WORDS: JO COSGROVE

Rising through the “vibrant” pop-punk scene in Denver, Stray The Course have been on the right path to success for almost ten years since their Assault on the Commonplace days. From the earlier days, vocalist/guitarist Ronnie Toplyn has praised the local scene: “The punk and indie community here are both really welcoming…We feel like we’re getting to the point of being able to play larger shows which is more than we could have hoped for starting out.”

With the influence of many bands around them during these times, the guys were able to grow and change to a more fitting brand and a more comfortable sound. When asked about their sound, fellow vocalist/guitarist Steve Nelson said they only wish to “play around” with their sound. “We’re just gonna write whatever comes to us and see where it takes us…There are always consistent elements of Stray the Course in everything we do.”

Forward thinking is Stray The Course’s strongest lifeline, as keeping to one sound and one style isn’t exactly their thing. As Nelson explains, “Some bands like to change their sound, oftentimes to reflect their evolution and growth as people. In Stray the Course, we don’t care so much about “sticking to one sound,” per se.”

“”We want to keep evolving, keep pushing the envelope, keep reaching for new heights. You might say we want to…stray the course?”

Earlier this year, the band released ‘Between The Walls’; a coincidentally-timed single released just before the COVID-19 pandemic took over the world. Written by Nelson back in 2018 when he was “super down…and depressed”, he’s now amazed by its relevance later on. “I found it was much easier to kill time in the familiar comfort of my bedroom than to get dressed and face this so-called “life” head on,” he explained. “Fast forward two years, and everyone literally can’t leave their rooms because of quarantine! So then the song took on a whole new meaning.”

‘Between The Walls’ was positively received by fans and critics alike, and its aim of bringing everyone together in the time of social distancing was surely achieved. “Since we couldn’t all be together in the same place, we hoped the video would show everyone that we’re all in the same situation across the globe.” Speaking of this pandemic, Toplyn said that the quiet time “forced” the guys to focus on how they can write and record their music during this time; mostly involving doing their work from home: “We are working on a lot of alternate versions of old songs that we can record in our home studio, and creating demos of brand new songs that we hope to record at a local studio.”

“We do really miss playing shows, but it doesn’t feel like the right time,” he continues. “It’s an unnecessary risk right now. But once we can get back out on stage, we’ll jump at the chance.”

“ONCE WE CAN GET BACK ON STAGE WE’LL JUMP AT THE CHANCE.”

The band want to bring the world – or at least their fans – together in harmony, and they believe right now it’s more important than ever. Nelson has praised the unity music can bring, saying it’s “half the fun” of being in a band. “The ultimate goal is to cultivate a sense of community among your fans who feel a communal bond by all enjoying your music together.” How beautiful!

Toplyn has praised community and togetherness, agreeing with Nelson and saying it’s “a huge part” of Stray The Course. “To me it means that we are doing something worthwhile…It’s heartwarming to see our songs become a connection point bringing people together.”

With goals of “[releasing] more killer music and build a fanbase” and opening for My Chemical Romance on their comeback shows, it’s time to simply expect the unexpected. “We want to keep evolving, keep pushing the envelope, keep reaching for new heights. You might say we want to…stray the course?”

“We have a lot of new songs coming together…We’re also looking to push some boundaries with our music videos.”

Never stay on the same path, guys!

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