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Stretch Arm Strong

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Amidst all the metalcore bands on the Solid State roster, this band surprised me with their pure hardcore intensity. When I heard that the band will probably come to Europe to tour, I just had to interview them. See what vocalist Chris has to say.

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Interview with: Chris McLane (Vocalist)

Date: October 19th 1999 (date of the first contact)

Where: Interview via E-mail

Other Bandmembers: John Barry (drummer), Scott Dempsey (guitarist), Jeremy Jeffers (bass-player), David Sease (guitarist, the piano-man)

Band's Hometown: Columbia, US

Discography:  Titleless EP, Compassion Fills The Void, Rituals Of Life

Contact Address: See their web-site: www.stretcharmstrong.net

Interview by: MPO

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You released this spring the Rituals Of Life album through Solid State Records. I was pleasantly surprised by the energy and the good sounds on this album. What do you think of the recording?

We were really pleased with the recording.  We spent 15 days in
December recording the entire thing.  Overall, we were pretty confident that we had a pretty good record.  We have gotten a positive response from most of the kids who bought the record.  I believe we captured the energy and emotion of our live performance on the record.  As with everything, you find little things that you wish you would have done better or differently.  That is always the case.  No use in beating yourself up over it.  The finished product came out
pretty nicely and we are pleased.


You said 'most of the kids'. What other responses do you get to the record then?

Well,  everybody has their own idea or opinion about what makes a great record.  It would be impossible for us to sit down and write a record that everyone loved.  In most cases, people seem to enjoy the record.  But, there have been a few who really do not care for the type of hardcore that we play.   That's fine with us. We know we will not appeal to everyone.

Personally I think it's refreshing to hear some good hardcore from Tooth & Nail/Solid State again. How did you get signed?

We sent them a little package of stuff we had compiled.  Our first CD, a video of some of our live stuff, reviews, and a general history of the band.  After that, they contacted and we went from there.  We did a lot of phone tag type stuff.  We would call them...they would call us.  Finally, we were able to get everything nailed down and start putting things in order.  Also, our friend Chad from Strongarm (Further Seems Forever) had originally told Tooth & Nail about us.  When Strongarm broke up there would kind of be a hardcore band missing from the Solid State line up.  I think we kind of were the band Tooth & Nail selected to help "fill the gap" so to speak.

Were there other labels interested that you could choose between?

We had talked to a few labels.  At one time there was a strong
possibility that we would have signed to Victory.  Things just were not
really clicking and so we abandoned negotiations with them  at the same time we had been going back and forth with T&N .  We eventually got things in order and settled on a deal.  It all worked out for the best.


How is it to be on Solid State now? You know, that label has a lot of
metalcore like Spitfire, Embodyment and Zao. Your band is closer to the essence of hardcore then other bands on the roster. Do you feel it's the right label for the band?

I feel T&N is the right label for the band, right now.  Who knows what the future might bring.  It's hard to speculate how things may go.  We like being the only (one of the only) band on the roster that still plays traditional style hardcore.  I love the other bands on the label, but I like that we stick out.  We never really got into the screamy, chaotic style that seems to dominate the genre.  It just was not part of our growing up in the scene. So, we definitely like sounding different than the other bands.  It is refreshing for us.

You're not a Christian band or something while Solid State is known for it's bands originating from the so-called Christian scene. How is that?

We are not a Christian band. Some of us in the band are Christian.  some of us are Straightedge, but we are not a Straightedge band.  We are simply a hardcore band. I believe in GOD 100%.   I just do not believe all the things I was taught growing up.  My ideals/perceptions have changed since I was a pre teen/teenager.  The thing we never wanted to do was try to be something we were not.  We told T&N from the start that we were not Christian.  They were total cool with that. It poses a problem sometimes.  Kids form an opinion of us and then when we do not live up to their preconceived notions they get mad or real turned off.  It's kind of sad actually.   Some people are really close-minded about things like that.

How have your ideals/perceptions changed then?

I am not sure how much my ideals have changed.   Of course with age we all change.  The world appears different than it does when you are young.  Now, I am married and we own our own home.  We both teach in the public school system, and we have all the stress that goes with being in a relationship, paying bills, keeping things in order, etc. I certainly see things differently than when I was fourteen and living with my parents.  I can experience things for myself and form my own opinions.  Its up to me to decide how I want to do things.  In that way things have changed.  Therefore, my ideals have certainly changed in the process.


Maybe this is a weird question, but I saw in the booklet of Rituals Of
Life where you thanked dozens of bands and the first one mentioned there is Strongarm. Stretch Arm Strong sounds similar. So, why is Strongarm mentioned there because that band split up in 1998?

Strongarm are long time friends of ours.  We have always loved their band and the guys in the band.  We toured with them several times.  They have helped us out so much.  The name thing is totally coincidental.  We started about the same time as each other.   We get that a lot, though. People sometimes think we are the same band.  It's strange.  The guys from strongarm have formed a new band now.  They are called Further Seems Forever.  They are such an amazing band.  Check them out.   They will be touring soon.

I'm told you're going to tour through Europe in June 2000. Can you give a sneak peak into that?

We are planning on a European tour in June 2000.  We are not sure where we will be heading, so please check our website for all the updates.  www.stretcharmstrong.net      We plan to be over there for at least 15-20 shows.  We are gonna try and play as many places as possible.  The whole band is so excited about the whole thing.  We have never been before.  We hear so many great things about the kids and the scene in Europe.  Please come out if you can.  Thanks for the interview.  Stay positive.  Take care.

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