The Stray Hand stays on track

Knoxville hardcore band The Stray Hand is, from left, Michael Pfeiffer on vocals, Todd Eder on guitar, Ian Miller on drums and Josh McCulley on bass.

Knoxville hardcore band The Stray Hand is, from left, Michael Pfeiffer on vocals, Todd Eder on guitar, Ian Miller on drums and Josh McCulley on bass.

— Many former participants assert that Knoxville's once-thriving all-ages, metal/hardcore scene has diminished in popularity due to an inconsistency of venues and fans maturing in musical taste upon high school graduation. But there's a resurgence of hardcore bands that hope to return the interest level in this scene to its former heights.

One such band is The Stray Hand, a young hardcore outfit that has managed to perform vigorously — despite the decline of welcoming venues — by taking its show on the road early and often.

The Stray Hand, named for retired New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, has only been playing for nine months but has already put out an EP and played a number of out-of-town gigs, including Chattanooga's Southeast Hardcore festival. The band now prepares to embark on its second tour in support of its upcoming release.

"We finally had a solid lineup in December of last year," says bassist Josh McCulley. "We are all like brothers and would do anything for each other. For us being a band only 9 months, we have recorded an EP and been on a nine-day tour through the Southeast. We do as much as we can do and afford. A lot of bands have help from parents giving them money or buying them things. Everything we have we have worked hard for. We like the phrase, 'Working hard or hardly working?'"

"Live shows for us are always fun," adds guitarist Todd Eder. "We don't care if we play in front of two people or 200. We always play to the fullest. I love to see people tackling Mike (Pfeiffer) to grab the microphone and scream our lyrics. Watching people hardcore dance is fun. We encourage people to get in and have fun but be respectful of people dancing or people standing around."

While the young band is still cementing its sound, the group is developing quickly under the guidance of fellow local act Fingers Crossed. This week The Stray Hand will unveil its latest material by way of a split cassette tape, which will combine three new tracks with three tracks from pop-punk band Chokeslam!

The Stray Hand selected the cassette format for cost-efficiency and points out that the release will also be made available digitally through www.bigcartel.com/thestrayhand.

"The guys in Chokeslam! are some of our best friends," says McCulley. "They are one of the bands in Knoxville that will play any show no matter what genre is playing. We also share the same interest in music. On the new split tape they wrote a hardcore song. For a band that plays pop-punk, they know how to write a good hardcore song. The lyrics their vocalist writes are really deep and real. They have a song called 'Change' about how this scene has declined, and it seems like music is a race for who can be the best. We support our local music as much as we can no matter what the genre is. Both of our bands see eye to eye on this music scene and want to see it grow."

In its short time as a band, The Stray Hand has established a network within the regional metal/hardcore community. The group hopes to continue building its brand in the Southeast with frequent tours, the next of which kicks off locally this week.

"Our upcoming tour is just a few days for us to get out of town and do a few regional shows to get our name out to the surrounding cities," Pfeiffer expounds. "We intend to tour as much as we can in the future. We all have jobs and a couple of us are still in school, but tour is like vacation for us — doing what we love to do and hanging out with your best friends at the same time.

nEstrogenius: Catchy girl-punk trio Dirty Knees performs at Pilot Light Friday night at 10:30 p.m. with others to be announced. Admission is $5.

nQuakers keep it old school: Tuesday night Preservation Pub hosts throwback rock act Earth Quaker. The Afterwhile opens the show at 9 p.m. with Earth Quaker taking the stage at 10.

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