Local Noise: The Strangers

If you happened to wander into The Court Tavern inNew Brunswick, or Crossroads in Garwood, or The Saint inAsbury Park, and heard some eerie sounds emanating from the stage that brought back shades of Jim Morrison and The Doors, but with a modern tinge, you probably stumbled upon a performance by The Strangers.

The band has only been together a short time, but has already played a number of prestigious shows in their home base ofNew Jersey, and developed a unique sound which stands out among other up-and-coming original acts in the area. Matthew Makin and Kevin Nenichka started the group, and were joined by Jake Szabo and Mike LaFisca to round out the unit.

“Kevin and I met randomly online, despite having lived close to each other for several years,” explains Matthew. “The name ‘The Strangers’ was a working title that stuck with us because we met as complete strangers, trusting the other’s talents and judgment whole-heartedly. In just a couple of weeks we had written many songs together.

“After recording the song ‘Deep Blue’ with esteemed producer Jared Kahn of Black Hawk Love, and submitting it to our Facebook page, Jake randomly stumbled upon it and it caught his attention. We immediately auditioned him out on the bass guitar and he fit right in. Jake and Mike go way back and he had brought Mike along on the audition. Ever since then his bullet-like drumming style has stuck with us.”

All the band members contribute to the writing, and it comes both from outside the circle of the group and also within each others’ presence. “We keep the ideas flowing at all times because you never know when inspiration will strike,” relates Matthew. “Our music is like a book. There are chapters to our style. We believe strongly in a wide variety, experimentation, and face-melting guitar solos. We want to make you laugh, cry, dance, and lounge, all at the same time. Music is manic.”

Musically, the band draws from a wide variety of eras, mixing classic sounds of groups like the aforementioned Doors, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Johnny Cash to more modern inspirations such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alice In Chains, Green Day, and Blink-182. Occasionally they cover a song from one of their inspirations, such as a great cover of The Doors’ “Five To One,” which wasn’t a huge hit but is a classic that aficionados will appreciate. “Basically it fit naturally,” adds Matthew. “We have played a few songs by The Doors and that one really blended into everything else we’re doing right now. “

Matthew has a hard time picking a personal favorite, and feels each song has its own identity and was developed as its own entity. “I’m not quite sure yet which my favorite is,” he says. “We have a ton of fun perfecting each song to find its flow and realizing how the overall feeling changes throughout the song. The song ‘Get Off’ has been a crowd favorite and we really love the way ‘Deep Blue’ came out. We will be going into the studio to record our EP that we hope to release by Christmas.”

The chemistry that shows when the group is on stage together is also evident in the way the writing comes together. “Before the band got together fully and it was just Kevin and I, we had met up and I said, ‘You have to hear this new song I wrote’,” recalls Matthew. “He said, ‘No way, I just wrote a new guitar part last night.’ We played them both, and lo and behold they went together perfectly. That song is now called ‘Mud’ and it is one of our absolute favorites to play live.”

As far as the future, The Strangers just hope to keep getting the word out about the band, and to make sure the music continues to be passionate and true to themselves. “Spread the right word, feel from your heart, and never doubt yourself,” Matthew says. “Whatever that may be, whatever you are, be it fully. We want to grow into ourselves while you grow as well.”

You can find out more information about The Strangers, as well as see videos and get a schedule of upcoming performances, at thestrangersperiod.com and at facebook.com/thestrangersperiod.

Check out a rising young band, and don’t be afraid to say hello and introduce yourself at their shows. As Matthew says, “Strangers aren’t so strange when you get to know them.”