By Jenn Rockefeller
“We got there, had a great time and realized we had competition and had to be on our game.”
Jake Oakey, frontman for the Stray Suns, a Colorado Springs-based band, was speaking about the recent Battle of the Bands that occurred in Colorado Springs to benefit Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence. The Stray Suns now have the distinct honor of calling themselves the first-ever winners of this competition.
“Kristen and TerryJosiah deserve a lot of praise and thank you’s about [sic] the opportunities they provided us and I didn’t think we’d get this kind of traction. They pulled through with great prizes and music. The other music [from the other bands] was amazing,” said Jake.
Who are the Stray Suns, you might ask? They are a four member band that first formed in 2011, but their current lineup has been together since November 2016. The current lineup is Jake on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Joe Della Penna on drums/percussion, Addison Stone on lead guitar, and Tim Miller on bass. They play a wide variety of styles, ranging from rock to blues, and from funk to soul. Early on, Jake was primarily the sole songwriter but, as Joe pointed out, it’s more of a collaborative effort now.
So what are some of the songs that Stray Suns play?
“Not a Ghost” came from the time Jake, at 18 years old, was in a bad car accident, which sadly killed one of his friends. “The song itself is about the reaction from my peers and I understood why they looked at me with pity. I just wanted to go back to normal,” he explained. He said he dealt with his classmates looking at him that way and saying to do the right thing and take note of what he needed, not what he wanted.
Jake explained that “I Feel Alive” is actually a misnomer, as it’s about a guy who commits suicide, but that the song worked backward and started off with him dead and thinking back to what led up to it. “Death has been an interesting part of my life when my cousin took his life when I was 10 and I struggled with depression and anxiety.” If you don’t confront the pain, he said, it’s always in the back of your mind.
On a happier note, Jake explained that “What If” was about his parents’ relationship, finding love, and finding a way through the hardships.
One of their least complex songs is titled “Lie to You.” It’s a simple concept about wanting to tell someone the truth but not quite knowing how to say it.
While Jake did mention that his wife is a domestic violence survivor, he said that it really wasn’t a driving force behind their music as much as their other musical influences such as Pearl Jam, classical, jazz, pop, and funk. In fact, Jake said he often gets the analogy of sounding like Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam) and Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden).
“She was in an abusive relationship before we met and it was one of those things where I felt like if something wasn’t done, she would end up dead,” Jake said of his wife. “We are weirdly compatible. In terms of the music, I’ve tried to keep her out of my songwriting, not because I don’t want her there, but I feel it’s not right of me to speak on her behalf. She’s taking it all in stride and I can’t believe her strength. I’m impressed and proud to call her my wife.”
Now that they won the Battle of the Bands, what’s next for the Stray Suns? Addison said the band is currently in the studio working on the new song “Happy Sad” and will be filming the video at Casa Bonita. Additionally, Addison said the band has shows booked weekly through October. So, it’ll be a busy time, he said. “The connections we got from winning [the Battle of the Bands] are bigger than I can really imagine.”
The band said they wanted to extend their gratitude to BTSADV for the opportunity to be a part of the Battle of the Bands and hope that they can continue to work with them in the future. “We stand behind this cause,” they said.
If you’re interested in volunteering with Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence, visit:https://www.breakthesilencedv.org/volunteer/