For a band that’s really only been around for about five and a half years, the four-piece desert rock band The Strange has made some pretty impressive strides despite loss of band members and even death. And what began as a sort-of rock/sort-of Americana/jam band kind of thing has transformed into a niche sound that books tours and wins awards like Best Rock and Best Alternative Band in SFR’s 2014 Best Of Santa Fe poll. Dang.
When I first interviewed the band years ago, they were a six-piece of hotheads who seemed more interested in partying and jamming in bars than making an actual go of musicianship. It was a short interview too, as it was interrupted by an angry man with a hammer who claimed one of the members had jumped his nephew. Yikes.
Cut to some years later, and personnel changes mixed with highs and lows and a mature level of dedication and hard work have changed everything.
“I’d say in the past year our sound has really solidified,” drummer Braden Anderson says. “We’re going with this ‘desert rock’ thing and that has really been driving us, like how we’ve been in the studio for the past year working on the new album.”
Anderson goes on to explain the title of “desert rock” came about when he and fellow members Daniel Murphy (guitar), Justin Lindsey (guitar and vocals) and Andy Diekmann (bass) grew tired of explaining their sound.
“We initially coined the term because we started to sound a little surfy, and it was a way to differentiate between sounding surfy and not living near the ocean,” Murphy adds. “We haven’t made a point to stick to this sound, but it’s just what happens when we get together to play rock ‘n’ roll.”
In the early days of The Strange, they were a band who, while tight, seemed directionless. They had a couple small tours here and there and played Santa Fe bars, sure, but their outwardly laissez-faire attitude toward band-dom seemed to falter following the exit of their original vocalist and keyboardist and the suicide of bassist Andrew Davey in 2012. It wasn’t that The Strange didn’t work hard per se, it was more that they simply weren’t as serious as they are now.
“Questions arose like, ‘Do we keep going with The Strange? What would Andrew have wanted?’” Lindsey says. “It either breaks you and you disband, or you keep the fire burning…we came out stronger on the other end.”
So they got it together. Diekmann was hired because, according to Lindsey, “He’s strange enough to be in The Strange.” Their sound tightened, their set became more cohesive, they started writing more collaboratively and they grew closer than ever. The most recent culmination of all this was their recent crowning as the best band in town by you, SFR’s readers.
“We didn’t even know it was going on and we didn’t push people to vote, so to end up with the votes was a pretty cool thing,” Anderson says.
“There are so many great bands in town, and we all benefit from these little bits of attention,” Murphy adds. “Hopefully we can properly represent Santa Fe.”
From here, the guys will be wrapping up their new record for a tentative October release, touring as often as possible and releasing a series of live performances on PBS affiliates in Colorado. Really, there’s no better way to sum up The Strange than in the words of Daniel Murphy;
“We’ve lost three members—one from the earth—and gained one, but otherwise our sound got a lot more rock ’n’ roll.” Word.
8:30 pm Thursday, Aug. 14. No cover
Tiny’s, 1005 S St. Francis Drive,