Everything On Their Own Terms: Interview with Guitarist John Simon Fallon of Striker

Everything On Their Own Terms: Interview with Guitarist John Simon Fallon of Striker

On February 2, 2024, JUNO Award winner Striker released their seventh studio record, Ultra Power.

Ultra Power is a bold statement from Striker that delivers a high-voltage dose of electrifying energy that is sure to leave your speakers melting. Recently, This Day in Metal had the opportunity to speak with Striker guitarist John Simon Fallon.

We discussed the recording of Ultra Power, the benefits of crowdsourcing an album, Striker's plans for the future, and what bands would make up a Mount Rushmore of Canadian Metal Acts.

TDIM: After releasing six albums in six years, was it a conscious choice (pandemic aside) to give some space between the Play to Win album/tour cycle and the recording of Ultra Power?

John Simon Fallon: "The pandemic obviously forced everyone to take a break and really took the wind out of our (and everyone's) sails, momentum-wise. We were able to release the Deathwish and Strange Love singles during and towards the end of the pandemic. At one point during the pandemic, the band almost broke up, as there was no clear path forward with the uncertainty related to live music and touring.  Then, at the end of 2021, we had another lineup change, as one of
our original guitarists decided to pursue other life endeavours."
"In the spring of 2022, as restrictions began to be lifted, we toured North America with Beast in Black; then, in the summer of 2022, we toured Europe and played several festivals. We spent the remainder of 2022 working on finishing the new music before entering the studio from February to the end of March 2023."
"So as you can imagine, the gap between the Play to Win album cycle and the recording of Ultrapower wasn't as much of a conscious choice as it was a function of several different variables.

TDIM: You utilized a crowdsourcing campaign (KICKSTARTER) to fund the recording of Ultra Power. We know that the campaign was a rousing success, but was there a “Plan B” in case things did not work out?

JSF: "Plan B would have been to either record the album ourselves... or each sell a kidney."

TDIM: Can you discuss how the idea to crowdsource the record came about?

JSF: "We had previously done several successful pre-order campaigns ourselves, and we perceived the Kickstarter as being essentially a pre-order campaign with exclusive perks. Several friends and colleagues of ours, who had recently had successful Kickstarter campaigns, suggested that we try it for this album cycle."
"We figured that true fans and supporters of the band would be eager to purchase the new album and merchandise regardless, so we figured we would give it a try. The Kickstarter campaign allowed us to not have to front the entire cost of production and printing, which has allowed us some freedom to focus our resources on making music videos and other content, as well as working on tour
plans, and assembling a new business team."

TDIM: You established your record label, Record Breaking Records. With four albums under your belt, what have been some of the challenges you faced in establishing the label, and do you feel more or less pressure when recording and releasing albums?

JSF: "Having our label has been great. It has allowed us the freedom to do things on our terms and not have to audit third parties for financial accountability and transparency. The main challenges would be related to the administrative and financial burden of being responsible for everything to do with the band business-wise. From marketing to tour booking, planning and recording music videos, designing and arranging for the printing of merchandise and CDs, etc. And of course, having to ship out thousands of CD orders ourselves takes a ton of time."
"We certainly feel less pressure with recording, as we can set all deadlines ourselves, and if needed, we have professional recording capability within the band. Another challenge we have experienced is related to bigger festival and tour opportunities, where bands on the usual record labels tend to get priority. However, with our new business team, this should no longer be an issue."

TDIM: Do you think we’ll see more bands establishing their labels and looking for non-traditional methods of releasing material in the future?

JSF: "It's tough to say. I think the administrative burden alone might be enough to deter most bands from starting their labels. It is a lot of work. But throughout history, artists have had to adapt to changing circumstances, and if working with labels becomes undesirable for some artists, then perhaps they will choose more non-traditional methods."

TDIM: Josh Schroeder (Battle Cross, Butcher Babies) produced, mixed, and mastered Ultra Power. What were some of his contributions to the album, and how did the partnership develop?

JSF: "Josh was amazing to work with. It turns out he is also a fellow Canadian. We can't say enough about what a great human he is and what a positive experience we had at Random Awesome Studios in Midland, Michigan. Aside from the killer production, his focus was ensuring that each song on the album had its own identity. He encouraged us to really "own" our performances, to go over the top, and to have fun with it. I think you can hear how much fun we had making this album."
"After recording the last few albums ourselves, we were curious what our music would sound like with a producer responsible for creating some of the heaviest sounds on the planet, so we reached out to him to see if he would be interested in working with us. The end result is Ultrapower."

TDIM: I feel like you took all elements from the ’80s and early 90’s action movie soundtracks, threw them in a blender, and crafted an amazing listening experience. Each song creates a familiar narrative (Live to Fight Another Day, City Calling) with a fresh approach. Your songs have always been "big," but what influenced the doubling down of that on UltraPower?

JSF: "I think it just highlights the natural progression of the songwriting. We all love the styles of music we incorporate into our songwriting, so it's very easy for us to deliver the performances with conviction. Combine that with the amazing production Josh was able to achieve, and you get big cinematic songs!"

TDIM: Another thing that struck me about the record is how layered each song is and how, with each listen, I uncover different sounds I missed on previous occasions. Were there any points when you had to step back and say, “Maybe we’ve gone too far on this one?”

JSF: To quote the great Yngwie Malmsteen, More is More."

TDIM: Where can fans grab a physical copy of Ultra Power or go to support the band in general?

JSF: "Physical CD and Vinyl copies of Ultrapower are available on our website at www.striker-metal.com, and please follow us on the various social media platforms, engage with us, and let us know what you think of the new album."

TDIM: What was the first record you heard that made you decide that being a musician was the right career for you?

JSF: "Appetite for Destruction: Guns and Roses"

TDIM: Who is your “spirit” musician?

JSF: "Marty Friedman!!"

TDIM: There have been some prolific metal bands that have emerged from Canada; which ones would make up your Mount Rushmore list of artists?

JSF: "Annihilator, Razor, Harem Scarem, Kim Mitchell, Bryan Adams, Triumph."

TDIM: Lastly, what can fans expect from Striker in 2024 and in the future?

JSF: We will do two North American tours this year, including festival appearances at the Legions of Metal Festival in Chicago in May and Prog Power USA in Atlanta in September. Beyond that, we are currently working on some European tours, including the European festival circuit in 2025. Beyond that, we hope to tour in South America, Japan, and Australia. We promise that it won't be 6 years until we release our next album.

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