You’re going to need to pinch yourself on this one… How could a “electro” glam band from Atlanta appear at home here in Los Angeles??… The media doesn’t lie… Southern California, where the exotic and the vernacular peacefully coexist, where skyscrapers and hot-dog-shaped restaurants sit side by side.L.A. is really three distinct, dissimilar worlds – the Valley, the Beach and the City. But in the Southern California spirit of peculiar juxtaposition, two women (Kimi Shelter .. guitar and vox..Emily Moon..Drums)… and two dudes(Aaron Lecesne.. Bass..Kriss Tokaji– guitars/vox) from the deepest southern parts of Atlanta, GA., ended up in a garage together, inventing the band.. Starbenders. . In simple terms they are a Glam Noir or ATL Glam. They’ve taken all the right glam influences from Bowie, Marc Bolan…Debra Harry..Lou Reed; but this alone doesn’t tell the full story.. Rather than a 70’s-rock teased hair pastiche, Starbenders’ with their second album,“Love Portions” produced by Nico Constantine (Biters, Coathangers, Lady Gaga), recorded and mixed by Jeff Bakos… have created their very own classic rock album… it’s a showcase in artful song-craft and an alt-club banger of the highest order.
A rich, soaring ode to the simplest acts of affection, ‘Holy Mother” is the perfect example of Starbenders emotional intimacy. Despite clocking in at a reasonably standard three-and-a-half minutes, it feels like it could go on for eternity, the steadily building, overwhelming use of electronics perfectly capturing that feeling of taking a deep dive into devotion. Doomy and experimental, “Holy Mother” is Starbenders at their most wickedly weird. It is as ominous as they come, the synths sounding like a funeral march on Mars, while the creepy percussion that backs singer/guitarist and songwriter, Kimi Shelter’s snarled vocals sounds lifted straight from a “Hammer” horror movie. Her vocals reach for the stars, while the grimy, bassy electronics below her dig around in the dirt of their Atlanta home. A bratty-but-brilliant cut of stabbing post-punk mania is what we love most about Starbenders….And if this isn’t enough.. our fave song, “Holy Mother”;Ms. Shelter is not about politics or social change. It’s about a young women who is ready to kick butt, take names and dispose of the evidence…if you are fan of Loretta Lynn then you’ll certainly appreciate the comparisons.
Kimi Shelter .. Loretta Lynn
We had the chance to interview Starbender’s bass player…Aaron Lecesne… He discussed the music scene in Atlanta… The future of the band regarding hitting the road…
Rock Bands of L.A.com: What was the music scene like growing up in Atlanta?
Aaron Lecesne: The music scene in Atlanta is an incredible place to grow up as a band. The only word that comes to mind when trying to describe it is “passionate.” Everyone’s here for the show and for the party afterwards; no one seems to care what genre the bands are on a given night, or whether or not they’ve heard of this artist before. There’s absolutely no snobbery, which I’ve noticed is unique among music scenes in general. We have a lot of amazing and storied venues here, but you’re just as likely to find a wild show in a strip club or the basement of a house. Some of our craziest shows in the early years were house shows, and they’re far from out of the ordinary here in Atlanta. Atlanta is just weird, and that’s what makes it great. We’re a city of transplants, and there are so many different people here that there’s no baseline for what’s considered normal. Literally everything is just par for the course, and we all accept everyone’s weirdness without thinking about it too much. That leads to an environment that fosters a lot of cool art and nurtures unfiltered creativity.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: Did your parents influence you at all?
Aaron Lecesne:To an extent. I remember riding in the car with my mom and dad listening to Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles. My dad was from Jamaica, so he listened to a lot of reggae. They used to take my siblings and I to see the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and those are memories I’ll always treasure. My mother played a bunch of different instruments, so they were always around the house and I was free to pick them up as I saw fit, whether it was the old piano in the living room that had a slightly out-of-tune C# key or my mom’s classical guitar. When you first start playing music as a means of expressing yourself, especially as a teenager, there’s always a note of rebellion there. At the time, I would have said, “Hell no, I’m not influenced by what my parents listen to! They don’t understand me anyway,” but looking back, the art you’re exposed to at a young age leaves a lasting impression.
Aaron Lecesne: Thank you so much! We had three tours postponed this spring, and that was sort of a blow. As musicians, you can write all the music you want but performing it is a crucial part of the expression. It’s like missing a part of your body. I even feel that way as someone who likes to attend shows. I miss the sweat of the performers, the energy of the crowd responding to an emotional moment onstage, the speakers moving air across the room, the way a heartfelt chorus makes me feel, and the sheer joy and carefree attitude that makes live shows so appealing. Playing or watching a show is to be with a bunch of people with a singular purpose, and that’s a big part of the human experience. I realize it’s necessary for those parts of our culture to be put on hold right now, but that doesn’t stop me from hoping we can all be humans again soon, whether we’re artists or movie fans or barflies.