Interview with frontman Isaac Eiger, bassist Fred Nixon, and drummer Nathan Tucker | By Eli Enis
Strange Ranger’s 72-minute debut album, Rot Forever—released in February of 2016 under their former name, Sioux Falls—was one of those rare records that legitimately captured the landscape from which it was born: in this case, the mountainous, winding Pacific Northwestern terrain pictured in its cover art. Songs like “Past Tense” and “Mcconnoughey” render the adjective “soaring” entirely inadequate, as the swells and builds of those tracks—and many others throughout the record—possess an openness that sounds as impossibly vast as one feels while gazing off the edge of a high peak.
On Daymoon, their equally ambitious, 15-song follow-up—which came less than two years after Rot Forever through Tiny Engines—the Portland band sound almost impossibly close. It’s as if they are playing directly in front of you, and at some points, as if they’re playing from within your own head. “I just personally wanted it to be like you’re listening to it in your room by yourself at night,” frontman Isaac Eiger says while traveling in their van alongside bassist Fred Nixon and touring drummer Nathan Tucker.
“Rot Forever is like driving through the desert, and Daymoon is like driving around Portland at night,” Nixon adds.
Such a stark sonic change in such a short period of time is inherently bound to trip fans up, but for Strange Ranger, the name change—which was announced in fall of 2016 alongside their Sunbeams Through Your Head EP—coincided with the musical changeover. This raises the question: are Strange Ranger and Sioux Falls actually two different projects? The band confirm that it was pure coincidence. “Speaking as someone who’s not in [the band], it would’ve sounded the same,” Tucker says, regarding whether the name was a factor. “Maybe, like, after playing the last note on Rot Forever, [they] were in my room being like, ‘The next record’s gonna be completely different.’”
Nixon and Eiger agree that what it really came down to was that they were listening to different stuff during the writing of Daymoon: bands like The Microphones, Sparklehorse, and Alex G. “I think, kind of aesthetically, with Rot, we wanted to make a big ole rock ‘n’ roll record and kind of purge that from our system,” Nixon says.
“I think I wanted [Daymoon] to feel kinda close and tactile,” Eiger adds. “I think Rot was sort of airing grievances really loudly and really bombastically.”
As for the future, Strange Ranger aim to remain unpredictable. “It’s probably gonna be like trip-hop with chorus pedals—and maybe a lot of sampled drum beats,” Eiger says. “We still like The Microphones, though. And Built To Spill is a good band also,” he laughs.