Wake Up Little Susie: An Interview with The Shimmering Stars

Hailing from Vancouver, Shimmering Stars is an anachronistic throwback to that era – an era sandwiched between the birth of rock n' roll and the rambunctious medleys of Bo Diddley  and the beginning of the sexual revolution – where music was made in your parents garage and topics about sex, death and drugs were coated with infinite layers of sugar. The music recalled first night stands in the backseat of old Chevys and bad kids with switch blades and leather jackets, and of course James Dean.  After watching old demos of the The Everly Brothers and deciding to start a recording project, the Shimmering Stars are bringing back the same sucrose-induced ethos with their recently released LP entitled Violent Hearts (Hardly Art). Violent Hearts, a masterful fistful of songs about heartbreak, loneliness, murder and love, sounds a little like it could be the greatest hits record of some rare short-lived band that burned out in the 60s, but thank goodness its only Shimmering Stars' first album. Pas Un Autre got a chance to ask Shimmering Stars about their unique musical motivations – read the interview after the jump.

So I read somewhere that you started your band only about a year ago after you saw some Everly Brother's footage….what was it about the Everly Brothers that was so inspiring? The Everlys played pop music in its purest form, in my humble opinion. They wrote some of the most timeless, memorable melodies in pop music. Their love songs make me melt and their breakup songs are devastating. Also, they’re interesting in the sense that they were at the centre of various genres that converged during the late 50s: rock n roll, pop, country, crooner pop, and rockabilly. I think they were the best at what they did. Plus, they wore matching suits and looked fucking great!

You guys are getting a lot of buzz after only a year…how does that feel? We’ve been playing music for years and years so it doesn’t feel like it happened overnight. But, to be honest, it feels pretty vindicating to receive a bit of attention – especially after toiling in obscurity for so many years.


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There seems to be a lot of darkness just beneath the surface of a lot of the music from the 50 and 60s - why do you think that is? Because at this time musicians were very constrained as to what they could express, but of course they experienced the same range of emotion – from nice pretty emotions to dark twisted emotions – that we do now. So you really have to read into the music and make some inferences as to what the impulses behind the songs were. This to me is a really exciting process. To take the Everly Brothers as an example, they adopted all the popular affectations of the time – unrequited love, heart break, ‘Johnny stole my girl’ etc. They communicated in a way that was acceptable and palatable to people during their time. But if you look closer there are all kinds of emotions under the surface - intense yearning, sexual longing, misery, and violence. At least that’s how I interpret it.

What are some of your favorite bands from the 50s and 60s? Bobby Fuller Four, Everly Brothers, The Coasters, The Crystals, Del Shannon, Bo Diddley, ? and the Mysterions, Wolf Nebula!!!, The Drifters, Buddy Holly, The Ronettes, Frankie Laine, Beach Boys. I could on for days.

The name of your debut LP is Violent Hearts where does that title come from and what inspired the band name? The term ‘Violent Hearts’ refers to some of the themes on the record, which I think are pretty representative of a lot of the things that people my age are dealing with. The term ‘violent’ is sort of a blanket term for feelings of restlessness, anxiety, uncertainty, displacement etc. The basic themes on this record concern the very specific dilemma that a lot of people in their 20s experience these days: having limitless potential and freedom but feeling crushed by the possibilities; being conscious of the privilege that we are lucky to enjoy but also feeling miserable, anxious, and depressed - and feeling guilty about all of this; existing in a state of suspended adolescence where a lot of the markers for what we should be doing with our lives have disappeared. As far as what inspired the band name – it was pretty last minute to be honest. There’s really no other explanation than I thought it sounded kinda cool. How lame is that?

So, whats going on right now thats the most exciting for Shimmering Stars? Our record came out in North America on Sept 13th, so that’s pretty exciting. We also just returned from our first European tour – our first tour period, actually. And for me personally, I’m excited to start on new material and explore new directions for this project.

Whats next? Education 311: Principles of Teaching Social Studies. 10:30-12:30pm.

Pick up Shimmering Stars "Violent Hearts" here.

Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre