NewTracks New Artist: Stray Dogs

NewTracks New Artist: Stray Dogs

Formerly Fire For Glory, Tāmaki Makaurau pop punk band Stray Dogs have reinvented themselves for the release of their 2023 album ‘Stay Loyal’ with a rebooting of their sound from way back when. The four-piece are set to get Aotearoa dancing to their single Life Of The Party which features on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this September.

Who’s in the band and what instruments do you each play?

  • Josh Pinho – Vocals
  • Cameron Brookes – Guitars
  • Steve Shyu – Bass
  • Grant Kirkpatrick – Drums

Was any high school or other music training especially important?

Most of us met while studying at MAINZ Auckland (RIP) – which we all credit in a big way as far as our musical knowledge goes. That place, and its people, really opened our eyes to a lot of ways to interpret and write music, and set us all in the right direction for what would eventually become this band.

Any other projects that we might we know you from?

The biggest one would be Fire For Glory, which is a previous iteration of this band. We spent 10 years operating under that name (with various line up changes and a lot of older music that we no longer perform). As far as other projects, Josh was the vocalist in Godzilla Takes New York, Cam played guitar for Streetlight Riot, and Grant currently holds double duties playing drums for Kiero.

What’s the background story of how Stray Dogs came to be?

We met at MAINZ and created the band as Fire For Glory. We were all 18-19, and more than anything wanted an outlet to play what we felt was long-forgotten music in the sound of mid-2000s era pop-punk and emo. We wrote a lot of music, had a lot of line up changes and played a lot of shows, which would end up giving us a solid backbone. However we realised that we had grown into a band that was a lot more polished and mature than what people had come to expect from Fire For Glory, and we were very different people, now in our 30s, so a ‘reboot’ as we call it, was the path choice we made. Thus Stray Dogs was born!

How has your writing (or music) evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

When we were teenagers, it was a bit more traditional – get in a room, make noise, hit record, release on Facebook, repeat. Nowadays we have a bit more of a process. Someone will write a piece of music, be it a riff, a set of lyrics, or a chord progression, and we will sit in our studio and do a pre-production demo of it. From there we learn the song, pull it apart and put it back together for another pre-production recording with changes we want. We play all of the additional instruments between the four of us. After we decide we are happy with the final song, we record it for whatever release platform it is going to be on.

How and when did you come up with the name for the new project?

Quite simply, our band is named after our song of the same name! When we decided to ‘reboot’ we decided to keep a select handful of songs that we liked enough to re-work and release under the new band. The first of those was Stray Dogs, and Grant suggested it seemed fitting as the band name as well.

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

Ending up on the NZ Music Charts and having the track on regular TV rotation have both been pretty surreal experiences to be honest. These are things that the teenagers who started this band only pretended and dreamed about, and so at 30 we are all a bit blown away that it’s real.

What makes Life Of The Party stand out for you as a single?

It just slaps. For us it’s about the energy, mixed with the relatability of the lyrics, and our listeners seem to feel the same way. It always gets a big response live, so we felt for those reasons it was definitely a single.

What’s the story behind Life Of The Party?

Life Of The Party is all about having social anxiety – being in a large gathering where you are welcome, but in your head you are dealing with your own voice saying, ‘Nobody wants you here, they’re all laughing at you, go home.’ It’s an introspective look at how we can spiral out of control from anxiety just by listening to our own head voice when we shouldn’t.

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

Hopefully that they love our band, but thematically – if the voice in your head is saying awful things about you, it’s probably best not to listen. We love you.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

“I’m all panic and no disco,” has to be the highlight, but the whole chorus is a really fun bit of word play.

Who did you record/produce the single with and where?

We record everything in house in our home studio. Grant engineers, produces and mixes the sessions, and Zed Brookes mastered it.

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

We tend to go off of A: what we would like to listen to as a single, and B: the songs that get the best responses when we play them live.

Who else is in your team?

We are signed to Allgood Absolute Alternative Records/Triple A RecordsMatt Smith and Mel Jacka are our whānau on that team and have been giving us guidance and tautoko for the past year and a half. They’re an incredible team, and we are proud to be on that roster.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for? 

We are in the very early stages of writing for our second album, and Grant is currently working on Kiero’s debut EP, which should hopefully be finished by the end of the year.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song.

  • Finger Tight: Why Should You Care?
  • Fan Club: Never Ever
  • Holloway: Crush

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks?

Plenty under our old name when our music/experience weren’t as honed. It all comes down to keeping on trying. We are persistent little creatures.

Got any advice for others?

Make music that YOU enjoy making, rockstar egos are dumb, and there will always be someone who doesn’t like what you’re doing. You have to choose to filter them out and focus on the good stuff (while being prepared to take on fair criticism if you want to further what you are creating).

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

We can recommend The Downbeat Podcast – it’s an interview style podcast mainly aimed at drummers but has a lot of great info around touring/marketing/DIY band stuff, as well as being quite funny.

Who did you make the video with?

Josh directed and edited the whole thing! We have tried to do as much in house as possible.

Any last words?

Our debut album ‘Stay Loyal’ is out now on all platforms via Triple A Records!