lundi 14 novembre 2011

Shimmering Stars, a nostalgic trio - Interview

A Cadillac Eldorado in a drive-in theater. She is wearing a mid-calf dress, and has tied up a scarf around her neck. He is in black suit. The picture just taken from the 50s becomes clearer as Shimmering Stars’ “Violent Hearts” album unfolds. Is it a band from the 50s? Nope, only a trio of Canadians in love with the Everly Brothers and with everything that is linked with the beginning of rock and pop music. Andrew Dergousoff, 28 (drums and voice), Brent Sasaki, 31 (bass and voice), Rory McClure, 28 (guitar and voice)  mixed their musical influences from the 50s and 60s with contemporary indie pop to produce this heady dream-pop album. Interview with Rory McClure. 

x How came the idea of creating a band? 

We got into it for the limos and lear jets, but we end up sleeping on cold floors battling the onset of pneumonia most nights on tour, so I guess that didn’t work out so well.

x Why did you choose to play songs highly influenced by 50s and 60s pop music? Do you think they are still relevant nowadays?

Shimmering Stars began as a kind of bedroom project. It was really an excuse for me to indulge my most shameless pop impulses, and to explore the sounds of early pop/rock n roll. I think those influences are absolutely relevant nowadays. There is a timelessness about the songs from that era. And I think that in some ways 50s and 60s pop music offers a nice corrective to a lot of indie music from the last 20 years, which has had much less to do with sincerity and honesty and more about irony and detachment. Not that that’s a bad thing, but early pop brings in other elements that act as a nice counterbalance to those elements, I think.

x Where does your taste for that type of music come from? 

Probably through constant exposure to that music when I was younger. It’s an area that I neglected for quite some time, but after rediscovering the Everly Brothers I became obsessed with the music from this period. It’s just undeniably good, and goofy and oddly dark.

x How did you meet?

We’re all from a crappy little rural town in British Columbia called Merritt. It’s the self-proclaimed ‘Country Music Capital of Canada.’ The three of us grew up listening to indie rock and punk rock, making zines, skateboarding, and playing in bands. We’ve known each other for way too long and secretly want to kill one another.

x What are you usually listening to?

I really feel like I’m exiting my ‘sad bastard’ listening phase. Like that new Bon Iver record, I’m just not feeling it, though my sad-bastard past self would’ve loved it. Shit is just too snively. I’ve been listening to two local bands quite a lot – Manic Attracts and Lost Lovers Brigade. Other than that,  Kurt Vile, later Pixies,  the new Male Bonding record has some moments, Besnard Lakes – a rare example of a great Canadian band, and lots of Zydeco and Cajun music, bizarrely enough. Can’t get enough of that stuff!

x Do you have a favorite song and/or band/musician? 

Song = Pixies ‘Hey’

Band = Yo La Tengo, Pixies, Wolf Nebula!

x How did you choose your labels (Hardly Art in the US, and Almost Musique in Europe)? Did they contact you or did you contact them?

They contacted us. Benjamin from Almost Musique was the first label person to contact me. We signed with them for Europe initially, and our lives have been a living hell ever since.
Hardly Art contacted us a little later and they were like, “You guys are totally gonna be the next Nirvana!!” So we signed away our souls to Hardly Art and we haven’t looked back since!

Who did your videoclips?

The videos for I’m Gonna Try and Nervous Breakdown were done by our good friends at Salazar. They are rad guys and we’re very lucky to have had the chance to work with them on two occasions. 

x Is there something you're actually fond of apart from music? 

Brent and I are really into obscure beer, especially Belgian beer. I love skateboarding, though I’m
more of a fan these days because I’m a dinosaur and injure myself almost every time I step on a board. Andrew is very craft-y and makes dioramas and all kinds of twisted art pieces. 

x Do you have a job apart from your involvement in the group? 

Well we definitely aren’t making a living off of music! No one really knows what Andrew does, but he dresses in suits and looks like he’s doing very important things. Brent sells his body to the night, and I’m training to become a secondary school teacher. 

x What do you usually do during the day? and at night?

During the day we work and do regular people stuff. At night we let the beast within out of its cage. There’s no telling what kind of crazy shit will go down. 

x Do you often party?

Not as much as we did when we were younger, but Shimmering Stars shows have a tendency to get a little out of control. We often steal drinks from people mid-set and generally terrorize the audience. Music for all of us is an outlet that allows us to goof off and have fun. We’re pretty much wasted all the time on tour. We’re great role models. 

x Is there an actual indie music sphere in Canada? If there is one, what are your favorite bands?

For sure. You mentioned Chad VanGaalen and Women, who are two of our favourites. There’s not a ton of good bands, but there’s certainly a healthy indie scene. Toronto and Montreal are bigger music centres than Vancouver. 

x Your music seems very close to Chad VanGaalen’s and Women’s, do you agree?

Thanks! Geographically, yes, as they are both from Calgary, which is quite close to Vancouver in terms of Canadian cities. I love Women, and Brent is a huge fan of Chad VanGaalen, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those influences come through in our music. In terms of production values, there are definitely similarities, and I believe Chad VanGaalen records in his basement. We record in a garage, so there you go!

x Will you be on tour soon?

We’ll be doing a small tour around SXSW (Austin, Texas) in March of next year. And we love Austin so we’re pretty psyched! I’m really hoping we don’t get arrested. 

Almost Musique is a french label created in 2009 which manages six bands. Thus: Owls, launched by Lonely Dears’ Swedish chorus-singer and Patrick Watson’s Canadian guitarist. The Daredevil Christopher Wright, a folk band from Wisconsin. Arlt, a duet who plays blues and sings in French. Mariee Sioux, a Californian girl who plays acid-folk music. Hhappiness, from Sweden. And Shimmering Stars. For Benjamin CasChera, co-creator of the label, the only thing these bands have in common is the fact that they have all signed on this very label. Almost Musique aims at “releasing albums without being limited by musical genres.” CasChera explains that they could “release  a rocksteady album as well as a garage, rockabilly or folk one.”  

Carole Boinet


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