Who hasn’t indulged the childhood fantasy of playing in a band with your best friend and promising to stay together forever (and ever)? Only in the case of Kira Leyden and Jeff Andrea—co-leads of the Akron Ohio based The Strange Familiar—it’s a dream that came… and remained… true. The pair met and played in their first band together as pre-teens at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Years later, they’ve graduated to the big leagues, amassing a musical transcript that includes over a dozen songs placed in popular TV shows, millions of YouTube views, writing “Invisible” a top 10 hit for Ashlee Simpson (“Invisible”) performing on national television with a successful run on “America’s Got Talent” and touring much of the U.S.
Lead vocalist & keyboardist Leyden and guitarist Andrea parlayed their musical partnership into a bond of matrimony. The couple recently had their first child, daughter Rayne. Alongside talented band-mates and fellow Ohio-bred musicians Nicholas Sainato on drums and Frank Freeman on bass, The Strange Familiar has certainly earned its namesake.
In 2008, they made their recorded debut with the indie EP release You Can’t Go Back and followed up it up with two indie album releases This Is Gravity (2009) and Chasing Shadows in 2012.
Their songs have been prominently featured on popular shows such as Pretty Little Liars, NBC’s The Biggest Loser and The Vampire Diaries, “Switched at Birth,” ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters,” Teen Nick’s “Degrassi” and LMN’s “The 19th Wife.” Their song “Courage” was used for the series premier of “Secret Life of an American Teenager” and became the un-official theme song by the show’s fans. With all this growing exposure, the band was nominated and won MTVu’s Freshman Challenge.
Signed to Krian Music Group, their new album The Day The Light Went Out, will be released April 2014.The first single “Rain” is now available.
“Rain” started out as a lullaby for my daughter”, Kira explains, “Jeff and I are pretty old-fashioned, so we decided we weren’t going to find out if our baby was a boy or girl before he or she was born. One thing we did know was that our baby would be named Rayne (or Raine for a boy). The first line of the song, “you are the heart that beats inside of me” came to mind because nothing was more amazing to me than hearing my baby’s heartbeat for the first time at just 10 weeks.
I hope “Rain” strikes a chord. It’s about discovering there is something so much bigger than you, something worth fighting for that makes you braver, tougher, and more selfless than you’ve ever been, or ever thought you could be.
Describing their new album Jeff reflects, “This collection of songs is more personal and goes deeper than anything we’ve written before. It’s about the struggle of life – dealing with pain, loss, and despair. It’s a common thread that binds us together.
The new disc’s 10 songs, produced by Jeff Sojka & Josh Zegan, offer a thematic triptych beginning with a relationship’s dissolution. Leyden explains, “It starts in a painful place and moves toward surrender and letting go, until you’ve become the person you want to be. By the end, you’ve learned to put your faith in somebody else’s hands.”. The album was mixed by Brian Malouf (Dave Matthews, Amy Grant, Jonas Bros)
With words and music primarily composed by Andrea, Leyden and Sainato, The Day The Light Went Out offers a sonic signature that conjures a mesh of Kate Bush and A Fine Frenzy, while Leyden’s versatile vocals range from a tender whisper to an ardent growl.
“When I started playing guitar as a kid, rocking out in front of my mirror, I had a vision of filling stadiums and playing arenas,” Andrea says. “Over the years, that has whittled away to being able to simply devote my life to playing music. It’s the path we chose and we’re still having a blast.”