By Andrea Ramirez-Maciolek, Rock At Night Philadelphia
Neonstrike is a fresh, young UK hair metal band from the neon-drenched streets of Reading. On October 5th they will be releasing their new EP Sins of the Flesh. Neonstrike are Jack (vocals and guitars), Sophie (vocals), Ethan (bass), and Connor (drums)
The band has been playing together in the hair metal cover band Hair Force One before they came together with their own original material as Neonstrike. Listening to their dreamy love ballads brought back so many fond memories of my childhood living in New Jersey where the music scene and hometown bands like Skid Row, Trixter, and of course, Bon Jovi, gave the LA music scene a run for it’s money.
Neonstrike gave Rock at Night the opportunity to ask them a few questions about some of their influences. I was very curious to know more about them and how they were able to perfectly capture the essence of the 80’s hair metal era. Even if you are not into hair/glam metal music you really need to give Neonstrike credit because to capture the sound of a generation that is three decades old, a music generation which honestly and unfortunately does not get a lot of musical credit, you need to have true talent. I was completely amazed with Neonstrike’s music and as a true die hard hair metal fan who grew up in the middle of it all, I give this young, up-and-coming band my seal of approval. I’m sure a lot of people out there thank them for bringing back such a fun generation of music.
Make sure to pick up their EP Sins of the Flesh when it comes out on October 5th.
- Give us a run down of your band members?
We (Jack – vocals and guitars, Sophie – vocals, Ethan – bass, Connor – drums) all met at university, and have since played together around the South of England in a cover band called Hair Force One. From this we went on to a number of projects – Connor and Ethan play together in atmospheric black metal band Cairiss, Jack and Ethan play in progressive metal band Asira, and a few years ago Sophie joined the power metal band Pythia. Every now and then we find an excuse to roll Hair Force One out of retirement, but there are only so many ‘reunion gigs’ you can do… and so Neonstrike was formed to scratch the hair metal itch.
- What bands have influenced your music the most?
Brother Firetribe are the big one for us. Not only do they write slick AOR anthems that easily rival the classics, they’ve also proved that the soul of this music is still burning. Of course there are many more – Skid Row, Reckless Love, Danger Danger, Crazy Lixx and Whitesnake are all in near-constant rotation at Neonstrike HQ.
- Do you think the music industry has been unfair to glam/hair metal?
I think it’s a genre that a lot of people have an affection for, whether they recognise it or not. The music industry in general tends to flit about between trends, and lets rock and metal do its own thing. That’s a blessing and a curse, but I think the strength of a lot of the recent revival bands indicate that hair metal has come off okay from this unspoken arrangement.
- What made you decide to make the switch from a cover band to an original band?
Writing original music across various genres was our default creative output all the time that Hair Force One was active, if anything HF1 was the exception. But working on those arrangements opened up the idea of contributing new material to this genre that we love to play. If Brother Firetribe and Reckless Love could make solid gold AOR records after the turn of the millennium, then why not us?
- You really harvest the sound of the 80s hair metal era. From the dreamy power ballad like “Against the Storm” and the anthem song like “On the Front Lines”. How do you manage to be so dead on with such a distinctive sound both musically and lyrically?
If there is any secret to capturing the sound of an era, it’s probably listening widely to all the music of the time. We’re big fans of lots of 80s music besides what was happening in rock and metal, be it pop, new wave, or even the beginnings of hip-hop (sorry). Throw in a deep love of 80s TV, cinema and literature, and you start to organically adopt the mindset of the decade.
- If you could tour with one of the great hair metal bands who would it be?
It’s definitely controversial to label them as exclusively hair metal, but we’d sell our souls to open for Scorpions.
- Do you have a favorite guilty listening pleasure that you are afraid to admit in public?
Besides Neonstrike? Connor enjoys the odd bit of metalcore, and quiet nights curled up with a Disney soundtrack. Ethan favours pre-‘Cowboys From Hell’ Pantera. Sophie is an out-and-proud Lady Gaga fan, and Jack is still convinced that James Blunt is a real rock musician.
- Can you give us a rundown of your music gear?
There’s nothing much to brag about here… ‘Sins of the Flesh’ was recorded in a damp bedroom, in between student hangovers. We used whatever equipment was readily available, or that we could get on a tight budget. I remember we tracked all the guitars with a cheap Ibanez, fitted with an EMG 81/85 combo. Anyone familiar with those pickups will know that they carry all the emotive subtlety of a brick, but Ethan’s technical wizardry (and a fair bit of patience getting the golden takes) made it all come together in the end.
- Any plans for a Neonstrike tour in the near future?
We checked our horoscopes, and they say ‘haha‘, ‘really?’ and ‘no’. In all seriousness, Neonstrike was always intended to be a recorded project only. Never say never, but we’re all in other bands which are very dedicated to performing live, which take up a lot of our time. And Jack says he can’t play that many guitar parts at once, but we think he’s just being lazy.
- Is there still hope for hair metal music?
Absolutely. If four broke students can put together ‘Sins of the Flesh’ with very little previous recording experience then anything is possible! I think we’ll start to see the revival movement branch out and embrace synthwave, 70s rock, and more traditional metal elements, any of which would surely result in some great new music.
- Anything else you would like your fans to know?
Just that we love you, and we hope that you all really enjoy ‘Sins of the Flesh’. Even if Neonstrike never ends up on the road, know that we’ll be hard at work on a full-length album before the dust has settled.
For more information on Neonstrike:
Pre-order Sins of the Flesh EP here and check out their smash single “Ignite the Nite” below:
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