“We never tried to get signed,” says Luke Esterkyn, frontman for up-and-coming San Francisco foursome Stroke 9. “We’ve just stuck together and persevered and kind of let things happen. It’s been very organic.”
Stroke 9 - the name is borrowed from T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” - originally formed while its members were high-school classmates. That longstanding rapport is evident on the band’s major-label debut (on Cherry/Universal) Nasty Little Thoughts, whose infectious, radio-friendly songs combine punchy aggression with pop craftsmanship.
Singer/guitarist Esterkyn, guitarist John McDermott and bassist Greg Gueldner actually formed the band as a senior class project while attending high school in California’s Marin County, recording a six-song demo as the equivalent of an aural term paper. Drummer Eric Stock completed the lineup two years ago.
After releasing two CDs, Boy Meets Girl and Bumper to Bumper on their own, the industrious combo took the bold step of booking its own two-month tour of North America. Traveling in a converted ambulance, they alternated low-paying club gigs with impromptu appearances in local malls, selling their CDs by inducing teen shoppers to check out the merchandise on the band’s Discman. The band later got a career boost when it was chosen to appear on-screen in Ron Howard’s EdTV.
Nasty Little Thoughts - which teams the band with a pair of respected producers, Jerry Harrison and Rupert Hine - has been well-received thus far, with many observers tipping Stroke 9 for major success.
“It could be the start of something great,” observes bassist Gueldner. “Or we could be sitting back someday saying ‘Remember when we got on the radio?’ “