Strange Ranger: “You always want the live show to feel overwhelming…” (8/5 at JB’s)

Last month New York/Philadelphia-based Strange Ranger released their Pure Music LP on Fire Talk Records.  And the album — recorded in a cabin in upstate New York amidst a...

Last month New York/Philadelphia-based Strange Ranger released their Pure Music LP on Fire Talk Records.  And the album — recorded in a cabin in upstate New York amidst a blizzard — has been surprising critics in the best possible way.  “Strange Ranger continued their metamorphosis from indie rock to experimental electronic pop, keeping one foot in each genre with stirring, fascinating results,” says Stereogum, while SPIN characterizes the album as embodying, “A sound honoring both its members’ individual tastes for U.K. electronic weirdos and its collective status as a seasoned American indie rock quartet.”  During a recent phone chat with Isaac Eiger, the Strange Ranger vocalist/guitarist confirms that the band were certainly headed in a new sort of direction on this one: “Every time we make something, it’s a little different.  We were listening to a lot of dance music and ambient music at the time, like a lot of Talk Talk.”

Strange Ranger have been releasing singles and music videos from the album since March.  The videos each depict the band navigating New York City late-night, and have apparently been inspired by some of American cinema’s greatest achievements.  “There are so many great films of the 20th Century with a dark, urban environment that have been inspiring us,” says Eiger, who goes on to cite David Lynch’s Lost Highway (one of his favorite films), Richard Linklater’s Slacker, and Paul Schrader’s Light Sleeper as being major influences on their recent visuals (He also recently cited Gregg Araki’s Mysterious Skin as a major inspiration behind the album in a piece for BrooklynVegan.)  Additionally, he tells me that these visuals are an essential part of the band’s work: “We care a lot about what things look like, because it’s a part of the music.  We try to make the visuals and the music part of the same thing.”

Late August and September will have Strange Ranger embarking on a US tour (including West Coast dates with their friends in Chanel Beads), but this weekend they have a pair of Pure Music release shows, with a date at DROM in New York City this Friday (August 4th) and a date at our very own Johnny Brenda’s this Saturday (August 5th).  Isaac tells me that fans in NYC and Philthy can expect a variety of things from these shows: “I think we’re gonna play a bunch of songs from the new record, and some old ones.  Some of it sounds like the album, and some of it veers in other directions.”  He also tells me that there are a number of things that make for what he considers to be an ideal Strange Ranger show: “Really good sound is important because we have a lot of inputs and outputs, and I just like lights, so if the lights are good and the sound is good, it’s great…  You always want the live show to feel overwhelming, which can have a lot to do with lights and volume.”  And, in terms of what the immediate future holds for Strange Ranger, he admits that, while they are always writing, there are definitely more tour dates to be announced in the near future.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.