MUSIC: 'Familiar Looking Strangers' Get to Know Port Washington
The band from abroad travels to the United States for three shows in Port Washington, including two shows this weekend as well as a Fourth of July performance.
Bands often take inspiration from real-life stories and situations when writing new songs and lyrics, and Familiar Looking Strangers admits to being no exception.
On a trip to the United States from London — where they all met in Liverpool — the band has been touring in the Milwaukee and Chicago area, and recently took the show a bit north, to Manitowoc.
Even though the show is on the road, work is not on hold. In fact, one of the band's songwriters, Paul Baker, admits to taking inspiration from the foreign lands that surround him: he recently wrote a new song about a man the group met while in Manitowoc.
The band decided to tour in the United States after meeting up with Port Washington resident Bob Mittnacht, who saw Familiar Looking Strangers playing at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Mittnacht encouraged the group to come abroad to do a United States tour. And so, they did.
Last year, the band kicked off a U.S. tour at Waukesha Bluesfest; this year, they have been playing in the Milwaukee and Chicago area, with a performance in Saukville last week and three shows planned in Port.
Touring in the United States not only inspired some lyrics — including another song with a reference to Mittnacht as the "man with a T-shirt tan" — but it's also been a beneficial experience for the group.
"It’s definitely helped, because we’ve started to create a fan base outside of London," McPoland said.
Familiar Looking Strangers started forming in 2008; four of the members come from Liverpool, while the fifth — guitarist Carlos Lopez — is from Madrid.
McPoland said his interest in music developed when he was young: he would listen to songs and write lyrics down, often incorrectly — he assumes. Regardless, this hobby turned him into the singer/songwriter for the band.
Lopez said it was a commercial advertising an Elvis album — which he later received for Christmas — that inspired his musical career; he's now a guitarist with the group.
Other members include drummer Ben Gorry and bass guitarist John Golby, who said he started playing guitar but soon realized bass was his strength.
"It was like I was always meant to play, it was like a spiritual (connection)," he said.
Guitarist and songwriter Baker said his father listened to a lot of records when he was young, and when he heard the electric guitar in those songs, he knew he wanted to play.
As for drummer Ben Gorry?
"From a young age, I knew that I wanted to hit things," Gorry said, with a laugh. "They gave me a drum kit, and I started to properly play on the drums at six (and) started gigging at the age of 14 — it was something that I always wanted."
The group recently released its first recorded album, "Love, Hate and Heartbreak." That album will be for sale at the band's three appearances in Port Washington. Here's where to find the band: