Starcrawler formed almost three years ago now. They first got some buzz when Sir Elton John played their single “Ants” — their only song out at the time — on his Beats Radio show, Rocket Hour, late November last year. Singer Arrow de Wilde was in high school when that happened. Since then, the group has stirred quite a ruckus with their live shows. Arrow de Wilde has made herself a bonafide rockstar by performing in Ozzy Osbourne-esque attire: a straitjacket and covered in blood — sometimes even frightening the crowd. They also brought some noise at this year’s SXSW festival, winning an award for best new developing U.S act.
“We get into the studio and do mathematics,” says guitarist Henri Cash, when I ask him about making new music. Their hellacious self-titled debut came out mid-January, but they maintain writing new material in-between their grueling tour schedule. “It sounds cliche, but we kind write what sounds good at the time…we definitely aren’t trying to limit ourselves.” The rock n’ roll revivalist take notes from bands like Black Sabbath, Iggy Pop, the Ramones, and AC/DC.
“We’ve been getting into reggae recently. We’ve been thinking of adding that aspect into our music,” says Cash. They’ve been blasting Peter Tosh and early Wailers. “We really see the direction we’re going in…reggae but with a rock aspect.” They’ll be no tuba though.
“What are we talking about?” exclaims de Wilde.
The group began with De Wilde and drummer Austin Smith who connected through Facebook. From there, they recruited Henri to play guitar. He played the tuba at the time, de Wilde found him walking with his tuba at their East LA performing arts high school. Tim Franco — who de Wilde knew beforehand — would come to the fold last to play bass and finally solidify the group. “They made play bass,” says Franco, deadpan.
I ask the band if they get bored of doing the same blood and straitjacket routine. “Um,” says de Wilde, thinking of the right words to say. “Every show is different. For anyone who’s been to a show, they’ll know.” The band insists that they try to do every show different, introducing they’re theatrics differently with every show. “Arrow has done a lot of different things. She’s worn straitjackets and angel wings,” says Cash.
“Angel wings?” de Wilde exclaims, seemingly surprised.
Arrows mother, Autumn de Wilde, is a famous rock photographer. She’s taken photos of Elliott Smith, Ryan Adams, Sonic Youth, and Willie Nelson, and has directed music videos for Elliott Smith, Spoon, The Raconteurs, and most recently directed Starcrawlers debut music video “I Love L.A.” According to the band, the video was a collaborative effort between Arrow and her mother. “I couldn’t have thought of anyone better to do it than my mom,” says de Wilde.
At their debut SXSW in Austin, between their hectic schedule doing shows and dealing with press, they managed to get some downtime to catch some shows at Hotel Vegas. “SXSW is crowded with day drunks and crazy people so it’s kind of hard to explore,” says Cash. They managed to catch A Place To Bury Strangers, the Sloths, and CHAI. “They were rad,” exclaims de Wilde about the all female Japanese four-piece. “They’re like a dance pop band making everyone in the crowd dance,” adds Cash.
After SXSW ended, they headed home — awards being the last thing on their mind. “We didn’t even know about until the day after we got back home from L.A,” says Cash about winning the Grulke Prize. “ We woke up to a thing saying you’re winner of this award. It was a cool thing to be apart of. We didn’t even know we won it,” adds Cash. Created to honor the late Brent Grulke, the former creative director of SXSW, the prize is awarded to new up and coming bands. Starcrawler now join the L.A based Anderson .Paak & Free Nationals and HAIM as recipients of this award.
“It’s basically School of Rock…we’ve won a blue ribbon,” says Cash sardonically.
I like to stare at my computer. Occasionally I type words to pass the time. Those words are usually about music.