Tonight, Stellastarr*'s new song "Graffiti Eyes" debuts on Gossip Girl. I am downright obsessed with their 2004 song "My Coco," so I was excited to hear that this summer, the band will be going on tour for the first time in three years - and playing right here in Austin!! (Details to come on the when/where).
In anticipation of both "Graffiti Eyes," which hits iTunes today, and their upcoming visit to our fair city, Austin Eavesdropper invited bassist/vocalist Mandy Tannen of Stellastarr* to share some thoughts with us about the band's new album "Civilized," their favorite bands, and....The Twilight Zone.
(Bonus: "My Coco" video below).
1. Welcome to Austin Eavesdropper! And thanks for taking the time for this interview. First things first: How would you describe your music?
It is an amalgamation of many ideas. We are a very democratic band and try every idea out. So in the end our songs have many parts put together to form one cohesive piece.
2. "Civilized" (EDITOR'S NOTE: On sale July 7) is your third full-length album. How is this album different from your first two - "Stellastarr*" and "Harmonies for the Haunted?"
Our first album was written over a period of a couple years when we had first formed… we played out every other week in NYC road testing the songs we had written. We tailored many of our songs to make our live show the absolute best it could be. I guess it was kind of community based. Ours fans became our friends and peers.
Harmonies were written in almost an opposite fashion. We got back from touring the first album for a couple years. And we went right back into the rehearsal space writing. We had very short deadlines on us, so the writing process was very vigorous. We basically wrote every day, 8 hours a day, for a couple months. We were very serious about it. It was written with a major looking on, money backing it, and we are all very driven and professional in any endeavor. After touring it we realized that it had turned into a job, not what we originally intended to feel about our music. So…
For this album we decided to write on our own terms and for the love of playing music. We got together as a creative outlet and for some much needed camaraderie. No deadlines, no outside pressure. We wrote what we felt when we felt it.
3. The last time you released a full-length album was 2005. Tell us about the slow (but successful!) birthing process for "Civilized."
Because we were writing for ourselves and wanted to enjoy the process, we took our time. We wanted what came out to be authentic. But we also wanted a well rounded album with the best of the best we could come up with. We wrote more than double the amount of songs on the album. During pre-production we did a bunch of chopping. Also because we had left our label, we had no funding. We all had to work jobs to pay our rent and pay for the expenses of making an album by ourselves. That meant less time available for rehearsal. Of course we were in our space as much as we possibly could manage.
4. As SXSW veterans...do you have any plans to return to Austin anytime soon?!
OF COURSE!!! We love Austin. I think we have a better time playing regular shows there. All the venues are great, the food is great and the people are so friendly and welcoming. We are planning on including Austin in our US tour to support the album in July.
5. Favorite band you are listening to right now?
I have been listening to a lot of Jonathan Richman at the moment. Feeling Spunky!
6. "Graffiti Eyes" from the new album will be on Gossip Girl tonight, April 20. Tell us: Are you PRO or ANTI Blair-and-Nate?
I haven’t been following what has been up with them… I watched the first couple episodes but to tell you the truth… it is on when we normally rehearse on Mon nights here in NYC! So I have missed most of it!
7. Fill in the blank. If I weren't in a band I would be in a ______.
In a Twilight Zone episode named “The Hitch Hiker” as the character Nan.
Stellastarr* - My Coco (Official Music Video) - The most popular videos are here
(P.S. - If the video doesn't start after the commercial, hit the stop button, and then "Replay.")