Since 2001, Long Island’s own Stray from the Path has been defying trends and carving out a unique niche for themselves in the world of extreme and aggressive music. Stray from the Path’s noisy metallic hardcore sound incorporates venomous screaming vocals that lyrically expose personal and societal ills and urge listeners to make positive changes in their lives. Stray from the Path has released four full-length albums to date: their debut “Audio Prozac" (Pride Recordz, 2003), "Our Oceania" (Five Point Records, 2005) and most recently “Villains” (2008), and “Make Your Own History” (2009) on the burgeoning Sumerian Records. This workmanlike band tours with a reckless abandon, only halting their onslaught of live shows to record studio albums and perhaps - and this is unconfirmed - sleep in their own beds for a weekend. In their usual fashion, Stray from the Path have already played quite a few shows at various locations in 2010, and will continue to tour across the United States and Canada well into the spring and summer. Catch Stray from the Path’s frenetic live show locally on April 3rd at the Gramercy Theatre in NYC (Atticus Metal Tour with Unearth), and on April 29th in Farmingdale at the Crazy Donkey with Bleeding Through and labelmates Born of Osiris.
The following is an exchange between the Long Island Metal Music Examiner and Stray from the Path guitarist Tom Williams:
Long Island Metal Music Examiner: What are the origins of the name Stray from the Path?
Tom Williams, Stray From the Path: When Stray started, there was a big hardcore scene, and all these bands were just trying to rip off other bands [as a way] to play shows - because its cool to
play shows. We wanted to do different music and make songs that we felt meant something - And [we] played shows because we felt people were looking for purity in music's message, so we wanted to "stray from the path" of the norm, and do whatever we wanted to do because we thought it was right.
L.I.M.M.E: What are your favorite Long Island venues (past and present), and why?
Tom, S.F.T.P: Past - [the now-defunct Farmindale venue] The Downtown was the best, and I miss it so much. I saw so many unreal shows there and played a bunch of sick shows...I will never forget it. Present - I am unsure. I hear that Broadway Bar [Amityville, Formerly Village Pub South] is cool now because the dude from the Sleeping owns it and he isn't a jerko*f and actually cares. The Crazy Donkey [Farmingdale venue] is decent, but the barrier between the stage and the kids is such a cock block on a show.
L.I.M.M.E: Stray from the Path has been touring quite a bit already in 2010, and it looks like the band will continue to do so deep into the spring. Considering the shows that have taken place thus far, at what location do you feel like you have gotten the best reaction from the crowd (away from New York)?
Tom, S.F.T.P: We have certainly been touring a lot, and we have our favorites. Charleston, South Carolina is always awesome..Birmingham, Alabama is fantastic, and I would say Richmond, Virginia too. Those have all been our best shows recently when it comes to reactions and meeting people - always fun times.
L.I.M.M.E: How did you come to be signed by Sumerian Records? Sumerian Records seems to have a decent amount of bands on their roster with somewhat of a similar sound (the “Sumeriancore" moniker is used by some to describe the sound), yet Stray from the Path doesn’t fit that mold (combination of prog/tech/death/core). Do you ever feel like outsiders on the Sumerian roster?
Tom, S.F.T.P: We got signed way back, we were Sumerian’s fifth band on the label, before they had their "sound.” But I like being different on the label. I don't feel like we are outsiders at all, if anything, it’s cool for the people who are into After the Burial, Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya who have that "Sumeriancore" sound, they can still hear different stuff like Stray or like I See Stars. In the end, its just a label built with people who back our music and love being a part of their work ethic.
L.I.M.M.E: In a recent Noisecreep article, you are quoted as saying, “We care about our music, our live show, and our message, and we want nothing more than the world to hear it.” What is Stray from the Path’s message?
Tom, S.F.T.P: Being honest and being meaningful. Our message can change by each track on the record. Mainly on “Make Your Own History,” we hit a lot of the depression people live in with their day-to-day jobs; miserable bastards that work at Burger King or Target and dread their lives but have no choice because they have "bills." We want people to go and do what they love, and at least try to pursue it. Our band does not make very much money, but I would rather go and tour for 40 days and come home with a couple hundred bucks, then work 40 days at McDonald’s making a couple thousand but be a f*cking miserable person.
L.I.M.M.E: What are some Long Island bands (past and present) that have influenced Stray from the Path?
Tom, S.F.T.P: Musically, there really weren’t too many bands, but we got motivated with
bands’ work ethic. Seeing From Autumn to Ashes or GlassJaw blow up, and This is Hell and Anterrabae go out and sell records, was evidence that "Hey these dudes that I know go out and do this, from the same town I’m from...Why can't we?" That really got me personally going.
L.I.M.M.E: In Decibel magazine Kirk Miller called your sound “Palahniuk-core” (due to the possible “Fight Club” references in your lyrics and song titles on the “Make Your Own History”album). Are the members of Stray from the Path fans of Chuck Palahniuk’s writing, or just fans of the “Fight Club” film (or neither)?
Tom, S.F.T.P: Haha, that's pretty funny. I do not read Chuck's books, I honestly don't read many story-based books. I personally wrote the lyrics to that song and the song title, and yes, I did get it from Fight Club. [The Fight Club quote about] "Working jobs we hate so we can buy sh*t we don't need" was what really sparked the idea for titling the song. I get calls from creditors all the time trying to collect money from me, just because I f*cked up when I was younger and bought stupid crap that I couldn't pay off, and it’s very hard to take.
L.I.M.M.E: In what ways do you feel the Long Island metal and hardcore scene/musical climate has changed in the past 10 years or so?
Tom, S.F.T.P: It has definitely regressed a bit. I mean, when I first started to go to shows, I had no idea that bands toured. The only bands that I thought toured were like Rage Against The Machine and the Deftones. But the [Long Island] scene was Subterfuge, Strongpoint, Fall of Icarus, the Backup Plan and Anterrabae. Every weekend it would be the same show with the same recycled bands, and it was the best thing I was ever apart of. But its not like that anymore. The only times we play Long Island now is with like Dillinger Escape Plan, Every Time I Die or Winds of Plague...which is still awesome, but its rare to have a show with all locals that would sell out. The shows with Subterfuge, Backup Plan and Anterrabae would bring in like 300 kids in a venue that barely fit 200.
L.I.M.M.E: How did Misha “Bulb” Mansoor (producer and guitarist for Periphery and Bulb) end up producing “Make Your Own History”? The guitar sound that he is best known for (sometimes referred to as “djent”) isn’t something that is necessarily incorporated into Stray from the Path’s music. Why did the band choose him for the album? Misha has said that his production style is very hands-on (claiming he becomes like another member of the band). What was your experience with him like, and how was it different from your experience with Kurt Ballou for “Villains”?
Tom, S.F.T.P: We have all been fans of Misha, way before our recording began. We never met him before, our friends showed us his music, and I just tracked down his number and we went from there. The guitar sound is perfect. We don't do that "djent" thing, but on this record we wanted to have the raw music we made also hit like a bag of bricks. So we talked to Misha, and told him what we were going for and he was down. He is DEFINITELY very hands on, where he becomes like another member. There were a lot of times where we had to slow him down, but we welcomed it most of the time. It was definitely more intense than we thought it would be....like he'd have ideas every now and then, he had an idea every 3 minutes..haha...which was definitely awesome, just overwhelming sometimes. Working with him was 128371 times better than working with Kurt Ballou, and thats coming from a diehard Converge fan. Kurt was awesome, but I was young and kind of intimidated by him, and he was not hands-on at all. I loved working with Misha and we will probably go back with him for the next record.
L.I.M.M.E: What are some current metal or hardcore acts that you admire (outside of those on your label), and why?
Tom, S.F.T.P: Bands that I admire now are Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza, Veil of
Maya and a new Long Island Hardcore band called Backtrack. I know Veil is a Sumerian band, but they and Tony Danza inspired us to go 4-piece, because they pull it off so well. Backtrack is very awesome, and one of the best hardcore bands I have heard in a while.
L.I.M.M.E: Anything in closing that you would like to say to the Long Island Metal Music Examiner’s readers?
Tom, S.F.T.P: Thanks for the interview, you actually asked good questions and not just jerko*f questions. Thank you for your interest and support. We are playing at the Crazy Donkey with Bleeding Through and Born of Osiris, make sure you come out.
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