New York City. Home to some of the greatest bands of all time, The Pixies, The Ramones...and now Stellastarr*. It reads like a dream, they met at art school, formed a band and started making music so impressive that they began getting referred to as The Cure and The Pixies. Shawn Christensen has plunging lead vocal breaks that get so close to the edge with his constant convulsing you'd think he'd fall off it; but he just keeps rocking. Amanda Tannen is the poster child for kick ass female rockers everywhere, keeping things in tempo by the groove of her bass line. Arthur Kremer leaves nothing to the imagination as he rams the drums topless behind Elvis shades prompted by Michael Jurin's incredible guitar prayer, falling to his knees finger picking like an animal hungry for the next chord.
"You know, women are so sexy when they handle big bulky equipment. The girl from The Landing on drums is amazing," rasps Arthur as he listens to the boom of the drums from the off stage dressing room where we all sit, crammed in like monkeys. Shawn begins to tell me about playing in New York, "We had a couple gigs at the Luna Lounge, and so a couple of my paintings were up there as part of their monthly exhibit. We don't like playing at CBGB's gallery though, we played there twice and we had really bad sound problems. They tell you that you can't use drum sticks, they tell you that you have to use these lighter rods. We're not a quiet band. We want to rock out."
I ask the band what they think they can do to change the face of popular music, Michael jumps in, "Writing a pop song doesn't mean it has to sound like it's a lame boy band. You can have a catchy song and not have a clich» pseudo punk sound to it." At that I begin to comment on how much popular music is affected by music downloading. I ask how it affects a new band like Stellastarr*, "I can't speak for all of the band but I do know that the Radiohead thing that happened recently...that would have angered me because they were unfinished tracks. As far as finished tracks, I'm not sure," says Shawn. Michael interjects, "5-10 quid makes it a worthwhile endeavor, a happy medium. Otherwise [record companies] are practically forcing people to try and find new music elsewhere and burn discs; college kids who are our biggest supporters don't have that much money."
As their agent walks in to offer the band some "chicken and mashed potatoes" from the kitchen, I bring out their new EP, Somewhere Across Forever and marvel at Shawn's cover art work. Shawn notices the album and explains why it's taken awhile to get it out, "We cut the album with an Indie label called Tiswas back in America, but they didn't have enough finances to put the album out. It was kind of good in a way because we re-cut some of the songs and created a different kind of energy with them. It gave us a chance to really polish some things, so in a weird way it was a blessing in disguise. It's mostly complete now, so hopefully it'll be out by August in the UK and September in America."
Stellastarr* have been touring in the UK playing with such bands as The Raveonettes and The Fever. Look for their EP Somewhere Across Forever in shops and blasting through the radio of a wiser generation.
Writer: Lindsay Bloemink