viernes, 25 de agosto de 2023


 Good afternoon, thank you very much for answering these questions, how is everything going in Bowling Green?

J - Things are going great here. Thanks for your interest in Starer and talking with me. 

1. Starer began its journey around the year 2020, as a one man band, around the figure of the musician Josh Hines, involved in countless projects. I suppose that deciding to create this new project would not be entirely easy to be involved in other bands? What importance do you give to Starer with respect to your other projects? Why the name Starer and what does it refer to?

J - I play in a black metal band called Bihargam and we recorded our last album in April 2020. After it wrapped up I started writing ideas for a third album but it was a pretty drastic change in direction. Once the keys were added I knew it had to be a different project. So Starer was born. Initially I wasn’t even sure I was going to release it but when I started pitching it to labels and Folkvangr was interested it really came alive. At this point Starer is at the top of my musical priorities right next to the full bands I play with. The name is a reference to one of my dogs, Sphyncus. She’s a street dog I rescued from Egypt and she has a pretty bizarre personality at times. She commonly just stands around staring at me or staring off in the distance like she’s a deep thinker. The name Stander was already being used by another band so I went with Starer. 

2. “Wind, Breeze, or Breath” is the third album for Starer, how do you approach the writing and recording process of each new Starer album? What do you think has changed in this new album? What brands of instruments do you use? in the process of writing and recording?

J - I think what it really boils down to for me is I’ve been playing music since the mid late 90s and I’ve dabbled in just about every genre I can think of. So I’ve got a lot of different influences to pull from and never really approach writing metal from a purely “metal” standpoint. I think the key to every project I have is finding a different way to channel emotions and mood. In terms of what’s changed, honestly not much. The album was completed probably close to a year ago. I usually have a pretty big headstart on the follow up album before the current album is released so I’ve been developing some of these ideas since late 2021. My second album was 4 songs ranging between 9-22 minutes so with this one I wanted to have more songs with shorter lengths. The idea was to go on the same type of journey but in a tighter time frame. So I set a goal that no song would go over 6 minutes and that’s where everything started with this album. For instruments I use a modified Telecaster, an Alvarez 5-string bass, my drums are an old Nighthawk kit, and a midi keyboard. With drums I demo a lot of it on my actual kit then sound replace them. Not everyone loves that method and sound but I don’t have a great setup for recording a full kit and I can’t afford a studio for as much as I do.  

3. Although Starer's style can roughly be described as symphonic black, there are different elements that bring it closer to raw black metal or atmospheric black structures as well. How would you describe the sound of your latest album for those who still don't have it? heard? What bands and styles are an influence for you?

J - I think the symphonic black tag is there based on having well developed keyboard parts in certain songs. Atmospheric is probably a closer fit for some of it but for me it’s really just an attempt at mixing post-rock with black metal. My overall influences are a bit all over the map. For black metal it’s a lot of the classic second wave bands like Emperor, Gorgoroth, Ulver and Immortal but the Immortal and Gorgoroth influences are probably heard more in Bihargam. For the “post” tag it comes more from Mogwai, Sigur Ros, Godspeed You Black Emperor, etc. 

4. The theme of your lyrics are related to philosophy, how do you approach a style like black metal towards philosophical grounds? Do the lyrics adapt to the music or vice versa?

J - The music comes first and then once I start working lyrics in the music will adapt. The philosophical approach is more of a theme or concept. I’m not putting in lyrics about a specific brand of philosophy. It’s more of a general philosophical outlook on existence. A lot of self reflection, introspective type stuff. 

5. Throughout Starer's career you have recorded a good number of singles that are versions of songs that may not be entirely related to black, such as the song "Zero" by The Smashing Pumpkins, you have even come to edit them all together in an Ep, how do you select the songs you want to cover and why are they important to you?

J - I grew up in America in the 90s when alternative rock and grunge were big. So the songs I’ve covered have been part of that influential time frame in my life. Songs that I love that aren’t metal but I felt would adapt well. I wanted to get one song from some of my favorite bands from that time period. I’ve got ideas for more but I’m not sure when I’ll get to them. I released them as singles when I did them because I had no intention of actually doing a covers album or EP. They got packaged together as an EP as a fundraiser for the animal shelter I volunteer for.

6. The importance that volunteering has for you when collaborating with associations against animal abuse is undeniable, with an important connection with Egypt, I even see that you have edited a book about a dog, how did this link with Egypt and abandoned dogs on the street? How did you approach writing the book? How important are your pets to you when it comes to understanding your way of life?

J - At my core I am fully an animal rights guy. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 21 years. I have no children and never plan to so my pets are my life. My connection to Egypt came from a trip I took to Cairo in 2010 where I found a street dog being beaten by kids on the sidewalk. I intervened and connected with her and eventually was able to get her sent to the USA. The experience changed my life in every way imaginable. That dog Sphyncus has been my guardian for 13 years and I’m absolutely terrified of what the future holds without her. She’s the dog that the name Starer came from and also the inspiration of the name Snow Wolf for my small record label. Through her I’ve become a volunteer for the ESMA shelter in Egypt and have visited Cairo numerous times working at the shelter and flying dogs to rescues. As an American being told “welcome home” by locals when I go to Egypt is a pretty wild thing to hear. So the book I wrote is the story of my life with my dog and the ESMA shelter from 2010 to 2017. It’s called Baladi: The Journey of an Egyptian Street Dog and it was published in 2021. Baladi is the Arabic word that translates to something like “local” so a baladi dog is essentially a local dog or stray. Writing that book was the most challenging and discouraging thing I’ve ever done. I only wrote it to try and draw attention to the animal issues in Egypt and all the money goes back to the shelter. It took years to get it published and all the rejections really took a toll on me. If it were something I was doing for myself I would have probably given up but since it was for the shelter I saw it through. I’m really proud of it. 

7. Adirondack Black Mass, Fiadh Productions and Fólkvangr Records have been in charge of the physical edition of the last album, how did the relationship with these record labels arise to carry out these editions? What importance do you give to a format like the cassette when it comes to offering your music?

J - Folkvangr is really who gave life to Starer. I was very much on the fence about releasing it so I owe a lot to him. He came in with cassettes on my first album (18° Below the Horizon) and I released the CDs on Snow Wolf. Folkvangr has stayed with me for cassettes on everything. I discovered Onism Productions through some label mates on Folkvangr and he was amazing to work with doing CDs for my second album (The What It Is To Be). Folkvangr put me in touch with Fiadh for a compilation she was doing and we became friends and decided to work together. She released this current album on CD and will likely release all future albums. With Adirondack Black Mass I pitched him my first album for a vinyl release shortly before my second album came out. So he’s playing catchup a bit with everything and vinyl factor delays certainly aren’t helping. He’s been great to work with and very supportive. I’ll be sticking with him for vinyl. As far as the importance of the formats I think having physical copies of something is really the only way to go. That’s probably my age showing but something that’s digital only doesn’t feel as real to me. So having all formats available is crucial since people prefer different things. With metal being based in the underground cassettes will always be relevant and feel natural.

8. Who designed the album cover, what does it represent and how does it relate to its content?

J - The cover is a picture I have of a man standing that I heavily photoshopped. It’s not AI or any nonsense like that. “Wind, Breeze, or Breath” is the literal translation in Ancient Greek for the word “aura.” The cover is the man with his aura around him that just so happens to look like he’s potentially on fire. I wanted it to have a hazy look to it to go with the album being based around lucid dreaming.

9. In a previous question, you commented on the weight of a philosophical aspect in your music, perhaps black metal arose as a rejection of the Catholic religion, taking refuge in Satanism to spread itself in some way, aspects that today, even being present, they have become somewhat obsolete, appearing, especially in one man bands, other incentives such as being able to publicize aspects related to the personality of the human being, their fears, their phobias, their psychology, their mental or personal disorders, do you think That today black metal is an escape route for many fans who find in music a way to escape from their problems? Do you think that one man bands have a spatial character and are different from a complete band?

J - I do think black metal is a perfect escape for troubled individuals and deep thinkers. It’s a super complex genre with a lot of offshoots that cover pretty much every emotion or mood. I'm an atheist so I have no interest in spending time and energy diving into organized religion for lyrics. Satanism clearly has its place in this genre and I have no issue with it but it won't be something I rehash with Starer. As far as one man bands go the freedom of total control over every angle, especially lyrics, is definitely different from full bands. With Bihargam I wrote the lyrics for all but one song on the first two albums and they were all sci-fi based. So somewhat of an "escape" from reality. Once the full band formed I relinquished the content to our vocalist and he's steering things in a different direction. And that's how a band should go. But with a solo act I get to keep a common thread through everything and keep whatever vision I want. In this case it's mostly the philosophy of simply existing. So rather than escaping reality it's dealing with it. 

10. What is the extreme metal scene like in a city like Bowling Green? Is there a possibility of taking Starer's music live in the form of a concert? Who would you like to share a mini tour with?

J - Bowling Green’s metal scene is very small and is mostly just an extended circle of the same people. However I do feel like it could be starting to grow a bit. I’m not sure that I would ever do Starer live. It would be a lot of work for other people to come in and learn the material. If the right opportunity ever presented itself I would have to consider it. As far as who I’d like to tour with the easy answer would be some heroes like Emperor or Immortal or Iron Maiden but I’d also like to tour with people I actually know and am friends with. I play bass in Primeval Well and we did a show with Panopticon earlier this year and we’ve become good friends with Austin. We may be doing some more shows together next year and if so that will be a lot of fun. That type of environment is ideal. 

11. How were your beginnings in music: first concerts you attended, first albums you bought? What event in your life pushed you to want to be a musician?

J - Most of my early interests in music were inspired by my older brother. He would get into things first and then I would be the tagalong younger sibling. So we were very into 80s glam metal and I believe Poison was my first concert when I was maybe around 8 or 9 years old. Our parents took us. Some of the first albums I bought would have been Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers tapes in the early 90s. It was seeing Flea play for the first time that made me want to play bass. I’m a bassist first before anything else. It’s by far my best instrument. Once I started playing with others and creating music it became a passion that’s never faded. 

12. What album represents for you the essence of black metal? What last albums have you bought?

J - A very generic answer would be In the Nightside Eclipse or De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas due to their historical significance but those are legacy answers. For me personally the essence of black metal feels more like Gaahl era Gorgoroth, which is also a legacy answer I suppose. The live shows they put on were intense and felt evil and dark. Gaahl is one of the most believable black metal vocalists in my opinion. Some of the most recent albums I’ve bought have been supporting my friends’ bands and labels. Mistral ‘In the Throes of Losing Love’ is a postblack masterpiece released by Folkvangr and Onism. Fire Messiah is producing super high quality blackened punk mixed with dungeon synth. I recently bought the entire Karnstein discography, some Planetary King Records releases, Fiadh is releasing a ton of great music and I personally love Burden and Victoria Hazemaze’s stuff, Orphans of Dusk ‘Spleen’ and Ghostwriter ‘An Endless Fire’ both on Folkvangr are two favorites of 2023, Opposite Devotion ‘Hesperus Phosphorus’ on Adirondack Black Mass. I’m a big fan of all the Moonlight Cypress Archetypes bands and anything Ryan Clackner plays on. Also a big fan of fellow Kentuckians Moonknight, Black Knife, Dread Maw, Brood in Black, Obsidian Shrine, and Sinistrum. Solt is a more recent discovery I highly recommend. I’ll buy anything Joe Caswell releases (olim, Burden of Ymir, etc). Vintergrav is a folk project I’m a big fan of. Huge fan of Akvan. I consume as much music as possible and I firmly believe in supporting your friends. 

13. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions for Black Metal Spirit, if you want to add something for Starer fans this is the place. I hope the questions are to your liking.

J - Thank you for reaching out about this. It’s been a fun discussion. I hope everyone checks out my music and some of the things I recommended. I’ve got plenty more coming.


Sexual Predator ‎– American Nightmare (Cassette Limited edition to 50 copies) 6,99 €

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario