Strong Killings’ Nate on rotting mansions, dinosaur songs and why playing house parties is the best

We all know that Seattle has proved to be a hotbed and honey pot of music, being the hometown/birthplace of so many great bands. One such band, which is just now emerging from Seattle, is due to release a self-titled debut album on July 19th through Don’t Stop Believin’ Records.

Strong Killings is the band I am telling you about and I have to say that after giving their debut album a thorough testing, Strong Killings really is keeping the spirit of punk alive. This spirit is a truly refreshing beast as Strong Killings combines such a wide variety of the various punk genres without ever losing any energy or attitude. Yes, definitely loud and uncouth, and such a good album; Strong Killings lay down a message of social unease and nonconformity perfectly.

‘Annals of Animals’ opens the album, hitting hard with a strong alt punk sound, and leads you onto ‘Licked Nicked,’which hooks you in with a strong bass and drum intro. This song adds a good dose of skanky rhythm to the album. ‘Winnebago’ is a ballad that adds to the variety on the album and once again proves the versatility of Strong Killings. Then, ‘New Mexican Frontier’ hits in. This is a short but sweet instrumental with strong melodies and is built on a lively bass line.

The next track, ‘Too Cool,’ warns that “If you’re too cool, then fuck you” in its lyrical message epitomizing the punk attitude; as ever, this song is inspired by life’s experiences. Then the album moves on to ‘(You Never Wanna) Dance With Me,’ a great song that has many similarities in style with Richard Hell/Johnny Thunders.

‘Minimum Wage’ combines a touch of free styling with a hint of melodic punk, but Nate’s sneering vocals never lose their edge in this. ‘Stegosaurus’ is a short, mostly instrumental track with just a hint of baritone vocal. ‘Stupid Punk’ is full on assault of pop/hardcore punk and is a tale of a punk reaching the limit. ‘Worst Case’ then leads on to the power punk anthem ‘Suckerpunch’ and then ‘Tiger Style’ closes.

This whole album is about thirty-two minutes in length and there are twelve relatively short but sharp, sweet tracks squeezed into this. Although there may not be anything particularly new here in style or content, the composition and delivery are impeccable. Listening to the album is an exhilarating thrill ride that leaves you wishing for more.

Rating: 8.5 / 10  

I recently had a little chat with Nate from Strong Killings who talked rotting mansions, dinosaur songs, why playing house parties it the best and more.

Q: How did the band form?

A: We just met from going to house parties and jamming together all drunk in my old basement in this big old rotting mansion. There was musical equipment set up in the basement and everybody from all these bands would end up at the after-hours party or whatever, and that’s how Carlos and I first ended up playing together.

Q: What has influenced your music and what inspires your creativity?

A: Punk music and the punk scene. Our song ‘The Basement’ is kind of about how we grew up, going to house shows. When I was fourteen, I started going to shows at this guy Mike Brammer’s house. Virgil Dickerson from Suburban Home Records sent lots of bands through him, so I got to see some really great bands like the Automatics, the Nobodys and lots of BYO bands like Pinhead Circus and stuff. There was a strict ‘No drugs, no beer, no fighting’ policy – it was just about the music.  Circle pits, helping people up when they fell down – unity. I believe that we were probably the best show on a lot of bands tours just because we went off so hard.

What inspires us is life? Our songs are about our friends, stuff that has happened to us and to others.  ‘Suckerpunch’ is about how some jocks suckerpunched me and my friend Scotty outside of a bar one night. ‘Too Cool, Fuck You’ came from a conversation with some stuck-up idiots who thought they were famous because they were playing at The Stranger’s Capitol Hill Block Party, a local music festival.

Although, we did just write one song about a dinosaur because we wanted a song that sounded like a dinosaur or something. We are also inspired by many awesome bands like Fugazi and McLusky and Japanther.

Q: How was your name devised?

A: Our friend Nathaniel “Thanny” Bradford came up with it. Some movie was rated R for ‘strong killings.’ He was like, “What the hell is a strong killing?”

Q: How does the creative process work with your music?

A: Well, we basically go into our practice space, CryBaby, which is walking distance from all of our houses, and then we just jam with a tape recorder going so we can listen to it afterwards and glean songs from it. Although ‘Annals of Animals’ came out of my four-track and an acoustic guitar.

Q: What have been your highs and lows so far? Do you have any amusing moments that you wish to share?

A: Our highest high was our last tour, it was so amazing. Our lowest low was on that same tour when I had a nervous breakdown in Eureka, CA. My little sister recently suffered a traumatic brain injury and almost died and now has amnesia. It is with me everywhere I go. She is a punk, a true punk, and a singer in a punk ban – I love her so much. I was worried about her the whole tour and the Eureka show was the second to last show and I just broke down and had a freak out, screaming, breaking shit, so it goes. I took a Greyhound to see her as soon as we got back to Seattle.

Q: Do you have any favorite venues, or venue types, and why?

A: House shows are the best; the coolest people [are there] and often times there is food involved. Also, you can’t beat the feeling of being that close to everyone, all on the same level, no stage, just rocking and being rocked. I love it. I will always, always play house shows.

Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the future, and how do you plan to achieve them?

A: I would like if Strong Killings could put out more albums and play lots of parties and house shows, and I would like to be able to see my sister at least once a month.

For all the latest, visit: strongkillings.com