Local Noise: Tommy Strazza

“Every bar, coffee shop, club, both famous and not-so-famous, in the Tri-State Area,” laughs Tommy Strazza, about the places he’s played on the journey leading up to the release of his latest album, Songs From The Escape.

The songs on the CD are glimpses into the mind of Tommy, and they are both emotive and creative. They are extremely well thought out and developed, especially for an artist handling production duties for the first time. Add on to that the fact that he recorded much of the album in his car, and you have the makings of a very unique release.

“I needed to practice for an upcoming show, and my girlfriend and I were living in an apartment building, so I couldn’t practice at home without disturbing everybody in the building,” Tommy explains. “So I thought I’d go out to my little Ford Escape, record my practice session, and listen back to it when I got back inside. After listening back, I couldn’t help but notice that the recording that I just made sounded really good. I decided right then and there that I was going to make an acoustic album in my car. That’s where the idea came from. Well, that and I didn’t have money to go to a studio!

“It was just hours of freezing in the car and being really uncomfortable to the point that I would bust out in hysterics by myself in the middle of the night, trying to get out of the car, after being in the most uncomfortable position for too long of a time. My neighbors thought I was nuts, until I played them the final product. They dug the record.”

Tommy has the usual influences, in terms of famous artists that have shaped rock and pop music over the years. However, he also likes to cite area musicians who have made an impact on him. “I really find some of our local artists to be quite inspiring,” he says. “Rick Barry, Jerzy Jung, The Sunday Blues, The May Darlings, Anthony Walker, Big Wake, Emily Grove. George Wirth blows my mind every time I hear him play, and I just saw Melissa Anthony for the first time in a long time. She is amazing.”

The ideas for the songs come to Tommy in various ways, as well as at various times. “Inspiration usually hits me at the most inopportune time,” he relates. “Like when I am at work, sitting in traffic, about to fall asleep, in the shower, etc. It’s a game that ‘The Muse’ and I play with each other. She hits me with great ideas at weird times, and I do my best to grab a pen and paper, or my voice recorder on my phone and get that lyric and chord progression or guitar riff or whatever else down, before it goes away forever. I thoroughly enjoy our little game.”

The album is consistently strong all the way through, but there are a couple highlights that Tommy has gotten an especially good response from. “I have been getting a lot of positive feedback from the first track on my new album. It’s called ‘The First Time (Feat. Deirdre Forrest),’ and the last track on the album, called ‘Last Transmission’.”

Tommy is keeping very busy with his solo shows, as well as other projects. He recently opened for Denny Laine at The Strand Theater inLakewood, and is looking to expand his horizons. “I would love to be touring around the country and overseas,” he relates. “I am, and have been, working towards that goal, and to continue recording as much as possible. I also have a new three-piece band called The Strazzacasters, with Brian Prokop on drums and Mark Stewart on bass. We’re writing songs for our debut record and playing shows.”

The name of the CD comes from both the songs and the method used to record it. “It has a double-meaning,” Tommy says. “It’s a record based around breakups and relationships, so there’s that aspect of the title. I also recorded most of it in my Ford Escape. The title kind of wrote itself.”

Songs From The Escape is a stellar debut, and holds the promise of great things in the future. If you’re a follower of the singer/songwriter genre, it’s something you should check out. “I really pushed myself to make the most out of the tools that I have been given,” says Tommy. “Especially in the production department. This is the first record that I produced on my own. I am very proud of it.”

You can get more information about the album, as well as about upcoming shows, at tommystrazza.com or facebook.com/tommystrazza.