While Australia is known for prestigious pop acts like the Bee Gees, Olivia Newton-John, and Kylie Minogue, the Land Down Under has arguably had more influence on America with its renowned rock groups like AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, and the Saints.
The latest import among this ilk is Strange Karma. Comprised of brothers Martin Strange (vocals) and Paul Strange (guitar), as well as Doe Prijono (bass), and Jason McDonald (drums), Strange Karma is riding high on the strength of its ace debut disc Volume 1. Last week the band kicked off its latest American tour, assaulting New York’s Sullivan Hall tomorrow (Nov. 16) followed by dates in Philadelphia, Detroit, Dallas, and Hollywood. I caught up with Paul in this exclusive interview to discuss the band’s myriad influences, American obsessions, and how to craft a killer album in just 13 days.
When was the last time Strange Karma was here in the States?
A few years back to test the waters!
What are your expectations on tour this time around?
We want to expose the band to more of our fans in the States, and to set us up for when we come back to the States in 2012.
What places would you most like to visit on tour this time?
Last time we only did a part of the West Coast. We are looking forward to seeing Chicago and the East Coast of America this time.
How about for the rest of the world?
Europe and Asia are also important markets for us.
Besides America, which other countries are you looking to win over, and what is your ultimate goal as a musician?
Any countries that appreciate our music, to tour and perform for all those fans.
Strange Karma is an Australian rock group with two brothers on guitar. How do you roll with the inevitable AC/DC comparisons?
AC/DC are the masters at what they do, but our influences are wide and varied.
Music-wise, who are your influences, and who do you like to listen to that your fans would least suspect?
Everything from Amadeus to Zeppelin, and our individual listening habits depend on the mood we’re in. I was listening to Curtis Mayfield today.
What would you say are the big differences between Ozzie and American tastes regarding pop or rock music?
There are fans of both genres in Oz, but at a much smaller scale than the States.
What things about America are you fascinated with? Did any of these things inspire Strange Karma’s song “America”?
I love that you guys do everything bigger and better. The song “America” is a reflection of what was happening at the time; it came together while we were getting ready to head over here a few years ago. The band was buzzed about coming to America, especially having the opportunity to play at some of the most famous rock venues like the Whisky [a Go Go]—I already had the main riff going and then mixed it up with another idea. I played it for Marty and he just started singing along to it: “On a jet plane / I’m coming to you / California / Vegas, too.” That’s how it came together.
The songs “Time” and “Young and Free” are incredibly accomplished for a band’s debut album. Tell us a little about how these songs came to be, and were they difficult to record in the studio?
Marty and I have lots of songs, so I guess our biggest problem was deciding what NOT to record for our first album. We recorded Volume 1 in just 13 days—as a band with virtually no budget, we were incredibly well prepared!
Who would you most like to meet or collaborate with in the near future?
There are some great producers out there that we would love to work with and we hope to be speaking with them soon! In saying that, I believe it is important that whoever we are working with is on the same page and wants to be involved with Strange Karma.
Thanks for your time, Paul. Any other messages for your growing audience here?
Thanks to all those who have already bought the album and come to our shows. If you haven’t checked out Strange Karma already, come and rock out with us at one of our shows.
Volume 1 is available now. Strange Karma is on tour through Nov. 30. For more information, visit www.strangekarma.net.
Thoughts on this Q&A? Leave a comment below, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Want more from this Examiner? Click the “subscribe” button above for free alerts to his newly published stories, and visit his Performing Arts Interview and Japanese Culture pages.