Now that it has been a little while since the line-up announcement for UNIFY Gathering 2020 and that we have had some time to process how crazily good it is (revisit it here), I called Drew York from Stray From The Path to discuss their upcoming appearance, their new studio album Internal Atomics and their headline Australian tour with Kublai Khan.
Thanks for taking the time to chat Drew, where are you currently?
Hello, It’s my pleasure. I’m currently in California!
Stray From The Path has had an enormous year thus far; having released a live album and a full-length studio album coming soon. Has there been much pressure in the Stray From The Path camp to keep the music coming?
No, there hasn’t been much pressure at all. After we released the live album, we really wanted to keep things moving along. We have always wanted a live album, and there’s a lot of bands that we grew up listening to, and they released live albums which as I fan I loved listening to. I also wanted to give something raw to our fans.
The only pressure I feel is when we make a new record, stress throughout the writing and recording process, as well as the lead up to its release. I just really want it to come out, this time especially, I feel like the past month the anticipation for its release has been massive. We just got back from Japan, and we played some new songs for the first time in a live setting there, which was great. I’m counting down the days to November 1st so that I can have that weight off my shoulders and show the world what we have been working on.
Stray From The Path has a history of using your lyrics as a means to speak out about particular political views such as police brutality, prescription drugs, child abuse, etc. Will we see any more issues such as these being brought to light with the new album?
That’s a great question. We wanted to take more of a universal approach on this album. I feel like on Anonymous, and Only Death Is Real; we were very literal and to the point on certain things. Whereas on the new album, Internal Atomics is more relatable on different levels. We are always going to be a political band. If we are pissed off at something, we are going to bring these issues to light. This record, however, speaks to a much bigger audience where people can make their own connection with it. For example, on Only Death Is Real we talk about the education system in America, fans in different parts of the world like Europe and Australia aren’t going to relate to that. We felt we should take a step back and said to ourselves ‘how are we going to say the things we want to say and still manage to connect with our followers on a deeper level while reaching out to a bigger audience?’ and I’m confident to say we absolutely nailed that, we really did! I hope people can walk away from listening to it feeling angry about the issues we are raising but also with a willingness to make a change and a better mentality.
Why is it important for Stray From The Path to be a politically driven band?
I feel it is important for us to keep it real for ourselves and our fans. We have a platform to raise issues on, and we feel it’s necessary to talk about these things as these issues affect so many people. A lot of these issues are stemmed from our generation, and we find it necessary to raise awareness around these things. We have a somewhat young fanbase who may not see it as we see it and whether they agree or disagree, it’s keeping the conversation going.
Have you seen a song you released in this light effect change?
We like to think so. I don’t think we have had a significant impact on a large scale. We have, however, had kids come up to us and say things such as ‘This song that you guys wrote, I went to school and wrote a paper on the topics you raised in it.’ Fans are always telling us that our music encourages them to do their own research on these issues, so they had a better understanding of them. I think that is amazing because I know when I was a kid I was going to school and bragging about what my favourite bands were writing about. If my music effects even one kid in this way, to me, that is a change.
I completely agree. It’s fantastic to see you guys are coming back for your second ever UNIFY Gathering appearance in 2020, what brings you back?
Well, we love Australia. I also cant wait for that Australian summer sun, theirs nothing like it. Upon releasing a new record, the timing was perfect. When we played UNIFY Gathering the first time, it was probably the biggest festival set we had ever played at that point in time. I’m super excited we were invited back, and that we get to bring our new record with us.
You have the pleasure of sharing the stage with a few friends on the UNIFY lineup. You featured on a Void of Vision song titled ‘//‘. Is there any chance you will be joining them on stage for that song?
They haven’t hit me up, but if they do, it’s a definite yes from me. I’m sure as we get closer to the festival that we’ll start talking about that sort of thing. That would be cool! I became good friends with those guys when they supported us on our Australian headline tour in 2016, when they asked me to feature on the song my initial response was ‘fuck yeah, absolutely’.
On the topic of guest vocalists, Stray From The Path released a song titled ‘Death Beds’ which features The Ghost Inside vocalist Jonothan Vigil. Is there any chance you will give Australian fans something special to remember by inviting him on stage for that song?
I’m going to have to say no that that, unfortunately. We haven’t played that song in a very long time. With Jonothan Vigil and The Ghost Inside returning to the stage, I’m not sure what type of mindset they are currently in. Coming to Austalia for a one-off headline set is a huge deal for these guys already, so I don’t want to put more on their plate.
That’s fair, nothing but wishful thinking on my part! It’s quite evident you are very involved with other bands in the scene as you continuously do guest vocals for other bands. An example of that is the latest Gideon album you featured on. Are you picky about who you do guest vocals for?
I am definitely picky. I usually try to stick with bands I like or my friend’s bands. Acts that make sense for me to collaborate with. I get asked by a lot of bands to do guest vocals, and it wouldn’t be special if I took up every opportunity that came my way.
Stray From The Path is going on a headline Australian tour with Kublai Khan, which are two different style bands who both manage to challenge the status quo. What can Australian fans expect at this tour?
Well, we do have a new song which features Matt Honeycutt (Kublai Khan vocalist), so we might play that song and invite Matt on stage. Other than that we will have to wait and see.
We are counting down the days, thanks Drew for the chat!
Interview by Adam Rice @adamrice1994
Pre-Order Internal Atomics here
Stray from the Path – Internal Atomics Tour
with Kublai Khan TX
Tuesday 7 January: The Brightside, Brisbane 18+
Wednesday 8 October: Hamilton Station, Newcastle 18+
Thursday 9 October: Crowbar, Sydney 18+
Saturday 11 October: UNIFY Gathering, Tarwin Lower 18+
Sunday 12 October: Enigma Bar, Adelaide 18+
Monday 13 October: Stay Gold, Melbourne 18+