The Charity Stripe
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The Charity Stripe

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The best kept secret in music


"Allalom Interview"

MS MISSY: What are you most proud of in this band?

Cameron: At this point, I'm still proud of the really simple stuff... Things like having recorded a CD and playing at places like The Crocodile. Even if that is all that ever comes of this band, I will always be proud of those things.

James: I am most proud of the fact that we are committed to doing music the way we want to do it, not what we think people want to hear.

MM: Where would you say the "self confidant/mature" sound of your album "Island" stems from?
James: A lot of it comes from how emotional a 3 day recording session can be. We basically lived with our music in the studio for 3 solid days. Anytime you do that, and strive for honesty in your performance, you are going to get a confident sound.

MM: What parts of "Islands" do you plan to mirror in your up and coming release, and where do you plan to differ?

Cameron: I think the similar thread will be that we continue to write songs that combine quiet, melodic moments with bigger, more rocking parts. I think the addition of Mark on guitar and keys fits well with that model. In general, the songs are a bit more intense this time around, and a bit more moody. Also, the next album will have more cowbell parts.

James: Together we have landed on a group of songs that portray a deeper spectrum of emotions than "Islands" did.

MM: What was the purpose of not placing your own images on your album cover? Was it a conscious decision?

Cameron: We figured that anyone who saw our pictures on a CD cover would instantly rule out purchasing the album.

MM: What has been the hardest thing about being in this band?

Ross: I think one of the hardest things for me as our main songwriter, and also for other songwriters I know being in bands, has been letting go of control of the songs I write and the parts I hear in my head and allowing everyone else to rewrite the song on their own terms.

Cameron: The hardest part of being in this band is looking cool. Sure, its easy enough to come up with a cool outfit for the first few shows, but after that, when you've already worn your three cool shirts, it gets pretty tough. Fortunately I play an easy instrument, the drums, and therefore don't have to worry about "chords," "notes," or "being in tune." So looking cool is my biggest concern.

James: Honestly the hardest part of being in any band is the time and energy commitment. Coordinating (in our case) four schedules and really investing time during the week thinking about new songs, writing each of our parts and coming to practice prepared is hard work. I like to think that I work two full-time jobs, but I love this one so it is really easy.

MM: Where do you see the band heading as a whole?

Ross: We are planning on releasing a full length by this summer and hoping to get some help out from a label in that endeavor. We would like to tour behind it and continue to write and play music as much as we can.

Cameron: East.

MM: Describe your own musical background….

Cameron: I played jazz in high school and was in an acoustic rock band with some buddies for a couple years. When I went to a Starflyer 59/Pedro the Lion show in Portland as a senior in high school a whole new world of drumming was opened up to me. The drummers in those bands played the most simple parts I could have imagined, and yet they were INCREDIBLE. They played just what was needed to make the songs say what they needed to say. I was an instant indie rock convert.

James: I grew up listening to all kinds of music but also a lot of bad 80's music. I know all the words to Bobby Brown songs, Wham, you name it. But I will never forget wandering into Ross' basement in 1992 and hearing Frosting on The Beater by The Posies. It changed my life and is still my favorite album, bar none.

Ross: I was blessed with a Dad who had amazing musical taste and grew up listening to Talking Heads, Rolling Stones, Beatles, etc. while my friends were listening to Tim Noah. Not to take anything away from Tim Noah of course. I began playing guitar seriously when I was 14 and started playing in bands shortly thereafter with band names like Pond Scum, Sorcerer's Apprentice, The Man with the Yellow Hat. Punk Rock and Metal. It was great. . I went to UW and was a jazz major for a couple of years and then (got) burnt out. I began to get into jazz in high school and playing with combo's and with our school's jazz band and doing solo guitar competition here and there and really getting into that scene…. It blew my mind, the orchestral and songwriting possibilities of rock and roll.

MM: Ross, the lyrics to your songs are so intense, where is your inspiration drawn from?

Ross: “Most of the lyrics have in some way been drawn from experiences I have had or things I have seen or read, and within those things, I would say truth is what inspires me. The truth and the beauty within those things I've experienced and seen. Lately, I would say that it's been things that we turn and look the other way from that we pretend aren't there and tiptoe around (The elephants in the room). All of our posturing, our hypocrisy. The hurt and pain and insufficiency we all hide. And then the moments where reality kind of collides with time and everything is seen for what it is.”

MM: How does it feel to have a song you've written blossom into a whole entity itself, and be recorded on an album?

James: It is very cool to hear your words on the radio but the song in question, "You Get Lost" is really a collaborative effort between Ross and I. I wrote some of the song and gave it to Ross incomplete. He filled in some of the blanks and we went from there. I definitely look up to Ross and admire his talent as a song crafter, or somebody who really thinks through his songs piece by piece.

Ross: Couldn't explain it if I tried. How about these adjectives? Nice, scary, exciting, amazing, frightening, nerve-wracking, hopeful, despairing. Hah. Depends on the minute.

(Editors Note: After The Charity Stripe’s last album, they recruited Mark Risakson into the band. Mark’s addition has more than set the band’s sound, it has taken them into a whole new sound-one that the band feels is a splendid directional move.)

MM: How has accumulating Mark changed your band?

James: That old band doesn't really exist, we evolved into something much more beautiful in my opinion. Pure butterfly evolution, but musically, if you have followed us, I think it makes sense.

Cameron: Mark's addition to the band has been great in that respect, because he listens to much harder music than the rest of us do, so his playing and song writing push us more toward to the rock end of the spectrum.

Ross: Mark adds a lot of ambience and intensity to our music, so our songs I think will take a little more of a serious feel to them overall. A little moodier maybe. Also, the songs on Islands were written by James and I for the most part before even Cameron joined the band.

MM: Cameron, drummers are the backbone to a band sometimes, how do you feel you support the music? What has been your role so far?

Cameron: I love working on a song very early in the writing process and being involved in taking a rough idea, maybe just a riff or line of melody, and turning it into a song… My other important role in the band is sitting around thinking about how glad I am to play an acoustic instrument while the other guys try fixing various pieces of malfunctioning electronic gear.

MM: What is the most appealing part of The Charity Stripe's music to you?

Cameron: I really like the "emo" aspect of the music, by which I mean the emotional intensity that I think comes when there is dynamic contrast within and among songs.

MM: Ross, what were the motivating factors that pushed you into forming a band?

Ross: I was at a point of exhaustion from having my past band and then side project both kind of fizzle and wanting to have a safe creative outlet with no pressure, so James and I decided to start writing songs together and recording them on James 8 track just for the fun of it. When we started songwriting together and laying down tracks and songs started to form, the inevitable happened: We wanted to start playing shows and that necessitated the finding of a drummer. Thus a band was formed.

MM: It can sometimes be a tough spot, being the lead singer and taking the brunt of the band's credit and criticism. What is the hardest thing for you as a front man?

Ross: Not to buy into anything that anyone says except for the folks close to me and the fellas in the band. I had never been reviewed before and getting both positive and negative reviews rocked me pretty hard. To use a metaphor that Flannery O'Connor used about reading reviews of her own short stories, it kind of felt like she was having her stories laid out like a frog in a middle school science class and cut apart piece by piece and explained by the deconstruction of it, missing the fact that it was initially, simply a frog. Being misunderstood. Hopefully at some point I won't care what other's think of my music and won't care if they treat my music like a math problem, but I suppose like anything, that will take experience to really learn.

MM: Mark, how are you adjusting to coming into the band a tad late?

Mark: Any time that one adds a new ingredient to a mix, the result is going to be different than had (the) said ingredient been neglected. I think that the band has been receptive to that musical philosophy, and realized that the songs from the E.P. We’re still, to me, completely open.

MM: As the newest member to the Charity Stripe, what impact have you had on the band's sound?

Mark : I feel like the interest I have in really synth-heavy, mathy music has begun to work its way into The Charity Stripe. (The) songs are still the same, but the orchestrations are becoming more intense, more angular.

MM: What initially appealed to you in terms of the band's sound and music?

Mark: Frankly, I liked the people in the band more than I liked the sound. (I still do, and wouldn't have it any other way). Cam and I had played together previously, and I knew Ross as well, and was just excited to play.

MM: James, what has your experience been as a member in a supporting role?

James: “he Charity Stripe is a four way partnership and we all are supporting role players in some respect. I think great bands do this. Unhealthy dictatorships where one member is the creative genius and visionary are bound to experience crazy amounts of lineup changes and eventually implode. Look at the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger wouldn't be anything without Keith Richards and vice-versa. They need each other to succeed.

MM: Very well put. The Charity Stripe have come into their own - a rich, solid, and ever changing band. And let’s face it, that is exactly what we need.

"Allalom Review"

It is easy to get jaded listening to independent bands, all too often you will hear the same squeal, the same painful lines and clichéd guitars and eventually it just hurts to listen, so you stay away from them; or you give them all the same grading because ‘well its hard to go the indie route’ – even when you know that is just an excuse for poor musicianship.

Luckily we have bands like The Charity Stripe, who bring passion, strong musicianship and actual talent with them on their debut EP. It is an album you don’t want to stop listening to, it gets stuck on repeat until you know every word by heart and love it.

Do you remember the days before "emo" – before that word spread like wildfire over the youth and turned itself into a cult of difference like pop/punk before it; do you remember when it was ok to pine for the loss of a loved one, to cry for a love that has not happened without being called ‘emo’ through wide framed glasses. It has almost become a curse, or insult, and has become so all-encompassing that any band with a hint of emotion has the possibility of being branded; so thank your lucky stars for The Charity Stripe and their brand of indie rock. A surefire collection of lovely music that any listener will enjoy; give them a chance and they will warm your heart. This EP is highly recommended.

"The Stranger Preview"

If somebody were to ever slip Superchunk a handful of sedatives before a show, they'd probably end up sounding a lot like the Charity Stripe. I mean that in the best possible way. The Charity Stripe fill the air with utterly lovely indie rock that combines Death Cab's charming pop sensibilities with Superchunk's dreamy melodies. Ross McMeekin's calm, quiet vocals only briefly break a whisper on the band's new Islands EP. "I don't need you to love me for me to love you back/I need no one to love me, for me to love you back," he sadly but sweetly sings on "Circumstance." With songs as gentle and engaging as these, though, it'll be difficult to not to return the admiration. - The Stranger

"Sound the Sirens Review"

Is that The O.C. calling? Could be, but for now you can sit and chill to the jams of The Charity Stripe’s debut album, Islands. With every pluck of the guitar, The Charity Stripe makes a striking impression in the ears of all who enjoy orchestral pop rock with a dash of melodic indie cool. These guys summon the influences of Death Cab for Cutie and the stomping grounds of Seattle, Washington to make something that would make any rainy day smirk in ennui.

It appears that any band smacking of underground hipness is immediately snatched up by the latest angsty drama show on network television. And for good reason. These people know that only something with sounds so unique could underline the complex moods of 25 year old teenagers.

The Charity Stripe carries a melody with grace and rocking style which just goes to prove that guys can be emotional and masculine. With their catchy hooks and rhythmic beats they’re sure to have any audience swooning. Their lyrics may seem simple but their straightforwardness and honesty are refreshing in this period of over-the-top showmanship of the latest on the indie scene. It’s the boy next door pining for the girl next door kind of story that can only end in unrequited affections and contemplative periods of insecurity—the great American classic with a sweet touch of sadness but never with regret. But unlike the mopey tales of angst, Islands leads the modern era of indie to a hopeful place—one that suggests; "who the hell needs girls when you can create some kick-ass jams?"
- Sound the

"Three Imaginary Girls Review"

You know those bands that make their way to your CD player and somehow just never leave? The Charity Stripe is one of those bands. They play pretty, sweet music like a piece of colorful hard candy. It reminds me of Wonderful meets Death Cab for Cutie. And just about nobody get that sort of association from me, considering these are two of my favourite bands. This four song demo leaves me absolutely ravenous for much more. I find myself wishing there was a collection of Charity Stripe CDs, cassettes, vinyl, live recordings, shirts, hoodies, shoelaces and other merch I could collect.

Their well-crafted sound dangles daintily between rock and pop. The guitars are clean and the drums enunciated. The melodious sequences are ideal for humming days after. Along with this constant humming, there’s some incessant toe-tapping involved. Another layer of sound is the twangy, earnest guitar riffs and little spliced notes that feel like commas separating musical ideas. It all fits together like a precise jigsaw puzzle.

A series of pops, snaps and crackles in various, delightful patterns serve as a backdrop for a simple lyric structure with more complex thoughts. All these expressive feelings are sung by a sweet voice that sounds remarkably like the boy next door. He makes you want to burst into tears and smile fondly when he warbles, “I don’t need you to love me for me to love you back.” In “Jessie Diamond,” the “woah-aha” bits he coos reminds me very much of a higher, cheerier version of Death Cab for Cutie’s Lightness.

And as much as I’m embarrassed to say, I’m even affectionately attached to the backup vocals on this song. Go back a track, to “You Can’t Win It,” and you’ll witness a quicker paced piece, which desperately calls for an audience to shout/sing along. In “Raincoats,” his voice is paper thin, so perfectly gentle and light. The Charity Stripe is catchy, charming and frothy. Like sugar water, they make me feel girlie, giggly and giddy. #!
- Three Imaginary


Our debut e.p. "Islands" is our only release thus far, though we have a full length that is nearly finished and have a few records labels in waiting. "Islands" recieved ample airplay on Seattle's KEXP and was added to rotation. Go to for a track from "Islands" as well as an in-studio track from KEXP. We just finished a full-length that is currently being mixed - expect it out sometime this summer or later depending on what a label wants.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Our #1 influence collectively is the Posies...but we depart quickly from their. Vocally, Ross McMeekin smoky voice most closely resembles that of a younger Joe Pernice. Ross is an established Jazz Guitar player who uses chord voicings and melodic structure in a way no one has since the glory days of the Police/Andy Summers and XTC. Mark Isakson invokes the creative busyness of Dave Knudsen of Botch/Minus the Bear fame and of course, going further back, the glorious playing of The Smith's Johnny Marr. James Trumbull wields his bass like a broadsword and makes sweet, r&b influenced basslines ala' Eric Axelson of The Dismemberment Plan and Paul McCartney of that one band. What are they called? Cameron Herrington holds down a steady melodic drum style influenced by Ringo Starr and Pedro the Lion. We are set apart from other bands by the diversity of our influences and artistic vision - that we make the most of our differences to create something NEW instead of stifling them to create something we all know.