Allow me introduce you to Starcrawler! Not Since the band X has there been a rock/punk band who have authentically captured the edgy underground Los Angeles music scene, culture, and style and wrapped it into such a delicious audio-visual package quite like these Gen Z’ers.
Critics have called them a “stoner metal quintet,” “dazed SoCal sleaze rock,” compared them to Black Sabbath and The Runaways, and accused them of having “their whole DNA linked to the 1970s.”
I was granted an interview as the band gets ready to go on tour with English rock band Bush.
Thank you, Starcrawler, for agreeing to this interview as you are headed on an amazing tour with Bush! Congratulations! So tell us, how would you describe your music and who you would you compare your style and/or sound to?
Henry Cash: I don’t really know how to describe it. We just play what feels natural to us and a lot of times it ends up being genre-crossing, so it’s hard to describe it. I usually just tell people to give a couple songs a listen to see if any of it connects with them or not, and if it does that’s cool and if not that’s fine, too.
What music was playing in your homes growing up and who was playing it?
Arrow de Wilde: My mom would play a lot of the bands or artists that she was friends with and working with at the time, so I grew up listening to a lot of Elliott Smith, Beck, The Raconteurs and stuff like that. My dad would play me bands like The Beatles and The Monkees, which led to me having a hardcore Beatles obsession when I was little.
Henri Cash: There was honestly so much music playing in our house as kids that it’s hard to narrow it down to anything specific. I’d say out of the hundreds of records, some stuff that stuck out to me the most was probably Elvis Presley, The Ramones, ACDC, and Mississippi Fred McDowell.
Tim Franco: There were a lot of CDs my parents would put on in the car or radio stations they would gravitate towards playing in the car.. My mom would play a good amount of classic rock music from her parent’s generation. Music like The Beatles or The Eagles, K-Earth 101 was a station that was always on, and there was also the Practical Magic soundtrack that I was fascinated with that she had, too. That began my love for Harry Nilsson. My father would play more modern rock and turn me onto stuff like “Icky Thump” by The White Stripes, or Demon Days by the Gorillaz, or whatever was on KROQ like The Scorpions or Van Halen.
Seth Carolina: Classic rock, southern rock, country, and then whatever was on the radio at the time.
Bill Cash: Same as Henri.
Arrow and Henri, you went on your first UK tour when you were in your senior year of high school. Did you have supervision or was it a free for all?
AdW: We didn’t have much supervision, I guess, but it was also a very short tour. It was amazing. We flew back from the last show straight to our high school prom, which I think is iconic haha.
Henri, there seems to be an unspoken expectation as to the length of education one must have to be a success in any career. You have defied that theory. You dropped out of high school to pursue the band. Can you talk about that personal decision? Pros and cons?
HC: Pros–I got to stop wasting hours of my days and nights on an outdated educational system.
Cons: Don’t know much about science books and I’m not sure what y=mx+b means.
When were you confident you had made the right decision?
HC: I knew I wanted to drop out of school since kindergarten. Around the time I dropped out, all the musical influences around me also left the educational system early and seemed to be doing fine, so I never thought twice about it.
As a band I love your cover choices, particularly Tom Petty’s “I Need to Know.” Mike Campbell (Heartbreakers guitarist) played on and appears in the video. How did that historical rock moment materialize?
AdW: My boyfriend, Gilbert Trejo, did a music video for his band the Dirty Knobs, and around the same time, we got asked to cover a Tom Petty song along with a bunch of other artists for this Sirius XM thing. So we thought, hell, why not ask him to be a part of it. The worst he could say is no! Luckily he was super down, and because it was still heavy in the pandemic, he recorded his parts separately from his home studio and sent them to us. It was overall a very rad experience.
BC: I honestly don’t know how anything we do materializes. I just get a few days heads up, if I’m lucky, and keep a clear schedule.
Seth, as a musician, how is it being thrusted into a band that was already established?
SC: It is more than ideal. Already having been close friends with the band made it all feel so natural. There were definitely a lot of learning opportunities joining a band that’s played hundreds of shows together without me.
Are there any pressures or benefits that are not so obvious that you would like to mention?
SC: There is always a pressure coming into an established band as a new member, whether it be from the members or the fans. I wanted to find a balance between my original style and the already established sound of Starcrawler. Overall, joining Starcrawler has been nothing but a benefit.
Arrow, you’ve mentioned that some of your performance inspiration comes from watching videos of icons like Cheri Currie, Iggy Pop, and Kiss. Talk more about the importance you place on giving an audience a great live performance.
AdW: Starting this band, it was really important to me that we put on a show. I was tired of going to concerts just to watch dudes stare at their pedalboards. The world, or at least LA, needed more excitement. We wanted to create this sort of world that’s ours that people can step into for a night and forget about everything else.
Are any of the other bandmates inspired by performance skills of other artists? If so, who?
HC: Jack White has been a hero of mine for as long as I can remember. Getting to play some shows with him and having his and everyone over at Third Man’s constant support over the past couple years has really meant alot to us. It’s been super inspiring in many ways.
TF: I’m definitely inspired by a lot of musician’s stage presences, like James Brown or those BBC performances like Neil Young’s or Harry Nilsson’s. Don’t know if it translates to my own presence, but it definitely fueled my passion for music.
BC: Malcom and Angus Young, Clarence White, and Lloyd Green. I credit Gen Z’ers for reviving rock n roll. Thank you all for being a big part of it and making it your own. In a recent conversation with record producer, Nico Constantine he said ‘If rock n roll is to reclaim the vitality it deserves, its new crop of artists have to bring the younger generation along for the ride.’
As a band you have a good chunk of the Gen Z demographic. Any secrets on how to get them to stop devouring a streaming service’s pop playlist and experiment with Rock n Roll?
AdW: I don’t think pop music will ever go away, but I have noticed a lot more people are into rock than they were a few years ago, so that’s definitely really cool. Rock was invented for all the freaks out there who felt like they didn’t belong, so as long as there’s still some sort of a market for it, that means there’s plenty of freaks to go around. Which is good for us.
HC: I don’t know. It might be a lost cause. I would say stop listening to streaming services, but that’s not practical. I also don’t think it’s bad to listen to pop music. People should listen to whatever turns them on. It doesn’t need to be rock. If you like a song by a band, maybe try listening to their records instead of just their hits and listen all the way through. You might find more you’re into. Going into your local record store and seeing posters of what’s going on and going out to see bands live that are coming through your town that you don’t know much about might expand your palette.
BC: I guess, first off, they need to stop making the pop playlists so good. Second, I think anyone who is excited about music will always naturally listen to new things and gradually expand their own taste. Anyone who wants to get into rock music has the ability now more than ever. Forcing the genre onto people who aren’t actively seeking it out would probably be counterintuitive.
Bill, in 2020 you were in the band X ‘s music video. I’m curious to hear more about what that meant to you personally. Also, did anything notable happen in the filming process.
BC: I had a lot of fun being in the video and working on it with my friends. I got my hair bleached to play Billy Zoom and still haven’t gone back to my natural hair color.
You all have distinct looks. Mention any Influences, philosophy or inspiration?
AdW: Sable Starr, Michael Monroe, Katie Jane Garside, Angelyne, Johnny Thunders, and Victorian ghosts.
HC: I’m tryna pull off a Dwight Yoakam vibe, if he was starring in a Tim Burton movie, and also hadn’t showered in a month.
TF: Most of my life, I just wore hand-me-downs, or whatever my family bought me for Christmas. My mom did instill in me the importance of matching at least. I have also gotten some great clothes from some close friends. More recently, I’ve developed a fascination with tuxedo printed t-shirts, and I’ve started building a collection of those. I have just under 60 now. The more ridiculous, the better.
BC: Garth Algar.
Congratulations on your newest release titled “She Said,” the first album release with your new label Big Machine. What are the pros and cons of being on an indie label versus being on a major label?
HC: I love all the labels we work with, so it’s cool.
BC: I agree with Henri.
Would any of you like to comment on the difficult process of writing, recording, and releasing this body of work, as most of it happened during the pandemic?
AdW: It was definitely weird not knowing whether we’d even get to play a show again, but all we could do with the time we were given was write so we did.
Thank you all!
Follow Starcrawler on the links below and watch their videos, which are brilliant.
Readers, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think or a suggested artist interview. I am always looking for emerging artists who are soon to be household names.