Got You Covered takes a look at the nominees in the Best Cover Band category of the Beijinger's 2015 Reader Bar & Club Awards (vote here through May 17). This time around we talk to Justin Richardson, guitarist for Strange Visitations.

The Band:
Strange Visitations

The Current Lineup:
Kyle Wagner (US)  Lead singer
Kirsty McCara (Britain)  Vocals
Justin Richardson (Australia)  Guitar
Phil Cowell (New Zealand)  Bass Guitar
Henry Charlseworth (Britain)  Keyboard
Kevin Henyan (US)  Drums

Sample Set List:
“Centrefold,” The J. Geils Band
"Fat-Bottomed Girls,” Queen
"Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Pat Benatar
"Hungry Like the Wolf,” Duran Duran
"My Sharona,” The Knack

Where you can see them next:
May 23, Life’s a Be'ach party at Temple

TBJ: How did you come up with such an interesting band name?
Justin Richardson: Back in 2002 we were practicing at WAB, because a lot of the people I jammed with taught there. Our keyboardist couldn’t come, saying: “I’m busy now with guests, I’m getting a lot of strange visitations lately.” Right away I realized that was a great band name.

It’s pretty unique phrasing on his part. Is he from a far flung place, does he have a unique accent?
No, he’s from California. He was probably just smashed at the time.

What sets your band apart from Beijing’s other cover acts?
We’ve always been a band that refuses to play “Hotel California.” It’s always been on every flyer of our. We decided on that because, when we started playing in 2002, there were a ton of Philippino bands around town playing 70s pop. That can be fun, but you’d end up hearing the same songs over and over again. The 80s is more our generation  The Cure, Violent Femme, The Petshop Boys, all those classic 80s one hit wonders.

So audiences were really hungry for 80s covers?
Yeah, we got a huge following, did heaps of corporate gigs and embassy balls. People have also really enjoyed our costumes and themes  dressing up like zombies on Halloween, or like A Clockwork Orange characters, or rugby players.

We don’t play every weekend, and never had a residency anywhere. We all have businesses or teach, so we usually just play a few times a month at most. That means when we do play we’re doing it purely for the enjoyment.  

What are some of the biggest challenges that your band faces?
The hardest thing is whenever we play a smaller venue for the first time, because we’ll have to tell the bar owners to clear all the tables back five meters meters from the dance floor. We’ll say: “You’ll have too many people, trust us.” They’ll be skeptical, but when we finish up they’ll invite us to come play again because we brought finished come play again, because we brought in lots of people.

Some people have described us as an expat karaoke band. But we’re not there to show off how well we can play guitar. We're there to entertain the crowd, we want you to know the songs and able to chance to them. And when we play at least 70 percent of the crowd is drunk females that love to dance. So it’s a fun place to be.

You think there’s a stigma against cover bands?
Well, when you tell people play in covers band, you can get a certain reaction because Beijing has so many. Many are average, but we’re really good and have a choice of covers that other bands don’t have. There’s so much choice in Beijing, so some people will think they don't want to see a cover band, but once they see us once and dance with the crowd, they’ll want to come see us again.

Follow along with all of our 2015 Reader Bar & Club Awards coverage here.

Photos: Strange Visitations

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