For anyone who remembers the old days in Indianapolis music — or anyone who read our “Where Are They Now?” cover story earlier this year — this weekend’s Musical Family Tree showcase ought to bring back some memories. The Vulgar Boatmen, Spitshine and 806 Main St. join power-pop artist John Strohm, formerly of Indiana’s Blake Babies (alongside Juliana Hatfield and Freda Love). Strohm, now an entertainment lawyer in Alabama, recently released a new solo album — his first in eight years — called Everyday Life. Strohm’s career spans nearly two decades and includes stints with the Lemonheads and Velo Deluxe.
NUVO: What’s the new album like, particularly with such a long gestation period?
Strohm: During that time I’ve finished law school and had a family. The biggest change in the songwriting is [since] my life is so mundane and boring right now, I have to create some angst to write about. I can’t rely on my own life to provide subject matter. There’s a bit more creating characters, and by the same token, I’ve gotten more comfortable writing songs outside of my own experience.
NUVO: What can people expect from this weekend’s show?
Strohm: I’ve got a really good system going where I can pick up a band anywhere I go, because I’ve played with so many people. I’m going to hook up with some Indianapolis musicians I’ve played with a lot. It’s hard to know what it’ll be like, because I haven’t played with these guys in years, but when you work with musicians, you pick up on their energy and kind of play off them. I’m looking forward to what it’s going to sound like myself!
NUVO: Now that you’re handling the legal side, what are you seeing in the music business?
Strohm: Before I started doing this work — and I’m three years into my practice, and [I] have a diverse group of clients — I felt like I was pretty sophisticated in the business and understood issues. And now I see that I probably wasn’t as much as I thought. It’s still a learning process. I’m more sophisticated now — that’s why people pay me — but there’s so much going on that’s unresolved, with digital music and other changes. I figure that what I do now is help artists learn how to be themselves.