Gig Seeker Pro


Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Band Rock Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



""A Woman Under the Influence" CD Review - Skope Magazine"

Right away the name of the band gets your attention not to mention the eye-catching album title. And I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t end there once you dive into the record. Ridiculously original and utterly outrageous are words that can best describe Stripper and their new release.
Stripper is made up of three members: Mike Verna on vocals & drums, Bobby Vaughan-Wheeler on bass and Ted Barakat on guitar. It’s also worth noting that Verna wrote all 11 songs on the CD. The trio hails from Los Angeles and it’s safe to say that I have never heard a band or recording quite like this. There is no set style in mind as Stripper just plays whatever comes to mind. They perform to the sounds of ‘A Woman Under The Influence’ but after hearing this album in full I think one would have to be heavily under the influence themselves. As you attempt to grasp the object at hand and soak it all in just remember to take it one step at a time.
As soon as I hit play on my Sony CD player I’m hearing absolute pandemonium! The audio comes across as extremely offsetting & out-of-whack. As the disc continues I pick up on such a weird display of sound with unconventional musical patterns at their finest. On track 10 “Other You” get ready for some far out, spacey grooves while the closing number “Anyway” will leave you in a complete trance.
And after it’s all said & done I’m thinking to myself ‘what the hell did I just hear’! The answer is no clue as I feel I was left in the dust with the fog thickening. ‘A Woman Under The Influence’ is not supposed to make sense I feel because it aims to take you out of your comfort zone. Stripper dares to be different and dares to be bold whether you like it or not. Prepare yourself for one messed up listening experience that will leave you hanging and have you questioning everything. - Skope Entertainment, Inc.

"Shmat Records Review"

A nice big picture of a honest to goodness shmat on the front cover of this CD-R demo by Mike Verna gave the Shmat reason enough to pick it up and pop it in his CD player. For those of you who think that by putting pictures of fun shmats on your CDs you are somehow increasing your chances of receiving a review... well, you are! Note, the Shmat doesn't guarantee a GOOD review, just that it'll attract his attention. Shmats stick together after all...

The first track on this album, "New Love", is built around the four trackian lo-fi goodness of smeared out drum sounds, lazy vocals and meandering bass. Mike Verna sounds like a combination of Pavement and Folk Implosion sometimes, and his vocals sometimes kinda remind the Shmat of Dino Jr. front man J. Mascis. The Shmat really enjoyed the weird vibes solo in this song. "Kama Sutra" is less standard than the opener to say the least, featuring creepy vocals a la Tom Waits or Tindersticks, and chord structures and shaker sounds that seem taken out of Scenic's Acquatica album. There's a bit of an almost southwestern carnival feel to this song.

"Crack Whore" gets even weirder than that. Shmat thinks it's a good idea Verna put a more accesible song first because this particular one is kind of like the Palace Brothers doing rap if they all had lung cancer and problems keeping their tongues inside their mouths. Very strange farfisa chords hover in the background. There's little parts on this song where the vocals consists of someone sucking air through their teeth which makes it sound like they're slurping up a big raw beef pie through a straw. "Shape of the Stinger" brings us back into a more standard pop treatment. This is a great song, like a wacky Flaming Lips tune.

Mike Verna can certainly write songs but in each and every one of his works there is something strange going on, be it in the vocals, melodies, or choice of instruments. This is somewhat unnerving at times and will drive away some people after the second track, but this unpredictable nature actually helped to keep Shmat listening till the end of the CD. - Shmat Records

""Play It By Ear" CD Review - Alternative Press"

Surprises a-plenty from this band, which borrows by turns from Pavement, Beastie Boys, XTC and King Crimson to create a music that somehow manages to be at once abrasive, pastoral and funky. Evidently unconcerned with indie-rock orthodoxy, Stripper will shift from lo-fi scraping to a full-tilt rock jam without blinking their six eyes. Recorded in the basement on a 4-track, this stellar effort is proof that you don't need a lot of money to make a great demo -- just great ideas! - Alternative Press

""Farrah" CD Review - Ear Candy Magazine"

Very wild and slightly trippy techno-pop with a d.i.y. punk edge. This cd will get your full attention right away. It’s a bit like Beck in a way only edgier. “When You Gonna Make The Change” sounds half Beck, half John Lennon. I’m sure I’m not making much sense here but it’s pretty much a whole new animal to me. What I can tell you is that I enjoyed it from beginning to end and the songs are very catchy and all the hooks work like a charm but other than that your just going to have to see for yourself. Verna has some mp3s on his website listed below. Trust me, its well worth checking out. - Ear Candy Magazine

""Farrah" CD Review - Demo Universe"

A long time ago in Rhode Island, Mike Verna played drums and sang in Stripper, a fabulous band whose releases, "Play It By Ear" and "We're Not Aliens...But If We Were, Would We Tell You?" were early stars in this here Universe. After a decade of silence, Verna's back with the spectacular "Farrah." A glut of delights: "Guilty Faces Fade To Black" comes on like Spoon with bigger, uh, keyboards. The itchy "Chew Before" recalls Andy Partridge's dub experiments circa 1979, and a cover of Bjork's "Army Of Me" coils and writhes like Bob Fripp's black snake. Tom Waits takes dance lessons from Beck in "Five Easy Pieces." And so on. Mmm, mm, good. Who knew Verna had it in him? Me, that's who! - Demo Universe

""We're Not Aliens...But If We Were, Would We Tell You?" CD Review - Alternative Press"

Six months to the day after their first review in Demo Universe (for the Play It By Ear cassette), Stripper returns with We're Not Aliens and the magic is still cookin' like good soup. As before, Stripper expertly disguises itself as a lo-fi indie-rock band, but we know better: they are abundantly talented musicians, driven to push the padded mailer with all the power in their mighty hands. Apparently these boys catch a load of doo-doo for their production values, or lack thereof. What fools these mortals be! Are 64 pristine digital tracks needed to convey the burgeoning creativity of this bold threesome? I think not! The band's death-metal-on-drugs cover of of Billy Joel's "Pressure" perfectly encapsultes the Flicker. sound: free, confident, funny and completely wacked. So guys, like, what's with the period after your name?

Side two of this tape is solo work by drummer-singer Mike Verna and a different ball of wax entirely. "Pit Of Stew" sounds like Tom Waits on an assortment of unmarked pills. "Lazy Suzy" is a goofy little ditty that owes five bucks to the Bonzo Dog Band (whether Mike knows it or not). "I'm The One" sucked a bit too much helium than is healthy, "WGM Blues" is a crud-encrusted homage to (or mockery of?) scratchy old records and "I'm A Flag" is lugubrious and warped. He says the band can't do this stuff, and he's probably right. But I'd like to hear them try. - Alternative Press

""A Woman Under the Influence" CD Review - Review You / Jersey Beat"

Anchovies. John Waters movies. Frank Zappa. What do they have in common? They’re all what might be called acquired tastes, oddities that, in the right context, can be brilliant, revelatory, and even hugely enjoyable. They’re not just for everyone, and never will be. Stripper falls into that category. A trio from Los Angeles that showcases the songwriting of drummer/vocalist Mike Verna, Stripper eschews the major chord progressions and 4/4 rhythms of classic rock for challenging, sometimes atonal melodies and stuttering time signatures. Like Zappa, Verna uses humor and irony as anchors for this free-flowing cacophony. If you listen carefully, you will be rewarded by the occasional chuckle. Some of it rocks, even if you might not be able to tap your foot to it. But prog-rock and post-punk were never meant to be easy. The avid listeners of these genres earn their pleasure. As the late Captain Beefheart said, “A carrot is as close as a rabbit ever gets to a diamond.”
“Operating On You” starts things off with a martial blast of synths and guitars delivered with a heavy 70’s groove, the staccato pulsing erupting into a snarling vocal from Verna. The result suggests Mission of Burma’s post-punk classic “Academy Fight Song,” as re-imagined by Pere Ubu, an insistent, urgent, angry sonic assault on the senses. Sci-fi synths squeal and bleat as “He’s Gonna Lie” slithers into its new-wave chorus, shifting the vibe into the Eighties with echoes of Bowie and Gary Numan. Verna’s singing to what we assume is an ex-lover, warning her of her new beau: “He’s gonna lie, he’s gonna lie to you, it’s just a matter of time,” the urgency of the vocal bolstered by a sinister Blue Oyster Cult groove. Where’s the cowbell?
The sinuous, undulating, baroque melody of “This Old Storm,” accentuated by off-kilter harmonies and jangling percussion, hits the most Zappa-esque note on the album. The insistent keyboards and floating bass line create a sinister vibe, and the grating, atonal vocal suggests seriously unhinged dementia. If this track doesn’t give you the willies, you’re not paying attention. “Hey, do you wanna dance?,” asks a sultry female voice, and suddenly Stripper is off on a completely different tangent. A vibraphone and a funky bass line kick into “Long Enough To Know,” but the poppy elements run counter to the macabre melody and insidious vocal. “Not everyone was built to dance,” cautions Verna. A rock beat from the drums and that danceable bass give this track a groove, but the melody goes off in odd directions as Verna sings “you’ve been around long enough to know better,” and things get all creepy again.
The synth-driven “Save It” turns out to be one of the most accessible tracks on the album, a straightforward Seventies ballad with some tasty staccato drum fills and an ethereal, melodic bass line that burbles beneath Verna’s reedy vocals. The album’s title track, “A Woman Under The Influence,” offers several samples from the 70’s Cassavetes film of the same name, and the theme of the cinema verite’ classic, the effect of insanity on relationships and everyday life, certainly synchs with Verna’s oeuvre. But the track doesn’t really make enough of a statement for what should be this album’s signature track. The melodramatic bridge seems a bit forced, and the verses don’t have either the weirdness or the distinctiveness that much of the rest of the album boasts. “Halloweeny [2009]” has an appropriately spooky Addams Family vibe as Verna repeats the mantra “war is what you get when you know it’s gonna get worse” to a slinky bass and stop-start percussion. “Halloweeny II” follows with an even spookier, growly vibe and a deep, sinister, distorted vocal. The lyrics reference Halloween although it’s difficult to follow the narrative thread, but you might want to bookmark this track for next year’s Halloween mix tape.
“Your Guess Is As Good As Mine” comes as close as anything by Stripper to a traditional pop melody, although the polyrhythmic drumming keeps things off kilter. The droning vocal is a bit off putting, but the provocative percussion should hold your interest. At four minutes, “Other You” ranks as the longest track on the album, but it’s also the one that seems the most like a throwaway. The prog-rock synths create beguiling textures but the track drones on with little to distinguish itself. Perhaps a bridge or a tempo change might have helped but the only change in the track comes with the crescendo finish, which comes across as clichéd and predictable. When you’re an experimental band like that, predictable is not a good thing. The final track, “Anyway,” sounds like it might have been recorded live. It’s a blast of wailing, bluesy punk that showcases the band’s unique rhythms, with tasty tambourine fills, soulful vocals, and a jazzy bass line.
Stripper deserves kudos for carving out a unique sound, with top-flight musicianship. Any pop or rock band would benefit enormously with bass and drums of this caliber. If you’ve got an adventurous ear and welcome the experimental, the odd, and the offbeat, Stripper’s Woman Under The Influence will provide a provocative listen, and given the talent evident here, one suspects they’d put on a hell of a live show. Just don’t expect to spin this CD and walk away whistling the tunes.? - Jersey Beat Fanzine


Welcome to another amazing month of music from the incredible musicians that make up the community. We have chose a select group of amazing musicians that will be speaking directly to the Skope readers. As always we encourage readers to dig deeper and check out their EPK’s.


Skope: How did you react when you knew you are now A2W selected on Skope?
Stripper: We’re happy to get a little pat on the head. Our music often gets stuck between the cracks of zines and websites too cool for school, so Skope holds a lil’ place in Stripper’s hearts for liking us. Plus, anyone who reviews the new Swans record (let alone gives it an A+) has our love.
Skope: What are two goals that you want to accomplish musically in 2011?
Stripper: In 2011, Stripper would like to help re-invent the anemic genre of the drummer-vocalist. Don Henley never did much, and DFA79 had the right idea, but they’re gone. It’s up to us. And a few others, but for the purpose of self-promotion, let’s just say us. Oh, and we’d like to open for some heroes, like The Contortions and Devo and Suicide and Liz Phair.
Skope: If you had to choose one thing that your band must improve on what would that be and how will you do it?
Stripper: I suppose our self-promotion has always taken a deep back seat to creation, which is ironic to mention while being spotlighted. Talking about ourselves has always made our skin crawl a little, so we just haven’t done it…but you learn over time that if you don’t tell people, those people won’t tell people, and you’ll eventually have thirty records that seventeen people know about. We’d also like to lose five to ten pounds collectively and do a small tour of Japan.
Skope: What are two other non-mainstream musicians or bands that you are listening to these days & respect?
Stripper: That tUnE-yArDs record is really fun, and Black Moth Super Rainbow forces a sexy twitch. Anyone who says there’s no good new music just isn’t looking.
Skope: How has playing music offered more fulfillment in your life?
Stripper: Music is our video game, our happy hour, our tailgate party. It’s just the most fun way to spend our free time, and we have something to show for it when we’re through. We’d love to reach a larger audience, but we’re more concerned with reaching ourselves when we throw that freshly-burned disc into the car stereo. Our endorphins are leaking just thinking about our new record, so yeah, we’re pretty grateful for music. It’s never paid the bills, but it’s somehow more valuable than our cars.
Skope: What is coming up for you & where you at online?
Stripper: Stripper can be found most constructively at our website ( and our YouTube channel ( We’re looking to record another record by mid-year, though we will put that on hold if we’re offered shows in far-off mystical lands (Turkey, Austin, etc.). More no-nonsense videos are in the works, too, but basically we’re going to try and get the Stripper word out there before we forget to again. It’s so easy to forget the things you can’t remember. Thanks for the opportunity, and come see us play. We’ll try to die for you. Strip! - Skope Entertainment, Inc.


"Stripper" LP, 2005 (16 songs + a Pretenders cover!)

"A Woman Under the Influence" LP, 2009 (11 songs + a Beyonce cover!)



Stripper began as the outlet for drummer/vocalist Mike Verna's recordings, as he was rarely able to incorporate his own catalog into the bands he had been part of in the Los Angeles scene. After a four-year stint in Rhode Island, recording at Six Finger Satellite's Parlour Studios with his band, Flicker, Verna moved to L.A. in 1999 where he first joined Athens indie label Mylene Sheath's Beware of Safety, then Thick Records' Model/Actress (who played SXSW in 2008). He eventually formed Stripper with two members from other active L.A. bands, Bobby Vaughan-Wheeler and Ted Barakat, and they've been rocking angular ever since. Stripper's sound is ever-changing and always fun, with a herky-jerky advantage that comes from a drummer who doubles as lead vocalist and a guitar that can shape-shift into any texture under the sun. One part Brainiac, one part old XTC, one part Chrome, Stripper's sound becomes accessible through its sense of humor and admiration for the absurd break and beautiful bridge. Take a plateful and plan for seconds, Stripper's pockets are Jacques Cousteau-deep. Enjoy!