The karma bums
The High Strung have battled all the way to Guantanamo Bay, through libraries, dives and homes of crazed Southern wives. It's finally paying off.
Published: February 16, 2011
The band is now off tour for the winter, preparing to go into the studio to record, ?Posible o Imposible?, the group's sixth album. Still, with day jobs proving elusive in Michigan, the guys are visibly itching to get back on the road. The High Strung might well be the hardest-working band in America, and that's some bold claim. They've not had a "regular life" for years, instead playing every dive bar in the land and sometimes, bizarrely, every library. In fact, in three years' time, the High Strung have played 700 of the 14,000 libraries in the United States, and they ain't showing signs of slowing down. There's nowhere that this band won't play.
In music though, justice is elusive. Hard work rarely rewards, and for 10 years the High Strung have been destined for respectable obscurity. That is until somebody at the new William H. Macy Showtime series Shameless heard them and made their song "The Luck You Got" the show's theme song.
"I was at the grocery store," Berk says. "My phone was ringing and it was a California call. I was worried, first of all that it was creditors."
Instead, it was the folks in charge of placing High Strung songs in films and TV. They needed to talk about some high-profile show.
Stocker looks up and grins. "I love the show. It makes me feel justified in how fucked up my life is."
It's true that the guys of High Strung appear to have everything together. That's saying something. See, they've lived hand-to-mouth and in near-poverty to bring their rock 'n' roll to the kids, their lives are very simple.
"I think a lot of musicians struggle with the road and with keeping it together when they have two lives — a life at home and a life away," Berk says. "We were forgoing the life at home. We ditched out of apartments. We went on tour and didn't get off tour for years. We didn't have anything else going on. A lot of people have a hard time when they're at home a lot, or they're taking time off work to go on tour instead of just living the band."
Stocker smiles, his relatively young age belying the years of on-the-road experience that have settled in and around his eyes. "It helps if you're never around anything or anyone besides the band."
The High Strung play Blowout 14 on Thursday, March 3, at Gates of Columbus Hall, 9632 Conant St., Hamtramck; 313-871-8888.
High Strung pick their 10 best albums ever:
Double Nickels on the Dime
Andrew Lloyd Webber with Tim Rice
Jesus Christ Superstar
Guided by Voices
(Touch and Go, 1996)
That Ni**er's Crazy
Another Green World
The Grateful Dead
(Warner Bros., 1970)
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