MEET THE BAND: A.K. Strange (guitars, vocals, Hammond B3, piano, other keyboards, percussion), Carla Cherry (bass, vocals), Jon Toerner (drums, vocals)
SAD BASTARDS: This Cincinnati-based band came together in the early 2000s in Cleveland at a Sad Bastards Night at the Beachland Tavern. "It was right after [the local alt-country band] Rosavelt had disintegrated," says Strange. "I started the Amprays, and I didn't want to do a rock thing. I had cello and bass. I knew [bassist] Carla Cherry [who lived in Cleveland at the time with her husband, singer-guitarist Rob Cherry], and she played bass with me back then. We did a few shows, and then I moved out of town." When Strange returned to Cincinnati a couple of years ago, he reconnected with Cherry and relaunched the Amprays.
UP ALL NIGHT: Strange wrote many of the songs on the band's new album, Sleepchaser, after he had kids and would be up at strange hours. "I wrote many of these songs at 5 in the morning, or I woke up with them in my head," says Strange. "Initially, we were going for what we had done in the early 2000s when we channeled our early influences like David Bowie, the Velvet Underground and the Replacements." Produced by Mike Montgomery and the Amprays, the album was recorded and mixed by Montgomery at his Candyland studio in Dayton, Kentucky, the same studio where the Breeders recorded the bulk of their latest album. "He really worked well with us," says Strange. "We want things to sound the least digital as possible even though we used digital equipment. That worked out. As we were recording this, I think I used [Breeders' guitarist] Kelley [Deal's] amp on some of the songs." Cleveland-based Adam Boose did the mastering at his Cauliflower Audio.
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: "Living Inside" sounds like a cross between the Replacements and Tom Petty, "Westward as the Autumn" features grunge-y guitars and pristine vocal harmonies, and "Spinningshores" has a jangly, Reckoning-era R.E.M. feel to it. "'Living Inside' was a song I just woke up with," says Strange. "I would sing part of it into a recorder and pieced it together that way. You can't tell by listening to the song, but there are a lot of nonsensical chord changes. That's because I was trying to figure out the song based on what I sang. Mike [Montgomery] helped out with it because I wanted the vocals to sound a certain way, and he plugged the mic into an amp and distorted it, so the vocals exploded when they came through the speakers." The band has written some tunes for yet another record and hopes to tour more regularly in the coming year.
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: amprays.com.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: The Amprays perform with Copper Thieves INT'L and Birdog Cats at 9 pm. on Saturday, Nov. 10, at CODA.