The Thirty Six Strategies (or “stratagems,” depending on the source you’re looking at) is a collection of Chinese sayings akin to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, in that it offers effective tactics in matters of war, politics, diplomacy, and so on. Strategy One, according to translator Stefan H. Verstappen, translates as “Fool the Emperor to Cross the Sea” in his book, The Thirty Six Strategies of Ancient China. The idea behind this strategy, he explains, is that in order “to lower an enemy’s guard you must act in the open hiding your true intentions under the guise of common every day activities.” With that in mind, Thirty Six Strategies—the band—play impressive poppy punk with ringing Hüskers-via-Leatherface guitars and flat-but-fitting vocals belting out lyrics addressing mostly personal issues with a vagueness that’ll surely help to avoid any potential controversies. Whether or not they’re adhering to the precepts of the aforementioned Strategy One is dependent on their ultimate, if any, ulterior motives—are they looking to capitalize on any subsequent popularity they garner within the punk scene to vault them into mainstream success? Is their end-game to subvert and bring down the whole of punkdom via ambiguous lyrics and catchy hooks? Are they just another band who picked a random name they thought clever, only to have some asshole reviewer pick it apart and find nefariousness in efforts wholly innocuous?—and only the band knows the truth at this point. I for one intend to remain ever-vigilant.
–jimmy (Boss Tuneage)