Rumours have been circulating for a while, and now the cool cats, the real rockers, the pioneers of ’80s rockabilly are back after a 26-year absence. The Stray Cats are “all revved up and red hot” and the rockers and rockettes among us could not be more pleased.
To celebrate their 40th anniversary, the trio of Brian Setzer (guitar/vocals), Slim Jim Phantom (drums), and Lee Rocker (double bass) have returned. They’re not just set to play four UK shows (Birmingham, Manchester, and two in London), they’ve recorded a brand new album. Recorded in Nashville and simply titled 40, it’s introduced by a brand new single and video, Rock it Off.
It sounds like a proper classic Stray Cats tune. They’ve not changed and they still get us rockin’ and rollin’.
“Rock It Off may be my favourite track on 40,” says Slim Jim. “When the guitar riff comes in, I stand up a little straighter and imagine a peacock strutting. It’s got a shuffle groove that’s tailor made for me to do the bop-bop-a-bop – the video captures the fun and good vibes we all shared while making the whole album.”
The video, released in early March, is a compilation of studio and recording moments. For two minutes, we can see the band working, having fun, and laughing together at Blackbird Studio in Nashville, Tennessee.
40 was recorded in late 2018, after a series of sold out headline shows in Las Vegas and Costa Mesa, California. Noticing how big the crowd response was, the trio realised it was time to get back to the studio and teamed up with producer Peter Collins (who’d previously worked with The Brian Setzer Orchestra) and engineer Vance Powell (Jack White, Arctic Monkeys) to record 12 new original songs.
The process went smoothly and, according to Lee Rocker, they laid down the songs “live – like doing a gig”. So the trio played together in a room, their amps turned to 10 (or maybe 11), and captured the magic of the early days (as we can hear on Rock It Off), while adding a modern touch.
As Brian Setzer says: “You have to understand how unique The Stray Cats are. It’s me playing an old hollow body guitar, Slim Jim playing two or three drums, and Lee Rocker slapping a stand-up acoustic bass.
“I get to write new songs and then play them with my buddies. Somehow we created a new and exciting sound with this simple idea. And you know what? A lot of people agree!”
We sure do and can’t wait to see them perform the new songs live in England, where they started back in the day.
40 will be released on 24th May. A Limited Box (with CD including 2 bonus tracks, Stray Cats-themed coasters, postcard, and two stickers) as well as a limited 180-gram silver vinyl are available at http://smarturl.it/StrayCats
Stray Cats European/UK Tour 2019 dates:
21 June – Azkena Rock Festival, Spain
23 June – O2 Academy, Birmingham
25 June – O2 Apollo, Manchester
26 June – Hammersmith Apollo, London
27 June – Hammersmith Apollo, London
29 June – Retro C Trop, France
1 July – AFAS Live, Netherlands
3 July – Columbiahalle, Germany
4 July – Palladium, Germany
6 July – American Tours Festival, France
7 July – Les Eurockeennes, France
9 July – Killesberg, Germany
11 July – Zenith, Germany
12 July – X-Tra, Switzerland
13 July – Musilac Festival, France
18 July – Pori Jazz Festival, Finland
20 July – Summer Jamboree, Sweden