Interview with Daniel Cleary of Striker by EC

The Canadian scene has been ripe with true metal offerings for a number of years now. Who could forget the 80s contributions from strong Canadian acts like Razor, Annihilator and Anvil? Since then the country has seen a resurgence of heavy metal, specifically "true" metal acts that incorporate the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal with the sure-fire success of Swedish bands like Hammerfall and Dream Evil. Canada has produced indy acts like Skull Fist and Steel Wing and Earache Records has currently offered a home to White Wizzard and Cauldron.

Recently I was able to talk with Daniel Cleary of Striker, a brand new act out of Canada that have released their debut album "Eyes In The Night". The record is a startling metal sensation, taking the world by storm with high pitched vocals, screaming riffs and that metallic integrity that showcases song structures, hooks and a good sense of classic melody.

EC: Daniel, congratulations on the new record. You guys have just released the debut full length called "Eyes In The Night" on Iron Kodex. Let's start by just simply asking...what in the world is going on up in Canada!?! Tons of killer bands coming out of there. Is there something in the beer?

Who knows! It very well could be the beer. I think that Canada is just long overdue for another wave of bad ass metal!

EC: I've had the pleasure of hearing you guys, Skull Fist, Cauldron and Savage Blade just to name a few. Wow, there is just so much talent flowing out of Canada, mostly the traditional or power metal sounds that are sort of a throwback to the new wave of British heavy metal. Why is this sound still so popular even after 30 years? Is it difficult to come up with new arrangements or melody considering just how many "true" metal bands out there?

I think this style of metal will always have new fans. Recently we had the pleasure of seeing Iron Maiden in our hometown of Edmonton which kicked ass, and when you look around its just full of young fans. Almost more than older fans. I think heavy metal in general is something some people just get hooked on no matter how old the recordings might be. For what it is worth everything has pretty much already been done, we just hope that when we write our music its coming from the heart and that our influences flow through us to make our own unique sound.

EC: So the new album is here, finally the debut is out. Are you really pleased with the end result and how different is this from the EP that came out a few years ago?

We are super pumped on our new album! I think we stepped it up in all areas and it shreds pretty hard. As far as the difference between our EP--"Eyes In The Night" was a much more thought out album. Really the EP was our first demo just recorded in a proper studio. After a while we realized that we wanted a heavier production sound and we ended up doing the album ourselves with the help of White Wolf's Cam MacLeod. Cam had a huge part in helping us get the sound we wanted.

EC: So far what has the feedback been like? Are you gaining a following and picking up some new fans? What are they saying about the album?

So far everyone has be saying good things about it, we are still waiting for a bad review hahaha. We have been getting tons of new fans in Europe, Japan and here in Canada. I think everyone who listened to our first EP and now the new album are excited about our development. A lot of people like the direction we are going in and a lot of reviews have said that we kind of bring our own unique sound to the traditional metal thing.

EC: Where did a bulk of the writing come from for this record? Do you guys try to write as one unit or does one member handle most of the lyrics and notes? Also, who came up with the wild album cover? Reminds me of something from the 70s or 80s from bands like Tygers Of Pan Tang.

Well mostly I do the bulk of the writing, I like to record entire songs in my home studio and present them as sort of skeletal structure to the band. After that every member puts their own touch on their parts and we try new ideas if anyone has them. The artwork comes from the idea of the song "Eyes In The Night" which is based on the movie "The Ghost and the Darkness", which is about two lions killing a ton of people (very metal). So we wanted a lion on the cover and a local tattoo artist here in Edmonton drew it up. We think it turned out pretty badass!

EC: So the vocals on the album are just phenomenal. Really up front and crisp. Where did you learn to sing like this? Did you have professional vocal lessons? Did the studio do any electronic harmonizing or anything like that?

I've never had a singing lesson in my life actually! If you can believe that! What happened was when we were starting this band Ian and I were both guitar players and we actually asked Chris to sing. After one practice we decided that I should be the lead singer. At the time I was driving a delivery truck all over town and spent a lot of time singing along to stuff like Vicious Rumors. I think thats where I kind of discovered my voice. As far as in the studio goes there were no extras used on my voice other than your normal reverb and delay and stuff. The chorus of Believe In Me actually has 24 vocal tracks! You can imagine how long that took, seeing as though we did the same thing for every chorus on that song!

EC: The album is really killer, I've had the promo for a number of weeks. Any chance of the album being picked up by a major distributor or a label like Earache or Nuclear Blast?

Well we have had some discussions with various labels (Obviously I can't say who at this point) but things are looking pretty good for the future. We have already started writing the next album too. Its going to be heavy!

EC: I know you guys were in a van most of last month driving all over the place jamming. What has the live environment been like? Have you toured in support or headlining? Any chance of hitting Europe for some of the late summer fests?

Well we went all the way across Canada doing mostly headlining shows. We drove 17000 kilometers in a van together and it was awesome, aside for the smell. We will be playing the Metal Assault festival in Germany on January 8th of 2011 and we will be back again in July for Headbangers Open Air with hopefully some club shows around the festival dates. We are super excited to finally get over to Europe seeing how we got fucked by a volcano last time.

EC: Going back to the beginning of our conversation, when we talk about Canadian metal and some of the great bands and music coming out of that area...do you think at this point it is safe to say that North America is just as relevant to metal as say...Germany or Sweden or England? For years the US and Canada was widely ignored and now it seems like the times have changed.

I sure hope so! I would love to be part of a resurgence of Heavy Metal, and I mean it never really went anywhere anyways but it is definitely growing in Canada. Some of the bullshit music that is popular today needs to be overthrown by true metal!

EC: Most recently the big four of Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer have hit a few dates together. Were you surprised at that and did you get a chance to see any of the footage?

No actually I have yet to see any footage. I think it was probably inevitable for a show like this, those guys can only hate each other for so long before they forget what it was they were mad about anyways.

EC: So wrapping up, I know it is still early, what is next for Striker? Any new idea of a time frame for a new sophomore effort?

Well we are hoping to do lots of touring and stuff. We have been doing lots of writing for our next album which we are thinking may be out sometime in 2011.

EC: In closing, again congrats on the record and good luck in the future. Keep the torch on fire man!

Thanks man! We appreciate the support!

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