Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Strata interview

We've got a great new interviewer folks - please welcome Rose and her fantastic interview with Strata!!!!

Strata Hosts the End of the World
By Rose Spotts

When Sonny Moore, by way of a MySpace bulletin, mentioned his friend, singer/writer Eric Victorino, I'm not sure what made me go check out his MySpace. I think it was because Sonny seemed so inspired by this guy and Sonny, to me, seems to be very passionate about the things he is interested in. I figured this guy should be worth checking out at least. So I did, and I checked out his band Strata, and I found a new sound that inspired me. Music is one of the biggest inspirations on my own personal art and there was an emotion there, in the combination of lyrics and music, which I wasn't getting from the music I was currently listening to. I'd been stuck for so long listening to a lot of the same stuff and it felt like a rut to me. I wasn't getting inspired by anyone anymore until Strata.

Coming out of Campbell, California, Eric Victorino, Adrian Keith Robison, Hrag Chanchanian and Ryan Hernandez are the four individuals who make up Strata. Their first self-titled album, released on Wind-Up Records, made the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart in 2004 where it peaked at number 41. They've had two songs featured on movie soundtracks (The Punisher and Elektra) as well as the video game Madden NFL 2005. Their latest release Strata Presents The End of the World will be released on July 17th and I hope Strata are ready to conquer the world because after hearing this record, I'm pretty sure they're on their way.

Lucky me when I heard I would get to interview Strata about the new album. Even luckier me when they told me I would be getting Eric Victorino. Let me just put this out there, I'm no great conversationalist and I'm even worse when I'm talking to someone I hardly know so you can only imagine how it is for me to talk to someone I admire and look up to. But I did it and I got to ask Eric a few questions about the new album as well as his book. Did I mention, lucky me?

"I'll believe it when I see it." Eric started with, when asked how he felt about the new album coming out, an album that has apparently been pushed back quite a few times. "It's like we're at the end of 9 months of being pregnant and we're going to pop." Eric spoke to me on the phone from on the road where Strata was just wrapping up a tour with Finger Eleven, Chevelle and a few other bands. The album is a balance of dark and light. He points out, "I think it's pretty well balanced. There's some pretty low and high points on the record." With haunting lyrics and music that keep you thinking about it long after you've turned it off, it strikes below the belt one minute and tugs at your heart strings the next. "We knew this album couldn't be a sequel to the last one, we paid attention to every second of it while we were making it." he explained. According to Eric this was an album that had to be made and had to move Strata forward or they wouldn't be making music anymore. Making this album was a long hard road for the members of Strata between the stress and the personal sacrifices and the strain it put on personal relationships, it was necessary for it to come out meaning something more than just a second record.

With a title like Strata Presents the End of the World, one might expect it to maintain a darkness or a negative end of some sort. Whether that ending is the end of the world or the end of the hopelessness you might find in the world, this album offers up both sides with an innocence that Eric feels needs to be there, "It's sort of childish to think everything is going to be alright." To convey that feeling the band wanted to go with an artist for the album cover who could put that idea out there visually. The cover was created by West Coast artist, Anne Faith Nicholls whose art conveys that combination of hopelessness and innocence that Eric says the band was looking for with this album. As for what other artists influenced this album, he says the list would be way too long to mention. While he was listening to people like Bright Eyes and Death Cab for Cutie, he says the other guys in the band were listening to their own influences. "I think that is what makes Strata so unique" he explained, "it's four artists each with their own influences coming together to create the sound."

I asked him about touring with this album and he said they're going out with it but that they've been playing the new stuff a lot on the road already. "We've been pissing a lot of old fans off by not playing a lot of old stuff on this last tour," he told me happily, "but we're trying to move forward and show how much we believe in this new stuff and in this album." When it comes to playing he told me he prefers to play smaller places. Recently they had the chance to play larger shows where there were crowds as large as 2000 to playing shows of as little as 50 the next night and he said playing to a smaller crowd really makes a difference, "When you can see the faces of the people as you're singing words you believe in, it really means a lot."

Since I got to talk to Eric, I couldn't let him go without mentioning his book of poetry and prose, Coma Therapy, which is going into its second printing. "Thank you, I didn't think it would do what it has done." he answers somewhat quietly when I congratulate him. Inspired by listening to some recordings of his favourite writer, Charles Bukowski, he plans to piggyback the Strata tour with some poetry reading dates which he says is a little different than what he is used to, "It's going to be scary. I'm used to having a band when I'm up there." He's hoping to find some coffeehouses where he can get up there and read, not knowing what he might encounter. "You just don't know." he laughs. Anything can happen.

Eric and the rest of Strata seem like a band that believes anything can happen. Putting yourself out there is one thing, but putting yourself through it all to get out there gives more meaning to the outcome. With their latest release, Strata cuts open a vein and lets it all out. I'm thinking if you can listen to this album and feel nothing, you're probably already dead. Strata Presents the End of the World is released July 17th. Be there to see it all come down.

To hear some tracks and find out more about Strata and the inspiration behind Strata Presents the End of the World, check out these sites:

Strata MySpace -
Strata Website -
Strata at -

To find out more about Eric's book, go here:
Coma Therapy –

For more information on the album cover artist Anne Faith Nicholls:
Anne Faith Nicholls MySpace –

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