Monday, February 25, 2008
Stellastarr* Interview with Shawn Christensen
I thought Stellastarr*'s second album "Harmonies For The Haunted" was criminally overlooked. The whole album is solid and such tracks as "Sweet Troubled Soul" and the delay and reverb soaked gem "Love and Longing" still remain in heavy ipod rotation. Shawn Christensen (Vocals/Guitars) was nice enough to answer a few questions before their stop at the Troubadour this Wednesday. I recommend you pick up your tickets here.
AC: I enjoyed some the new songs you played last year at the Troubadour. How is the new album coming along?
SC: We're somewhere in between recording and mixing.
AC: Who recorded and produced the album? How was that process?
SC: We're working with Tim O'Heir again, who produced our first record. It's always nice to work with someone you're comfortable with and really understands the band.
AC: I read an interview that said you had some throat problems that may affect your singing intonation. Were these problems resolved?
SC: I had to change my approach a little bit for various medical reasons. The pain is gone now, but I was very close to having surgery.
AC: "Love and Longing" is one of my favorite Stellastarr* songs. Any specific memories or notes from the recording of that song?
SC: Many memories. First of all, I had written two choruses that the band wasn't thrilled about. Then, I wrote another chorus that they loved and I downright hated it. I would be singing it and thinking, no way could I live with myself if this becomes the definitive version. Then, after I kicked and screamed and slaved over new ideas, I basically came into the studio the day to record vocals with nothing. No lyrics, melody, nothing. So I adlibbed that long noted chorus, andthat's what we ended up recording. Wrote some quick lyrics, sang them, and that's what made it to the record.
AC: I like the guitar interplay between Michael and Shawn. Do you write your guitar parts separately or is it a more collaborative process?
SC: Half the songs begin with a Michael riff, and the other half I come in and format and he comes up with things after word, Our general rule is that we are never allowed to play the same thing at the same time. No exceptions.
AC: What are some of the guitar pedals that you employed on the new record?
SC: Boss Reverb, Digital Delay and Big Muff fuzzness. Not much else.
AC: How does the songwriting process work in Stellastarr*?
SC: I'll come in with a formatted song, and then put it through the Stellastarr* factory. Or Michael or Mandy have a riff or bassline and we'll build it from there. Obviously, those songs take a little longer because the band needs to choose the direction of the riff and find the vision.
AC: If you could tour with any 4 bands, who would they be?
SC: Beatles, Dylan, Pixies and Bowie.
AC: What are some of more memorable concerts you have attended and/or
SC: The Fuji Festival in Japan was great. The Chemical Brothers came on stage and blew me away. Also, Kraftwerk at Coachella was pretty intense.
AC: What are some of your preferred guitars to use on tour and while recording?
SC: Fenders nowadays. I thought my Les Paul sound was too gritty for the Harmonies record so I switched over to Tele's and Strat's. I try to stick with the cleaner sounds now in order to have more room to screw it up properly with the pedals.
AC: One of the new songs was entitled "Keyboard". Any favorite keyboards?
SC: I'm not a big techie when it comes to keyboards. Usually Arthur plays those parts. We split writing them, but in the case of that song, he wrote keyboard riff and we liked it enough t turn it into something. It sounds pretty good, I think.
AC: Amanda's background vocals are excellent, Any plans for Amanda to sing on some new songs?
SC: There are a couple songs where we sing the lead together. We'll be debuting those songs at the shows this week.
AC: What is your current status in terms of record label? What direction are looking to go?
SC: More control over our product and image. Better residuals and Marketing. The money you get back from record sales on Major Labels is dismal.