Though it’s one of the newest bands in Binghamton University’s music scene, Strange Appeal is already making waves as one of the few serious student rock bands in the area. The four-piece consists of Jason Tuori, a senior majoring in biology, on lead vocals and guitar; Justin Mulvaney, a senior double-majoring in economics and mathematics, on drums and percussion; Jesse Gillenwalters, a senior majoring in economics, on guitar, keyboard and vocals; and Patrick Mahday, a 2012 graduate, on bass and vocals. We sat down with lead singer Tuori to learn more.
Release: Your previous band, Steve Labrecque’s Wild Ride, was pretty successful with a number of gigs, including opening for Yellowcard at last year’s Spring Fling. What happened, and what made you want to continue with a new project?
Jason Tuori: Unfortunately real life happened. The other guys all got full time jobs and real responsibilities, and I was the only member returning to school for one more year. It was tough to accept it early on because we ended on such a high note. After about a week of not knowing if I wanted to start another band from the ground up, I jammed some new ideas with Justin (formerly of Karmascend, who also hit the same road block as us) and immediately realized how fun it was going to be.
R: Strange Appeal is considerably more riff-based than SLWR. Was it a conscious decision to change the songwriting approach?
JT: I think there’s two sides to it, actually. The first is that I’m always trying to improve as a musician and challenging myself to sing and play more difficult parts, so from that point of view it was a conscious change. Another huge factor is playing with a different style drummer; Justin is very technique oriented and has a strong progressive rock influence, so it’s definitely going to affect the overall sound of the songs too. How I even tricked him into playing in a band with me, I still haven’t figured out.
R: Your debut album, “Through Thick and Thick,” is coming out soon. Tell us a little about the recording process.
JT: So I’ve worked with our soundman Anthony Frachioni (2013 graduate) for about a year and a half now because he recorded and did live sound for SLWR. He’s doing research in Berkeley now, which makes things a little difficult, but he’s the guy that knows what kind of studio sound I want better than I do. He came back to New York for a bit over winter and we recorded all the drums and guitars in our semi-soundproofed basement. Alright, it’s not soundproofed at all. Regardless, it’s a very guitar-driven album and he has much better recording equipment than we do, so we decided to do the most important parts with him and finish the rest up with Jesse, who luckily knows a lot about recording and producing.
R: “Through Thick and Thick” is being released alongside a Kickstarter campaign. What made you decide to crowdsource it?
JT: We really wanted to press CD’s for the new album after hearing the quality of our EP “Thwapjack” that Anthony produced for us back in September. For me, it’s arguably the biggest musical accomplishment that I’ve been a part of, so I really want a tangible product to share with others. The Kickstarter campaign allows us to do it without going $500 in the hole, which is pretty nice.
R: The new album title, along with the previous EP “Thwapjack” and the Kickstarter prizes, showcases your guys’ unique sense of humor. Do you think local bands often take themselves too seriously?
JT: Yeah Pat was in his prime on the Kickstarter page, I loved it. I don’t really want to judge any other bands for being too serious, just know that I could never be in one of those bands. I’m very passionate about my music, don’t get me wrong, but I think the humor goes pretty well with the style of sarcastic music that I write and play.
R: Strange Appeal is composed of members from many other Binghamton bands. If you got to front a band with any musicians in the world, who would they be and what would they play?
JT: Ah, the good ol’ supergroup question, classic. John Paul Jones on the bass and Dave Grohl on drums make for an explosive rhythm section. Maybe go with Clapton and Jack White on guitars for a tight/reckless compliment. Then I guess just have Julian Casablancas play air keyboards and look cool.
The indie/garage group just released its first single “If You Have to Ask” in preparation for its debut album, “Through Thick and Thick,” out in May.