Stacking The Deck with Strange Neighbors

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack. 

NYC-based indie power pop foursome Strange Neighbors are through waiting.

During the pandemic they exercised restraint, debating the appropriateness of releasing music during such a tumultuous time, but having recently released a new single, titled “Window Watching,” they’re officially ready to be back in everyone’s ears.

“We were really excited about ‘Window Watching,’” Strange Neighbors frontwoman Aidan says, “and now I think we’re pretty impatient to get the rest of these songs out.”

Some of those songs will be heard on their upcoming EP, Party of None, which is due out later this year. The band – which consists of Tracey (drums), Aidan (vocals), Dana (bass, and co-captain of the Diamond District Gotham Roller Derby team!), and Zach (guitar) (photo: L to R) – will also have a song featured in an upcoming movie about the life of Gin Blossoms co-founder Doug Hopkins, who was Dana’s uncle.

Aidan, for one, is anxious for people to hear the new music. “I want it out there,” she says, “It doesn’t have to be perfect … Before I even formed the band, and I was doing solo stuff while trying to get a band together, I was like alright, this recording, I love it, but it’s not perfect, and there’s stuff that pisses me off, but if I don’t put it out I’m never gonna put shit out.”

I caught up with Strange Neighbors before their recent show at Bowery Electric, and when we opened up some packs of MusiCards the artists we found sparked conversations about musical influences, the importance of having just the right amount of flash, and a missed connection with Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzeznik.


Goo Goo Dolls 
Aidan, you were really excited when the Goo Goo Dolls card was pulled, so let’s start by talking about them, and your adventure walking through Los Angeles. 

Aidan: I’m a big fan of the Goo Goo Dolls, and I always have been. I also saw them live once when I was really young, like underage, and it was amazing.

One time, my brother was living in L.A., and we went to this really fancy restaurant called PUMP, which was on this reality TV show (Vanderpump Rules), and I was like I just want to go there because all these reality TV people go there. So we went, and the food was pretty good, but it was very ritzy. After we left we were like oh my God, we know that guy, and it was John Rzeznik. My brother was like, “Yeah, he lives around here with his daughter, or something.” So I was like oh fuck, I don’t know what to do. He did not seem like he wanted to be talked to, so we literally followed him, lagging maybe half a block behind him, until we realized he was walking in circles to shake us.

He was trying to get rid of you? 

Aidan: It seemed that way, yeah, but we kept going for a good while.

You know that feeling after you see a celebrity, and you’re like I could’ve said THIS, and I could’ve done THAT? I felt that way. I did not feel cool about it. I think I did the absolute worst thing I could’ve done by just stalking him around L.A.

Well, you didn’t take a photo of him, so it could’ve been worse. 

Aidan: I don’t think I took a photo of the back of his head.

Dana: Did you guys point a lot?

Aidan: No, I was really careful not to point. I was just trying to get a look at his face whenever he would kind of turn, and I was like oooh, he walks that way!

I was just awestruck because it was someone I actually cared about.

Now it’s many years later, you’ve had plenty of time to think about it – what would you have said? 

Aidan: Oh my God, I definitely would’ve tried to strike up a conversation with his daughter instead. She’s probably way cooler. The kids of rock stars are usually way cooler. They don’t get the attention if they’re not famous.

Dana: Eeeeeh, Chet Hanks.

Aidan: Was he cool?

Dana: No. There’s Colin Hanks, and Chet Hanks, and they’re two totally different people.

And it’s kinda like, how are they even related? 

Dana: Remember The Osbournes reality show? One of the kids was like, I don’t want to be part of this family.

Aidan: Yeah, there’s a whole other Osbourne.

Before we move on, Dana, I believe you have something you want to add about Goo Goo Dolls. 

Dana: Yeah, my mom loved the Goo Goo Dolls, and I didn’t really love them until later. I didn’t go to a lot of Goo Goo Dolls concerts, but I did go to one. I grew up in Arizona, and they came in the summer, it was July, it was like 120 degrees, it was an outside concert, it was so fucking hot, but my mom was like, “We have to go, it’s Goo Goo Dolls, and Counting Crows.” It was really fun.

Peak ‘90s pop-rock. 

Aidan: And the Goo Goo Dolls showed me that you can write a song about something like abortion, and it can totally make Top 40 radio as long as nobody knows what it’s about.

Dana: It’s like Third Eye Blind.

Aidan: It’s perfect.


Led Zeppelin

Tracey: I grew up listening to classic rock and oldies, so I remember the first time I ever heard Led Zeppelin. My dad was doing stuff around the house, and he was always listening to old tunes on AM radio, and “D’yer Mak’er” came on, and I just remember hearing that intro drum fill, and I was hooked. I’m like, I’m in love, I’m gonna play the drums.

I started playing guitar when I was 7, and playing the drums when I was 12. From then on out it was a love affair.

Talk about an introduction to the drums! 

Tracey: Dave Grohl was also an influence. I kind of mirror him in a way. He’s super passionate, and self-taught, and I use the same approach.

Dana: We gotta get you a gong!

Zach: To add to the Led Zeppelin story, I bought a copy of Led Zeppelin at garage sale. I had a record player, but I had it on 45 instead of 33, and didn’t realize it. I was like whoa, that guy’s got a high voice, man!

So can we expect some drum solos tonight? 

Tracey: Nope. I’m not a flashy drummer. I play for the song.

My bandmates will tell you I’m a shy person. I’m generally quiet. I let my drumming do the talking.

Zach: Tracey’s a Ringo, in a good way.

The Beatles needed Ringo. 

Tracey: I love Charlie Watts, too, his jazz influence. I really loved him.


Tom Petty

Zach: I like Tom Petty a lot. I think he’s a great songwriter, and I think he’s a good bridge between a bunch of different genres.

My parents are of that time, so they listened to a lot of Tom Petty in the house. He’s a good bridge between the ’60 British Invasion, and also kind of New Wave, and also kind of Americana

I saw him in concert, it was great. I think it was during a summer break from college, he played at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, in Saratoga Springs, NY. Some friends and I went camping, and saw Tom Petty.

And The Heartbreakers are such an underrated band. Mike Campbell is a great guitarist. Nobody ever talks about him.

Tracey: Their drummer’s great, too. He plays for the song.

Zach: Oh yeah, Stan Lynch, he’s great.

All those guys in that band are super talented, and they’re able to play their parts without getting in the way, and it just makes the songs so good.

You mentioned he’s a bridge. Was he a bridge to anything for you? 

Zach: That’s an interesting question. Not really.

When I was growing up I was a big Beatles kid, so I didn’t really go backwards from Tom Petty, but I think I probably got into Tom Petty because of the Traveling Wilburys. George Harrison was one of my idols. He’s one of those people who, kinda like Tracey was saying, like a Charlie Watts, or a Ringo, he’s not flashy at all, he plays to the song and what it needs to be, and obviously he was pals with Tom Petty, so I probably found that stuff from there.

It’s interesting both  you and Tracey mentioned less flashy, but very effective, and very good musicians. 

Tracey: It’s the perfect recipe, in my opinion.

Aidan: Tracey is the main ingredient!

So Aidan, you’re the flash? 

Aidan: I love flash! I love ‘80s hair metal because everything is flash. I just think it’s fun as fuck. It feels so queer in the best way, and just free.

I like flash. I don’t know, flash me.

Dana: You’ve flashed a couple people.

Aidan: I have flashed on stage from time to time. I flashed you (Dana) yesterday.

Zach: I think that’s really a good point to bring up about flash. You can’t have too many people flashing. I’ve been in bands where everybody’s trying to flash, and then there’s just too much flash going on.

Aidan: But you’re good, because sometimes I’m not in a super flashy mood when I’m on stage. It always comes out a little bit, but I feel like the band members will pick up the flash slack.

If they sense the flash isn’t happening? 

Aidan: Yeah. There have been times where I’m like, “Guys, I’m fucking exhausted today. Give me a little up there.”

Tracey: And I’m not completely dead on stage. I play to the song, but I’m also very animated. I get into it. I thrash around. I’m super into playing. I’m not a robot.

Aidan: It would be jarring if you literally flashed behind the set.

You should drum with your tits!

Zach: I am a robot.

No, I interact.

Dana: We get some coordinated jumps sometimes. Usually half a beat off, but it still looks good.

As long as it’s coordinated! Aidan, let’s get back to hair metal for a minute. You said it’s an influence. 

Aidan: I just love it. I’ve always loved it when ‘80s rock ballads …

Monster ballads. 

Aidan: Yeah, absolutely. It does something to my heart. I just want to be there.

I always used to think that if I was 20 in the height of the ‘80s I’d probably be a very important groupie. I’d be like Kate Hudson in Almost Famous. I’d be a band aid. A groupie, but minus the sex with everyone.

I’d have sex with Lita Ford, but not with the dudes from Foreigner. I just wouldn’t.

What if Foreigner reads this? 

Aidan: Then they can work for it. {laughs} 

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