July 1, 2009

stellastarrThis band came on our radar many years ago and even at that time they already had a ton of momentum behind them. What seemed to suck us in was the intoxicating nature of the vocals intertwined with a sound that perfectly complimented the inflection of the vocals. Quickly we found that people who were big fans of The Damned and that vocal style as well as Joy Division/New Order really found that this band struck a musical chord with them. Some that may not know this band have certainly already heard a bit of their song "Stay Entertained" packaged within a commercial for Universal Studios in Los Angeles. They have a brand new album ‘Civilized’ hitting streets on July 7th, and stellastarr will be headlining a tour across the US, their first in three years. We highly recommend that you go see them when they play in your area around the country.

stellastarrThis interview was conducted with Shawn Christensen, vocalist and guitarist of stellastarr when we caught up with him recently.

Can you give us a sense of how the group comprised of yourself, Michael, Amanda and Arthur came together?
SC - Arthur, Amanda and I went to college together and had a band called Ghistor. Amanda and I did not sing in that band. After college, we formed stellastarr*, after Arthur found out that Michael, who was replacing him in his old apartment, could play a mean guitar.

What were some of the influences and bands that you guys were listening to that you felt made their way into the uniquely stellastarr sound?
SC - We all have different influences, but found common ground on bands like the Pixies, New Order, and Depeche Mode. Personally, the bands I listen to mainly derive from the 60's and 70's -- like Bob Dylan, the Zombies, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Blu Oyster Cult, etc.

Many people have commented to us that they find your songs have a contagious nature to them, between the vocal inflection, the melodic vibe and the change in tempo, making each song it's own. Help us understand from your prospective why these songs seem have that effect on people.
SC - Because we're moody, lol? Vocally, I often try to take on a character and put myself in their shoes for each song. I don't like singing the same way on every track. I like to take on a different persona and just be in that world for a few minutes.

Your latest album 'Civilized' which hits the street July 7th is is being released on your own label, Bloated Wife Records (ref: to the hidden track on Harmonies For The Haunted), why did you decide to do this one yourself?
SC - We got screwed with the second record, and kindly parted from RCA. The Sony merger was a disaster for many bands like us. Sony actually forced us to release our record with a 'block' on it, so that no one could upload it to iTunes. Real barbaric thinking. We had to leave.

How do you feel this album differs from the previous two albums?
SC - The songs are raw, like the first record, but crafted differently. There's a wider variety of emotions on this record, and more rock.

What has been the best experience or experiences for you so far with this band?
SC - Opening for James Brown and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in front of 90,000 people.

In July you have a 13 stop tour around the country, and we are sure fans are gonna ask, "Why is it 13 stops in those cities and not more", how is your tour schedule planned or predicated on?
SC - We're funding ourselves, and the record won't give us income until later this year. So, for now, we decided to do a shorter, more economical stint, to start off. We will definietely hit Florida, Georgia, Denver and other missed markets later this year.

Big Wheel wants to thank you for your time and the chance to catch up with you, are there any closing thoughts you want to leave the audience with?
SC - Eat lots of chocolate and see you soon!

Band MySpace:

US Tour Dates:
July 8th || WFNX/Boston || tune in to WFNX for tix announcement
July 15th || Philadelphia, PA || Johnny Brenda’s
July 16th || NYC || Highline Ballroom || Official Record Release Show
July 17th || Washington, DC || Rock ‘N’ Roll Hotel
July 18th || Baltimore, MD || Ottobar
July 20th || Cincinnati, OH || 20th Century Theatre
July 21st || Columbus, OH || The Basement
July 23rd || Chicago, IL || Double Door
July 27th || Austin, TX || The Parish
July 30th || San Diego, CA || Casbah
July 31st || Los Angeles, CA || Troubadour
August 1st || San Francisco, CA || Slim’s
August 3rd || Portland, OR || Doug Fir
August 4th || Seattle, WA || Chop Suey

Stellastarr photo