Broken Angels: catching up with Starcrawler | gigwise

We caught up with rock ‘n’ roll revivalists LA Starcrawler ahead of their exhilarating gig at Jimmy’s in Liverpool. Singer Arrow de Wilde and guitarist Henri Cash welcomed us backstage to chat about their new album, the pandemic, their celebrity fans, and working with, uh, Jackass’ Steve-O?

Gigwise: Hello Starcrawler. How are you? You’ve been busy filming this year. It was non-stop! How did you find it?

Arrow de Wilde: The tours have been great! I don’t even feel that busy because I want to be on the road all the time. I like this is really busy, but not the same as before the pandemic. Then, when we were touring all the time, it felt like work. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have.

GW: This year you toured with Jack White and My Chemical Romance. How did you experience these giant slot machines?

AdW: My favorite circuits are the support circuits. I love seeing our fans, but you learn so much from these tours. It’s cool to play on big stages and convince people.

Henri Cash: When you have people like Gerard Way or Jack White — and I’ve seen them [play live]and I think they’re really good – saying they like it and we’re good, then we have to do something good!

GW: In Milton Keynes, Gerard Way said you were his favorite band.

AdW: I know! We were watching from one of the boxes and I was filming and he said that as soon as I stopped!

HC: Yeah and then Jack White said it at the very last gig we played with him!

AdW: He said to me: “Never mind my favorite band, Starcrawler! and we were like, ‘Does he say that about all the bands?!’

GW: How did you end up doing the song “If You’re Gonna Be Dumb, You Gotta Be Tough” for the new Jackass movie?

HC: We received an e-mail – it always starts with an e-mail! It said, “We’d like you to try a song for it.” Then we were like… ‘damn! We gotta make this the best Jackass song ever!” We watched all these movies, me and my brother used to push each other down the stairs! And just listening to the soundtracks of these movies… I learned a lot of music watching them as a kid.

GW: And then having Steve-O in your “Roadkill” video…

AdW: We had already shot the whole video for ‘Roadkill’ but we thought it would be cool to have someone get out of the car at the end. We wanted someone random, but someone cool, so we thought, “How about we just email Steve-O’s manager?” The worst that can happen is that they don’t answer or say “sorry it’s busy”. And then we did, and showed him the video for the song, and his manager was like, “Steve-O is down, are you free this Sunday?” And yeah, we shot the scene in about an hour, tops, and he was super nice, and he just came over and he was super, super cool and we were thrilled.

GW: Your new album, She Said, is out September 16th. This is your major label debut – how is that different?

HC: What’s cool is that we recorded the album before we were on the label. We weren’t technically on any label, so we only did it for ourselves. As far as we’re concerned, we were just like… we just want to make a really good record.

AdW: And see what happens with it.

HC: Because nobody was telling us what kind of record to do, there was no pressure, so we wanted to do something we would be proud of. Most of the time in the past we were in a rush… with our last record we were on tour so we had to adapt [recording the album] in a few days because we had to release it on a specific date. This time there was none of that.

GW: It feels quite liberating, which is ironic considering it was written during the pandemic – what was it like writing an album under those conditions?

HC: It started with us writing songs through the window of Arrow, then it was on the porch, then we got an AirBNB together and self-isolated.

AdW: We had a lot more time to do it. The writing process was more collaborative than our previous records, which was really cool. We quarantined together and everything, so it was kind of a different experience.

CH: [The pandemic] was a super tough process. At first, you felt like you had plenty of time, but you couldn’t do anything with it. It was so hard to be creative. I missed the adrenaline of shows or driving places: we’re the kind of people who like to go out and do things and we were all stuck at home. And we didn’t really have a space where we felt at home. The last time we were home for more than two weeks we were around 15 years old.

GW: What’s interesting about the singles so far is the total difference in attitude: ‘Roadkill’ is very ‘Fuck you!’ whereas there is a little more insecurity in ‘She Said’.

AdW: ‘Roadkill’ was written much later than ‘She Said’. “She Said” was one of the first we wrote for this record and even though it’s not about the pandemic, it has this feeling, this uncertainty, that “I don’t know what I’m doing !”. We were always trying to figure things out. Then when we decided on the order of the albums, me and Tim (Franko, bassist) decided that was the best. I know nobody really listens to albums anymore, but –

HC: Do you listen to records?

GW: Yes. You get so much more with physical recording than streaming.

AdW: Records are also like a work of art.

HC: And you can read all the song information and stuff! We did a limited edition last year that was a scratch and a sniff and you scratched it and it smelled like roses. That’s the problem with streaming: you don’t feel anything!

GW: It’s just another example of how you put a lot of thought into everything you do, especially aesthetically. Where do you draw inspiration from?

AdW: It’s a collaborative effort. We are all different but me and Henri are very visual people, and the references are so vast. There’s a stage costume that I designed for the My Chem/Europe tour that I ripped off a bit of a Cher costume and then changed into a jumpsuit because it was really hot…

HC: So mainly Cher.

AdW: It’s all over the place.

HC: Like, [with She Said] before we even have songs. we just knew we wanted the record to be pink. We also want to give the impression that at the concerts, you are like… entering our world. We don’t just want to go out in T-shirts. Tonight we wrapped the drums in pink vinyl, we’re trying to make it look like we’re all in this one place together, you know?

She Said arrives September 16 via Starcrawler Music/Big Machine.

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