About The Band:
For any of our readers who are unfamiliar with Strange Circuits tell us a little bit about your band / project.
Strange Circuits was started in the 1980’s we were the first band on the industrial label Wax Trax records. We played most of the early Punk and New Wave bars in Chicago. Originally we were a three piece but one of our original members left to start Ministry. Today I play as an electronic solo act
What was your earliest memory of music that peaked your interest?
I loved the Rhythm Section of the early James Brown Records, I loved the tight Bright sound of the early Beatles recordings, and the sound of the Gretch and Rickenbacker Guitars of the Beatles was great. The sound of the Jimi Hendrix Fender Stratocaster was incredible also.
Who was the first album / single you purchased?
The first single I ever purchase was James Brown’s “Papa got a Brand new Bag”. I also remember buying the Fleetwood Mac single “ Oh Well “ and the Hendrix Album “Are you Experienced”.
When did you first pick up your respective instrument / or start singing?
I picked up my first Guitar while I was still in High School before College. I was inspired by Jimi Hendrix because he was a Left Handed Player and so was I. I started singing later because no one in the band could sing so I had no choice It’s either that or all Instrumentals
Later I started playing the Chapman Stick, which allowed me to play both the lead and bass parts at the same time as well as the Arp Odyssey Synthesizer.
What route did you take with your music / instrument / lessons / music school / self-taught and any fond memories of that journey?
I’m mainly a self-taught musician, my brother played in various groups before me as a drummer. He told his musician friends that I could play guitar and that was it. I’ve been playing ever since. Once you are known as a musician it’s hard to escape the music community someone always wants to play.
Who were your heroes as a young musician that inspired and pushed you to want to be a musician too?
My Brother and his musician friends they were very helpful. Also The Chicago blues and Jazz musicians my brother knew I learned a lot from them. My High School buddies who felt we could be the next Super Rock Stars even if we didn’t quite have the money or the equipment. Also Early Gigs and dances that didn’t quite mind if we were a little late and a little out of tune. Those were some great times.
Is there one particular album or song that gave you a “Eureka” moment from your youth that made you want to be a musician?
It’s going to be Jimi Hendrix “Are you Experience or the Beatles “ Meet the Beatles”. Both were a mind-blowing experience. They both showed the power of music and originality. You felt that anything was possible after hearing them. Later on I was able to see Hendrix perform live and I was able to see what was possible or as Hendrix would say, “with the power of Soul anything is possible”
What was the best gig you’ve ever attended?
That’s easy Hendrix Live also Lead Zeppelin with Jethro Tull as the opening act. I was able to catch these acts Live in Chicago. I learned that it was best to see groups live in their beginning stages. That way you were able to see what made them great with out studio polish or extra tracks. You could also see the connection between the act and the audience and that special magic and bond that happens live.
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
Of Course, at the moment I have a fondness for Nordic progressive and folk metal bands. Don’t ask me how that happened it just did over time. I like the fantasy and the direct approach of their sound it’s different from bands from the US or the UK. And different usually means something fresh or lively.
So any new music in the works? Where and when did you record it?
I’ve recorded some new tracks during this Tour of the UK. I enjoy recording in different environments it has an effect on your sound and the way you play. I recorded at The Noise Playground in Croydon this time around.
How does the song writing process generally work for you?
I live in Chicago it’s a pretty vibrant town with lots of drama and trauma too. When you live in a city like Chicago it’s not to hard to find something to write about there are lots of stories all around you just waiting to be told.
What route have you taken to build up and establish a fan base?
Well, I use Facebook mainly and word of mouth through Gigs which I perform. I like meeting my Fans and shaking their hands during performances it seems to leave a lasting impression. This tour of the UK I actually have some fans who traveled from city to city to see me perform and that meant a lot to me that they really cared about the music.
What is the music scene like locally to you in Chicago and where do you fit in?
The music scene in Chicago is not quite as open to new concepts as the scene in the UK. The clubs are stratified into genres and styles. You have progressive acts in the city and more hard rock traditional bands in the suburbs. I would fit in in the progressive scene in city clubs. But, at this time in my life I’m more concerned about spreading the Strange Circuits message overseas not so much in my hometown.
Do you feel there are enough venues around you to help promote and establish up and coming bands?
Not in the US when I arrived in the UK I was amazed at the number of pubs and clubs that you could play in. There was a club for every level of musician in the UK. In the US that isn’t the case. It’s all about the money side of things.
What would you like to see ideally to help hard working bands / artists get better exposure and opportunities to make a living from their craft?
The live club scene is down all over the world people have too many choices to choose from to stay at home. It’s a YouTube Spotify world. And bands have decided to take a stand there, Unfortunately so have a million other groups this is why Strange Circuits has decided to win and increase it’s fan base one fan one town at a time word of mouth fan to fan.
First off if your trying to make a living in this business you are going against technology and the times So I believe you have to have the mind set that this is your Art and that what you really need is exposure to the people and that means world wide because you never know where your true audience is until you find them and that’s why I tour. Once you find your audience you can focus on what they love about you.
What is the best piece of advice you have received on your journey thus far?
I learned to listen to my UK audience if you listen to the audience they will tell you what works and what isn’t working and that’s worth a million dollars. Because you won’t learn that no matter how many rehearsals you do.
What would you say has been the biggest lesson you have learnt on your journey to date?
That no matter how much you prepare there is always something that you can improve upon. You are never fully prepared for what the road has in store for you so you have to learn by doing it and not reading about it.
With the music industry always constantly changing – how have you had to adapt to the ever-changing landscape?
Actually I haven’t changed that much. I believe in the power of word of mouth I’m not that interested in a ton of digital fans that just click because they’re asked to. Because they don’t last or are not that devoted. On this last tour of the UK I had fans that travelled from one town to another and that was a moving experience for me.
Does the introduction of New Technology / Digital Age / Social Media etc enhance your life as a musician or do you feel it can be more of a hindrance?
The problem with the new digital technology is that it has a tendency to make groups or artist sound similar. Back in the day if someone had a moog synthesizer it was so expensive that it wasn’t so easy to copy him or her. Today you can buy cheap software for your computer that will give you that sound with no problems. It’s hard to be original when every one has what you have.
The problem with Social Media is that there is too much competition for the same audience and it’s too easy for people to find other groups who are similar to you and lose interest in your band because there are thousands of bands available at the push of a button.
So moving forward what’s next for you?
I have discovered that the experience of live performance is quite powerful. I like the chance and opportunity to perform and connect with people. So I plan on more touring and recording in the future.
How do you see the evolution of yourself as an artist in the future?
I see myself as a modern renaissance man capable of being multifaceted in Art and Music. I ‘m currently working on a film documentary with a company in the UK about Strange Circuits. I also have several film and book Ideas. I love being creative in as many ways as possible.
Do you have any short-term or long-term goals in mind?
I want to expose Strange Circuits to as many people as possible and I plan to spread the word about my Fine Art Work also. My Art is in the permanent collections of Several Fine Art Museums like the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago SAIC.
If you could tour with any band or artists who exist today who would that be?
Wow, that’s difficult to say maybe Kraftwerk or any of the new electronic / rock acts that are playing today. You can always learn from the old and the new acts .The goal is to keep moving and to keep improving. You learn from people and people learn from you. Life is a symbiotic relationship.
Team Rock ‘N’ Load