Though their name and subversive sense of humor might suggest otherwise, Starfucker churn out upbeat electronic indie tunes so palatable and catchy that even Target has used them in commercials. The Portland, Oregan quartet—led by songwriter Joshua Hodges—have steadily built up a reputation for exhilarating live performances that push those songs into the red and whip the dance floor into a frenzy. The Aquarian and drummer Keil Corcoran recently conversed about the band’s new album, their future and cross-dressing.
You guys have a new album coming out on March 8 called Reptilians. The first album was supposedly a collection of Joshua’s solo material. Has the writing process grown into a fully-collaborative effort amongst all four band members?
For the most part, it’s still Josh writing everything. We had a friend, Randy, who helped with the lyrics on the new album, and I helped a little bit with structuring the songs, but for the most part it’s still Josh doing the same kind of thing. We went into a studio to record drums and some of the other elements, and that was a first for us. It definitely made it sound a little more full and better than the other two records, I’d say.
What could we expect from the new album?
It’s a little bit more dark than the other two records, and it’s a lot more well-produced thanks to our friend Jacob. I’d say it’s a lot more diverse than Jupiter. The songs are all over the place. They go from dance songs to hip-hop tempo songs. I think it’s the best record we’ve done so far. Hopefully people will agree.
What do you think are the highlights on the new record? What is your favorite song to play?
My favorite songs are probably “Burn Us Alive” and “Millions.” I like the dance songs because they’re more fun on drums. I’ve heard a lot of people say they like “Mystery Cloud” because that’s kind of fast and there is a lot of crazy stuff going on in it. And I like the first song, “Born,” a lot, too. It’s jammy and it’s got a hip-hop beat to it, which is kind of cool.
Why the name Starfucker?
Josh had a friend who had a ‘zine called Starfucker at some point, and he thought it was funny—just the concept of screwing stars because they’re famous. It’s just funny to us. For some reason when we’re on tour, I think kids think that’s something we want or condone—starfucking behavior. We have to be like, “No… we’re not really into that. We just think it’s a funny concept.”
You guys changed your name to various spellings of the word “pyramid” [PYRAMID/Pyramiddd] before changing it back to Starfucker. Why did you change it in the first place, and why did you change it back?
Well, one reason was there was another band called Starfucker in Europe, and we changed it right before we went on our first tour over there—mainly because of weird conflicts; we didn’t want to have to handle any lawsuits. And we had some bad management at the time that was really pushing us to do it, and we went for it. The backlash was pretty gnarly. We met a lot of kids on tour that said, “We will never ever call you Pyramid. You’re always going to be Starfucker.” So we had to change it back because no one would use any other name.
Your song “Rawnald Gregory Erickson The Second” was used in a Target commercial a few years back. Did that get you a lot of attention?
Yeah, I’d say so. I read a lot of comments on the YouTube video after that and a lot of people said they found the song through the Target commercial. It definitely helped.
I laugh picturing someone pitching the song to Target. “Listen to this song.” Everyone likes it. “It’s by a band called Starfucker.”
They had to be sneaky about it and do the licensing stuff under Josh’s name. I don’t even know if anyone at Target even knows it’s by a band called Starfucker or not. It was someone at the advertising agency who picked the song. They’re from Portland. It was probably just a fan.
Starfucker has a reputation for wearing women’s clothing during live performances. Is there a particular reason for this? Do you guys just enjoy controversy?
We liked it because it made a lot of people uncomfortable, especially in the South. Now it’s kind of expected of us, and it doesn’t really make anyone uncomfortable, so we may put an end to it soon. But it’s fun. We enjoy it. We’ve all dressed like women since we were young, because we’re strange men.
I was going to ask if any of the members wear women’s clothing besides during performances.
Yeah, probably Sean would be the main one. He’s really into that shit. He’s a kinky bastard.
You guys have an annual t-shirt design contest, which I think is a pretty cool idea. How did that get started?
It started before Valentine’s Day, I think in 2008. We did it just for that show and put it out there in Portland. Our friend Jeff did a really good design with a plane crashing into a volcano or something. It’s fun to see what people come up with. We don’t really have any money to pay someone to come up with designs for us. The kids come up with neat shit.
What do you look for when you’re judging the t-shirts?
Usually, we pick the most amateurish, looks-like-a-kid-drew-it designs. I think it appeals to most of us. If it’s smart and a good concept, kind of witty, we’ll usually go with that. As long as no one puts actual stars on it, we’ll be happy. Or if people put stars with dicks going into them, being super literal—we’re not into that.
What are some of the bands biggest musical influences?
Josh, what are your biggest musical influences? (In the background: “I like Dead Prez a lot. I just saw them.”) He likes Dead Prez a lot. He just saw them. He says it was one of the best shows he’s ever been to. (“Gucci Mane.”) He really likes Gucci Mane. He likes this local band called Recess Time a lot. He’s really into them.
What are you into?
I like a lot of post-punk, personally. I’m really into Wire and The Fall and Gang Of Four and that shit. That’s my go-to music when I can’t think of anything else to listen to. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of early industrial and goth shit, just because it’s funny and rad at the same time.
You guys have a spring tour coming up. What do you have planned for that?
Hopefully staying sane. That’s our main priority, because it’s a long tour—six weeks. But it’s going to be fun. We’re going to be all over the fucking place. Then we’re going to Mexico shortly after the tour is over for a show in Mexico City. It’s probably our longest tour yet, so hopefully we don’t freak out and kill each other. We’ll also have a fifth member on tour with us.
What is the fifth member going to be playing?
He plays guitar mostly, but also a little bit of keyboards. His name is Ian Luxton, and he’s a super-shredder guitar player and a really nice dude.
Do you have anything else planned for 2011?
Yeah, we’re working on a European tour, but we haven’t figured out the routing yet. And then hopefully we’ll be in Australia and Japan before the end of the year. Probably later in the year, when it’s winter here and summer in Australia. And that’s about it. Maybe try to finish the next record by the end of the year and get it out early next year. It’s kind of half-done already.
Really? You guys work quickly.
Josh just has a huge bunch of shit. A big repository of songs that he’s written. It’s just a matter of finishing them all.
If you could fuck any star, which star would you fuck?
Probably Iggy Pop, just because it would be disgusting. It’s just the grossest thing I could ever imagine. Just his leathery, sagging skin. Yeah. Just to say I did it.
Just to be in the presence of Iggy Pop.
Starfucker will be plowing through Johnny Brenda’s in Philly on March 31 and Bowery Ballroom in NYC on April 2. More info at myspace.com/strfkrmusic.