Philadelphia Freedom: Knifeplay

With Isolation Drills, MAGNET has been checking in with Philadelphia-area musicians during the pandemic, while Where We Belong shines a light on our beloved local venues. Now that our city is opening again, MAGNET has launched Philadelphia Freedom to explore what happens next with our music scene, post-quarantine. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Tj Strohmer (vocals, guitar): We have been working with Jeff Zeigler at Uniform Recordings on a new record since February, going in about once or twice per week. I’m hoping to have the record completely done by the end of the summer.

MAGNET took these photos while Max Black (piano), Johnny Klein (slide guitar) and I were working on the instrumentation for one of the last song. The rest of our band includes Alex Stackhouse on bass, John Scortino on drums and Jack Mcbride on lead guitar.

We’ve also had a variety of studio players come in and out through the process. We spent nearly two years writing and demoing the material for this record, scrapping more than an album’s worth of music along the way. Once we felt we were ready with a record, we contacted Jeff, and he recorded everything from the ground up. For us, going into a studio setting like this was a leap of faith, and Jeff has been a great fit. He seems to really understand what we’re doing, and he has the tools and know-how to accomplish it.

As for the pandemic in relation to music, my recording approach did not necessarily change, except that I had time to do both more home recording and overall conceptualizing for new material. A lot of our demoing process involved the other guys sending me their parts virtually, but we already did that here and there.

As the misery of COVID wanes, I feel thankful that my friends and family remain with me. And I’m thankful more than ever for the opportunity to play music and write. I’m looking forward to playing and touring to the greatest extent that I have the opportunity to do so.