Four Stroke Baron
When vocalist and guitar player Kirk Witt and drummer Matt Vallarino started making music, they had no intention of peddling it to try to score gigs or promoting themselves through social media to gain a following. They just wanted to create music for fun.
They purposely didn’t play live, and all they had to go by was their self-titled EP that came out in January of 2014 on their Bandcamp. Witt said that Four Stroke Baron accumulated a small following online that started to expand when they released their first full length album, King Radio, in December 2015. Then their old bass player quit, and Keegan Ferrari joined. Soon after, Witt received an email from Prosthetic Records that he initially thought was a joke.
“I thought it was some weird scam thing, so I emailed it to [Ferrari and Vallarino] and was like, ’What the hell is this?’” said Witt. The email was from Steve Joh, highly regarded in the metal scene and head of artists and repertoire at Prosthetic Records. Joh found the band through its Bandcamp and reached out, stating that he wanted to work with them.
According to Vallarino, Four Stroke Baron worked on the latest album for almost the entirety of 2017. They recorded it at Witt’s studio and did all of the recording and mixing themselves.
As far as the album itself, Planet Silver Screen is stylistically similar to the first album and EP: progressive metal instrumentation with ’80s-style, almost Tears For Fears-sounding vocals. “We feel like there are elements that everyone can enjoy, so people who really like heavier music can get into the heavier guitars and drum parts, but people who really like poppy music or are into it can hum the melody,” said Vallarino.
Originally, the band decided to create really heavy music simply because Witt said he had tuned down his guitar and thought it would be fun to make music that way. This eclectic decision making process might explain how other musical styles and genres work their way into Four Stroke Baron’s work—including the work of Norwegian saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby on the latest album.
The album flows from one track to another in one long, continuous piece of music. Witt said he’s always carrying his phone around to record noises—like a chair reclining—so he can use the sound later as a special effect or a transition from one song to the next.
Although Witt views concept albums as cheesy, he likes the way they sound. “I feel like our album kind of sounds like a concept album, but we don’t sit there and go ’OK, this entire album is going to be about one man and his journey,’ but then we’ll come up with stories for each song because that’s how we come up with lyrics,” he said.
Vallarino said that the band members don’t lead interesting lives, so rather than writing about personal experiences they write songs based on weird ideas or crazy dreams like a fat kid being struck by lighting, cyborgs taking over the world, or being a bear fighter. “There’s more thought put into the sound and the vibe of [songs] rather than, ’Let’s get this story across,’” said Witt.
According to Ferrari, Four Stroke Baron started out as the opposite of most bands, landing a record deal first and now focusing on playing more live shows and finally creating social media pages for fans, but the plan is to take the new album on tour next year.