Drummer Patrick McGee from Montreal-based Canadian group Stars took a break from the band’s heavy tour schedule for an interview that gives insight into the band’s ethos.
Stars create music that is transportive, with vocal harmonies interwoven into electro-pop and solid rock.
Their most recent album, The Five Ghosts continues the group’s tradition of narrating the exquisite miseries of love and death with lyrics that expose and explore the heart-exploding nuances of the human condition.
Catch them at Legacy this Wednesday (Feb. 20) [details]:
Alita Rickards for GigGuide.tw: Your songs are so poignantly real about life, love, death, romance, and I’m curious to know how they come into being… is there a story first, or a melody, or a line that just comes from the ether?
Patrick McGee: As far as the music is concerned Evan, Chris, and myself usually just sit around in a room trying to play songs like Prince or Lionel Richie would. Despite our efforts it always comes out just like Stars. As per lyrics, I know Torq finds a lot of inspiration in "real crime" TV, and Amy tends to have most of her epiphanies while she's asleep, or while drinking wine with friends, talking about what happens when you drink wine with friends [Evan Cranley (bass), Chris Seligman (keyboards and French horn), Torquil Campbell (vocals, trumpet, melodica), Amy Millan (vocals, guitar)].
GG: I read with interest an interview that Torquil Campbell did with CoS where he said he was inspired by a book about hooligans and came up with a story about these two Nazi hooligans falling in love – as an artist how do the things you read/see/hear about in the world transform into songs? Does that happen often? What is the mental process like?
McGee: I think Torq likes taking outrageous stories he hears about or sees on TV, appropriate the characters and bring them to life in song. It also makes his life seem a lot more dramatic than it is.
GG: The band has said before that you are not political, but then I saw online that Torquil Campbell said: “I consider it part of my job to taunt and irritate the powerful, hopefully in the most childish way I possibly can,” in an email to The Globe and Mail (about Andrew MacDougall, named Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications last spring). I wanted to ask you if you think it is, I don’t know, some kind of power for good that artists should use, to call out other well known public figures and question what they do?
McGee: It's hard to say. In politics, ‘power for good’ is pretty subjective. I think it's good in general for artists to confront people and things that are bigger and apparently more powerful than they are. Often art is the only weapon wimpy artists have to wield. I think a lot of artists relate quite intimately with the David and Goliath story.
GG: About the music – it is so heartbreakingly beautiful… where does it come from, how do you as a band work together to manifest a feeling or idea into a song? Do your albums come from a central theme? Why are these the themes you focus on?
McGee: Sex and Death has been the central theme since the beginning. We are also five different people with different loves and inspirations and what comes when we mix it all up is just a big pot of sex and death soup.
GG: As a musician, what do you give the audience? What do you get back from it?
McGee: We give the audience an excuse to get out of the house, get all lit up, sing and dance, and maybe even kiss a stranger. The audience gives us a reason to keep up this ridiculous charade of a career. When I was a kid and adults would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up I’d say ‘a rock star!’ mostly to bug my parents. I had no idea that I was serious.
GG: What do you think about doing a show in Taiwan?
We've been to Asia a couple times and it's always a wonderful whirlwind. We came to Taiwan once before and I felt the whole time like I was in Blade Runner. In a good way. Taiwan to me seems like the Berlin or Brooklyn of Asia. Where the cool kids hang out.
Stars and Shugo Tokumaru play from 8pm to 11pm Wednesday February 20 at Legacy Taipei, Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914), Center Five Hall (中五館), 1, Bade Rd, Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號). Admission is NT$1,500 in advance and NT$1,800 at the door. Tickets are available at the door or at tickets.books.com.tw