After over 20 years as a fixture in the compact and complex music scene of quaint Ithaca, New York, AJ Strauss of The Sutras and countless other musical endeavors packs up and moves to Brooklyn. Walter the Fish wants to know more.
WTF: After many, many years in Ithaca, you are moving to Brooklyn. Why the move now? Will the whole band now be based in Brooklyn?
AJ: The reasons are all boring. I’m getting old, and the lure of the fantasy world that is Ithaca had its hold on me. I was disgustingly comfortable, unchallenged artistically by anything around, all hippy smiles—and BAM 15 years had passed in the wink of an eye, especially when you’ve been sitting on your ass. Half of the band is in Brooklyn, particularly my main editor and guitarist Kevin Denton. There’s also entirely too much weed per capita back there as well. Once my 20 year old cat died, I felt a little freed up to go.
WTF: Who are the current members of The Sutras?
AJ: Well, there’s me, Jeremy Allen on drums, Mandy Gurung on vocals with me, Kevin on guitar and synth,and Mike Smith on bass. (Did you know there are so many Mike Smiths in the world they have their own society and conventions?)
WTF: Any plans for a new record?
AJ: Well, I’m constipated with two different records already written. One is classic rock, the other disco. My microphones began to grate on me at my old studio, and you can’t buy a Neumann when you need a new roof, car, etc. I ran out of time upstate, because of my sluggish ways. There will be an EP released in January that’s so disparate, it sounds like a resume instead of a record, but…. Screw it!
WTF: What, if anything, will be your day job after the move?
AJ: Day job? Ha. My goal is to never have one. I’ll just be a music whore, my favorite job. Not a male prostitute who plays music, a musician who un-discerningly takes any job. Teaching, playing wedding bands, jazz combos, cocktail piano, anything for the moment… and my new gig writing promo material for HBO and MetLife, which can be done virtually from the comfort of my couch. George Takei posted a good one—“If you haven’t grown up by fifty, you don’t have to.”
WTF: What other musical projects will you be involved with once you are settled in Brooklyn? What projects have you had to abandon to accommodate the move?
AJ: I’ve stacked up enough connections to be working regularly, although the weirder the project, the better. I’m pushing to be my Oscar winning conductor friend’s score-boy, but that job doesn’t really exist. I had to abandon my 20 students, 4 bands, my standing 4 night a week jazz gig (my fave-I played over 1,100 gigs for those guys!), and my ongoing squirrel wars.
WTF: What excites you about living in the city?
AJ: Learning a new mode of living that involves people instead of solitude. I’m a bit of a reclusive hick, I’ve learned.This pace is faster, the folks are fascinating, the stories, the history (super nerd for that stuff), it’s like living in a huge spaceship filled with joy, pain, and culture, and every band I love seems to be playing every night. I’ll soon be a foodie.
WTF: What will you miss about magical Ithaca?
AJ: Lesbians and waterfalls.