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Stray Shadows’ Cinematic Songwriting

By Pete Barell

Local band Stray Shadows will be playing two shows as part of Gorilla Music’s Jingle Bell Rock Festival. The band, which includes junior film major Mike Themistocleos on guitar and vocals, is to appear on the evening of Friday, Dec. 19 at The Nail in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, followed by a show on Sunday, Dec. 20 , at Revolution Bar and Music Hall in Amityville, N.Y.

Photo: Anthony Castaldi
Photo: Anthony Castaldi

“We play indie garage rock kind of like the early 2000’s Strokes and Arctic Monkeys era when [that genre] was coming back,” said Themistocleos. The band has been playing together for a year and a half but have only been playing shows for a few months. Other members include Joe Oliveto on guitar and Dan DeLucia on bass, both of them contributing backing vocals.

According to Themistocleos, the band has recorded demos but are waiting to record full tracks until they acquire a permanent drummer, who they are actively seeking. “I would like to take [the band] as far as possible,” continued Themistocleos. “Of course, it’s just fun playing shows and writing music. This summer I want to see if we can get together a two week tour or something.”

Stray Shadows found its origins when Themistocleos’ punk band in high school stopped playing together. “A good friend of mine who I used to swim with picked up the guitar and used to always say we should start a band one day,” he explained. That band eventually became a reality, at first playing covers of favorite bands, but quickly writing original material.

Photo by Anthony Castaldi
Photo by Anthony Castaldi

Themistocleous is the primary lyricist for the band. “I’m a very anxious person, so anxiety works into the writing,” he said of his lyrical topics. “Women, too. The same stuff you tend to see. Either striking out with women or just in general.” Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys is a key influence to the Stray Shadows lead man, as well as David Bowie. Originally a poetry writer, Themistocleous also find interest in the poems of Libertines singer Pete Doherty.

Being a student of film at LIU Post, Themistocleous has informed his music writing with that perspective. “I can be writing something on guitar and think that it would work perfect in a film,” he explained. “One of our songs we mention Alvie Singer, the main character of ‘Annie Hall’.

There’s always those name drops and references to scenes in our songs. I think in a way [film and music] are separate but you can listen to a song and in the second verse think about how it may tie in to a scene from ‘Lost in Translation’ for example.”

Stray Shadows and ticketing information can be found at their Facebook page, Themistocleous stressed the importance of supporting local bands, and why someone should attend a concert for band like his. “The most important reason [to come to these events] is that it’s good to support local bands. We’re definitely not as great as we can be yet, we’ve only played a few shows, but we’ve run into some great support. It would be very fun, it’s a holiday show so we have quote unquote holiday surprises, and there will be other bands there as well. A fun day out.”

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