The Mysterious Stryker Brothers Revealed to Be Robert Earl Keen & Randy Rogers (Exclusive)

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Robert Earl Keen and Randy Rogers wish to come clear about their fictional identities: They're The Stryker Brothers.

After secretly collaborating on a 13-track album, Burn Band, which they launched below the pretend band title on Sept. 7, the Texan nation stars inform Billboard they're able to take credit score for the LP, a mixture of honky-tonk and the hard-driving sound of Texas' crimson dust nation. They plan to carry out one and solely Stryker Brothers present on Dec. 22 at The Moody Theater in Austin.

Keen, the celebrated 62-year-old singer-songwriter, and Rogers, the 40-year-old chief of the Randy Rogers Band, had been solely acquaintances earlier than final 12 months, after they bonded taking pictures promotional movies for John T. Floore's Country Store, a roadside music venue in Helotes, Texas.

After a profitable songwriting session in April at Keen's ranch, they determined to launch their work anonymously so followers might decide the music by itself deserves.

"We didn't inform buddies, simply spouses and managers," says Rogers, including that he didn't even inform his personal band. "It has been enjoyable to disclaim this entire factor — and presumably loopy." Has protecting the key had been powerful? "Yes it has, as a result of I drink," laughs Keen, who admits he solely slipped up a couple of occasions. "Most of the individuals I informed had been good o' boy buddies. I'd name them the following day and say, 'Hey, you've received to maintain this below wraps.'"

Without their names hooked up, the album has garnered 55,000 on-demand audio streams, in accordance with Nielsen Music, however the artists' shock reveal might nonetheless repay, drawing extra consideration to the collaboration than it may need gotten in any other case within the crowded streaming panorama.

Fake-name releases are uncommon: In the 1970s, English band XTC launched an album by its label, Virgin, below the title The Dukes of Stratosphear; the band members used pseudonyms within the album credit and initially denied involvement. In the late '80s, Prince launched two albums as a gaggle known as Madhouse, which, closely disguised, opened for Prince on his 1987 tour. More just lately, a fictional, computer-generated Instagram star named Miquela has been racking up streams on Spotify.

Keen and Rogers had their 12 songs recorded, blended and mastered in two weeks, quietly gathering what Rogers calls "the Austin A-team" of musicians to again them: Producer and instrumentalist Lloyd Maines performed a spread of guitars, Glenn Fukunaga performed bass, multi-instrumentalist Chris Gage did keyboards and Les Lawless performed the drums.

Then they started to spin their story. They created a mysterious web site for the Stryker Brothers that reads like a whodunit: "The Stryker Brothers are an enigma…their historical past is nebulous but their contribution to the musical tapestry of a technology is simple. Where did they arrive from? Where did they go? And why isn't their music on the market already?"

According to the positioning, lady named Mary discovered their recordings — together with a handwritten letter on Apollo 16 letterhead — in a metallic trunk that had survived a hearth in her father's home. The selected the title The Stryker Brothers — Cole and Flynt — as a result of the title The Arsonists was taken, the duo informed Billboard, they usually needed to evoke a photograph taken final 12 months whereas Keen was burning a dozen or so acres on his property.

Austin musicians had been additionally enlisted to inform tales of the fictional brothers. "I'm fairly positive I'm considered one of their youngsters," says singer-songwriter B.J. Barham in an interview posted on the positioning.

The clues on the web site hyperlink to the album's songs, such because the Apollo 16 letterhead, a nod to "Charlie Duke Took Country to the Moon." Duke, the Apollo 16 astronaut and 10th man on the Moon, lives a couple of doorways down from Rogers in New Braunfels, Texas. Before the 1972 mission, Duke had requested a Houston disc jockey to make a rustic mixtape he might take to the moon, and so the DJ wrangled some nation stars and recorded 4 half-hour segments for the Apollo 16 tape that featured Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and Jerry Reid and Chet Atkins — elements of that are included within the Stryker Brothers observe.

Thirty Tigers, a Nashville-based label-services supplier, had already labored with The Randy Rogers Band and was wanting to distribute the undertaking, stated co-founder David Macias. "From a music standpoint, it appeared a no brainer. I agreed to do it after listening to only one music."

But Macias admits dealing with difficulties getting the album heard by the artists' fan bases. "I feel the again story that was created was intelligent and there have been some nice supplies that had been created for it, however there have been nonetheless a ton of retailers that weren’t prepared to take the leap on one thing that seemed to be so obscure, or in the event that they suspected what was happening however couldn't verify it, didn't wish to cowl it."

Rogers isn't involved, although. "The Stryker Brothers aren't attempting to get a file deal," he informed Billboard. "I heard they blew up in a hearth."