Blood, suffocation, glam-rock: a chat with Starcrawler

We caught up with Los Angeles outfit Starcrawler to chat about their wild live show and how it feels to have a knife pulled on you.

Hospital gowns, blood, suffocations, and imitations of oral sex all make regular appearances in the notorious live performances of Starcrawler. So it’s not too hard to see why the LA-based four-piece have so quickly jumped from being high school students to an international touring band. With 6’3″ frontwoman Arrow De Wilde at the band’s helm, they’re kind of act you can’t rip your attention away from.

So while they were in Sydney, we caught up to chat about their wild live show, Los Angeles, glam-rock, and what’s to come.

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HAPPY: I saw you guys yesterday in Mona Vale. It was wild. Arrow, at the end of the set, you went around knocking heaps of people’s beers out of their hands. Has anyone ever G’d up at you for that?

ARROW: Has anyone ever what?

HAPPY: G’d up. It means to get angry…

ARROW: Oh right, I think that’s an Australian term.

AUSTIN: We always ruffle a few feathers at shows, but nothing too crazy has ever happened.

HAPPY: All throughout the set, it felt like something was about to go really wrong…

AUSTIN: Well yeah, things go wrong all the time.

ARROW: But no one’s died yet.

HAPPY: We’ve still got a long night ahead of us. But are there any specific stories of things going wrong?

AUSTIN: Well, there’s the knife story, but that’s a bit weird.

HAPPY: Definitely tell us the knife story. You can’t go teasing knife stuff like that…

ARROW: Yeah, I feel like we’ve got to tell it now. I spit water on a table of ladies and then one of them pulled a knife on me.

HAPPY: That would be an example of someone G’ing up.

HENRY: Those people would’ve been the American equivalent of bogans.

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HAPPY: Have you been well acquainted with bogans on this trip?

ARROW: No, not at all. We just heard the word once and now we say it all the time. I don’t think I’ve seen a single one.

HENRY: It’s a fun word. But there are a few other stories of people getting angry… once this lady got really angry at me, but I didn’t do anything. She kept throwing drinks at me. She’d go to the bar just to buy more drinks that she could throw at me. She threw like 11 drinks. She thought that I spit on her, but it was completely unintentional. We made up at the end of the night though.

HAPPY: I’ve seen this phrase going around, that Starcrawler are part of a blossoming LA glam-rock scene. I never knew such a scene existed.

ARROW: I’m not sure if it exists either.

HENRY: It has existed.

ARROW: Like who?

AUSTIN: There are lots of different scenes in LA, but you really need to be in that pocket to know it.

ARROW: In LA there are a lot of models with mullets who are into “glam” but they don’t actually go to shows. They just take pictures of themselves.

HAPPY: Are you part of any scene then?

AUSTIN: No, I think we’re outliers. The whole reason we started this band was because of our distaste for music in our city. There was nothing that we wanted to go see, so we started our own band.

ARROW: There was still a lot going on, just nothing we were into.

HENRY: There wasn’t much rock music happening.

ARROW: It was all hardcore or surf.

AUSTIN: All the scenes seem inclusive, but they only really are to their specific genres. With past bands I’ve been in, I’ve never really felt like I belonged. They don’t make you feel very welcome.

ARROW: It’s all very territorial too. You won’t even hear of shows if you don’t live in that specific area. A lot of punk shows are very territorial, especially in beach towns.

HAPPY: Did you all play in bands before this?

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ARROW: I was in one band, but it wasn’t serious.

AUSTIN: Yeah same, they were all just high school bands.

HAPPY: You guys have spoken a bit in the past about authenticity, and bands not really having anything to say. Was that another thing you were dissatisfied with in your local music community?

ARROW: Yeah, I think it was lacking.

AUSTIN: But for us, it’s not about having a specific political message or anything like that. We just didn’t see any young bands in our city, so it was more about inspiring more young bands who want to make rock music. It felt like there was a power rift or something… no one was able to do it. Seeing a young band like us, it makes people feel like they can do it too.

HENRY: When we started it was a lot more innocent. We just wanted to be a band that toured and stuff. We just wanted to get out of high school and stop doing homework.

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HAPPY: In those really early stages, what was the band like?

ARROW: It was pretty much the same, but it has definitely grown.

AUSTIN: Yeah, it took a while to get it to this point. The first few literal months of it were just Arrow and me. We could play guitar, but we were very mediocre. Then Arrow met Henry at school, which is when it got easier. And as a young band, we really didn’t want to suck. So we just played the songs over and over again. We wanted to make sure we had a good set before we played live.

HAPPY: You guys haven’t fucked around with releasing music. It’s been pretty rapid. Are you going to try to keep that up?

ARROW: Yeah, I think so.

HAPPY: Was it a deliberate effort to do things that way?

AUSTIN: Yeah, we’d been playing that first record for over a year and a half, so we thought we should have more stuff out. You kind of get tired of playing the same things as well, so we were happy to be recording new stuff.

HAPPY: What does the writing look like then? You must be working pretty quickly…

HENRY: I had a heap of demos from over the year, so then we got together and found the good stuff. From there, we wrote lyrics and changed heaps of things, then we recorded it.

HAPPY: Have you started work on the next record?

AUSTIN: We always have ideas floating around, but we haven’t gone into the studio yet.

HAPPY: Do you have any ideas of how you’d like to do things differently?

HENRY: We like the way we’re doing things currently.

AUSTIN: With this record, we had a lot more time to focus on songwriting. I think we’ve found a flow now.

HAPPY: You mean you had more time on Devour You? Because that’s the record that I felt came out really quickly…

HENRY: It was a mixture of both. It was still really stressful. It was the most stressful time of my life. Even though we had more days in the studio, there was still a lot of pressure.

HAPPY: Is there any timeline for this next release?

HENRY: This record only just came out. People keep asking that, I’m like “what the fuck do you people want from me?” I just gave you this album, let me sit down.