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"An Interview with Noise @ Niagara"

By Sandor Ligetfalvy
"We're just trying to make music that we enjoy playing and people enjoy listening to." Four parts make up The Strange, the St. Catharines band with a Liverpool, England, front man. The Strange, together now for about a year, consist of Chris Vegas (Vocals/Guitar), Melody Van Shaik (Bass), Brandon Sloggett (Guitar), and Eric Boderik (Drums). They formed in 2004 and were on Scene, St. Catharines' yearly music festival, a month after coming together. "We didn't even have enough material for a full set, at that time," Chris Vegas, 22, says in an interview with news@niagara at our newsroom in Welland, Ont., on May 16. "We came out swinging," Eric Boderik, 22, says at the same interview. Their NOISE@NIAGARA song, One More Hour, was released August 2004. Vegas says in their EPs, they put in two "strong" B-sides: "Not just filler -- a three song sampler." news@niagara was curious about The Strange's feelings about the music industry. We got an earful of opinion from Briton from the birthplace of Brit-pop. Vegas says that record executives aren't taking the risks they once would have. "Take a band like The Darkness," he explains. "A totally amazing band. They were selling out at London Astoria before a major label would sign them. Those guys (record executives) aren't taking risks." Is there something wrong with music? Is it getting worse? Boderik replies, "There's a lot of good bands out there, but they aren't getting recognition. There's no flagship band." "The bands are out there," Vegas continues. "Music hasn't gotten worse -- that's ridiculous. It's just not coming to the forefront. Everything is safe. Before they (record execs) see dollar signs, they're not touching it." "Ten years ago we'd already be signed, but not in this climate." "Safe" music is music that is guaranteed to sell, to make a return on the record labels' investments. Vegas says this lack of support in music from executives eventually kills independent bands because money and ambition dries up. "If you breed boring, middle of the road stuff, it's going to breed boring, middle of the road stuff ... I don't think that means music sucks, it's the infrastructure that sucks." Government grants are going to bands that are already big, Vegas says. "That's just taxpayers' dollars going to bands who don't need them, like Avril (Lavigne)" "There's a movement to stop that," Vegas says, "and hopefully it works as there's no point going on about music sucking when you can actually stand up and do something about it." Vegas is hopeful but not convinced. "There's an argument that today's generation is an apathetic one. Hopefully that's not true, but in the '60s, you had the hippies, and you could argue they failed. In the '70s, you had punk rock and you could argue they failed. In the '80s both groups became yuppies ... maybe people have rolled over and given up." So just what kind of music does The Strange play? Vegas replies, "Proper Rock and Roll." He says he's trying to make music people enjoy listening to, and that while the band may have certain beliefs (such as being against racism and political correctness), they don't put it in the music because it would be "preachy." "Most musicians didn't even finish high school and they think they have the right to tell people how to live their lives," Vegas says. "It's like, shut up, you're a dick head." "They're trying to sell teen angst ... kids know that kids commit suicide. Kids know that kids get pregnant. What help is it having it sung right back to them?"

"Toonage review of Playmaker @ Lees' Palace"

"...Incredibly talented Playmaker was up next, offering a very different brand of music. Think ska beats, a rhythm guitar line reminiscent of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, and a lead singer who sang punk-like melodies in his Liverpool accent. Disappointed fans may be forgiven for protesting that they are no substitute for English Beat (who had to pull out because of visa problems), but even the most intransigent would have to admit that these guys are good! Their playful, beckoning, echo-y guitar work and strumming, rolling tunes in “It’s Up To You” had the few audience members present cheering and dancing energetically. - - Dec. 2007


St. Catharine?s band braves mosquito bites and industry snubs on their way to the top With neither hesitation nor a drop of sarcasm, singer Chris Vegas is happy to say exactly where his band, the Strange, is headed. ?We want to be the biggest band in the world, if possible,? he says matter-of-factly in his Liverpudlian accent. ?That?d be alright.? For now, though, Vegas?along with Eric Bo Derek (drums), Melody Van Schaik (bass) and Brandon Sloggett (guitar)?is part of an independent Britpop-inspired rock band that hasn?t yet strayed much from its St. Catharine?s, Ontario, home base. But that hasn?t stopped him from pre-emptively addressing the challenges of full-blown rock godhood?foregoing the piddling details of smack addiction and groupie management for issues that have unfortunately already surfaced very close to home. ?Hopefully someday it does get huge,? he says, ?but I think we really want to hope and pray that we wouldn?t become one of those bands that didn?t have time for people. I think that?s what worries us, because we see the way we get treated and we wouldn?t want other bands to play with us and think we were a bunch of dicks.? Vegas?s voice gets a bit weary as he thinks back on the few-too-many times he?s been burned by old friends who turned up their noses and tossed their fashionably mussed hair at still-struggling musicians like him once they broke their first single or signed to a major label. ?Well,? he says, ?between you and me and the wall there, I don?t know, we?ve been around the block a bit in the last few years and we?ve played with a lot of bands. We?re friends with?well, I wouldn?t use the word ?friends,? but we?re acquaintances with certain bands that have blown up or whatever and we don?t even exist to them. And it can piss you off because you?ve got to wonder what happens between when we were playing with them and they were normal people and they were fun to hang out with and then all of a sudden they?re too good for us. You?re kind of wondering then, what happens there? You know, when do you suddenly become a dick from being an okay guy?? Vegas?s experiences have led him to the conclusion that the blame for most of that rock star dickery falls on the corporate end of the music business. ?I think for a large part, major labels will push a band towards seeming a bit more aloof and a bit grander than your average person, and too good for everyone,? he hypothesizes. ?I think that?s just what it probably comes down to. It?s like, ?We?re better than you and you?re not worthy,? and it?s just bollocks, really.? Vegas doesn?t mince words when it comes to opining about the state of the music industry, either, and it?s clear he has no love for the major labels. Still, he says, he?d take a big-time offer if the chance arose?he just hopes that the Strange will be more prepared if the time comes due to their brushes with the nouveaux fameux. Anyway, all this talk of signing record deals and staying ?real? seems a bit far off, considering Vegas is calling before playing a small pub show in Vancouver. But the Strange has experienced enough success back in St. Catharine?s to keep them hopeful for the bigger things. Their first EP, the three-song Volume One, sold out twice back home, and the Strange hopes to continue their sales streak by bringing their bouncy and melodic feel-good rock across western Canada before returning with the soon-to-be-released Volume Two EP. The Strange will be touring for the next few months, camping on their way out west, pitching tents from Manitoba to Alberta, having first-time run-ins with prairie dogs and being bitten alive by the various insects of the Canadian Shield. ?Everyone?s covered in red ones?it?s disgusting,? Vegas says. ?My mom packed me a thing of calamine lotion, so it?s been my saving grace so far.? For Vegas, though, his collections of bug bites have become rock merit badges. The way he sees it, most of the major-label snobs who?ve snubbed the Strange wouldn?t be caught dead roughing it from club to club, and they?re the worse for it. ?I think you?ve got to pay your dues. I think right now a lot of bands, especially from our neck of the woods, seem to have got picked up very, very quickly without ever touring the country on their own or doing any kind of touring on their own,? he says, before cheekily adding that he ?might? be talking about fellow St. Catharine?s residents Alexisonfire, before confessing they?re ?actually not dicks,? like some other previously mentioned groups. ?There are other bands that have snubbed us and it?s been weird,? he continues, ?but I think the way to avoid it is?those bands, they didn?t go out and do things on their own and struggle and camp and get bitten by bugs and stuff. We?re living the dirty side of it right now.? Not a bad trade: a few itchy spots now, and some years down the road, say, while playing Wembley Stadium, Vegas?ll remember the humble beginnings he came from. ?I?ll remember the mosquito scars,? he concludes. ?Right before I throw my guitar at the guitar tech for not tuning it properly, the mosquito bites will stop me.? V The Strange With the Wildfire and Ten Ways from Sunday ? Sidetrack Café ? Sat, Jul 2 (8pm)

- Edmonton Vue Weekly July 05

"A Strange Sight"

By Katie Main
"One thing about them is they write really fucking catchy music." This was the sentiment shared throughout the Pulse office when the show announcement for The Strange came across our desks. Their bio even starts with comments from fans noting, "The Strange is that band that plays proper Rock n' Roll." With endorsements like these, who couldn't be curious to find out more? "When I heard from someone who had seen our show that we were "that band who plays proper Rock n' Roll," it was like a slow smile grew across my face," admits front man Chris Vegas in his proper British drawl. "To me, that's the best review we've ever gotten. When talking to people, though, they all want to know what genre you're in. I'd rather people know we try to play catchy music with good melodies and not paint ourselves into any corners. It's important that people know us for good music but also know that we don't want to get stuck in any genre." Getting stuck doesn't seem likely for this group, which sees Chris alongside band mates Eric, Melody and Brandon on stage as much as they can be. After recently releasing their debut album, aptly titled Vol. 1, The Strange are slightly less than scrambling to get their sophomore effort in the works called-you guessed it-Vol. 2. "We sold out of Vol. 1 fast," says Chris somewhat sheepishly. "I'm actually going to pick some more up that we had to have pressed on Wednesday to have some more for the show. "We got some good interest out of what you call big shots I guess in the industry from Vol. 1, though. They liked it but weren't completely there, you know? We know that Vol. 2 will seal the deal for them though so we'd like to get it ready, even just in demo form as soon as we can." Another time pressure is the fact that the tour bus is leaving with them on it as of this spring. Dates are already set up for these locals to start in the Maritimes and sing their way back through Quebec and Ontario. After that, The Strange plans on heading across the country singing all things catchy and Strange. One thing that isn't odd is this group's seamless chemistry. "We used to have Matt when we started," says Chris. "But he got serious with his girlfriend and then took a job driving long-haul trucks. We weren't really sure what to do, but we knew we had to do something. "That's when we came across Melody. She had always been a fan of the band and, when Matt couldn't make a practice, she'd come to the jam space and fill in. It was good because she already knew so many of the songs, it was easy for her to pick up on them. She knew enough and we didn't have to waste time. "In fact, I don't think we've told her yet that she's in the band. She just always comes!" Confirmation of inclusion or not, Melody does her part in making The Strange a worthwhile act to catch live and in stereo. So don't just take our word for it.
[BY KATIE MAIN] - The Pulse January 9th, 2005

"The Strange"

By Tamara Holmes
"No one has heard it yet," says The Strange's Chris of their yet-to-be mastered debut album The Strange Vol. 1. "I know we're cutting it a bit close but we want to make sure everything is perfect." Apart from a rough cut spinning in Chris' CD player and their parents hearing a few tracks here and there, the featured product for next week's CD release party has yet to arrive. "It'll be here," assures Chris. "We've got more than 100 on rushed special pressing order. "We've been working on the album for about three or four months now and going over idea after idea. We kept changing our minds over and over again, too. It didn't help time at all. This is the first time people are going to hear us recorded so we've found that we've been ridiculously over cautious. The second we second-guessed something because it was cheesy or we just didn't like it, we cut it out immediately with no second thought. So yeah, it's not entirely mastered yet." "It feels a bit vulnerable to have people listen to it" It's something that Chris along with other band mates Brandon, Mel and Eric will have to toughen their skins to, however with Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 already in the works-Vol. 2 has been tracked says Chris, and Vol. 3 should be ready for recording in September-Vol.1 needs to make its highly anticipated local debut. "It took us a year to finally get on top of things and record something, " says Chris. "Fans would come up constantly and ask us for something and we'd just apologize and assure them that something would be around in the future. But when bands that we played with and totally respected started asking for a copy, like Tricky Woo when we played with them at a Tangiers show, we really knew then that we had to get something together. Even though this is our first CD, it'll be the product that we shop to management and labels and that." Chris says fans of The Strange should prepare to hold on for the ride that is their scattered trilogy. The band is undaunted at the idea that variations in style so early in their career could throw people off. "I think that listeners are going to get a bit of a shock," says Chris, confidently. "Our live shows give so much emphasis on the vocals and the music behind acts more of a back-up to my vocals. On the albums, the emphasis really went into the instrumental and went deeper into music, really. There are more than 30 or 40 layers of guitars on some tracks so it's a lot different than our stage sound. We can only hope that fans will like both." For a self-professed pernickety band when it comes to details, Chris says that the recording process has been very chilled out. "We recorded in a small studio in St. Catharines and we took a very relaxed approach. We'd just grab a case of beer and head over and that's how it's been for the past weekends since we started it. It's odd because this was a demo with so much extra effort that it became a CD in itself." The Strange's best talents are collected on Vol. 1 with a sinuous mix of their own brand of pop-like melodies with a tighter emphasis on guitars and instrumentals. Their essential dedication to Brit-pop is evident throughout the entire disk, says Chris. Vol. 2-to be released soon-is likened to be more of an experimental journey where The Strange flex their concentrated music skills into new territory. "Vol. 2 will still have a large pop element but taken much further. We've got interesting songs on there like "Swings and Roundabouts" or "Utah Living"-That's about bigamy and is purposefully honkey tonk-ish. We also have a Russian folk song-type song on there called "Done Before." Vol.3, as it stands, will be coming back to The Strange's original pop-like roots with a heavy dose of garage and Brit-pop rock. "Our biggest thing is that we don't want to ever pain ourselves into a corner. Nardwuar spent half an hour trying to pigeonhole us and couldn't. People find it hard to define us and we like it that way." "Then again, you never know," warns Chris, with a laugh. "We could fly off the handle while recording and sound completely different than we though." - The Pulse August 19th, 2004

"Three is the magic number for The Strange"

By Christopher Waters
St. Catharines-based band The Strange was organized enough to have T-Shirts made before it played its first ever gig. But it's taken the four-piece pop ensemble more than a year to release its first studio recordings; a three song CD entitled Volume One. According to member Chris Barry, it's a matter of rock 'n' roll priorities. An aspiring band had better make sure its records sound as good as they possibly can, he said, so The Strange took some time to consider its options and decided that shorter was better. Instead of opting to record all of the band's original tracks, which could have easily compiled a full-length studio album, Barry explained the band hatched a plan to work in three-song increments. "We want to do our level best to put out three great songs every time," said Barry who is joined in the band by Brandon Sloggett, Eric Hutt and new recruit Mel Vanschaik. The idea is to produce a three-song release every six months. Barry said the band has virtually completed work on Volume Two, which will be released in January. Barry explained most of the recording has taken place over the past two months, roughly since bassist VanSchaik came on the scene. The initial release features the song One More Hour, Sing on and Radio Friendly, which Barry characterizes as being fan favorites from the band's first year of gigging. "They're the songs that, if we didn't for some reason play one of them during our set, people would come up to us after the show and tell us they were disappointed to have missed hearing them," he said. The Strange will tour clubs in Hamilton, Barrie, Montreal, Windsor, London Ont. And Toronto in September to promote its release. Volume One will be officially released Aug. 26 at The Merchant Ale House on St. Paul Street. The CD will be sold for $5 at shows. The release party in St. Catharines will feature The Strange performing with Life Like Life, Rose of Sharon and The Perms. Cover is $7. Music starts at 7pm. - St. Catharines Standard Friday August 20th 2004

"When you're Strange"

By Tiffany Morris
"We were doing a cover band thing" explains The Strage's vocalist Chris, "because we wanted to make money. Then we came to the realization that we wanted to make a career out of music. We had a bunch of originals, a bunch of stuff we were working on and we tested it out. People were really impressed with what we were doing. From there we figured we had something, so we went for it." And so The Strange was born. Initialy an acoustic two-piece, Chris and Brandon soon acquired Matt (bass) and Eric (drums) and the band quickly evolved into a full-out electric ensemble. Chemistry is not always instant, but in this case the members meshed unequivocally. "We just brought the two guys in to practice one day and they completely understood our music," Chris explains. "They were able to develop their own ideas. Matt the bassist listens to alot of British stuff and it's a really British sounding band. He really feeds on the sound. Like Andy Bell from Oasis or the guy from Travis, you know how they really fill a song out with bass. They kind of have their own chemistry which is fortunate. I guess we impressed a couple of people. We were just doing what we were doing and have a laugh. I guess because we were enjoying the music we were playing so much - it was fun and uplifting. I guess it kind of came through on stage. Luckily our bassist and drummer had been in a band together for five years and brandon and I have played for a little while. So basicaly it was four guys who may not have played together, but had had a lot of experience with another member of the band. It sounded really, really tight." With their ominous sounding handle, there's plenty of possibility for misconception, but Chris sums up the choice with meticulous simplicity, "I love movies, in particulair B movies. Really, really stupid B movies I find them hillarious. I love watching them. So I wanted the name to have that sound, like a B movie title and I came up with The Strange and I thought it was pretty cool." Those familiar (and who isn't these days) with Lord of the Rings will also recognise the inspiration behind the track "Anduin," the name given to the long river running through the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood in Tolkiens epic tale."We've built up quite a large fan base actually based on one song, Anduin which is an acoustic song, "Chris said. "I kin of related it to the journey of life. Some people find it really moving and we have a lot of people who get pretty mda if we don't play it live, so we try to include it, but sometimds you get caught up in the energy and suddenly it's the end of the set..." Since The Strange are writing predominantly acoustic msuic, their overall approach had to be shifted slightly to allow for the new members and new instruments. In most cases, this posed no problems and the new sound developed quite organically, but there were a few songs that just didn't translate over. "The songs were all written acoustically," Chris explains. "But we play with distortion and everything. We broke them in sort of slowly, basically so we could control the sound. One thing we didn't want to do was to go over the top. We didn't want it to be a huge messy wall of noise. Brandon and I perform acoustically quite often and we plan to keep doing that. We have songs that we can only perform acoustically. It's near impossible to transpose them into a four-man set. They're just too folksy." Besides the upcoming opening slot for the Dears, The Strange are also a part of the SCENE festival July 13th and have a series of south western Ontario dates slated for the end of July and August. Because they've identified themselves by way of pop/rock or a more British (Chris is an expatriate) sound, they're prepared for the inevitable backlash that often comes along with the maligned genre. "It's alot harder over here." Chris sighed. "Especialy for a band like us whose sort of pop/rock, so you've got to be carefull. People can suddenly start not to like you too much for what you do. I went to school with the dudes from Alexisonfire and a couple of them are fairly good friends, but people try to pit you against them and we don't care. I wish them all the luck in the world. I see them regularly and when I do, I say well done. What you guys do is killer. They come out to a lot of our shows. We have no animosity towards them. We're not what you expect. The preconcieved ideas about what The Strange is are wrong. We're a fun band, we're a tight band. There's a lot going on."
By TIffany Morris - Pulse Niagara July 2003


Their name might insinuate no work and all play, but don't let that deceive you.

This band's got brains. While other acts seem to support the stereotypical "dead head gara punk-band" motif, Playmaker is deffinitely not one of them.

"We always knew what we wanted to get out of the business, " declared frontman Chris Barry, sitting at a cluttered Tim Horton's just beside Lee's palace, where his band played at 11pm last weekend.

Playmaker was conceived in St. Cathairnes, ON., during Barry's and bassist Melody Van Schaik's high school days. Introduced through mutual friends, drummer Eric Hutt, who was banging away by age 12 and playing his first bar gig at just 14, joined the cast.

The band, orginally titled "the Strange", underwent several line up changes and had as many as six members at one point. The shift was the shedding of a musical skin, which saw the Strange start off as straight rock-laced with pop undertones, and have now evolved to their current sound.

Though the three are self-described "metal heads", they're a fusion of ska, rock and disco-y head-bopping tune that is hard to catergorise.

But this unique sound was something Canadian music fans had never been exposed to. They did discover success with their debut CD Volume 1selling out its copies on the first day of release, and Chris and Eric even hosted "Strange Catharines", a show on CBC that outlined the music scene in the city. Still, they had a tough time establishing a solid fan base here at home, so after completing a tour of Western Canada, Playmaker ventured across the Atlantic to play some gigs in England, where Barry was born.

"People here are turned off because they can't immediately pigeonhole [our music]...people like to know what they're getting before they get it," says Barry.

The trio feels people in England are more open-minded compared to Canadian music listeners, and these rockers have a mouthfull to say about the state of musical politics in our nation today.

They insist the music business here is inbred. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is a government agency which regulates airtime and what constitutes "Canadian content". According to the website, ( the rules dictate "All radio stations must ensure that 35 per cent of their popular musical selections are Canadian each week," and it's rumoured they may bump that up to 45%

But just like communism, it's ear-pleasing only in theory. Realistically, these regulartions work solely to support the existing state of popular music. What we hear on the radio is our Nickelback and Avril to stay on the "safe" side - the side that doesn't lose anyone money.

"That's why so many bands are struggling to get out. Bands like Metric and Tokyo Police club failing to catch on globally is shocking; these are bands that should be exploding globally," the lead singer disputes.

"The whole point should be to get new music out, "Hutt says. "We've been getting beat over the head by bands like Nickelback and Sum41 for the past 5 years."

"How are those bands still winning junos when no one gives a shit about them," adds a frustrated Barry.

In 2005, Indie Pool, Toronto band and advocate for distribution independent music services, protested on behalf of Canada's unsigned artists in Ottawa to change the current Canadian content rules to support the country's indie artists. No postive changes have been made to date.

Though they voice powerfull opinoins on Canadian music and are passionate about the dismal state of support for up-and-coming bands, the trio aren't a stuffy serious bunch wallowing in self-pity.

With a hearty combination of brains, booze, and a unititing love for good music, Playmaker is aiming way beyond Canada and England.

by Tia maryanne Kim - The Newspaper Nov. 1st 2007

"England swings to Playmaker's beat"

ST. CATHARINES -- The band members of Playmaker have always loved to rock. But the threesome has never been interested in making music if no one is going to listen.
"We don't want to end up being a group of 20-somethings that just use the band as an excuse to slack off, get drunk and play rock and roll while we promise everyone that we're going to make it," says frontman Chris Barry. "We know that we need to actually take some risks and work hard."

The local band, which formed in 2003 as The Strange, has spent much of the past four years experimenting with its style, trying out various members and tirelessly working to build a core fan base. But now, despite going through a tough-sell phase with local music fans, Playmaker's members feel they have found their niche overseas.

The "punk disco" group recently toured in England, Barry's home country, where fans loved their sound. Barry calls the tour, which Playmaker's members largely organized themselves, a "do-it-yourself" effort.

He says going to England was scary, and definitely a risk. But he was happy they went because Playmaker's upbeat, melody-driven style -- largely directed by Barry, the group's songwriter -- clicked with England's indie music scene.

"After four years of banging our heads against the wall, something good finally happened when we went over there," says Barry.

"Our music is more tied into their culture," adds bassist John Pollard.

The two-week tour saw Playmaker perform seven times altogether, including a show at The Cavern Club, a legendary venue where the Beatles first played.

After one of their shows, the band members say they received a message on their MySpace wall from producer Mike Nielson. Barry says Nielson criticized the recordings available on the group's website (, but praised their live show and told them how he envisioned them in the future.

Playmaker feels they were so well-received on their tour that they will be returning to England in August. They plan on recording with Nielson on their trip and playing 10 shows.

Currently the band is finishing its first EP under the Playmaker moniker. The disc will feature six songs and be released in September.

Before they head off to England at the end of summer though, the band will also play a few local shows, including a recent performance at the S.C.E.N.E. music festival in St. Catharines.

The band admits they would love to make it big one day and tour the world, but they're also realistic about their future.

"We want to be a working band," says drummer Eric Hutt. "We want to make it a career."

- Niagara This Week Aug-1-2007

"Local band spotlight: Playmaker"

Playmaker is one of St. Catharines' oldest and hardest working bands.
In the past five years, they have toured in multiple continents and played a variety of musical styles. Lead by vocalist and guitarist Chris Barry from Liverpool, England, Playmaker began in St. Catharines under the name The Strange.
"We formed in May 2003. So we'll be five years old on May 24; that was our first show as a full band," said Barry. "It was at the Hideaway with Sound The Alarm, who are now called Eric von Eric and the Raving Psychos. To my mind we've both always been the best Niagara bands, so I'm glad they're still going too."
After several years of touring and radio play as The Strange, they decided it was time to separate themselves from the masses of "The" bands, and became known as Playmaker.
"We felt people had a pre-conceived notion of what a 'The' band should sound like, which is musically everything we're against," said Barry. "Besides, the person who coined the name is no longer in the band anyway."
Playmaker incorporates a vast selection of rock subgenres, including ska, garage rock, indie-rock and more. Their overall sound is danceable and upbeat, rightfully self-defined as "punk-disco". While always balancing the grit of their punk rock roots with melodic phrasing, Playmaker ensures that each song has a solid rhythmic groove.
"The rhythm is the most important thing for us in all songs, and that's usually where we start. That said though, some songs are just rattled off on an acoustic guitar, and as a result, the melody becomes the most important factor in the tune," said Barry.
"No matter what, the one major difference between Playmaker and The Strange is that, as Playmaker, we always strive to convey a message through each song. Never preachy, but something that works on a few levels and might make you think as well as dance."
Playmaker have huge plans for 2008, including a new album and a new electronic approach to selling their music.
"We want to put out another demo, which we're currently working on. This time it'll be seven songs, still a home-recorded budget deal like the last one, but we're not so pushed for time, so the quality will be a lot higher," said Barry. "We're also talking with a label about a digital deal, that will allow us to be pioneers along with a few other groups, by releasing a record strictly via download. You will buy the record in shops or at shows as per, but instead of a disk you'll get a card with a code on it that you take home and download the record with.
Playmaker also plans to continue touring as much as possible. They will work hard to increase their fanbase and hopefully bring some attention to the music scene of St. Catharines.
"We want to keep building in Canada too, and keep playing around Ontario. We will be drunk, highly offensive, loud and infectious ... everything Canada's only punk-disco outfit should be."
By Marshal Hignett
- The Brock Press - Jan 29 07


One More Hour EP (Volume 1 - Released as the Strange)
Playmaker Demo EP



Chris Barry is a singer/songwriter from Liverpool, England. Chris is from a musical family, as his father was the bassist and songwriter for the Destroyers, a seminal 70's punk-outfit that held a residency at the famous Eric's nightclub in Liverpool. At Eric's, the Destroyers opened for such notables as the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Buzzcocks, Ultravox, and others. The Destroyers were featured in Melody Maker magazine and courted offers from many major labels, before it all fell apart...but that's another story.

The Barry family moved to Canada in 1997, and Chris began performing with various punk bands in the Guelph region. The most notable of these was Wealthy Ob$$e$$ion, with whom he performed at the Guelph Spring Festival. However, Chris' real love was anything with a Brit-pop, Mod, or Northern Soul sound. In fact, it was the first time Chris heard Wonderwall that he was inspired to write music of his own.

In 2000, Chris moved to St. Catharines and started playing with various groups of musicians. Finally, in 2003, things came together and the Strange was born.

(In December 2006 they became Playmaker, in November 2008 they reverted to the Strange.)

The Strange is Chris Barry (Vocals, guitars), Eric Hutt (drums), Melody Van Schaik (bass), and Matt Ventresca (guitars), and they are shaking things up with their infectious take on rock ‘n’ roll and Northern Soul. Having played with such notables as Teenage Head, Super Garage, the Waking Eyes, Tangiers, Pilate, the Dears, Marble Index, Mobile, The Stills & The Evaporators, the Strange have enjoyed some good company.

The Strange have a varied, yet melodic style epitomized by their crowd favourites Utah Living, and one of their ambient originals featured on the 2003 SCENE compilation disc, Anduin. They can knock you on your ass with the pulsating Panic Stations! or light up the dance floor with Swings and Round-abouts. The Strange is a band with few musical boundaries, but don’t expect a free form jazz album anytime soon.
Beginning in 2004, with the release of their debut recording simply entitled Volume 1, the Strange were on the up and up. “Volume 1” sold its entire pressing on the first day of release. Shortly after, the CBC invited Chris and Eric to host an hour-long look at the St. Catharines music scene, entitled “Strange Catharines.” During the show “Volume 1” made its Canadian radio debut.

In the summer of 2005, the Strange teamed up with Canadian booking agency Spherical Productions and completed a six week tour of Western Canada, playing dates from Toronto, through the Prairies and the Rocky Mountains, all the way to Vancouver and back. On their triumphant return to Ontario the Strange licensed "One More Hour" to be featured on the hit teen TV show "15 Love," airing across Canada and many European countries. Radio Friendly, the third song on the disk was used as the theme tune for a St. Catharines Music-magazine Show, entitled In Rotation.

In 2007 the Strange toured the United Kingdom twice, playing such notable venues as the Cavern in Liverpool and The Endiburgh Festival. While in Liverpool, the Strange began work on their debut self-titled EP. The Playmaker EP was released in the summer of 2007, just in time for the Strange's second tour of the UK.
Upon returning to Canada, the band performed a series of successful shows around Ontario. In the summer of 2008, the Strange performed a set which was filmed for Club Showcase, a TV show featuring the best up-and-coming Canadian independent artists. Recently, the main emphasis of the group has shifted towards song-writing and recording. The band has started working with Selective Image Inc. management and is currently in the studio working on their next record, which promises to be their most eclectic yet focused work to date.