|...And Stars Collide interview|
...And Stars Collide are getting ready to release their debut album The Courage To Start Again later this month and are playing a free launch gig in support of it at The Chameleon on Saturday 16 July. With this in mind and because we loved their previous releases, we decided it was about time we interviewed them...
Hello, how are you?
Chris: We’re all tired.
Who is in the band?
Tom: Chris and I play guitar, Rob plays bass, Andrew plays drums, and most of us played some level of keyboard part in the studio.
How did the band get together?
T: Back at university in 2005 I was looking to put a band together with a friend called Adam – we recruited Rob and a drummer called Jimmy and played one show with that line-up before Adam and Jimmy moved away. We replaced them with long-term friend Andrew and Chris in 2007, so the current incarnation has been a going concern for quite a while.
Where does the name come from?
T: Originally we had a name that was fourteen or fifteen words long, but the last three words were And Stars Collide, so to at least give us a chance we kept it to that. Also it’s a bit of a genre cliché to have a really long name…
Rob: …so we thought we’d just have an ellipsis at the beginning instead…
How would you describe your sound?
T: “Crescendocore” is a silly one that someone’s thrown at us. The starting point is “instrumental” really because a common comment, especially from people at work, is “when are you guys going to get a singer?”.
R: A band we played with once described us as “post-rock with emphasis on the rock”, which I quite liked.
How does the songwriting work in the band?
R: It’s quite democratic. Sometimes we just jam stuff out and we’ll be going round in circles until one riff sticks, gets a song built round it and then ends up mostly absent from the finished track. Other times someone will bring pretty much a whole song in for everyone to refine together.
What was you first gig like?
T: It was a Battle of the Bands heat.
R: I believe we came third out of five.
T: I’d been talking to a lot of people at university about putting a band together for ages, so it felt good to put my money where my mouth is.
What has been your favourite gig to play in Nottingham?
R: Probably supporting Pure Reason Revolution at the Social – decent sized crowd, good sound, sold a bunch of records…
C: Really good sound-check…
R: Yeah, we say it was our favourite gig, but you’ll still find it as the prime example of us complaining about not getting a sound-check.
What can we expect at your album launch gig?
R: Well, it’s free entry, so you have no entitlement to expect anything…
T: As it’s an album launch gig we’re going to be playing a lot of new material, although I think we have played all of our new songs live at least once now. We’re going to be playing for a fair bit longer than we’re used to.
Can you tell us a bit about your new album?
C: Factually, it’s forty-five minutes long and has seven songs on it.
Andrew: It was recorded in the space of a week in February at the Snug Recording Co. in Derby.
R: We were fortunate enough to work with three incredibly skilled engineers on it – Rob and Rich at Snug, and then the album was mastered in the US by Medi at Shelsmusic. We kind of went in to it saying that if we were going to do something as bold as an album then we’d make sure it was the absolute best that we could possibly come out with. I think certainly sound-wise those guys have really helped us deliver that – hopefully the song-writing will stand up for people as well. We’ve tried to make it a nice product too, so we’ve got some fairly fancy card and carefully-crafted artwork. Hopefully it’s a record people will want to buy and cherish rather than hijack off their favourite torrent site.
What has been your highlight of being in the band so far?
R: The first review we got was actually for our first EP from Rock Sound, which is obviously quite a renowned publication, so it was nice to have such a resounding endorsement of us committing ourselves to tape and pushing ourselves out into the wider world.
C:I’m going to say playing with Pure Reason.
T: I enjoyed playing with Rinoa in the Basement.
A: I really like it when a new song’s coming together, especially if it’s a jam and you’ve recorded it, though it never feels quite as good as when you’re actually jamming it.
What other music coming out of Nottingham are you currently enjoying?
R: Souvaris… You Slut from Derby…I’m less in touch with the local scene than I ought to be.
T: 8mm Orchestra and Union Station Massacre are in a similarish vein to us. Our buddies All The Empires Of The World have a new record out soon. My favourite is probably Pilgrim Fathers.
A: Prize Pets, if you can call them Nottingham still.
What is it like for a band in Nottingham trying to get gigs and support?
R: We struggle… I think that relates to an extent to how much we manage to interact with the local scene. There are some guys like Marty from Alright The Captain who put in a load of effort and have built up a decent underground. I do wonder how Nottingham compares to other cities in terms of getting support slots with bigger bands. I’ve been to plenty of gigs in places like Sheffield, Leeds or Birmingham where there appears to be an easier level of access to those kinds of opportunities. For a band like us in a niche style, there are only so many suitable chances you’re going to get, and to-date we tend not to.
C: I’m still mourning the death of Saggy Pants.
T: It’s difficult for small venues – Junktion 7’s been open and shut more times than a…
R: It’s a difficult balance to make because fundamentally it’s not that viable to put on small music shows. You can’t blame promoters – they don’t owe us anything and we wouldn’t pretend that for a second, but as a direct answer to the question then yes we do struggle. Our modest fan-base is spread quite widely around the world and while it’s exciting to sell CDs to Japan and America and Greece and wherever else, we struggle to get the momentum locally that can cascade into something more enduring.
T: To be honest we don’t put a great deal of effort into self-promotion and maintaining a “profile” and so we don’t tend to gig all that often. But I think that suits us really - I’d much rather play infrequently than be in one of those bands that is everywhere, overexposed.
What do you like to do on a night out in Nottingham?
A: My favourite thing is to go on a pub crawl but no one ever seems to…
T: I’m well up for a Canning Circus pub crawl!
R: Canning Circus does have a good melee of drinking establishments.
C: Let’s do it.
What is your earliest musical memory?
T: I always remember being in the car going on long journeys and my dad would have The Beatles on or some old rock stuff like Black Sabbath or Hawkwind or something.
R: I don’t remember this because I was incredibly young at the time, but I’m told that when Live Aid was on when I was a couple of months old, I was sat on my granddad’s knee bouncing around to Rockin’ All Over The World, so that’s probably my first true musical experience.
A: My dad loves Status Quo, so we used to have Status Quo or The Kinks.
C: Mine was probably Dire Straits in the car.
If you were reincarnated what would you like to come back as?
T: Something that could fly, although I’d be shit scared because I don’t like heights.
C: Probably a horse.
R: I’d just be reincarnated as a person with some of my personality flaws taken away.
T: Only some of them?
R: Yeah, you’ve got to leave yourself room for improvement.
A: I might be taking this too seriously, I probably am, but the problem with coming back as an animal is that you can’t converse… do they converse?
R: You can converse, but you lose the richness of language that humans have afforded themselves over millions of years.
What’s next for the band?
T: We’re going to play some gigs around the country to support our new album…
R: We’ve been focused on making this album for really quite a long time and material-wise we’re back down to having about half a song, so I think it’s going to be quite a long road of composition slowly but surely over the coming months and realistically years, and we’ll see where that takes us.
Any final words for the LeftLion readers?
C: How have you stayed with us this long?!
A: Please buy our album.
T: Being in a band is great and we’d recommend it to everyone – I think we’re a good example of “if you enjoy what you’re doing, you can find the time to do it”. Writing music you want to hear and being able to connect with people through it is an incredibly rewarding experience.
...And Stars Collide album launch is at The Chameleon on Saturday 16 July 2011. It is free to get in..