Travis Collins, or A.M. Stryker, was the opener for the folk music themed Thursday night out last night with Blue Devil Productions. Travis is a familiar face here on campus, as he is the bass player of the band We are the Willows, who were here back in 2014. I had a chance to sit down with Travis before the show to get to know him and his music.
Travis has been playing music for 20 years, spending a predominate amount of time playing with We are the Willows and running a record label, Homestead Records. The side project of A.M. Stryker began after We are the Willows put out their most recent record. Travis had some of his own ideas “kicking around” in his head and decided to make an album.
A.M. Stryker’s music style is inspired by the guitarist, John Fahey. Travis comments, “I’m a big fan of John Fahey, I don’t know if you know who that is… He’s sort of like an Americana, steal instrumental guitar player.” Travis continues, “I lived overseas for a while and the four records I brought were his, so I just dug into his picking style. I wrote a lot of instrumental stuff and then it kind of turned into the songs that are on my first record.” Travis was studying literature in Dublin while simultaneously infusing his music with inspirations of his surroundings, along with Fahey.
Travis comments, “That was the start of the project and it just became something else entirely. It was going to be some instrumental stuff, some instrumental stuff paired with writing and then it ended up being songs.”
Travis talks about his music in comparison to We are the Willows. “My stuff is fun to play, but it’s a whole other animal,” says Travis. “Not playing with a full band, its playing things that are way more personal.” He continues, “It’s like playing tennis as opposed to playing baseball or a team sport. You get out on the field in a team and you’re like ‘Alright, if I mess up or if something happens to me, not everyone will notice. It’s not all on me and not quite all about my skill’, but with tennis it’s like, if you mess up it’s all on you. It’s not so much about messing up either- you always mess up, it doesn’t matter. It’s more so of the personal aspect of it. It’s just you, it’s your life that you’re putting out there.”
Travis writes his music about things going on in his life, giving it a purpose for him. He comments, “Music that is just there and doesn’t serve a purpose for anyone or the artist themselves… you can tell. It’s like, ‘what is this?’ Incorporating his life’s moments into his music gives him a way to write about things happening in his life, giving a reason for what he makes.
A.M. Stryker makes its way around Minneapolis playing shows. One of Travis’ favorite things is getting inspired by other artists in runs into while on tour with especially We are the Willows.
Okay so I have to ask, the big current debate is- duck duck gray duck or duck duck goose?
Travis: “Oh, duck duck gray duck.”
Me: “Everyone from Wisconsin that I talk to here always says goose.”
Travis: “It’s not even a question at all. It’s gray duck.”
Now that everyone can sleep better knowing the true answer to the childhood riddle is gray duck, Travis extends his gratitude for playing at UW-Stout and looks forward to putting out new music.
The opening band, Harbor and Home, wasn’t available for an interview, but we got some great photos.
Keep on rockin’ Stout!