Live & Direct with Stars

Cindy Howes had the opportunity to chat with Stars, a rad band from Toronto, Canada. They came to town for a performance, and WYEP hooked up with them for a Live and Direct session. Torquil and Amy had some answers for Cindy between tracks from their latest album, The North.

The North specifically refers to Canada, but Torq says that the title has some additional significant. “It relates to anywhere in your life that’s a place that you go when there aren’t may people around. I was born in the north of England, so for me personally it has a kind of double meaning,” Torq says. “But I guess mostly we’re in a very bad way in Canada right now. We have a very bad, very corrupt, venal, morally bankrupt government, and a lot of the things that made Canada what it is are disappearing very very fast.” Torq obviously has beef with the Canadian government, and he elaborated with a brief description of Canada’s recent history. “The the cover of the record, which is a building in Montreal called Habitat 67 which was build for the World’s Fair in the 70s and 80s. When we were all growing up Canada was a very idealistic place, and people were pouring into it, creating a new life. Canada, unlike America, didn’t have an identity then. We were discovering who we were and it was a place were people could be very playful in the way they approached having a society, and now we’re just an oil patch from where devils extract their cash.” Torq’s final statement on the subject was, “Don’t move to Canada.”

The album was worked on in the studio Zoomer, which Cindy noted is particularly cold. “I rmember the last time we played The North, when they were first playing it for me, and Torq was singing it, I could actually see his breath. After he was finished, I said, ‘I wonder what inspired that!” After Amy and Torq laughed and admitted that it was a bit chilly there, Torq mentioned that “Zoomer is a pretty legendary place…The first people that had that apartment was Arcade Fire, and they made Funeral in there. And when I say ‘studio’, I mean a bachelor apartment, that’s what it is, above a shop on the Main in Montreal. Then Wolf Parade moved in and made At Mount Zoomer, I don’t know if you know that record but that was made at Zoomer, and Handsome Furs, Wintersleep. There’s a lot of great vibes in that room.”

Cindy wanted to know, “How do these rustic, old timey places fit in the mix of Stars foreward thinking pop?” Torq fielded the answer to this one saying, ”Stars is about memory. Pop music is about memory. The reason pop music means anything is because it acts as a little signpost for you. It’s not the song, its your life, you know. The reason you put your hands in the sky is your life, it’s not the song. The song is just a little stick it note you put on your brain and your heart so that you can remember that moment in your life. Stars are very focused as a band on being a memory band, a kitchen sink band, we want to stick with you. We like to go places that are filled with ghosts, because we want to make music for your ghosts.” Amy said, “If you look at a song like “Die Together”, I don’t think that song could have been written had we not been in Victor.”

Torq was very appreciative in his time at WYEP. “You’re just not gonna hear acoustic guitar playing anywhere but public radio. Public radio is the only place people let you play the acoustic guitar anymore. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I think I’m correct.” Listen to the rest of the interview and hear some acoustic tracks by Stars. Amy talks about parenthood and being on the road with the band and a kid, Torq talks about men in drag, and there are some laughs to be had. Enjoy! 

Set List:

- The North

- Backlines

- Song is a Weapon

- Light's Changing Color