Strap On Halo is currently preparing to leave for The Memento Mori US Tour which will span five weeks and include special guests The Hiram Key [UK] during select dates. Plans are also in progress for a European tour for later this year.
tribe4mian: How is the Gothic scene doing in Nebraska? I see 20 upcoming gigs covering Seattle, El Paso, Louisiana, Florida … Can you tell us what thoughts pass through you when the band is on tour?
LAYLA – When I moved to Omaha in 2004 there was a pretty good underground goth scene but as the years passed people moved away and interest was lost. I think that in the past couple years we have been performing live that things have been stirred up and we hope that interest continues to grow. The gothic scene in Nebraska is something to be desired, however, we are working on building it up. We are the only gothic rock band in Nebraska and in addition, Sean and I have created Wasteland Productions. With Wasteland we host bands and run monthly goth nights at alternating venues throughout the year. I know I have said this before but in America the scene is a fickle creature and if not maintained it falls apart and such is the case with Omaha, Nebraska.
There are so many thoughts that run rampant in my mind during tour. I love to travel and for me I think about all the amazing people I will meet, all the experiences that are waiting and how incredible it is that we get to drive across the vast majority of the United States to do what we love most. I am humbled by the fact that people come to our shows and hope that they enjoy it as much as I do.
SEAN – My thoughts are filled with pride for my fellow band mates. Together we have taken the reincarnation of Strap On Halo and made it into something tangible, something that has taken us on the road. I love seeing new cities and look forward to each and every show.
MARC – I think it’s great! I must say that the most avid thought in my head while on tour is my wife Joy. She is so extremely supportive and has done nothing but encourage me to pursue the musical endeavours of Strap On Halo. Also, the idea of returning to my hometown Seattle with my band to perform really excites me. It gives me a sense of accomplishment because this is the kind of band I have always wanted to be in.
tribe4mian: Strap On Halo was resurrected in 2009 with a new line-up, including original founding member Sean Rial, as well as Layla Reyna and Marc Jones. You’ve remained true to your roots by blending old-school gothic, dark wave, and death rock into your own creative sound. But, what were the band members doing before the resurrection? Are there any other bands we should mention here?
LAYLA – I starting singing when I was young but was never in any bands. I always wanted to, however, it took meeting the right people for my dream to finally come to fruition. Before the formation of Strap On Halo I started going to school in 2007 to get my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, of which I just completed in May 2011. Marc played in one band when his wife was stationed in Ohio for about one year. They moved to Omaha in 2009 when Strap On Halo was reforming and it was coincidence that we were looking for another member. Sean has been in a number of bands since he was 18, all of which remained local in Omaha until Strap On Halo.
tribe4mian: Layla, do you find it difficult to be a front-woman in a scene mostly dominated by male singers?
LAYLA – Actually I never really thought of it in those terms. To be quite honest most of my influences are male front-man. Musicians, in general, I find it easy to relate to and gender isn’t something that creates difficulty within me.
tribe4mian: Which, would you say, have influenced the band?
LAYLA – Generally speaking, I think we are most influenced by the people we surround ourselves with, world events and experiences. More specifically musically we find influence in bands such as Fields of the Nephilim, X-mal Deutchland. Einsturzende Neabauten, Killing Joke, The Southern Death Cult and Siouxsie and The Banshees.
tribe4mian: Not long after the resurrection, actually, within a matter of months, Strap On Halo wrote and recorded “Cherry Flavored Quick Fix”. The EP has three original songs and one remix of “I Feel Like Yesterday” by Martin Atkins. How was it working with him?
LAYLA – Working with Martin Atkins was brilliant! I didn’t have any expectations as it was the first time for me in a studio but I loved every bit of it. We spent three days at invisible records recording, mixing and mastering the EP. Then left on the third night with CDs and t-shirts. We learned a great deal from him and walked away from that experience with so much.
SEAN – Martin has been a long time idol of mine and finally getting to work with him was a privilege.
MARC – I was thoroughly impressed by his ability to work with the time restraint and how easy he and crew were to work with. All around great experience for me. It was also the first time I had been in a studio like Layla. He made it all look so incredibly easy!
tribe4mian: How was the Quick Fix US Tour in the summer of 2010? Any funny incidents you’d like to share?
LAYLA – The Quick Fix Tour was just as the name says… a quick fix. We went out for a couple weeks and made some amazing connections! We wanted to get out there and introduce ourselves personally to the dark community that didn’t know us. It really taught us a lot and prepped us for the five week tour we are embarking on now.
As for funny incidents… perhaps the time when we went to the beach and almost died. It may not sound funny but is in retrospect. We just wanted to see the beach but silly us and our all black clothing and boots didn’t fare well with the environment. Sean and I almost passed out from the heat and Marc in his barefooted wisdom tried to walk on the cement and burned the pads of his toes on the scorching hot ground. So lesson learned and we have swimsuits and beach shoes this time round… oh and fancy black lace umbrella.
tribe4mian: What do you think of the internet as a musician’s tool of promotion and from where can people buy your releases?
LAYLA – The internet is great as it takes our music to places it may not have reached otherwise and although a great marketing tool nothing beats getting out there and playing live for the masses. You can buy our releases at www.straponhalo.com
tribe4mian: In June, 2011, you released a new album, “The Dead Don’t Lie”. This was produced, mixed and mastered by Mick Shearman of NightPorter and Raymond John Ross of ANKST. How did this collaboration take shape?
LAYLA – The album was originally mixed and mastered locally however when we received our master back we were gravely disappointed and had to seek other options. We had recently become involved with a group of musicians from around the world after Gary Clarke of The Hiram Key proposed we all ban together to cover David Bowie’s, “Everyone says Hi” for World Goth Day in support of The Sophie Lancaster foundation, and as a result of that collaboration, the lot of 6 bands formed what is called The Global Goth Collective. As members of this group Sean and I reached out and without hesitation, Mick and Ray stepped up to mix and master our album so that we could have it available for our National Tour.
tribe4mian: Do you find any differences between the American and the European “dark” scene?
STRAP ON HALO – There are definitely differences as the American scene is widely dispersed and from what we can tell European crowds seem to gather in the masses to support live music. Also, the European scene appears to have stayed consistently strong whereas in America it works in cycles with different waves of music coming in and out. When Strap On Halo originally surfaced in the mid nineties the “dark” scene was strong and you saw bands such as Trance to the Sun, The Wake and Lycia touring as dark wave bands. Then in 2000, the scene sort of came to a halt where metal and rap pushed these bands back “into the dark”. With the start of the new century “dark” bands have resurfaced and with the support of our European brothers like NightPorter, The Hiram Key, New Zero God and ANKST we see the emergence of American and European “dark” scenes making an impact on the world.
tribe4mian: When writing lyrics for new tracks, what issues would you say are favourites of the band?
LAYLA – The music moves me and influences what lyrics I write first and foremost. I try to write lyrics that evoke the same emotion that the music does. I’m drawn by world events as it’s hard to ignore all the happenings in the world today and I find myself driven by words that express turmoil and concern within the human condition. I convey those feelings or topics by writing lyrics that allow listeners to approach the songs on a personal level. My world views and personal experiences allow me to tell stories, both broad and specific, to personal human existence and perhaps heal the soul.
tribe4mian: If you were not musicians, which career paths would have likely been chosen?
SEAN – I would have run a sea turtle refuge… hell I’ll probably will still do it.
MARC – Restaurant management along with various other artistic endeavours such as drawing or making knives.
LAYLA – I can’t imagine doing anything else however along with being a musician I am a freelance Graphic Designer and Illustrator. So my efforts would be primarily focused on my art and design if music was not a part of my everyday life.
tribe4mian: What are the differences between the “Cherry Flavored Quick Fix” EP and “The Dead Don’t Lie”?
STRAP ON HALO – “Cherry Flavored Quick Fix” was just a taste of where we were going sound-wise. Having only formed a few months prior, we were still evolving our sound and getting comfortable with each other. With “The Dead Don’t Lie” you can hear that progression in the song writing from song to song. It’s a better representation of the sound we envisioned and where we’re going that is best illustrated in songs like Fallen and Lenore.
tribe4mian: How far would you like your music to take you? What are the dreams of a Gothic band from Nebraska?
STRAP ON HALO – Eventually past the Milky Way… we have no borders. Our dreams consist of touring the world and exposing the masses to our music. Hopefully everyone will enjoy our music as much as we enjoy writing and performing it. I think we have only just begun and hope to take our tour to places never imagined.
tribe4mian: Thank you very much for this interview, please add anything else that you would like to mention…
STRAP ON HALO – First, we want to thank you for interviewing us and a big thank you to all for reading. Please be sure to check out www.straponhalo.com for music and www.reverbnation.com/straponhalo for current tour dates and recent news.