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INTERVIEW ALERT: STARBENDERS


STARBENDERS Admit it. STARBENDERS peeked your interest a couple of weeks ago when you saw the story about their latest video and record, didn't they?

I know they did, even if you scrolled by the article without clicking into it. You wanted to though, didn't you? I mean what's not going to grab your attention from just their pic's thumbnail? Visually, the band is super-stimulating; feathers, leather, aerosol hair, platform boots that would make Gene Simmons wink and nod an approval and the feigning emotional glare into the camera! You totally looked and skimmed the article, if not read the whole thing!

Even after their promo pic being out of sight for the past week or so, I'm still intrigued like a cat following an unknown object under a blanket. STARBENDERS had some time to participate in a Q&A with me shortly after I showed y'all their latest OMV for "London" last week and man, they're troopers, I can tell you that right now! Since this was an email interview, the band and I had an opportunity to be a bit more descriptive, I will say, in my questions and in their answers.

With their latest work, "LOVE POTIONS", in the bag, they had a little time to answer the questions that will help our gravitational pull towards the music that much stronger. STARBENDERS are an eclectic but desirable mish-mash of black eyeliner drips that entertain and play to my inner glitter-girl that only dances to music under a flickering neon moon.

Here's the interview with STARBENDERS.
*****BEGIN TRANSMISSION

If you happened to have parents like mine, that weren’t musically inclined at all or preferred to listen to the classical station blasting through the crappy car speakers or talk radio in the car, did you listen along or were you lucky enough to have your own personal music device to escape the “noise”! The flip-side of this question: if you enjoyed listening to what your parents listened to, what kind of music was it and did you sing along?

AARON: This is an amazing question because it describes my dad almost perfectly. He emigrated to the United States from Jamaica to go to college, and while he wasn't musically inclined himself, he loved classical music. He took my siblings and I to see the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra a lot when we were kids. He used to pick me up from school in a shitty Ford station wagon with the windows down, always blaring classical music from NPR or listening to reggae. I had a really fun childhood because my parents loved to share the arts with us. They're some of my most cherished memories. As far as escaping the noise, as I got older, I was the teenager who wanted to tune out car rides by retreating into my headphones (I had five younger siblings so growing up was a bit on the wild side and you never really had a moment to yourself). My parents introduced me to Don Henley's first solo record, and you can bet I was singing along right beside them! I still do to this day.

EMILY: I didn't necessarily come from a family of musicians - and this excludes my Grandfather who left me all of his musical instruments when he passed - but yes, music was always being played in the house! My parents love rock, disco, some country music and any local artists they find while traveling the world. The music that made an impact on me through my parent's stereo system include Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, The Bee Gees, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Rolling Stones and Queen. My parents knew how to pick the best songs for a groovy Friday night hang! I guess that's why I find myself drawn to songs with a great beat - something that gets you up and dancing...and I'm not just saying that because I'm the drummer of the band. Ha!


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Name your least favorite band. No, seriously...I’ll go first. I am not a fan of Led Zeppelin. Mad respect for what they gave/give to the industry as a whole, but do not care for most of their catalog. I can’t stomach the song where the lyrics reference Lord of the Rings. There’s just something about JRR Tolkien, one of my favorite authors, and using Gandalf in a rock song. (No offense if you dig them or if they influenced you in any way…)

EMILY: Billy Joel - can't stand his voice, can't stand his songs. Also can't really stand anything with harmonica. I just put 'Piano Man' on to make sure - yep, still hate it

AARON: I love LOTR! Kriss and I have many a marathon on the road. But I'll also say that, between bands I like or dislike, neither has any bearing on what we do in STARBENDERS We make the music we know how to make and that's just going to have to be good enough for the world. I take music for what it is, and no artist owes me anything as a listener.


*****
Music is a force within nature; there is music all around us in the vibrations of a city, the hum of tires on a busy highway, or even in a forest that seems to be silent, there are still patterns that emote a melody. Some can hear this, and some cannot. Are you a technical musician or one that simply loves whatever it is that sound good? What is the strangest sound or rhythm that you’ve heard that spawned you to write a song or at least a part of a song? By the way, there is no right or wrong way to answer - nor does it matter either way!

AARON: I wouldn't call myself a technical musician. What sounds good goes, and it doesn't matter whether it's a bare-bones simple section or a weird-sounding one. We only have one rule in the writing room, and it's that what we do has to sound good. Beyond that, all bets are off. When I was in school, my music professors tasked us with writing compositions according to certain rules because, as they said, we had to "learn the rules so we could break them." STARBENDERS break rules. All you need is something that sounds good, and the rules don't apply otherwise.


*****

Now, some questions that point to how you got to this exact place in life and in your career: typing this interview!

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We all make decisions that pave the roads we’ll travel on in the future. Something made you decide that pursuing music would be cool. Do you know the moment you decided you wanted to be in a band? What were you doing or where were you that made that idea become a reality?

EMILY: Drums were apart of me from an early age. I played in the school bands but I honestly never really planned on becoming a drummer. During my sophomore year of high school, a group of my girl friends came up to me and asked if I'd be interested in playing drums in their band. It went kind of like this - *shrug* okay sure. I've been playing ever since!

AARON: I just didn't want to work a real job, so I started playing music. I guess things got a little out of hand and now here I am. I can't back out now.

*****
What inspires you? What inspires STARBENDERS as a whole?

AARON: For me, it's the experiences I have. Music is so special because it can make us feel things without saying a single word. I'm always chasing a way to articulate emotions when language just won't do the job, where the right words escape me, and I think that inspires my playing a lot. I would say that's true for everyone else in STARBENDERS .

*****
Would you consider yourself a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person? Does this conflict with your music or add to it?

EMILY: Oh, that glass is DEFINITELY half empty...but at least I'm more hydrated than I was! Unless we're talking about whiskey. I can spin it however! It really depends on my mood and I have lots of those swinging every which way. I guess my drum parts reflect this for sure but that's the best part of my instrument! I can make a song fast-paced and reckless and then suddenly hit a fill and bring us into a sexy groove if I so feel like it.

AARON: Honestly, whether you're trying to get drunk or stay hydrated, I tend to think that what you should be doing is drinking what's in the glass and then looking to refill it. Ask a person who's dying of thirst what they think of the glass in front of them - they don't care if it's half-full or half-empty. All they know is that in that moment, what matters is what they can actually do with the liquid it contains.


*****
Was there ever a time when you thought about quitting music?

AARON: I think most musicians consider it from time to time. This is a hard job, despite all the glamour associated with it. We do it because we love it. I haven't quit because I haven't stopped loving it. I would walk on my lips through broken glass for the things and people I love, and the day I stop loving music is the day I quit. Hasn't happened yet.

*****
Fill in the blank - The best thing about STARBENDERS is _______________________.

EMILY: We're a family. We love each other unconditionally. We have each others backs at all times. And all of this is projected outward onto our fans, they are our family too.

AARON: The best thing about STARBENDERS is that we're STARBENDERS . It's also the worst thing about us.

*****
What is the one element in playing or performing that has to be just so? For me, if I’m writing a review, I do my best to only write while listening to the record for the first time and I only review music that I like. And I only write reviews with pen and paper first, never type. Or at least, not yet.

AARON: I'm pretty low-maintenance. As long as I have Emily's kick drum in my monitors and a sparkling water onstage, I'm a happy bassist.

*****
Questions relating to the latest release LOVE POTIONS, which I love the title, BTW. I mean, finally, someone realized there are more than one kind of love potion. Many ways to fall in love, hence there’s gotta be more than a singular ‘potion’. Whether or not this applies to the meaning or the inference of the title of the record, isn’t that important - I just thought I’d point it out! Haha!

*****
Most meaningful track on LOVE POTIONS and why?

EMILY: 'One of Us'. It's hard for me to listen to this song without getting emotional. I'm a sucker for any song about being a band on the road. Play Carpenters 'Road Ode' and I'll be an absolute mess. When Kimi showed me 'One of Us' for the first time I knew it had to be on the record. It feels like the most real and raw song on the record

AARON: That's a hard one, and I'm not sure I could single out a song. You might as well ask me which one of my animals I love more - I just couldn't possibly pick. This record took thirteen months to do and it wasn't easy. It was definitely a labor of love, and these songs each equally represent a moment in time and a unique snapshot of where we were in life over the past year. "Love Potions" is an anthology, a complete work in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You don't write a novel and say, "This is the best chapter;" you hand someone the entire book and ask them what they thought of the ending.

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They always say that history repeats itself - even in music. As a GenX’er and having grown up with bands like THE THOMPSON TWINS, OMD (ORCHESTRAL MANEUVERS IN THE DARK), THE GO-GO’S, THE PRETENDERS, DURAN DURAN, ABC, ADAMANT, BILLY IDOL, WHEN IN ROME, THE BOW-WOW WOWS, A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS, THE ESCAPE CLUB and so many more, I am always moderately skeptical - if only that look where one eyebrow is raised - when I read about a band that is touted as glam, new romantic-like or new wave. With STARBENDERS - I didn’t have to read a bio or blurb about STARBENDERS to know that y’all were legit. There is a genuine feel of that era in your image and the music backs it up 100%. Even going back to “While I Was Sleeping” I can hear the echos of this mega-decade and literally, not just the echoes, the essence of that time in music is brought forward and current on Love Potions, it is really fabulous, TBH! So the question is if you go back to the 80’s - what band would you want to see or play with? If you were to cover a hit from the 80’s what would it be? There are some great songs from back then - that’s a hard choice!

KIMI: That is some high praise from someone who has great taste in music! Thank you! I love Save A Prayer by Duran Duran along with Planet Earth. They really bridged fashion with music beautifully. The Love record by the Cult is a masterpiece and I would have given anything to have seen them play in Camden Town back in the day. I really love Stiv Bators and especially loved his band Lords Of The New Church. Would love to cover Dance With Me. An incredible song married to a great production. Born To Lose by Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers would a cool one to cover as well.

*****
SUMERIAN RECORDS has a rad roster, and there are a lot of my fav bands that family-up with SUMERIAN. Put a tour together with you and three other SUMERIAN bands for a 30-day tour. Name the bands on the tour and why you’d wanna gig around with them!

AARON: I think it'd be fun to tour with Poppy, Black Veil Brides, and Sleeping With Sirens. We might break America but I'm here for it. We have a way of joking about things which end up coming true, so stay tuned!

EMILY: Poppy - Have you heard Poppy's new record? It's incredible. Her aesthetic is so unique, she just seems so so so creative and I want to be around that energy. Plus my friend Sam is her drummer and I'd love to hangout with him for 30 days, haha! Palaye Royale - We've toured with Palaye before and the biggest thing I noticed from them was the amount of love and attention they give their fans. It's really beautiful to see and I respect them a lot for it. From First to Last - I'm just a pop punk girl at heart! Love the pop punk scene, from the bands to the fans. Everyone is so supportive of each other and the fans always show up.

*****
Can you imagine life without social media? I sometimes think what it would be like growing up with FB or Instagram, TicTok, or Twitter. I mean, we had notes and LAN lines - that’s it. How has social media been a help to STARBENDERS in achieving the goals you’ve accomplished thus far? What would you like to see more from social media in the future that could even further push y’all out to fans that haven’t heard y’all yet?

AARON: To me, the internet is a medium that's as paradigm-shifting as the printing press: it allowed the sharing of information on a wider scale than what was possible before. Social media is another evolutionary step in that journey. Sometimes people give it a bad name that isn't entirely deserved. Like all technology, it's neither good nor bad; what matters is how you use it. Early 20th-century fascist regimes used the radio to devastating effect, but Roosevelt used it for his Fireside Chats to give hope to a nation at war, fearful for their children and their future. Technology and mediums are almost always neutral and make their mark on history because of how they're implemented. You want to fret about whatever drama your ex or estranged family member is causing over social media? Fine, have fun and stay the fuck away from me. You want to share Trumpian nonsense and anti-science headlines? Thanks for taking our species back a couple steps, I guess. You want to bring people together and share art with your friends that you can all identify with? That's using it for the betterment of humanity and I think we have an obligation to implement technology responsibly in ways that enrich civilization as a whole rather than lining the pockets of the rich and powerful. We're at a moment in history where the road forks and we can decide to either use these awesomely powerful tools at our disposal to move our species forward or to retain the status quo to our own detriment. If STARBENDERS is remembered for anything, I would hope that it's because we put out something we thought was beautiful and worth doing for its own sake, using social media to spread a piece of our own humanity that isn't a sales pitch, that isn't a policy proposal, that isn't a solicitation for anything. Like I said, some things are worth doing for their own sake and they're exactly what they say they are. In this post-truth, heavily marketed era where everything is com-modified and spun to conceal underlying motives, there's a certain honesty in that which I think we all crave.

*****
Finally, I’m super impressed with Kimi’s lyrics - and I’m a tad obsessed with the track “London”. (Official Music Video) is crazy good, too!) In having listened to most of Love Potions and a few others on YouTube, there is this haunt that lingers between the melodies and the lyrics, that is mesmerizing and beautiful with a Johnette (Napolitano) vibe, almost in a lot of the songs y’all do - but “London” resonates a ton with me. Describe “London”’s origin and how the song came about.

AARON: I honestly can't speak much on Kimi's lyrics. What goes on in her head is something unique and special, and the world is lucky to experience the fraction of it that she chooses to express. She's a beautiful, alluring mystery even to her closest friends, and you could write entire dissertations trying to figure her out. She's a wordsmith of the caliber that only comes around once in a generation, and a whisper from her lips can move mountains. How could I possibly dissect something that powerful? Some things are better left as they are.
*****END TRANSMISSION.

And there ya have it Lovelies! Just a little peek inside the cranium cracks inside STARBENDERS minds, if just for a few minutes. See, it's not any different than any of us, really, right?

Vastly creative, current, modern and on a one way journey to your ear holes! Don't be surprised though, when that journey turns into an epic quest, seemingly on caravan and dragging their gear through the sticky parts of mind and finally taking up residency in your memory for a long, long while.

You can find out more about STARBENDERS by visiting them at www.facebook.com/starbenders or www.twitter.com/starbenders.Add their website to your favorites here: www.starbenders.com.

Til Next Time - MRML - Cherri

STARBENDERS ARE:
KIMI SHELTER - LEAD VOX/GUITARS
AARON LECESNE - BASS
EMILY MOON - DRUMS
KRISS TOKAJI - GUITARS/VOX


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Tags:  STARBENDERSSUMERIAN RECORDSAARON LECESNEEMILY MOONLOVE POTIONS

    March 17, 2020

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