EMQ’s with STRONG LIKE BULL
Hi Everyone. Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Kansas based Rock n Roll band Strong Like Bull! Huge thanks the band for taking part!
What is your name, what do you play and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
Dave Gray: Vocals and sometimes rhythm guitar and harmonica
Shawn Normandim: Bass
Jake Bauer: Drums and backing vocals
Nevin Truan: Lead Guitar and backing vocals
Dave: I started by calling Shawn as I had played in a band or two with him previously. After he was interested, I called Jake. I knew those two would make an amazing rhythm section. I had always been a lead guitarist in bands previously, but I knew Nevin was really getting good. He was my next call. I wanted to sing and not play guitar. We started out learning covers to just gel. We also started out as more of a metal band, and it fit both Shawn and Jake’s background well. However, as my vocal range started to expand about a year in, we added some AC/DC and received a killer response. We kept going in the direction the music led us and followed that path as we began writing. As we release more songs, I think fans will be able to recognize our own sound as a band.
Shawn: I got a call out of the blue from Dave. He kicked around the idea of starting a new project. It surprised me when he said he wanted a new challenge and only wanted to sing. He knew a drummer named Jake that had metal experience and thought we would fit well. I knew the guitarist Nevin, from previous projects. We all got together and the rest is history.
Jake: I remember Dave kinda casually throwing the idea at me, just something fun if the right people were available. I’m thinking this is sounding pretty good, Dave’s one of the best guitar players I’ve seen around! He said, “I’ll just be singing, no guitar.” Well, I have never heard him sing before but I already said yes, lol, so I guess let’s do it! A month or two later we’re jammin some Metallica, AX7, FFDP and people are digging it. These are some of the best musicians I’ve ever played with, so of course, things are going good. Then a year or so in Dave found another octave I think, lol. We started to try some AC/DC, which was quite a step away from what we were doing, but the crowd told us immediately with singing every word with us, to cheering and dancing, that we were heading in the right direction. We knew then that it was about making that connection with the crowd that we wanted.
Nevin: Yeah when Dave approached me, I was still in my second band I’d ever played with (a local cover band). At the time I was just gigging for the hell of it and put some extra cash in my pocket. When we got together, Jake Bauer was the only member I hadn’t really spent much time around, but we gelled instantly. As for our sound, I think we just started out wanting to fill the void in our area for some hard rock and metal tunes, but one thing led to another and we started writing our own stuff. People liked it. We enjoyed writing it. Why stop there?
How did you come up with your band name?
A friend of the band would always say it after we had been drinking for a while. His reply to How’s it going? Or How do you feel? “Strong Like Bull!” We’ve made it into a drinking game at shows and fans like to yell it out. When you hear “Strong Like Bull!” take a drink, take a shot, or whatever you’ve got.
What country are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
United States – Kansas
Dave: We’re from the heart of America with Kansas being geographically in the center of it all. At the same time, we are nowhere near a major city with Kansas City several hundred miles east and Denver several hundred miles west. There is not a big metal scene here, but Wichita is about 180 miles away and has some metal going on. Two of us live in Hays, Kansas. It is a college town and has a small indie / college scene going with some punk and alternative bands. We travel to play, and we play a lot of bike rally events and bars.
Nevin: As stated before, we’re from the “middle of nowhere”, so to say. A bunch of my friends also play in their own projects with Alternative Rock/ Punk/ Indie being the most prominent around here. You’ve also got a handful of pretty fun cover bands, and once in a while you’ll catch a metal/hard rock band. Kansas isn’t exactly where to go to make your break, but there are loads of talented musicians from around here!
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single or Video)
‘Live While You Can’ is our debut release and is now available on all streaming services, AMI Jukeboxes, and has a video on Youtube.
Our second release, ‘Good Time’ is now available, too. We just finished shooting the video, and we are not yet sure of the date it will be available – but soon!
Who have been your greatest influences?
Dave: Led Zeppelin made me want to play rock n roll. Bon Scott made me want to sing it. Sammy Hagar makes me want to live it
Shawn: Metallica and Megadeth back in the day when I was first getting started.
Jake: Definitely Metallica. Lars just made the drums seem fun as hell to play and I watched every live video I could find.
Nevin: Randy Rhoads (R.I.P.) is my main man. That guy inspired me to pick the guitar up and push myself to become the best I can be.
What first got you into music?
Dave: My older neighbour was sharing all these legendary classic rock albums with me. I was hooked!
Shawn: I followed in the footsteps of my older brother. I remember going to one of his jam sessions and thinking man this would be fun.
Jake: Jurassic Park if you believe that, lol. The soundtrack by John Williams was what really connected me to music for the first time. Music still gives me that same feeling it did back then, though the genres have changed a bit.
Nevin: My parents! They raised me on Rock n’ Roll with bands like Pink Floyd, George Thorogood, The Beatles, etc. They definitely had the biggest influence on me growing up.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
Dave: Angus Young or Slash. Both are used to writing with vocalists that sing in my high range, and I’ve always been a fan of both.
Shawn: Maybe Duff McKagan. It would be cool to come up with Bass lines that he adds to the music he records.
Jake: Lzzy Hale! Now that’s a modern day rock star!
Nevin: Nuno Bettencourt or Zakk Wylde! Maybe Jake E. Lee? Hell it’s hard to choose just one.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Dave: I watched a documentary on The Wacken Festival in Germany. It looks amazing!
Jake: Rockfest in Kansas City has been a staple for me for years and I’ve always wanted to be a part of that.
Nevin: Either Rocklahoma or Rockfest in KC. They always have kick ass line-ups.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Dave: This makes me sad. I’ve received no weird gifts. Only Fireball, and I like that.
Jake: A dandelion for being a “great drummer” lol. I don’t remember from who but I loved it, I’m all about the weird, man.
Nevin: A buddy of mine gave me Roman Glick’s (Jackyl) used bass strings. Not really weird per se, but not something you just get handed every day haha!
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Dave: Keep listening. Our upcoming releases will show a lot of diversity in our writing. It is only human nature to go “…this band kind of sounds like (fill in whatever band you already know here)…”, but we will break that idea from one release to the next.
Jake: Thank you thank you thank you! Keep being awesome and sharing this music party with us! And keep it weird my friends!
Nevin: Don’t drink and drive, kids. We love you all, even that a****** who thinks we’re being too loud. We love you too. Sorta!
If you could bring one Metal/Rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Dave: Man, that’s a tough one. I think bringing some of them back would take away from their legend. It’s better to burn out than fade away. It’s beautiful that way.
Jake: Cliff Burton! Sorry if I stole your answer Shawn, lol. He was incredible!
Nevin: Randy Rhoads in a heartbeat.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
Dave: I like performing our own music and being able to see the fans know the words already. It’s an awesome feeling. …least would be the late, late night driving.
Jake: I love when the crowd sings the lyrics with us. I’m not a fan of teardown and loading my drums after the show.
Nevin: Amazing fans, making great friends, playing in front of tons of people, it’s hard to single out one thing…The worst part? Aside from the late night tear downs and long rides home…sometimes it can be a little tiring not having much free time to unwind on a weekend and enjoy some of my other hobbies.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Dave: That’s a tough one, too. I like some of the changes that have already occurred. The web and streaming now lets a band like us, from rural Kansas, get our music out to the world.
Jake: I wish there was a little less digital assistance in the recording process like using midi drums to get the kick or snare to sound perfect but accents and dynamics are lost.
Nevin: Man I could really go on a rant with this one. Talk to me at a show and I’ll give you my full opinion. I’ll just leave it at this. There’s a lot of amazing musicians out there that aren’t getting the recognition they deserve.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
Dave: “Highway To Hell” by AC/DC
Jake: “Master Of Puppets” by Metallica.
Nevin: “Animals” by Pink Floyd
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
Dave: I truly think vinyl is best. However, I’m a music addict and just listen to whatever I can get my hands on or stream.
Jake: Man I have a lot of nostalgia for some cassettes in my red, 5 speed 1986 Mercury Lynx!
NEVIN: Honestly…I stream a lot of the music I listen to, usually YouTube, Spotify, or Pandora but I do absolutely love Vinyl! I’m always adding to my collection when I can!
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
Dave: My favourite gig happened recently when we opened for Them Evils in Wichita, Kansas. It was a 45 minute opening set, and we filled it with our music. Them Evils are great guys, too. The whole night was great.
Jake: Each new one becomes my favourite. Since the video for ‘Live While You Can’ released crowd participation just gets better every time!
Nevin: Oooh boy that’s a tough one…there’s been too many to count where I went home thinking “WOW that was such an insane night!”. I really wish I could pick one out but every show seems to be better than the last!
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
Dave: Writing code and building web apps. I do that sometimes already.
Jake: Who knows, but I’d probably have a bank account lol!
Nevin: I’d probably be neck deep in college classes right now finishing my degree in Media Production. Between that, taking over my families business, or finding a job with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Dave: My answer would be famous chefs like Ramsey and Guy Fieri, but switch this to Keg Party and it gets interesting! Let’s go with Bon Scott, Jim Morrison, Sammy Hagar, John “Mutt” Lange, and Mike Fraser.
Jake: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, Weird Al, John Stewert, Giorgio Tsoukalos (the aliens guy). It’s gonna get interesting!
Nevin: Hmm…okay they’re dead, but nonetheless… George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Hunter S. Thompson, William S. Burroughs, and Robin Williams!
What’s next for the band?
Dave: Our second single release, ‘Good Time’ which breaks out of just the hard rock genre. It has a heavy blues influence much like legendary bands Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Our producer, Carter Green, loved this track, and it will definitely surprise a few! There is also a U.S. radio campaign behind ‘Good Time’.
Shawn: Live shows. Practice, and record.
Jake: More live shows!
Nevin: Practice, gig, party, rinse and repeat. New music coming soon!
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Facebook is our largest social media outlet. We also use Instagram and Twitter. Other content sites include Youtube and Spotify. Our main website is
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
Dave: I need to Google these. I don’t know what they are.
Nevin: Why the hell am I just now hearing about these little spongey chocolate coated delicacies?? I NEED THESE IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
We could not begin to do this without an excellent support team. Thanks to our Engineer/Producer Carter Green at GreenJeans Studios, Tom and the team at TAG Publicity, and Denny and the team at The Label Group / INgrooves Music Group. And a HUGE thanks to everyone digging our music and supporting our live shows.
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.