Yesterday New York-based band stellastarr* released their 3rd album, Civilized, the four-piece's much anticipated first release since 2005. And with that they're off on tour—if you missed their secret kick-off show at Mercury Lounge last night, they'll be back on the 16th at Highline Ballroom. But you can follow them along on Twitter so you don't miss them til then. Recently bassist Amanda Tannen told us about the new album, fans naming their first born after the band, and how they'll never get sick of playing "My Coco."
Have you learned a lot about the music industry and putting out albums since your first? We have had a very hands on course in the music industry. When starting out we knew how tumultuous it could be, but that wasn’t going to stop us then, and doesn’t stop us now. We have had so many ups and downs. We have learned that they all come and go and to enjoy what you have. We are just thankful we get to play music everyday.
What did you do differently with this album? Did you have more control with this one? We have always had a lot of creative control. The difference with this one was that we were setting our own deadlines and funding it ourselves. We took our time writing it. We wrote songs when we were inspired to do so.
You wrote most of "Graffiti Eyes," was this your first time having so much input in a song from a songwriting standpoint? Well, we all worked together on it. I was the final decision maker. We work very democratically and put a lot of things to vote. Since we are a four piece, we stalemate often. So most of the time my vote meant more. That and the song was written around the bass line. Which has happened many times in the past. Writing around one person’s riff or drum beat is a norm for us.
Have you gotten more attention since Shawn sold his screenplay? Not that I know of, but we haven’t been in LA yet.
Have you guys ever gotten tired of playing "My Coco"? That is a song we can play blind folded. No matter now many times we play it, it is still fun. Because it is easy to play we can relax and just have fun with it.
I heard some fans named their kid Stellastarr since they met at one of your shows. Do you have any other rabid fan stories? Ha! Well that is one of them. For a while there I was thinking we should be a dating service, so many people were telling me they met at one of our shows. I love the Rabid Fans, they make it interesting.
Please share your strangest "only in New York" story. You are asking me to remember I have the worst memory! But just this weekend I was at a 4th of July party where they had Hall and Oates pinatas. And a group performed a synchronized dance to eighties electro music in full eighties regalia.
Which New Yorker do you most admire? Hmmm at the moment that would be Woody Allen. I just rediscovered his movies. I watched most of them at such a young age that I never really got them. I watch them now and they are so familiar and totally genius.
Given the opportunity, how would you change New York? I would make an express train that goes to the beach from Williamsburg. Ha! Not much to change, NY is pretty amazing!
Under what circumstance have you thought about leaving New York? I was thinking one day when I grow up I might move to California But I think every New Yorker thinks that at some time or other. It's the grass is always greener thing.
Do you have a favorite New York celebrity sighting or encounter? My favorite is when I saw Bjork at a 4th of July roof top party in Bushwick. This was probably about 6 years ago. She was about 8 months pregnant wearing a pink sequenced mini dress with white patent leather thigh high stiletto boots. I was amazed, not by the outfit but how much talent it took to dance in those shoes while on gravel AND on top of it being pregnant!
What bands are you currently listening to? Not really many new bands: Jonathan Richman, Leonard Cohen, Art Brut, Bob Dylan, Jeffrey Lewis, Low
Best cheap eat in the city. Carmines Pizza in Williamsburg, BK the best Pizza in NYC and of course it is a couple blocks from my house. I basically would have no idea how to survive without them.
Best venue to hear/play music. It is still Bowery Ballroom and has been holding the title for as long as I have been playing music.