MaineList Article: Strict9


Strict9 IntroductionTonight I enjoyed rocking out to my good friends; “Strict9” as they rocked for a cure at the “Cure 4 Cancer Concert” at “Thatcher's” in South Portland. A benefit show for a terrific cause in which the band took great pleasure in performing.

I've known these guys for a long time and have seen them perform many times. In my own personal opinion I would have to say that they are definitely the best cover band the state of Maine has to offer. They have always had a big following and do a great job at filling a club with party people who are ready for a good time. Strict9 has played clubs all across Maine, including; Rumford, Biddeford, Portland, Lewiston, Auburn, and appear frequently in Old Orchard Beach every summer.

SteveStrict9 consists of five guys with decades of experience between them. I'll start by introducing and telling a little about each of the members now, starting with “Steve Hill”.

Steve is the rhythm / lead guitarist of the band offering back-up vocals as well as the occasional tune or two where he sings as lead. Steve's dad played in a country / western band when he was a kid. At age three, Steve remembers having his interest sparked while watching his dad play and learned how to play by watching him.

Other then his dad some of Steve’s biggest musical influences were; “Journey”, “Aerosmith”, “Metallica”, “Joe Satriani”, “Steve Vai”, and “Michael Lee Firkins”. His professional music career started when he played for two years in a band while in the Navy. He began playing in bands in Maine in 1985. He played in “Ledfoot” for about 10 years where he sang some lead vocals and played lead guitar, and he has played in Strict9 for 7 years now.

Steve said that the band did this benefit gig because of the cause, and that they usually do 2-3 benefits a year. Steve is a pretty quiet, easy-going, guy that seems a bit humble, but when you put a well tuned guitar in his hands be prepared to be put into awe as he makes that guitar sing like almost no one can.

PeppeNext we'll move on to Brian “Peppe” who plays also plays lead / rhythm guitar for the band, singing back-ups with the occasional lead vocals.

Peppe began by telling me that he has played music for nearly twenty-five years. He began in middle school by playing the stand-up bass, and then moved on to drums, and then guitar respectively. He stuck with guitar, I'm sure because let's face it, what woman doesn't like a guitar player? And one that is really cute, as he often likes to tell the crowd over the microphone.

Peppe's band experience include the bands; “Blast 4 Me”, “Krumpus”, “Black Rain”, and now “Strict9”.

Other members of his family that are also musically inclined are his brother who plays the piano, as well as both parents who play multiple instruments.

Peppe (continued)Peppe likes music of all types, especially the stuff that you don't hear everyday. He has a cool sense of humor and likes to display that in his taste of music sometimes as well, but says that almost anything metal is what he likes to listen to most of the time.

I believe that it is the diversity in his like of music that pushes him to play his guitar like it is a part of him. Almost like the first thing that he ever laid his hands upon was a “Fender” or an “Ibanez”.

Oh yeah! He's really cute. Especially if you have been drinking. The more you drink, the cuter he gets! : )

KurtIf anyone reading this knows anything about Strict9, then you'll know that they have had their share of bassists. Starting with “Steve Church”, and then moving on to “Jason Work”, “Tony Croteau”, “Marc Deraps”, and now “Kurt Keller”.

Kurt is a great bassist and is also what I believe to be the last one that the band will ever need. He comes to the band with 19 years of experience and a five string bass, something that you don't see everyday. : )

Kurt grew up in Vermont and moved to Old Orchard Beach in 1993 when his band at the time, “Riot Act”, was hired to play the summer there. Kurt played with those guys for about six and a half years until he moved on to “Prana” which was a mean three piece where he played for the next 6 years.

The 2008 season has just started for Strict9 and Kurt has only played a couple of shows with them so far, but everyone in the band thinks that he is a perfect fit and he plays like he has been with them forever. Kurt called the guys up when they were on the lookout for a new bassist and said that he actually considered quitting music for a while if he didn't get this gig.

Kurt (continued)His musical influences while growing up were, “Geddy Lee” from “Rush”, “Scott Bannevich” of the “Edwin McCain Band”, “Eddie Jackson” from “Queensryche”, and “Duff McKagan” of “Guns N’ Roses”.

He lived in Nashville and loved the bass players there and also loves bluegrass and country and highly recommends taking the time to find some music by the band “Iron Horse”. I recommend them too, they do great cover versions of “Ozzy” and “Metallica”!

In his spare time he likes to build and ride motorcycles and owns three mint-condition 70's Era Japanese bikes and a '66 Mustang that he has owned for twenty years. Rock on Kurt!!

His closest claim to fame is that he has worked and recorded with “Perry Richardson” of “Firehouse”, and “Frank Hannon” of “Tesla”. He also went to high school with “Dan Tyminski”, who you may not be able to recognize by name but sang all of the lead vocals for “George Clooney” in the movie “Brother Where Art Thou”. It sounds as though Kurt has been to many great places, has had great influences, and along with Strict9, will hopefully continue to go great places and do great things!

LukeNo band is complete without a drummer and the one that this band has is certainly not your ordinary run of the mill boxed drummer. “Lucas Michaud”, or "Luke" as he prefers, is the best because he takes the time to make sure that everything is set up, tuned, and sounds perfect. Quite simply because Strict9 doesn't do it any other way. Perfect or they don't play, the whole band told me this one member at a time at different points of my interview. So being part of the band is that you have to adhere to the STRICT rules of Strict9. Makes sense. I guess that's why the people keep coming back for more.

Luke (continued)That being said, Luke began playing the drums when he was thirteen years old. In high school he was the drum section lead during half-time at his high school football games. He studied with “Dick Demers” for eight years and his greatest influences were mostly metal bands, especially “Rush”.

Musical family members that influenced him also were his cousin “Paul Michaud”. He had a drum kit and sheet music set up in his basement and Luke felt drawn to them.

Luke was twenty-four years old when he played in his first rock band; called “Meanstreak”. Next, he played in a band called “Lix”, and then moved on to “Rated R”, “Ledfoot” and then finally “Strict9”. After playing in Ledfoot, Luke took an eight year hiatus and was kind of given a push by his friend “Denis Bolard” to come back into music to play in Strict9 with “Steve Church”, who is currently playing bass for “Dead Season”.

Luke is kind of a shy, quiet guy until you get to know him. Even then, he is still laid back and easy-going. He says that this is due to the fact that he takes out his aggressions of the week on the skins. It sure does seem like a great way to release stress, maybe everyone should own a kit! ; )

GaryNow I have talked about everyone in the band except for one person. There is no specific reason that I saved him for last, good or bad. He is the only person in the band that doesn't have equipment to set up. He simply walks into the room with a back-pack and he's ready to go. He doesn't have to tune up or do much of a sound check other than his amp. He jumps on stage, plugs in his microphone, looks pretty, and when the music starts is when he hopes that his "instrument" is ready to play along.

I'm talking about the lead-singer, or as he sometimes says, the lead tongue. He would have to be the most important member of the band, although everyone is important, otherwise you wouldn't have a band. I guess that I am being impartial because without him I wouldn't know the band. I have known him the longest of everyone that I just spoke of. He has been my best-friend for almost twenty years and that is what has given me such pleasure in writing this article.

I am of coarse talking about Mr. Strict9 himself, who some know as “Gary Strict9”, a few as “Gary Grenier”, but most as just “Gary”.

Gary (continued)Whatever you call him, just don't call him a non-music lover. Gary has always had a great love for music and has always wanted to be part of "the band" but never knew what instrument he would learn. Gary liked to sing but didn't know if he could do it well enough for a band. One day an opportunity arose for him to sing, and he took it, and off and running he went!

Garys' musical influences are varied. He loves music of all types and genres. While growing up it was “Iron Maiden”, “Rush”, and “Queensryche”. Then “Metallica”, “Pantera”, and “Megadeth”. Now it is more to the tune of “Disturbed”, “Linkin Park”, and “Godsmack”. Whatever the music, it has Gary written all over it.

A very big family influence was Garys' cousin “Steve Grenier”, lead guitar of the “LA Harley Band”, as well as “Jim Gahagan” of “Negative Draft”, also a cousin.

Gary (continued2)Gary's professional career began in 1995 with the “Chewies”. He then took part in “Tuff Luck”, “High Mileage”, “Second Shift”, “Ledfoot”, and finally “Strict9”.

All of the guys with the exception of Kurt said that Strict9 is the band that they have all stuck with the longest. Steve, Luke, and Gary were all members of the band Ledfoot at one time of their careers but not simultaneously.

Gary takes pride in the fact that Strict9 has always been big supporters of “Civil Disturbance” and “Kaining Amy”. As a matter of fact it was during the opening of a Strict9 show at the “Old Port Tavern” that “Kaining Amy” got their start because the guys let them play a couple of tunes!

But the one proudest moment in Gary’s Strict9 career was this one. “During our first show at Toucan Lounge, way back at the beginning of it all, we were a few songs into our set, when a woman came up to the stage, slammed her hand down on it, and said, “THIS is what this area needs!” Obviously, she was tired of all the recycled bands that played the same songs for thirty years. We'd planned on making a difference, and that statement right there validated our choices.”

Testimonies: KateThe band always brings out the crowd. In the summer it seems as though a specific group of people follow them and it falls off a bit in the fall / winter seasons as they tend to only go to shows that are close to home for them.

So you only see some of the people some of the time. But as soon as summer hits again the crowd comes back out to party along with them.

I spoke with “Lee Boynton” who said, “I began following the band about 6 years ago and I am always into their music no matter what the crowd is.”

“Kate Nicholson” said that the reason that she follows Strict9 is; “because they are a great bunch of guys and I enjoy their music.”

Testimonies: KrisI also happened to get the chance to speak with “Civil Disturbance” guitarist “Kris Beaudoin” who said that coincidentally enough he learned how to play guitar by watching Steve of Strict9 since he had been five years old. When I asked him about his musical abilities Kris said; “I have come a long way band wise but not nearly as far as a musician.”

When asked about Strict9 Kris said; “The band sounds good because they play the songs other people write and make them their own.”

Not to be forgotten is “John Hess” who began doing sound professionally and runs sound for about 90% of the shows that the guys do. John did the same for “Dead Season” for a while, but likes working with Strict9. “They know their equipment, and it is easier to get the right sound.” John also plays bass and has played with Peppe, Steve and Gary in different bands.

Toward the end of the night I did get the opportunity to speak with former bassist, “Marc Deraps” who happened to be there showing his own support. Marc currently plays with a new band called “Mudshuga” and was more than happy to speak with me.

“Of the five years that I have played music professionally, the best time that I had was with Strict9. I had a great time with them and even though I am no longer with the band, I wouldn't change a thing.” Marc explained.

Testimonies: BillyThe very last person that I spoke with for the night was “Billy McDaniel” from our very own “MaineList”. Upon talking to Billy, he told me of a conversation that he had with Gary earlier in the night. Billy mentioned that he had asked Gary what venues he likes to play and Gary remarked that he would like to start playing in and around Portland again, saying he really missed those shows.

Billy then went on to tell me; “I have to agree with Gary's statement about playing in places like the “Old Port Tavern”. They used to put on some really good shows with good bands like, “Funnel”, “Strict9”, and “David's Playground”, to name a few. I especially miss that place, and wish they’d change their format back to live music rather than DJs.”

In Closing

I guess that this just about wraps things up. Even though this has only been my second article with MaineList, I really had fun with this one and I hope that you had fun reading it. If you haven't had the chance to check out a Strict9 show, you definitely have to make the time.

If you like current rock / alternative and really like to party, you're going to love Strict9, I guarantee it. You can check out their myspace page anytime to get a current schedule of places that they are going to party or find their listings at MaineList in the Entertainment Menu. If you want to keep informed of upcoming shows and band related news, be sure to head over to their website and request to be on their mailing list!

Thanks again and rock on!


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