Ryan Sambol, the band’s 24-year-old frontman and lead guitarist, is wise beyond his years. He has already learned at his age that, to keep things fun and simple, one must allow the uncontrollable circumstances of life to lead the way and to be happy and confident with wherever that may lead. However, despite his relaxed assuredness, he is still unclear on how much or how little his fans enjoyed the band’s most recent album, Be Brave.
“I know people seem to like the show we’ve been doing, but I’m not sure about the actual record,” says Sambol of the album’s release and its subsequent tour. Over months of touring, the band was able to reach some new audiences and was more than happy to be returning to many of the places it has played on previous tours. “It’s nice to go over to Europe and play, and it’s nice to go back to some of the smaller towns in America that are really nice, like Fort Wayne, Indiana, and stuff like that.”
Listen to “Heard You Want To Beat Me Up” – DOWNLOAD MP3
Originally hailing from Dallas, Texas, The Strange Boys has since moved down to Austin to be a part of the city’s burgeoning music scene. It seems to be a perfect fit.
“We just had more friends down there, and we were playing a lot of shows [in Austin], so it just made sense,” says Sambol.
Since making the move, the band has added a few new members to its lineup, including a sax player and even a “screamer,” but these additions were not predictable.
“I guess you kind of have to follow where life takes you, so [the lineup] just kind of ended up that way,” says Sambol, “and we didn’t really plan [it] that much. It was just kind of circumstances.”
With the addition of more members, The Strange Boys’ sound has headed in somewhat of a new direction — one that is seemingly more playful and upbeat, but lacking some of the band’s previous themes of cool indifference and drug-induced melancholy. However, they have still quite successfully managed to stay very true to their roots amidst all of this change. They simply go along with the flow of life, and if life throws them something they can use, they use it.
“You know, it’s kind of the same thing with the [addition of] band members,” Sambol explains about the songwriting process. You just kind of go where that song takes you, so I don’t really know where it comes from necessarily. “
The Strange Boys’ origins can be traced all the way back to a duo that Sambol played in as a teenager with Matt Hamburg, the band’s original drummer. That two-piece band eventually evolved when Sambol’s brother Philip joined in to lend his talents on the bass.
“I guess you kind of have to follow where life takes you…”
— Ryan Sambol
“We kind of started writing songs at the same time and, you know, it’s a natural progression. We were in our early teens then,” says Sambol.
With its current lineup of seven members, the band has certainly grown from its humble beginnings. And as expected, Sambol doesn’t seem to be quite sure of how he feels about the humble two-piece band’s growth over the years — or some of the fame and recognition that has come with it.
“I guess that it’s something that we thought would be cool. Right now, we might be regretting it,” he reveals. “You can never expect too much.”
In recent years, the band has garnered a good amount of attention, but Sambol seems to have a slight sense of resentment towards the way it has been presented by the media. The band, as a whole, seems to be shying away from the retro garage rock label that has been assigned to them.
“There’s been a lot of stuff written about us, and none of it’s really that good. We want people to just think of us as a contemporary, modern day band,” Sambol says. Perhaps their new album, soon to be released under Rough Trade Records, will reflect their desire to be taken more seriously.
“We’re going to record the new record this winter. It’ll be ready at the beginning of this year. We recorded Be Brave at this place in Costa Mesa, California called The Distillery, and we’re going back there to do the new record.”
Considering the way these guys operate in terms of change and progression from one album to the next, the only thing to be expected of The Strange Boys’ new album is pleasant surprise. It’s just their style.