulevard."

After spending 20 years trying to form a band that could keep itself together for more than a month at a time, Michael finally waved the white flag. Out of frustration and anger, he swore himself out of the music business, saying at the time he would never delve back into it.

With no other choice, Michael was forced to take a  normal job which he says he was "married to for 20 years". It brought him little happiness and now, in conjunction with the harsh realities of our nation's economic situation, and facing the loss of everything he has ever owned in his life, he knew that he had only one choice to make. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and despite the promise he had made to himself 10 years earlier, Michael knew he had to take another stab at forming a band.

With the Strainers, he hopes it works out.

Southern California is a hot bed for the music scene - it always has been, but it is also a cruel and dreadful place when one is trying to survive on talents alone. With his brother Stirling Fox on the drums, and Michael on the vocals, electric bass and the guitar, they are hoping that they can book enough shows to insure a steady lifestyle that isn't tarnished with homelessness and starvation. They have recruited B. Dangerous to play rhythm guitar, and James Dokken to play bass at their shows. Not surprisingly, considering his rock and roll history, Michael isn't ready to vest everything he has into making the two full time members of the band.

Stirling Fox

"I plan to tour next year once I have a stable line up." Michael explains. "Right now it's the curse of the bass players! That's always been one of the many problems... Besides all my own personal struggles."

But this brand new band has played three gigs so far, and it has been fun. They have a gig scheduled in Ontario, California which they will be playing with The Surf Rats on October 13th.

The music is good... Actually fantastic.

You can check it out on their Facebook fan page, and you will be impressed to know that most of the music was done by Michael in his garage with overdubbing equipment. If you like the psycho surf sound of The Cramps, then you will like The Strainers. It's not hard to notice that Michael can emulate Lux Interior's sexually gasping vocal style, and surround it with his own ass whipping guitar sound. It's like he slipped mainstream rock and roll some Rohypnol, then took it home to his garage and had his way with it. It's pure psychedelia in it's most primitive form.

Michael and Stirling Fox are excited, but a little anxious about The Strainers. As their first musical adventure together in 10 years, they have a lot of energy to put towards this new project. But they also have ample reason to be nervous. "This is maybe my last attempt at it. We are both getting close to 50 yrs old." Michael notes.

Then, as if he is assuring himself  Michael says, "I'm excited again, so time will tell..."

"But," he adds, "Time is a lot shorter now."

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