Trojan ‘Strangers’ in the White Stripes Mode of Making Music
Cross Eyed Strangers (from left) are Jeremiah Liggett, Wes Millhouse, Thomas Hanley and Jun Ahn. The band's first recording, “Let It Fall,” will be available Friday, Sept. 13, on all major music streaming services.
The high school years are typically full of memory-making sights, sounds and scents: football games, pep rallies, cafeteria smells, homecoming dances, etc.
For four East Lansing High School students, it’s full of songs. And a brand new record.
Cross Eyed Strangers—which comprises Wes Millhouse (lead vocals, guitar, keyboard), Jun Ahn (backup vocals, guitar), Thomas Hanley (drums, backup vocals), and Jeremiah Liggett (bass)—will release its first recording, “Let It Fall,” on Friday, Sept. 13. That same evening the band will play the free Summer Concert Series at Ann Street Plaza (corner of Albert Street and M.A.C. Avenue) at 7 p.m.
Cross Eyed Strangers has been a band for about six months, and is influenced by Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Pink Floyd, Sufjan Stevens, and Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst.
Millhouse, 15, has been playing music for as long as he can remember.
“I used to play a fake plastic acoustic guitar. I started writing music in second grade, and haven’t stopped since,” he said.
Music is a big part of Millhouse’s life, with band and orchestra during the day, and extracurricular orchestra class, marching band, jazz band, and the Mid-Michigan Youth Symphony at night. Cross Eyed Strangers has been using the practice rooms at the high school, especially to prepare for its biggest show yet – the album release show.
“It will be the longest set we’ve ever done, because we’ve added quite a few songs to our set,” Millhouse said.
The band draws from Millhouse’s solo catalog, and album, “Step Up,” since they’ve only been together for six months.
“This concert is the kick-start to this school year for us,” he said. “Last year, we became a band with only a couple months of school left, but this year, we have the whole year.”
Original material, mixed and mastered
Millhouse, a sophomore, said the album content for “Let it Fall” has been a long time in the making.
“It is different from anything I’ve ever done before, and makes a statement for my generation, and our thoughts on what’s going on in the world,” Millhouse said. “I really dug deep into lyrics, and tried to pull lots of current events into the songs, and make them as meaningful as possible. I also tried something new and interviewed kids my age on current events, and scattered them throughout the album.”
The material is all original, self-recorded, and mixed/mastered by Millhouse, who plays all the instruments on the record except for drums (played by Thomas Hanley). Although their music styles differ, Wes looks up to fellow Michigan musician, Jack White.
“He is a big reason that I began playing music in the first place,” Millhouse said. “For about the first ten years of my life, he was all I listened to. As I started getting older, I expanded my listening catalog very much – and now I look up to other artists/bands such as Arcade Fire and Radiohead, along with Jack White.”
If this busy Trojan student fulfills his dream post high-school graduation, his career will be in the music industry. He is interested in studying sound engineering and music production.
“I want to start right out of high school, that’s why I am trying to build up credibility with the name Cross Eyed Strangers now, rather than waiting until then.”
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