Little Stranger is the born and raised Philadelphia duo who are taking the stage and our hearts by storm! A band of brothers from another mother, John and Kevin have created pure madness and Zen, that has resulted in fan-fueled anthems guaranteed to bring you to your knees and wanting more!
Photo By Little Stranger
Reminiscent of the Beastie Boys, with fast hip-hop beats and features with the likes of Del the Funky Homosapien, Jarv, and Wrekonize, this talented duo can easily move in and out of genres and have organically grown their following within reggae rock and hip-hop scenes. With their music, there is so much going on, that this writer can’t even describe it, in one sentence. Little Stranger sat down with us to talk about their beginnings, creating music, touring, and hinted at -maybe- a new album!?!
As their story starts, John who at the time was attending the College of Charleston, asked Kevin a high school buddy and a battle of the band rival to join forces with him on a project. Little did they know, it would change their lives forever…
Here is their story.
Stef – Hey! Welcome to The Pier, thank you for getting with us on this interview. To kick off, I understand you guys basically reside in Charleston, South Carolina. And it is awesome that you were raised in Philly, such a rich culture in music over there! Can you tell us a bit about it, and your fave spots over there to play and hang at?
Kevin – I loved growing up outside of Philly and eventually living and working in the city for a number of years. Always a ton of live music to check out and the whole city is splattered with killer street art. I used to always go see shows at the Theater of the Living Arts on South Street in high school and beyond, so it was a dream to get to play there with Badfish and Bumpin Uglies a few years back. Philly will always hold a special place in our hearts and we can’t wait to get back to play.
Stef – Living in Charleston is awesome, they also have a great music scene over there! What’s your fave spot over there?
Kevin/John – We both love the “Pour House.” It is definitely a proper venue for great shows!
Stef – Is it true you guys met in class in High School?
Kevin/John – We sat next to each other in class because our last names were the same. We played in different bands, and that is how it all started.
Stef – Wow, you just never know, huh? Can you share with your peeps about your past endeavors/bands that gave you that learning process and joy of music?
Kevin – I started playing drums in high school and quickly started a band with my buddies. John and I actually used to compete against each other in different Battle of the Bands but John’s old band, Long Miles, usually crushed us.
We went to a high school that really encouraged the arts and music was no exception. Lots of collaboration and jamming and freestyling which helped hone the skills I still use today.
John – I started out as a drummer as well. But I wanted to sing and write songs, so I switched over to guitar. Starting as a drummer made learning guitar much easier. I already had the rhythm part down. I played in a reggae/jam band with some of my closest friends for 6 years before linking with Kevin for Little Stranger. Teaming up with Kev was a totally new experience for me because I now had a creative force to work alongside who pushed my own boundaries as an artist.
Photo by Little Stranger
Stef – Hey, I gotta say, you guys tour your asses off! How do you deal with all the crazy on the road life? I mean it sounds like a dream to me! How you guys keep it all together?
Kevin – In the words of the great Andy Frasco, “Just don’t think about it.” In reality, it can be super stressful and tiring but it’s nice to remind yourself that we are doing what we love and when things do go right, you can actually feel accomplished because you know the hard work it took to get you there. That and lots of naps.
Stef – I love watching you guys on Sugarshack. It just blows me away! That cover you did by Gorillaz has me watching over and over and over. You guys are so cool and natural, with such a close comradery like you guys could be brothers in another life! Tell us about your experience with Sugarshack!
Kevin – Big ups to Sugarshack! They are such an incredibly talented and hardworking group of individuals and we really would not be where we are today without them. They gave us a chance based on a friend’s recommendation and we just hit it off. We felt so comfortable in their space and like we were able to fully be our strange selves which translated to some pretty dope videos. We can’t thank them enough and can’t wait to go back!
Photo by Little Stranger
Stef- Do you guys write on the road, and get inspiration from those long drives? Tell us how your process ignites! What music inspires you guys?
Kevin – I was just talking to John about this the other day. I find it really hard to write on the road. The drives can end up being pretty hectic and most days you are looking to turn off your brain. But recently, I have found that I can write some pretty damn good verse on planes – if someone would like to buy us a private jet? And my process tends to be pretty reflexive, as in it usually starts with some music or a beat from John. He’ll send over an idea and I either have some topic I want to address or a phrase I’d love to start a verse with. Once I get a few lines on the page, it’s off to the races.
John – I wish I could say the long drives were inspiring. In reality, that’s usually where I sort of check out mentally. I find myself driving in silence more than you might expect, and probably thinking more than I need to. But it’s always a good time to catch up on phone calls with family and friends in between the madness of the shows.
Stef – With touring, daily life goes on and families are sometimes left behind while their loved ones are trying to make it in the industry of awesomeness. Are there family or loved ones that miss you and remind you to stay grounded?
Kevin – For sure. We are very blessed to have lots of family and friends we are close with but it can be a battle to find quality time, especially while touring. Thankfully, these people also have our backs and root for us to succeed as often as they can.
Stef – What songs are y’alls favorite? A couple of my faves are “Coffee and a joint” and your cover of Gorillaz’s “Clint Eastwood,” featured on the Sugarshack Sessions!
Kevin – I would say that our favorites to play live are “Bag Full of Money” & “Red Rover.” “Bag” is a great one to watch John build a killer swinging beat and I get to play Melodica a bunch which is always fun. And then “Red Rover” is just a blistering track which usually goes off the rails live in the most fun way.
Stef – I have to say, I love your videos ” Red Rover “and ” Sunburn” which featured Matt from Tropidelic! Do you guys come up with this together? Is there a special process with all of this?
Kevin – We love putting a focus on visuals whenever we can. John & I both share a mutual love of Gorillaz which is video and art forward in a lot of ways. I studied some video art in college and we have two friends, Damn Skippy and Brett Phillips, who are both stellar filmmakers so this has helped us make some wild video dreams come true. The “Red Rover” video was possibly our favorite thing to shoot ever.
John – The whole “Red Rover” concept came to life because Kev and I found these legit Power Rangers helmets from a seller on Etsy. We had some money and just wanted to own these helmets, so we bought them. Our director, Brett, had a whole other concept in mind. We told him it had to be Power Rangers themed because we just dropped some cash on these helmets.
Stef – Tell us about the other projects you have going on. I see your touring is booked all the way up to 2023 and I see more greatness coming up for you guys! Can you give us a sneak peek for 2023?
Kevin – We like to keep ourselves busy and we certainly have enough shows to keep us tied down for the rest of the year. In 2023, we are hoping to start the year off with a ton of writing and recording for the new album. We would love to be able to travel somewhere where we can solely focus on the creation of new music so we’ll see where that takes us.
Stef – Is there a crazy tour story or two you would like to share with us?
John – There are so many. But writing our song “Brain Fog” was an interesting one on tour. We had played in OBX the night before and rented a tiny cabin in the woods nearby in NC. The song is kinda our mushroom anthem, so we partook in the magic fungi and spent the night writing and recording in this kinda creepy cabin. You can hear us laughing in the background of the song because we could hardly get through our takes without cracking up. One of only a few times we actually recorded while on the road, and it turned out to be one of our favorite songs.
Stef – hahaha! I love it! I do have another question, what underwear do you guys wear? You can answer if you want! lol
Kev/John – Well, we wear Haines. Oh just until further notice, no shorts are allowed on stage. Just FYI
Stef – Okey dokey! So, are we taking this bottle of pure joy and pouring it all over Europe next year?
John – Man, we would love to take this traveling circus act over to Europe. Definitely, something we plan on doing at some point, just a matter of when. We’d really love to go to Japan, too.
Stef – Are there certain bands in the country that you have a very close bond with, that lifted you up and hugged your souls? Maybe they inspired you with this journey?
John – We’ve become super tight with most of the bands we’ve gotten to tour with. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of being on the road, for sure. Tropidelic and Badfish were two of the bands we got to tour heavily with early on, and we consider them some of our best buds now. The Movement, Bumpin Uglies, Ballyhoo!, Artikal Sound System – all homies. It’s a strange life being a touring musician, and it’s nice to link with people who live the same life – there’s an unspoken bond.
Stef – You guys have toured so much, and I am sure that you are forever evolving with your own sound, YOUR way, the two brothers from another mother, with the same last name, brought together on this planet to not divide, but to conquer. Is there a message about your band you want to tell the world? And is there something you can send in a message to those that want to take that leap and go for the gusto?
John – We’re lucky to be best friends as well as bandmates. This is the coolest job in the world, but it also can be a real grind. The high, highs are met with their share of lows along the way. To have a support system and trust in each other has made this journey way easier. And that includes the rest of our team as well. Our booking agent, Caleb Coker has been with us since the start. Vince Iwinski, Dan Snell, Alex Veazey, Kate Tkach, Nadia Ibarolla – all of our team understands the vision and we are all homies at the end of the day, and I think that’s all you can ask for.
Talking to these guys felt like..home. With the dry humor kicking, that just makes my heart pitter-patter. They are so easy to talk to, and I mean.. just cool and laid-back artists that truly understand what it takes to make it all the way to the top! They work their asses off, on the road non-stop! Two best friends created this on a whim and decided to let it snowball. I tell you all, there is a storm-a-comin’ and you need to call it “Little Stranger.”
Photo by Little Stranger
Upcoming Tour Dates:
*October 7-9 – REGGAE RISE UP W/STICK FIGURE, IRATION, SLIGHTLY STOOPID, THE EXPENDABLES, SKIP MARLEY, PEPPER, THE GREEN, JESSIE ROYAL AND MORE!
*Everwild Music Festival- Aug 12 + 13 Legend Valley in Thornville, OH
w/Dirty Heads, Tropidelic, HIRIE, Bumpin Uglies,99 Neighbors, Artikal Soundsystem & More!
* Touring w/ Andy Frasco & The U.N. October 21-December 17
And more to come!
By Stef Sanchez