Brain Stratton has been a American record producer, performer and artist since 1988. In the early 1990’s he worked as an in house record producer with the now defunct Polygram records in New York where he worked as an intern from 1993-1995.
After two years in to his internship at Polygram, Brian was offered a position as a producer for the subsidiary label, Hammer and Lace, a charitable label, combining national artists in an effort to raise money and awareness to the record buying public. The Diana: Princess of Wales Tribute Album, co-produced by Stratton became a Triple Platinum selling album. Stratton also produced Women for Women 1 and 2 (Charity Compilations for breast cancer awareness with a dozen national recording artists), Red Blooded Blues (Charity compilation for the American Liver association) and Stop Handgun Violence VOL 1, just to name a few.
He was there for five years and worked and produced artists such as Carol King, Sheryl Crow, BB King, Hootie and the Blowfish (who would become a lifelong friend) to name a few.
CD sales were plummeting due to internet MP3 file sharing and swapping as the 2K era came around. Record companies started to fold and in knowing this and the finaniclal fall out, Stratton decided it was time for him to perform on stage again.
Examiner spoke with Stratton about his career in front and behind the scenes in the music business.
Examiner: In 2000, did you leave your role as producer completely to perform?
Stratton: “From 2000 through 2007, I produced independently with Polygram records but performing onstage and touring was my main focus. I had established many contacts throughout the 1990’s at Polygram. I worked and toured with Hootie and the Blowfish and Chicago along with many national singer/songwriters.”
Examiner: Are you a self taught musician?
Stratton: “No, I have been schooled since age 4. I had 5 years of music theory (middle school and high school). I also attended Berklee College of music for two summer semesters and the Music Conservatory.”
Examiner: What was your biggest “Wow” moment as a performer?
Stratton: “In the year 2000, the internet overtook the music biz. It was evident, file swapping and sharing would knock out any chance of making money producing albums for national artists. I made a decision to focus on performing and playing live again. My two “Wow moments” were hitting the stage with Hootie in 2001 in front of 10,000 people and getting an ovation in the first 10 minutes of being on stage. The second was coming offstage after performing with the supergroup “Chicago” in 2009. That evening I signed over 100 autographs and took over 30 pictures with the fans after the show. I did not expect that!”
Examiner: What would you like people to know about you and your music?
Stratton: “All I ever have done is perform and produce music, I have been extremely wealthy for 5 years, then broke for the next 5 years. The biz is unpredictable and unforgiving at the same time. The relationships I have made with these famous artists have kept me going, and help me survive. I guess the answer would be that I am just wholeheartedly grateful for those who have helped me on this fantastic journey. I even teach a College course on the biz!”
Examiner: Tell us about the class that you teach?
Stratton: “I have a traveling lecture series that I started teaching at New England area colleges in 2008. I go in for one or two days, talk about my experiences and brief the students on the music business. It’s a wonderful way to express my knowledge and beliefs to that generation.”
Examiner: Who is your band, The Infractions? Do you still play around New England?
Stratton: “The Infractions are a cover band that I started in 1988. The current line up is: Ronnie Caggiano on drums and vocals, Tony Rocks on guitar and vocals, Ken Reid on sax and percussion and Jeff Classen on trumpet. We still play festivals and concerts each year.
I also perform numerous duo dates with the amazing Jeffrey Gaines. He is a true Singer/ Songwriter. I also perform with ex American Idol finalist, Siobhan Magnus.”
Examiner: How did you get involved with the “Citizens for Children’s Safety”?
Stratton: “After the horrific Newtown, Connecticut shooting in December 2012, many South Shore residents banded together and formed the organization. I actually became president, and have been advocating for schools to employ police resource officers for added protection from drugs, shooting attacks etc. I have been lucky enough to secure famous musicians to jump on board and help with our efforts.” More info: http://citizensforchildrenssafety.org/
Find The Infractions on Facebook.