If you ask Dominic Mena from the garage-psych band Strange Lot why he, bandmate Tim Lormor, and their significant others are packing up and moving to Austin, Texas, don’t expect him to serve you a glass of Phoenix haterade in return.
The duo — Mena (guitar, bass, vocals) and Lormor on drums — say they have lots of love for Phoenix and are just ready to make a change. Strange Lot will play their last in-town show for a while on Friday, June 28, at Valley Bar, opening for Los Angeles band Mystic Braves, another group noted for their psychedelic style.
Strange Lot formed in 2014, releasing two records over the last last five years. A third one is on the way, hopefully to be released in time for the show.
Usually, Mena and Lormor tackle recording duties alongside writing and playing all the songs on their albums. For the new record, however, they decided to record with Bob Hoag at area studio Flying Blanket.
“It was our first time recording with someone else,” Mena says. “It was great working with Bob. During the process, he became like an extra band member, and his input is excellent. He has a great ability to see what the best version of a song can be and guiding it there. He’s like the fifth Beatle, and his input was so valuable — it was the best part.”
So, why Austin? Mena and Lormor both happen to be from Texas — El Paso and Dallas, respectively — and they happen to dig both the state and the Austin music scene.
“We have gone to Austin to play at South By Southwest a couple of times and just loved it,” Mena tells us. “Last year, we played 14 shows in seven days, which was crazy but fun.
They’ve also been making connections with Austin bands for some time, he adds. “We have done shows with Austin bands that have come through Phoenix, and they have always been very supportive and have encouraged us to come there and be part of the garage-psych scene.”
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As Strange Lot prep to put Phoenix in their rear view, Mena says that as a band, they are taking a lot of fantastic memories with them. Some of the highlights include getting to open for the Brian Jonestown Massacre at Crescent Ballroom and A Place to Bury Strangers at Valley Bar. Being on the bill down in Tucson with The Jesus and Mary Chain is also something that Mena says was a serious career highlight thus far.
“The Phoenix scene has been gratifying and supportive. We love all of the venues — small to big — and the promoters that have helped us with shows."
It’s not a surprise that Strange Lot were picked to share the stage with such insanely popular acts. The duo, who enlist different bassists to play at live shows, make a blend of swirling psychedelic garage rock that is sometimes poppy and sometimes darker. There’s a combination of depth and polish to their songs that lulls listeners into their twists and grooves and keeps them hooked.
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The band has already started lining up shows in Texas so they can hit the ground rocking, and hope to continue building a following. Though the two are passionate about their music, Mena and Lormor aren’t tethering a lot of expectations to this upcoming trek to Texas.
“We have had some labels reach out,” Mena says. “We’ll listen to what someone has to offer, but we’ve always been okay with doing everything ourselves and being a DIY band.”
Catch ‘em if you can, but if not, no worries — Mena says they’ll definitely be back.