Photos & Show Review: stellastarr* @ Chop Suey

I’ve missed stellastarr*. Last time I saw them perform was about two years ago when they opened for Editors. They finished their third CD, Civilized, which they released in July – and what I have heard from it this is a magnificent CD. stellastarr*’s back now and just completed a headlining tour the other night at Chop Suey in Seattle. Live the new material snaps in place with their previous work as a perfect balance to their debut CD and second CD. Where Harmonies for the Haunted was a softer work, this one picks up the pace again. The band’s managed to carve an immediately recognizable sound and I was so happy to see them perform – and perform so well. I have never been disappointed by their shows – each band member is such a great musician on his/her own and when they combine it’s magic. I am struck by how the band hasn’t gone in for silly musical trends and I feel like they’re genuine as they are. Bassist Amanda Tannen is one of the most wonderful bassists I have ever heard. I heard stellastarr*’s songs before I saw the band so don’t accuse me here of picking favorites just because she’s beautiful. Listen to their songs and watch her live – they really aren’t better than this. And the guys? Don’t accuse of me picking favorites again because they’re beautiful. They’re of a depth of sound you come across rarely. When singer/ guitarist Shawn Christensen collapses on the stage to deliver On My Own it really is moving. When drummer Arthur Kremer rips up the rhythms it’s a sweet thing. When guitarist Michael Jurin plays in a singular and is one with the guitar you’re in for it. For me it’s apt that one of their new songs is called Freak Out. The older songs Jenny, My Coco, In the Walls, No Weather, Sweet Troubled Soul and Moongirl are all still equally fresh. The band’s a pleasure to photograph as well.

You can see more of my photos from the show here & here.


Show Preview: French Miami @ the Sunset, Sunday August 9

San Francisco’s French Miami is playing the Sunset on Sunday night, August 9th. I like this band’s speed and when singer Jason Heiselmann says, “I’m not jealous anymore”, in Science Fiction it’s twisted enough that you almost believe him. The God Damn Best is also an awesome tune.

photo by Lydia White

They’ll appear with By Sunlight. 9 PM – only $6.

Here’s a teaser video of a live performance of Science Fiction:


Video: Julian Plenti’s Games for Days

Always eagle-eyed Music Slut just posted the video for Julian Plenti’s Games for Days. It’s got hotel trashing in it. I don’t encourage that but hell, it’s a video. And isn’t that one of the dudes from Mad Men at the hotel desk? Not sure.

Julian Plenti is Paul Banks. I received the CD, Skyscraper, a bit ago and will review it soon. It is brilliant – of course it’s brilliant, it’s Paul Banks. I make no secret that I love Interpol and Paul Banks’ voice and lyrics. So there.

Here’s the video:


Show Preview: Seaweed, the Whore Moans & the Redwood Plan

Seaweed, the Whore Moans and the Redwood Plan play the Crocodile Friday, August 7th. I suggest you be there. The Redwood Plan will release their debut CD, Seaweed’s set to headline in a rare show, and the Whore Moans will mess with your ears and eyes – in all the good ways.


Interview: Wayne Static of Static-X

Static-X is bringing their Pedal to the Metal Tour to the White River Ampitheatre on August 22nd – along with Slipknot they’ll be part of KISW’s Pain in the Grass show. The band released their sixth album, Cult of Static, just this year and it features a guest appearance from Metallica’s Dave Mustaine as well as the song Stingwray (an ode to Wayne Static’s wife (Tera Wray Static) and her Corvette Sting Ray. Am I just a little jealous of this woman? Anyway, what’s Wayne Static’s views on life as a rock star? What’s changed since the band began? Alex Crick talked with Wayne Static, lead singer and multi-talented musician of Static-X week and found out this and more.

Alex: I’ve heard you are picky about who you tour with, are you excited to be with any of the bands on the bill at Pain in the Grass that are not on the Pedal to the Metal Tour (e.g. Slipknot, Chevelle, Saliva, Steel Panther)?

Wayne Static: I’m friends with all those bands, and I think it’s going to be awesome.

Alex: How do you feel the lineup shifts in your past have changed the direction of Static-X and its music?

WS: It hasn’t changed anything really, I write all the songs and the other guys just kind of add their parts to the songs that I write. I don’t think it’s really really changed anything. We still have the three original members and a different drummer once again but I don’t think it really changed anything. It’s my band, I keep things in focus, I’m the one who decides what direction we go in. It’s kind of like Al Jourgensen is Ministry and no one gives him shit for having different people on every record he’s ever made. I never quite understood about why people always ask me about when we get a different drummer it’s going to have a huge impact or something.

Alex: How would you describe your songwriting process? Is a lot experimentation or do you have a lot of set ideas before you go into the studio?

WS: It’s a little bit of both. I sit down with myself with my sampler, a drum machine, a guitar, and keyboard. Sometimes I have preconceived ideas about what I want to do. Sometimes I just sit down and start messing around with beats and sounds and see what comes out. Either way is fine. Generally I write the whole structure of the song right off, demo it, give that to all the guys and they add their own parts to it.

Alex: How do feel the music industry as a whole has changed since you started?

WS: No one can argue that it’s pretty much in the toilet. CD’s are the way of the past and everything is becoming more internet based. The big problem is that music is free now that it’s on the Internet. The problem with that is there is not going to be any more marketing money to promote any great bands anymore. There’s just going to be a million shitty bands selling their music on iTunes and giving it away on MySpace. That’s the way it is so you really gotta work in that framework. It’s kinda sad there’s not going to be anymore super-bands.

Alex: Do you feel that the Internet helped you connect better with your fan base? How so?

WS: No I think the Internet has absolutely destroyed everything. It’s somewhat of a useful marketing tool but the world was better without it.

Alex: Six albums in as a band how do you and the rest of band keep yourself grounded?

WS: I’m just a regular guy like everybody else, I just happen to have a killer job and I love doing what I’m doing. I guess some guys end up falling into the whole rock star thing and getting in trouble, thinking they’re too good and all that and it all sort of falls apart. Pretty much everyone I know that’s successful is a regular guy like me.


Alex: What sort of tips and advice have you gained over the years that you would share with a new band just hitting the road on their first major tour? Are there things one should do as a band to stay together and things to avoid?

WS: If they’re at the point where they can go on tour that’s quite an accomplishment in itself, because that would mean they have a label supporting them. I would say don’t think you’re a rock star just because you’re on tour. It’s just another small step in the grand scheme of things. Just go out and have a good time and take your job very seriously, be very nice to the bands you are opening for, treat everyone with respect. It all comes around in the end.

Alex: Sort of a karma thing?

WS: Yeah, just go out and have a good time, that’s why we all got into this is to have a good time. Don’t expect to get rich or anything.

Alex: Doing 12,000 miles on this tour alone how do you avoid getting “burned out” on the tour schedule?

WS: Touring is actually pretty easy. It’s easier than being at home, you get to sleep all day, people bring you food, all you really have to do is play their show, that’s really the only main responsibility. Touring is actually very easy, people think it’s a difficult thing but that’s the easy part of the job. The hard part of the job is when you’re at home trying to take care of the house and write a record and all that crap. Live clean, stay healthy, and rock out every night.

Alex: How do you keep yourself entertained during the day if you’re only playing for an hour?

WS: Usually during the day I’ve been writing the next record. I’ve got a studio set up here in the back lounge so I’ll spend a few hours writing, then I’ll start getting ready for the show. After the show have some drinks and chill out, party for awhile then do it all over again the next day.

Alex: Roller Derby is making a strong comeback these days. You were on top of the game way back in 2007 . . . what was the inspiration for the video Destroyer?

WS: I have to credit the directors, that was all their idea. We got some young chillin directors and they had never actually never made a music video before. They came to us with the whole idea and we actually made that video for about $10,000 and everyone donated their time. It was a lot of fun actually, it was a very fun video to make.

Alex: Is making a video a fairly easy process?

WS: Generally it’s very tedious and you’re standing around in a cold room playing the same song a thousand times through the whole day. It’s generally tedious and I hate it. It generally depends who you’re working with. If the director you are working with is a good director, he knows when to stop and he can tell when the band’s starting to get worn out and he knows that he’s got the performances that he needs so he can move on.

Alex: I’ve seen that you have done cover songs in the past (mainly the Beneath. . .Between. . . Beyond album where you’ve covered Ministry, Black Sabbath, and the Ramones). What is the process of deciding what you want to cover and how do you approach it as a band?

WS: I guess it’s usually my idea if I want to do something. There’s a couple ways to approach it, a couple of the covers we’ve done in the past we’ve really tried to make it our own. Make it more of a Static-X thing. The cover we did recently for the bonus track for Cult of Static we did the opposite, we pretty much played them straight. I felt the songs were ridiculous to start with, you know a bunch of 80’s hair metal band songs. . . Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, and stuff like that. It was kind of fun in that way too.

Alex: You have worked with Skinny Puppy in the past, are there bands that you plan to work with in the future or would like to work with in a studio setting?

WS: I’ve pretty much worked with everyone I’ve ever wanted to believe it or not. I got to work with Al Jourgensen, Skinny Puppy . . . Dave Mustaine played a solo on our new record. There’s a lot of other great people out there but those are the main people I’ve always wanted to work with.

Alex: Would you ever let an artist like Weird Al Yankovic parody one of your songs?

WS: (laughs) Sure, why not?

Alex: Which one would you suggest would be best suited for parody?

WS: You would have to ask him that question. I dunno, I’m sure he’d think of some funny shit.

Alex: Just a few days ago you played with Seattle favorites Alice in Chains at Rock on the Range, did you get a chance to see them perform live? If so how was it?

WS: Yeah, I did watch their show the last time we played with them and I thought they were absolutely awesome. Their new lead singer. . . I think he fits in perfectly. I think it’s great.

Alex: How much fun was it to design your own guitar? How did that come about?

WS: It just so happens that some of the guys over at ESP I’ve know for many years and worked for them at other companies. A few years back when I decided I was going to switch from Epiphone to ESP I just walked into their office and had a meeting and they basically offered it to me on the spot. It was very cool. I’m actually on my second signature model with them right now and it’s very cool to be able to specify how exactly I want my guitar. The guitar I’m playing right now is my dream guitar, it’s the best guitar I’ve ever played. It’s absolutely amazing!

Check out Static-X’s video for Stingwray:

Tix for the August 22nd show can be purchased here.