StrateJacket: From Guerrilla Gigs to Breaking Out – The Story Behind “Bad Start” New Music: "Bad Start" by StrateJacket
LOS ANGELES, CA- In the buzzing world of music where artists can come and go with just a blink, StrateJacket isn’t one to fade away. Formed in 2019, this trio consisting of Jackson Roemers, the 24-year-old heart of the band leading vocals and guitar; Fabian Angel with his resonating bass and vocals at 23; and the rhythmic backbone, Nate Mangold on drums at 22, found themselves contending with the most unexpected opponent: a global pandemic. Just as they were gearing up, the world went silent, threatening to muffle their nascent chords.
But just like any punk-rooted collective would, they didn’t stay quiet. Instead of wallowing, the three young guns dove deep into isolation, merging their individual adoration for alternative and punk bands from the golden eras of the ’90s and ’10s, and fashioned a sound that is not only catchy but thrums with energy. The isolation became their crucible. As the world paused, Jackson, Fabian, and Nate dove deep, blending their collective adoration for alternative and punk anthems from the rollicking ’90s to the defiant ’10s. The outcome? A sound that’s as punchy as it is poignant, a mélange of energetic rhythms and memorable melodies.
San Francisco’s streets soon echoed with StrateJacket’s audacious tunes as they went guerrilla with their gigs, making stages out of beaches, warehouses, and even the shadowy spaces beneath the city’s bridges. Such raw zeal wasn’t lost on the crowds. The City by the Bay soon became their staunchest supporters, leading EDGEOUT Records to snap them up in 2021.
And now, StrateJacket unleashes their debut single, “Bad Start.” Recorded at the revered Armory Studios in Vancouver, the track sees the fusion of the band’s unfiltered energy with the mastery of Juno/BMI-winning maestro, Brian Howes, whose credits include chart-toppers like Hinder, Skillet, and Boys Like Girls. And as if that wasn’t tantalizing enough, the mixing prowess of Grammy Award-winning Chris Lord-Alge, the genius behind sonic legends such as Green Day, Muse, and Prince, lends the finishing touch.
“Bad Start” is but a tantalizing taste of what’s to come, and with the band’s debut album slated for a 2024 release, Blurred Culture was excited get to know this exciting new band.
It’s a catchy tune. Looks like you worked with some pretty established songwriters on the recording. Did they have a hand in the songwriting? How did the song come about (the inspiration)?
Jackson Roemers: Hey thank you! Yeah, we were lucky enough to have gotten the song into the hands of Brian Howes [producer] who was a tremendous force in bringing it to a new level. As far as songwriting goes it was pretty much solely written by us, I wrote the lyrics years ago now but they went through some changes before the song was ready for the record. Of course, Brian wasn’t without his fabulous additions to the track, a lot of the background guitar parts you can hear were these little hooks and details that he suggested we riddle the song with, Karl Dicaire, our sound engineer and Brian were instrumental in the use of our keyboard and guitar combination. “It’s like the pop punk Cars” I remember him saying, which was an exciting thought considering we didn’t know of another band that could be described that way. Brian also wanted to make sure that the music was telling a story just as much as the words were. He did come up with the gang vocal “ooo” part that’s prominently heard in the beginning and throughout the song, and I thought that was a great addition.
Having just getting introduced to your music, I dove into your back catalog and gave it a listen. It definitely sounds like “Bad Start” is a step up in terms of productions, mixing, etc. Considering that you’ve only been playing/recording for a couple foyer, how do you each of you see your evolution? Is it something you can feel/sense?
Jackson Roemers: Oh yeah, no question there. Our first recordings were Logic Pro recordings we did in a pool warehouse using an electronic kit and cheap mics we bought on Amazon. Throwing us into Armoury and then Black Stove studios for a month in Vancouver was a huge change up but we knew we wanted a sort of lavish production on our first effort because we always thought even though we were fast and rowdy, that our record would benefit from sounding “expensive”. As far as the evolution of our band goes it’s very hard to see right now. I spent so much time with this music trying to figure out what other people will think but it’s just a rabbit hole of differing taste. All I tried to do here was write a song that would have inspired me had I not written it and heard somewhere else.
Nate Mangold: The evolution all happened in the studio realizing everything we were doing wrong before, recording wise, and feeling dumb we didn’t figure it out ourselves. When listening to other songs I try to listen for the harmonies and some guitar layering I didn’t think to listen for before. In fewer words, everything’s making more sense now.
Fabian Angel: Recording our first album was such a fun learning experience, we messed around with structures, tones, riffs, etc. Moving forward from our first album has been interesting cause I can sense an evolution to our music that is both natural and necessary. It’s in our nature to make our musical evolution get better and better and I can see it happening the more we play together.
Is this single indicative of the direction of your 2023 debut will sound? Are there any particular themes you guys are playing with for the new album as a whole?
Jackson Roemers: I suppose so, the album has a lot of twists and turns that I don’t think people who’ve listened to us before would expect us to make now. Seriously, you can do a hundred down the highway to one song and curl up next to the fire in the woods to another, it wasn’t just important to the three of us to make a record that sounded different in theme and melody as it progressed, it was crucial. We walked this steady line of making music we thought everyone could enjoy and music that we would enjoy playing forever. Simply put we were never going to leave a song we thought was good off the record just because it didn’t sound exactly like a “StrateJacket” song whatever that sounds like. The point that “Bad Start” makes however maybe the purest of any song we’ve written thus far, a revelation to fuck up in life and make poor choices, but ultimately trying to always be a good person. Small brain, and a big heart.