/Features

Up, Close & Personal with STARS
/ 18 February 2013

STARS can probably be called Canadian indie royalty. Most of the band members have roots tying back to the legendary Broken Social Scene. On February 10, 2013, the band marked their return to Melbourne since 2009. The curtains at The Corner Hotel opened 20 minutes after scheduled time to welcome Pat McGee (drums), Chris Seligman (keyboards), Evan Cranley (bass), Amy Millan (vocals, guitar) and Torquil Campbell (vocals) on stage. They began with “Theory of Relativity,” opening track from their latest album.

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Their setlist mainly featured tracks from the new album including the powerful “A Song is A Weapon” and the delicate title track, “The North”, and “Progress”. Amy’s untainted vocals took center stage during “Lights Changing Colour”, “Walls” and “Backlines”, which was a prelude to “Do You Want to Die Together”, a grandiose duet with a nod to the 1950s doo-wop. The highlight of the night was “Hold on When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It”, an anthem in its own right. The band obviously had a lot of fun with this song, at one point Torquil leaped from the stage to dance with the crowd on the floor. The joy of this song was infectious as the crowd went wild; jumping around, dancing and clapping along to the beat.

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Stars also took care to indulge the more old-school fans. “Elevator Love Letter” and “Look Up” were welcomed with rapturous cheers and applause. “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” brought on the most sing-along tune of the evening, before they ended it with a ‘campfire’ version of “My Favourite Book”, the heartfelt “One More Night” and a stripped-down version of “The 400” as an encore. It was an unforgettable performance from the band, indeed. Before the show, Dinnia Jusuf had the chance to chat with the voice of Stars, Amy Millan.

2012 was a big year for STARS, with a lengthy tour and the release of “The North.” This time, you’re also touring Asia, US and Canada.
Whoa! I’m already exhausted with you listing all those things. (laughs) We’re also going to release 2 EPs this year and we’ll probably start writing our next record this summer. There are also lots of exciting festivals this to play for this summer, so that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.

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You are also playing Coachella, billed alongside Johnny Marr. Is that particularly exciting for you guys?
Absolutely. He’s played with our friends in Broken Social Scene, so hopefully we’ll be able to hang out with him backstage and have a chat. Especially for Torq, it’s gonna be the most special moment of his career. When he was growing up, you know, being 10 years old, he was in his room blaring The Smiths.

Your latest album, “The North”, is ‘sweeter’ and more upbeat compared to the previous album, ‘The Five Ghosts.’
‘When we were writing ‘The Five Ghosts,’ we were going through a difficult time. We lost Torquil’s father, he was a really big influence to us, a great artist and an amazing man. He passed away during the making of that album, and of course you can’t help but have your life affected by it. After touring that album, time healed us a little bit and we had such an intense period playing this music live! We wanted to bring some joy and lightness, so it was just a counterpoint to the previous album.

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With six albums under your belt, does it get more challenging to decide on a setlist?
I guess you always want to play the latest record, because it’s what you’re most excited about. When you’re writing new music it’s such a joy to bring that to the stage. We’re actually planning, back in Canada, to do these two-night shows called Sex & Death where we’re gonna be playing completely different sets. It’s just really lucky that we have so many songs we can choose from. We can go back and reinvent them because every time you play it is kind of a new song.

You were planning to do a show in Indonesia, unfortunately it’s not happening anymore. What happened?
You know you have these people who kind of run things, but our plan is always to come wherever people want us. We get a lot of amazing messages on Facebook and Twitter from people in Indonesia. I know the call is there. I’m not quite sure, it just didn’t quite work out schedule-wise. I’m so sorry we couldn’t come this time, and really, we’re gonna try everything we can to get to you.

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STARS’ Australian and Asian tour EP, “Far From Home” is available now on Soundcloud

Interview by Dinnia Jusuf
Photos by Rama Witjaksono

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