Candy From Strangers
by Ginger Coyote

I recently had a chance to chat with Pauli Gray about his band Candy From Strangers. Pauli and Vocalist Ruby Jordon, have been long time musical collaborators which show's with the bands success. I first met Pauli when he worked at Planet X and was immediately drawn to his outgoing and friendly personality.  I hope you enjoy this Interview.

1. Tell The Readers About The Band and The Members?

We’re a rock n’roll band. We definitely still have a punk feel and some of it has some pop influences but it’s a fucking rock band. The band is fronted by Ruby Jordan and has double guitar, some keys, bass and drums. There are three women in the band: Ruby, Gina May Montel on drums and Paula Sutor on keys, bass and vocals.

The guitar players are Pauli Gray who also sings a bit and Jamie Muntner. The guitar sound is sonic, gritty and Big-double Les Pauls and old Marshalls. Ruby has a soaring voice. She is tough and sexy and tears it up. She plays bass on a few songs. She used to be the full time bass player but is now more of a front person. Gina is a great drummer. Paula is a perfect compliment to the others. The key parts are kind of simple and electronic. She does really interesting harmonies and plays bass on a lot of the tunes. Ummmm…we don’t wear white belts.

2. Your Music Has Been Compared to Cheap Trick Meets Iggy Pop. Care to Elaborate?

We’re kind of hard to earmark. That has been a bit of a problem but we hope it turns into a positive thing. Other people have said a gritty version of Garbage, X, early Pretenders, shit, I dunno…It’s heavier than that live. There’s even a touch of psychobilly in a couple of brand new tunes. To directly answer the question after digressing (no.. never!): Iggy would represent our rock/punk roots and Cheap Trick our pop and hook edges. Several tunes have to do with sex (funny that). It’s female fronted rock that tells stories a lot of the time.

3. Do You All Write The Music As A Collective Or Is There Certain Members Who Write the Songs?

Either Pauli or Ruby and Pauli together write the songs. Paula has been pitching in a bit lately too. The other band members help with arrangements.

4. Who Are Your Influences?

Ruby and I are the longtime band members. Between us we have played a lot of music and done a lot of life. We love the Clash. She still loves them the most. We’re also crazy about PJ Harvey, Zep, Ramones, Patty Smith, Keith Richards, Queens of the Stone Age, White Stripes, Kinks, grunge (Alice in Chains, Nirvana) to name a few. I’m also a fan of real country music (NOT new country) and Dylan.

5. Has The Band Toured?  If So Where Have You Played?

We’ve done some touring. We actually do well on the east coast. We’ll be going for our 4th east coast tour in the fall. We do really well in NYC and Atlanta. We’re going up to Oregon in July for a few gigs, including a Warped tour show. It will be our second trip up there in a few months. We’ve done some LA shows and are headed back down there sometime fairly soon.  

6. How Is The Scene In SF? What is Your Favorite Club To Play?

The San Francisco rock scene is steadily improving.  There are always a lot of nitch scenes and there is a huge amount of talent. Electronic music really took over around the dot-com era and it seems the backlash has taken hold. People are going out for live music more again. There are cool, high-end clubs with great sound systems like Bottom of the Hill and DuNord but Thee Parkside is probably the most fun for us.  It’s the kind of place you want to hang out in all night.

7. You Recently Played An AIDS Benefit At Thee Parkside. How Did It Go and Who Else Played?

It went great. It was a rainy Wednesday night and we made $1,500 at 6 bucks a head. The other bands were the Underthings, Bluebeard, Jenny Kerr band, Wilson Gill and the Willful Sinners, Mix Tape, Los Nadies, Kim Lembo, Newman, and Jen Schwartz. I actually work in the fight against AIDS. Ruby and I are both deeply committed to that cause. We do an annual AIDS benefit, this was our 5th or 6th one.

It’s hard to get musicians to show up and do a weekly volunteer thing, some of us can hardly find our way home. However, a lot of us are willing to work hard at a yearly benefit. We’ve also done a Needle Exchange benefit and are getting ready to do a second one of those. It’s a great thing to put something like this together.  

8. Tell Me About Your Favorite Show You Have Played?

I dunno. We’ve had a few lineups over the years and a lot of fave shows. We got added as a late act for a Halloween Vampire Party and did it for the hell of it. It was a great show. Sometimes it goes like that when you least expect it.

****Here is a pic someone in the audience took:  

9. Has Candy From Strangers released any Recordings? If So, What Label?

We have two self released CD’s called ‘Quickie” and “Horizon”. We have a new one coming out in late June called “Cat Butt Tattoo”. It’s a six-song preview of a full length one that we’re working on. We’re hoping to have that done in the fall.

10. What Does The Future Hold For The Band

We’re going to shop our new CD to labels. Tours and shows have been going really well. We’re excited about where it’s going. I really feel that a great song is a great song and that stands alone. We want to do that-have the song always come first. At the same time we are not going to be wimpy about it. It has to have grit and it has to kick some ass. I’m sick of whiny songs, no matter who is doing it. Fuck that.

So…we’re going to try and keep playing and writing good songs, playing good shows, being true to what we love to do.

11. Any Final Comments

You only get one life: Sex and drugs and rock n’ roll-only we’ve kind of been there/done that with the drug thing and lived through it. So now it’s and sex and rock n’roll (although it’s music in general-we even have a twisted little country tune on the new CD). We’ll see what happens. You do what you love as much as you can.
Did I mention we don’t wear white belts?



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