Interview: Little Stranger Celebrates New Album “Sat Around Trippin”

Little Stranger, the dynamic duo known for their eclectic blend of hip-hop, reggae, and acoustic melodies, is set to drop their highly anticipated new album today, Friday, June 28th, 2024. The band, consisting of the blue-chip pairing of John Shields and Kevin Shields, has steadily been gaining traction with their DIY approach and relentless touring schedule. They recently sat down with me to discuss their journey, the new album, and what keeps them pushing forward.

a close up of Little Stranger, John holds his guitar, kevin makes a silly face while fish hooking his cheek with his finger
Photo courtesy Little Stranger

A DIY Dream Come True

Formed in Charleston, South Carolina, Little Stranger is the epitome of a grassroots success story. “Our whole kind of ground-up trajectory has been very DIY,” says John. “We produce our own music, tour a lot, and have been with our agent since day one. We had one year with a major-ish label that turned out to be a really kind of terrible experience.” Kevin adds, “It almost became the typical nightmare of a major label trying to change us into something we weren’t. Once we got out of that, we kind of went back to being road doggies.”

Despite the challenges, their hands-on approach has paid off. The band has toured extensively, playing over 100 shows a year, and their growing fan base is a testament to their hard work and authenticity. “It’s hard enough to focus on making music and touring as much as we do,” John explains. “Doing a hundred-plus shows a year, when it comes to press, it’s almost an afterthought for us as artists.”

album cover art for "Sat Around Trippin"
“Sat Around Trippin” out now

The Road Warriors

As a result, touring has been a major part of Little Stranger’s identity. “We’re looking at year seven of touring pretty consistently,” says Kevin. “We had two months off in December and January coming into this year, which felt amazing. Though a little restless at home, it was nice to catch up on life stuff.” The band’s relentless touring schedule has allowed them to hone their live performance, creating a unique experience for their audiences. “Your whole day is mapped out on the road. It’s kind of easy to pick up the flow of that.”

What’s more, their love for the road is evident, despite the physical toll it takes. “We love the road,” Kevin says. “It’s a beast, though, for sure, and we’re feeling a little older these days.” John chimes in, “We feel honored. Touring is way better than going to the dentist!”

Little Stranger onstage at Cali Vibes Festival in Long Beach, CA
Little Stranger onstage at Cali Vibes Festival. Photo by Rose Eden

Evolution of Their Sound

Little Stranger’s new album, “Sat Around Trippin,” marks a significant turning point for the band. The Beck-meets-Sublime-meets-Gorillaz sound they’ve developed over the years has now evolved into nuances that remind one of The Beastie Boys and Eminem. The album, featuring previously released singles “Karma Sumatra” and “Fly Guy,” promises to bring fresh and exciting sounds to their fans.

“Nobody Like Me” stands out with its riff-heavy energy, “Busted Brain” offers a jovial vibe, and “God At A Festival” is an EDM-inflected, gospel-soul influenced track performed at almost hyper speed, with an incredible breakdown and background vocals.

Equally important, their last release, a live album from Sugar Shack, showcased their ability to create intimate and engaging acoustic performances. “They actually changed the trajectory of our band,” Kevin notes. “After our first Sugar Shack came out, people started showing up to our shows, and we were confused by that.”

Next, the new album is a testament to their versatility. “We have a few new songs that we really wanted to make sure the acoustic guitar was present because it is such a huge part of our set,” John explains. “We want people to be like, ‘Alright, I guess,’ you know? We want to keep it fresh and odd. And a little stranger.”

Little Stranger in their trailer at Cali Vibes Festival in Long Beach, CA
Little Stranger in their trailer at Cali Vibes Festival in Long Beach, CA. Photo by Conchitas Media

The Unique Bond

Although Kevin and John Shields share the same last name, they are not biologically related but describe themselves as “brothers by another mother.” The band’s chemistry is undeniable, forged through years of performing together as a duo.

“Kevin and I have become kind of one brain on stage,” John says. “Some of the best parts of our shows are if we mess up or if some crowd interaction becomes a part of the show. Because it’s just me and Kevin, we can run with that and kind of evolve on it.” Kevin adds, “There’s a lot of trust up there that the other person knows exactly what they’re doing.”

Furthermore, their connection extends beyond the stage. “It’s a brother-to-brother scenario,” Kevin shares. “Brothers have to do all of the things. They have to love, they have to fight, they have to do it all, but we pull through.”

Little Stranget pose crouching down with a dark background
Photo by Jon Mattrisch

Looking Forward

Lastly, with their new album out and a packed tour schedule ahead, including dates with Stick Figure and Soja, Little Stranger shows no signs of slowing down. Additionally their ability to adapt and evolve their sound while maintaining a deep connection with their fans is a testament to their authenticity and talent.

“It feels completely ours. We’re so proud of the last album we did and this one even feels even more like we just got to stretch out in the ways we wanted to.” Kevin reveals.

Moreover, as they continue to carve out their unique niche in the music world, Little Stranger remains a band to watch. Their journey from DIY beginnings to headlining major stages is a testament to their resilience, creativity, and the unbreakable bond between two friends who just want to make music and have fun by doing things… well, a little stranger.

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