Friday, 16 February 2007

Posing in an alleyway on the edge of L.A.’s venerated Troubadour, the members of stellastarr* are having test shots taken for GC’s exclusive photo feature. The flash is bright. Monsters and Waiting is at sound check inside. Thinking L.A. glam? Everything but. They are test shots after all, and the L.A. skyline is in a perpetual blink.

But the stellastarr* kids are damned good sports about it. They even entertain the idea of answering some good ol’ novelty questions in the meantime. I ask them, “If you could be any band from the 80s, what band would you be?”

Shawn (guitar, lead vocals): I’d be the Pixies.
Michael (guitar, vocals): I’m gonna give props to the good ol’ Jesus and Mary Chain.
Amanda (bass, vocals): I would want to be Flock of Seagulls because I really want that haircut!
Arthur (percussion, keyboards): The 80s, huh? Were there bands in the 80s? Oh, A-ha, easy. They only had that one song “Take On Me,” but that’s fine with me.

After a mess with labels and deliberations between releasing an EP or writing more, it’s an understatement to say they are all-around good sports, considering.

“What happened was, when we signed to RCA we were forced to sign to Sony BMG in the U.K., it was a worldwide deal,” explains Shawn Christensen. “But we already had an indie label over there and it was always a source of tension. So of course they took us over and they botched one of our singles over there, did a terrible job, and so we basically requested not to work with them for our second record.”

Now in-between labels and recording material for their new album, the indie rock outfit isn’t letting any such thing interfere. “Our job now is to try and write really good music and enjoy it ourselves, and not worry about the freefall of not having a label around,” says Michael Jurin. “It’s something you can’t think about,” Christensen adds. “You keep writing and let the management worry about that kind of stuff and start meeting labels and then see how it goes.”

stellastarr* was at the Troubadour last week for part of a brief stint before the full-blown tour the band’s planning after the release of their new album. And while there may have been some messes to clean up label-wise, the sold out show was testament to the solidity of their fan base.

“Now it really shows off, the fan’s support starts standing out and making it worthwhile,” says Jurin. “Things can seem confusing when there’s other elements involved, but when it’s just you and the reaction of people listening to you then it feels a little bit more legit.”

From their first EP and onward, stellastarr* have brought the glorious sounds of the 80s and 90s to indie rock lovers in a blender, undoubtedly tossing in a sneaker or two for fun. After a self-titled album and 2005’s Harmonies for the Haunted adding two more notches to their belt, the band is busy writing new material for the as yet untitled record.

“This process was different because we did the EPs entirely analog and that’s just unheard of anymore with a lot of bands,” says Jurin. “It’s the ‘play it right the first time’ mentality which is usually neglected. We never played it right the first time (laughs).”

According to Christensen, the band has six new songs recorded. A demo of one of the tracks, “Warchild,” can currently be found on the band’s MySpace as well as the page you're reading (see above and press play).

“We were going to release a couple tracks on iTunes or do some sort of campaign like that but we’ve decided to continue writing at this stage and make it up as we go,” says Christensen.

“Basically you reach a point where you can put out an EP and half the stores don’t want to carry EPs or you don’t want to buy them. Or we can have half an album written already and continue writing the rest,” says Jurin.

By the sound of all this nitty gritty recording talk, it seems like this record will have a lot more “oomph” and “rawk” than Pop Rocks and neon.

“We’re going for music that has a bit more bite to it lately, a little bit more urgency,” says Christensen. “We want people to piss themselves.”

And as far as a release date goes, the band is in no rush.

“Sometimes it’s good to have pressure, sometimes it can be damaging,” says Christensen. “Right now we’re just open field.”

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