So what do you think when a band calls themselves Stripper and their logo is a hot young woman exposing her breasts (look inside)? Well you do like I do and turn the music on. Obviously at first we thought, attention whores, but the music is real good rock music with a f$^& you attitude. Stripper began as the outlet for drummer/vocalist Mike Verna’s recordings, as he was rarely able to incorporate his own catalog into the bands he had been part of in the Los Angeles scene. With songs like “He’s Gonna Lie” and “Strip” I had to have the guys of Stripper on here. Be prepared to enjoy one of the most outrageous features in a while, & that’s a good thing!
Stoli: Where are we talking from and has living in Los Angeles made you long for seasons and weather change?
Vaughan-Wheeler: It’s “Retro Week” here at our rehearsal building, so we’re talking to you on a cell phone the size of a loaf of bread. There’s also a pretty significant delay.
Barakat: When do the questions start?
Verna: What are we? Leaves? Seasons are overrated. Besides, Bobby calls fall “autumn,” which can get pretty lame. Hang around him, you’ll see.
Stoli: I have to know how the word “Stripper” came to define your band & music?
Vaughan-Wheeler: Mike said he was writing a record to play live and that it had a “stripped down” sound. When the band came together to play the record, it was called, “Stripper.” The name stuck.
Verna: That’s exactly how I wanted it to sound like it happened.
Barakat: The truth is, we’re all pretty hooked on disappointing people. Calling three dudes “Stripper” is pretty much an invitation for a punch in the face. That being said, it’s pretty snappy and it rhymes with a ton of things when it comes to product endorsement. Check out our website for instructions on how to order the Stripper Nose Clipper.
Vaughan-Wheeler: Don’t forget the wood chipper.
Verna: Or those mugs we had made up. What? Why is everybody looking at me?
Stoli: Your logo is quite provocative. Do you feel like that might turn some fans off and do you even care?
Barakat: It’s not exactly “Smell the Glove,” but I guess it has its heat.
Verna: Anyone who is turned off by the logo would probably vomit to the music. The music is much more graphic than the logo. Besides, if everyone judged a band by its logo, Bobby would be famous right now.
Vaughan-Wheeler: My high school band was called 400 Vaginas.
Stoli: Were the three of you guys friends prior to the band?
Vaughan-Wheeler: We’re not friends now.
Verna: People think you have to really get along when you’re in a band, but you can hate each other, too. It’s indifference that kills a band. Just ask The Spin Doctors.
Vaughan-Wheeler: Why The Spin Doctors?
Verna: I don’t know. Because they’re not around anymore. And because the lead singer wore fucking sweatpants during their Woodstock set. He didn’t give a fuck, believe me.
Barakat: I’ve known Mike since college, when he played with my cousin in 500 Vaginas. Yes, it’s just a coincidence.
Stoli: Mike Verna does the drums and vocals and he started the band. Is the band run like a democracy or does Mike call the shots?
Verna: It’s run like a democracy until I say it isn’t.
Vaughan-Wheeler: Ted and I are fans of Mike’s writing and we like helping him bring it to life. It also allows us to watch “Lost” and “The Wire” while he slaves over a hot computer.
Barakat: Which reminds me of a funny little aside, when we were-
Verna: Wrap it up, bro.
Barakat: Oh. Nothing. Never mind.
Stoli: Would you say you guys like to party or are you in bed early types?
Verna: We’ve had our days running naked in the park and our nights painting each other’s faces while sitting in the kitchen sink, but we’re a little more mellow now. Still, a pop here and there can help turn a neat little song into a sprawling, unlistenable shit pie.
Barakat: I’ve never really been a party guy. I prefer to be thebalancing-the-books-and-planning-the-tour-while-the-other-guys-do-whatever-the-fuck-they-want kind of guy.
Vaughan-Wheeler: Yoga is a big part of my life. So, if, by partying, you mean stretching and meditating and shit, then yeah, I party pretty hard. I party five times a week. I party on a mat.
Stoli: I love your sound, its raw & it rocks. Is that what you guys intended and does that describe your personality as well?
Vaughan-Wheeler: It’s a little of both. We take the raw elements of post-punk and no wave and we refine it a little.
Barakat: And then break it down a different way.
Verna: And then pull it all together with weird transitions and ugly tunings.
Barakat: And Scotch Tape.
Vaughan-Wheeler: Just like our personalities.
Stoli: How is it playing live in Los Angeles and what venues/bars do you frequent?
Verna: Los Angeles has its moments, but we don’t feel a “scene.” When I lived in Rhode Island, there was more of a comradery. The community was smaller and more tightly-knit. We would have sex with each other’s girlfriends, instead of having sex with someone who you thought might be someone you know’s girlfriend. In Rhode Island, you knew.
Barakat: Great story.
Vaughan-Wheeler: If there’s a place for us in LA, we haven’t found it. It’s very image-conscious, and although we’re all gorgeous, we feel out of step.
Verna: The Silverlake scene here is very insular. They’re gonna just keep fucking each other until everyone is light tan with oval eyes.
Barakat: Great story.
Stoli: What two non-mainstream bands do you respect & listen to these days?
Vaughan-Wheeler: Blood on the Wall, Clipd Beaks.
Barakat: Portugal. The Man, The Locust.
Verna: Whore Paint, El Michels Affair.
Stoli: Do you guys have regular jobs and how do you balance both?
Vaughan-Wheeler: Like I said, yoga. Yoga, yoga, yoga.
Barakat: Enough already.
Verna: Ted and I work in television. We’re morally bankrupt and materialistically almost-bankrupt. I edit reality TV shows. It’s as stimulating as my tone might indicate.
Barakat: I’m a post-supervisor. I make sure the magic gets to you, the viewer.
Verna: Bobby’s definitely more balanced most of the time because he’s always twisting himself into a pretzel.
Vaughan-Wheeler: And in autumn I go to this yoga retreat-
Verna: Oooh! That bugs me. Is that bugging anybody else?
Stoli: I love your song “This Old Storm.” What is the story behind that tune?
Verna: I’d love to hear the other fellas’ take on this.
Vaughan-Wheeler: It sounds to me like this song is about two people and their relationship. One attracts the same type of person over and over again, much like a recurring “storm,” whereas the other is that storm, finding someone to “subside over” and essentially dump on.
Barakat: I’m hearing more of an allegorical slant that represents the twisting and turning of the human emotive cycle, loosely caged by the somewhat hackneyed weather metaphor for a “stormy relationship.”
Verna: It’s about a dog, actually.
Vaughan-Wheeler: Really? Why? Does it mean anything?
Verna: Umm. Well, it was this dog, see. It had these rad spots. Oh, and I found this cool ethnic sound on the guitar synth.
Barakat: Next question.
Stoli: What is coming up for Stripper and where you at online?
Vaughan-Wheeler: We’re going to throw Teddy out and go through six guitarists over the next four years.
Barakat: Still waiting for the question. Hello?
Verna: And we just finished another record. More songs about dogs. And five more videos are shot, too. http://www.youtube.com/strippertheband.