The Sutras

The Sutras

 Ithaca, New York, USA
BandAlternativeClassic Rock

Combining the best of American and British indie rocks of 70's, 80's, and 90's into a 21st century melange of piano driven pop and theremin/guitar freakouts. Perpetually depressed, the music is creepy and catchy. Bi-polar and bone-breaking fights common. Polite.


The Sutras are Upstate New York's forever burgeoning indie rock quartet, complex, moody, creepy and catchy.

Founded in 1992, when they couldn't find a guitarist for their college band, then-teenage classical piano student AJ Strauss was forced to learn the electric guitar, and the Sutras were born. With the help of two English majors (Paul Mauceri and Michael Madon) on drums and an anthropologist (Jarrett Mason, soon to be Derek Tripp, another anthro major) on bass, this union culminated in 1997's Pox Records release "A Prize for Whitey." Known then for their high energy and clamorous Sonic Youth like shows, the guys played Northeast gigs for a while, got depressed, said their good-byes and chalked it up to a good time.

After six years of bitter break-ups, divorces, and cutting edge medications, Gen-X indie rockers the Sutras emerge from basement hideaways and bi-polar obscurity in rainy Ithaca, New York, with a new line-up and a delicious new CD. Founding member AJ Strauss (guitar, vocals, keyboards) and Derek Tripp (bass) enlisted Jeremy Allen (drums) and Kevin Denton (guitar) for the recording of "Thousandaire." Produced by Upstate NY studio mastermind Matt Sacuccimorano and the band at Newfield NY's Electric Wilburland Studio (a converted 19th Century church), the CD showcases the band's complex, psychadelic arrangements, harmonic complexity, and melodic sensibilities without being a simply a rehash of various classic rock eras. Gone are the days of worshiping Sebadoh and My Bloody Valentine's approach (as 1997's "Prize for Whitey" suggests), yet the healthy spirit of indie pop and rock experimentalism is still somehow very much alive and utterly contemporary in this slick recording, from its Moogs to its vintage tube amps and phasers, to sampled Baptist preachers and drum machines, to all night naked freak outs.

Since it's December 2004 release, it's been getting compared to Pavement, Rufus Wainwright, Flaming Lips, Brian Wilson and early David Bowie. Just listen to the first 45 seconds of "Pregnant Again", their symphonic emo-glam opus offered on this site. Or the moody and Radiohead-esque "Montenegro". Or the elated punk strains of "Nepotism". Each track seems to illuminate a new facet of the band. Music lessons, my ass! No one can teach you how to make albums like this.

Touring the country and colleges high and low, the Sutras settled into new material, blasting out a single on Austin's Topple Records.

Derek, who struggled with insanity, overdosed on prescription medication in 2007. The new album was shelved as the band grieved. Now its 08 and a possibly good thing has happened--they are back stronger and wiser than before with new tunes. Queen? How about Michael Jackson? Or Pere Ubu? Television? They've absorbed all of it o'er time and now through their own sweat, they destroy the stage with sound and energy, often emitting sounds some in the audience have never heard... Grand shows that celebrate death, life, sex, and space.


One in the Oven (1995)
A Prize for Whitey (1997)
Thousandaire (2003)
Sasquatch (single for Topple Records) (2005)
Those are Mountains (2008)

Set List

All original. Never any covers except Bowie, ELO, or Pavement.

The band typically plays songs written from 2003 on. They play one 55 minute set or two 45 minute sets with a 15 minute break.

Pregnant Again
Beat Me up
The Things I Carry
Ballrooms on Mars
Heroes Go Down
One Million Criminals
Turn Your Baby On