Starfucker's highly danceable beats put the band in league with Neon Indian and Passion Pit, but frontman Joshua Hodges brings enough lyrical insight to the table to have you thinking and boogieing.
Hodges has something of a fetish for The Grim Reaper's handiwork, even searching out the original copy of Bardo Thodol (also known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead) while in India. The band's second album, Reptilians, features morbid speeches from philosopher Alan Watts, giving the hyperactive synths and washes of sound an extra unnerving element.
Hodges told Up On The Sun that he often listens to Watts before bed, which gives him vivid dreams. "I wake up thinking about stuff like impermanence and just how it puts things into perspective," Hodges explains. "We waste a lot of our lives and mental energy and time on shit that doesn't matter. Listening to him, and contemplating that stuff helps me remember what's actually important."
But existentialism is often coupled with a painted-on, sardonic grin and Starfucker is no exception. The band started out as Hodges' solo project, mostly as a joke, but grew bigger than they imagined. Unsurprisingly, the name, which Hodges describes as a "fuck you" to the idea of mainstream success, has crippled some of their airplay, but Hodges seems nonplussed.
"We're not gonna play on TV or get really big in that way, I don't think. Or on the radio for that matter," Hodges says. "I mean, we've played on college radio, but they can't say our name. They have to say like Stareffer or whatever."
It lends to some pretty hilarious scenarios: "We get pulled over by cops who are like, 'What's your band called?'" Hodges says chuckling. "It's kinda funny to play benefits. We played this school benefit in Portland and all these parents were freaking out. But you know, stuff like that is kinda cool."
That hasn't been their only challenge lately: in August 2011, multi-instrumentalist Ryan Biornstad was booted from the group, claiming he'd focus on solo work (nothing has surfaced just yet).
"It just got weird, I think," Hodges explains. "He was really hard to work with, he didn't write or contribute anything musically at all to the project, but kinda took credit for it and he was really hard to tour with, not fun in any way. I was like, 'I don't wanna spend [touring] with someone that makes me unhappy.' And everyone else in the band felt the same. So I was like, 'Dude, this isn't gonna happen anymore. I'm either gonna not have the band anymore or you're gonna have to leave it.'"
Still, Starfucker remains strong and are planning to release a yet-to-be-titled album in February. Hodges says, "It's about death. Surprise."
But, according to Hodges, it's their best release yet, as well as their most collaborative. True, Hodges wrote and recorded most of the music for his first two releases, a self-titled LP and the EP Jupiter, but on this one, "Shawn, the bass player, helped finish a lot of words with me, Keil and Patrick both have songs that they started on the album," Hodges says.
"It's like 15 songs, it's more diverse, more organic instruments and still have some dance stuff in it too ... It was really fun to make."
Starfucker is scheduled to perform Wednesday, November 7, at Crescent Ballroom.
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