Long Island-based Stray From the Path has been outspoken – infusing their hard-hitting, hardcore music with ideas that both question the Statist Quo and seek to empower the individual.
Couple Stray’s on-point message, and the fact that they spent the past few months on the Van’s Warped Tour, playing the Monster stage and sometimes the main stage, it’s not surprising that their reach is growing.
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There are few bands in the scene that are as polarizing as Stray From The Path. With singles such as “Badge & A Bullet” and “Black Friday” that create dialogue about police brutality and consumerism respectively, there just aren’t as many bands (especially on the Warped Tour) that are aggressive about educating their fans about the social ills that plague our society. After a couple days of trying to make it work, I finally sat down with guitarist Tom Williams to talk about the Warped Tour, their involvement with the organization Cop Block, and more.
Below are a couple questions Denning posed to Williams specifically related to the conversation of police accountability. Click here to read the full interview
Denning: Let’s talk about the Cop Block literature you guys have at your merch table this year. Why this group in particular?
Williams: Because the law enforcement is getting pretty scary and I follow Cop Block pretty closely, and when we put out our video for “Badge & A Bullet”, one of the guys that works for Cop Block, his name is Pete hit me up and said “Saw this video, huge fan, love it. Just wanted to say that we’re watching.” So on this tour, I wanted to do something where we’re handing out some stuff that is spreading some sort of information. So I hit up Cop Block, told them about the tour and they of course know what Warped Tour was, and they were totally into it.
When we posted about them, we got a lot of shit for it, and I knew that was going to happen because that’s just the way America is. I posted something the other day about the gallon smashing thing on Facebook, and some kids were like “Grow up guys, someone has to clean that up!” I’m like “Yo…have a fucking sense of humor!” Everyone sees something, and they think “Why do I hate this?” and they think of a response. So I knew someone was going to say something about Cop Block, like “Who are you going to call when someone robs your house?” and I’d be like “Well, honestly I’d call the cops because I need a police report to get an insurance claim” but I’m not expecting the cops to do fucking anything, because they never do. People have stolen our shit before, and the cops do nothing. We’ve gotten into accidents, and cops do nothing.
Denning: You got hit with a fine one time, right?
Williams: Yeah, we flipped our van and we waited on the side of the road in -10 degree weather and the cop finally shows up two hours later and he writes me a ticket because and I quote “If you flipped your van, you must’ve been speeding.” So the guy wasn’t even there, and he gave me a $400 ticket on the assumption of something. They just generate revenue, they’re not even trying to protect anything.
So that’s my thing with the cops, and then everyone comes out with the “All Cops Are Bastards” thing and then someone comes out with “How could you say that? My uncle’s a cop”, and it’s like look, at the end of the day some people can think all cops are bastards, some people can think “I love cops”, some people can think “I think cops are crooked”, whatever. At the end of the day, what we’re handing out is literature for people to know their rights when they encounter the “bad cops” as people like to call them. That’s all we’re trying to do, we’re always looking for solutions and never talking about the problem, and I feel like that’s a good step towards that.
Denning: Let’s talk the first song on the album, “False Flag”. What is the background behind that song?
Williams: This goes back to the thing about cops – you can have your opinions about whatever you’d like as far as “I think cops are good”, “Cops are bad”, “Cops are the fucking worst”, whatever. The truth is, there are rights that everyone should know, and that’s the way I approach “False Flag”. You can think that Osama Bin Laden attacked America on 9/11, you can think that the government conducted an attack on our own country, or you can not think either of those are correct and you can have some sort of other theory. But the only thing that is true out of everything is that what we’re being told is not the truth and that worries me that the people that who are supposed to be looking out for me, my family and my friends are lying to us. And that goes back years, from JFK to the chemical attacks in Syria. I have my views, and some other people in the band have their views and maybe the only thing that we’re unsure of is that we’re not being told the truth, and that’s terrifying, and that’s kind of what the song’s about, like “Okay, maybe this country ISN’T looking out for our best interests” – that’s where the “Red, White, and Blue won’t look out for you” lyrics stems from.
I love America, I’m an American and I’m from here, and I love this country for what it brings. But there’s also a terrible tyrannist way about it, and it’s scary.
Denning: For those looking to be more informed about what’s going on around them, where should they go?
Williams: When we did the Anonymous campaign, we set up WhereIsOurLiberty.com, and we actually just set it up to where we’re going to have links, blogs, videos, and other stuff people can check out. We’re going to post stuff about our opinions and views, and what people should check out on our page. I think in the next month it’ll come into fruition as far as being more established and having more content. But check out WhereIsOurLiberty.com, Cop Block, there’s a lot. I think if you check out website in the coming months, you’ll find cool shit.
The latest Stray From the Path album, Anonymous:
Come winter, Williams says he and the Stray crew will start to dig into a new album. When asked where it will go lyrically, he noted:
Way more extreme…to the point where – I mean, I still have a lot of topics that I spoke about in this interview, as far as my views on situations that have happened in this country in the last 15 years. The educational system, the financial system…I’m trying to find a way to do it tastefully, but I feel like a lot more of the backlash stuff is ready to come – seeing as how the Cop Block stuff went, I’m not scared to release this album, but I’m definitely interested to see what people think of what we’re going to be saying next.
Much love out our friends at Stray From the Path for choosing to use their time and talent to start conversations and spread ideas thought sound.