After their Adelaide debut at this year’s WOMADelaide, world music phenomenon The Strides return for the inaugural Sweet Vibes Festival in November.
“We’re excited to go back to Adelaide,” guitarist Matt Smith says. “We were there for the first time for WOMAD this year and we all had the best time. The shows went really well and we got awesome feedback, so we’ve been trying to find a way to get back to Adelaide. Because we’re a nine-piece band, travelling interstate is pretty difficult sometimes, so it’s good to have another opportunity to get to Adelaide, that’s for sure.
“We want everyone to come down to Sweet Vibes and be involved. It’s going to be a great day and it’s also supporting a worthy cause, Around The Campfire, which is a charity dedicated to improving the health of indigenous Australians. So that’s something The Strides are keen to support and it will be an awesome day of dancing and hanging out, so why would you miss it?”
The Strides released their sophomore record, ‘The Youth, The Rich & The Fake’, last year. Matt says he’s particularly proud of what they’ve achieved on this album. “That’s the first album I think where I feel like we’ve made our stance,” he says. “People seem to really like it and it seems to be pretty well-respected in the world music scene in Australia. We’re in the studio in a couple of weeks and we’re starting the songwriting processes on a new album now.”
Fusing elements of reggae, roots, dancehall, Afrobeat, hip hop and jazz (Matt is a trained jazz guitarist), The Strides have created a distinctive sound and style that stems from each member’s individual contribution to writing songs. “The band members are all from different backgrounds and they bring their own style to it,” Matt says.
“That really is the essence of The Strides, because when we write we often write together, even all nine of us, which is pretty unusual for a band to get together and write a tune.
“Everyone can bring whatever they want to it and that’s the beauty of it, The Strides aren’t bound by any sort of genre. Even though we do like to play reggae in an authentic way, we also play a whole other array of styles and it’s just whatever you’re feeling or whatever you want to put out there.”
A full-time musician, Matt also plays guitar in Thirsty Merc, replacing Sean Carey on the axe in 2010. The band have been on holidays recuperating from a mammoth, self-managed tour last year and Matt says they’ll be back on the road in a few, short months. “Thirsty Merc is going great; we’re just coming to the end of a bit of a holiday period, because we did 100 shows between last September and early June.
“We were absolutely smashed after that and because ‘Shifting Gears’ was done independently, we’re self-managed now, so we just flogged ourselves. We’re getting back into some shows come October or November, which will go through to about February next year.”
As for The Strides, they continue their long-legged march with more east-coast shows through to October and a down-to-earth philosophy towards their music. “We’re trying to carve out something that’s our own, and it just comes from the background of the members and whatever they bring to it,” Matt says.
“We don’t want to really label it as reggae; we just have a love for reggae and we want to play music people can dance to. At the end of the day, that sums up The Strides: we want to play a gig and see people smile and dance, that’s what it’s about for us.”
The Strides ShowsSun 16 Oct - Bombie Bar (Coalcliff)
28-30 Oct - Island Vibe Festival (Brisbane)
Sat 5 Nov - Sweet Vibes Festival (Adelaide) [Update 4 October, 2016: This event has been cancelled]