:: Editors/stellastarr* :: Bluebird Theater :: April 21::
By Tim Dwenger
Already a huge success in the U.K., Editors are poised to take the U.S. by storm. At the recent SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, they were doing countless interviews, playing radio shows and industry parties before their jet-lag even wore off. Between the effort they have recently been focusing on the U.S. market and their massive popularity in the U.K., they became one of the most talked-about bands at SXSW. After playing two private gigs, their first public set of the Festival at Blender Bar was nearly impossible to get into. England’s answer to Interpol, these four lads have a serious work ethic and understand that a major record label isn’t necessarily going to make you a star.
“If you sign to an indie label you are their priority,” drummer Ed Lay told The Marquee just hours before he was due to hit the stage at the Blender Bar for the BBC 6 Music Showcase. “You are at the forefront of all the thoughts of the people who work there. All of their work is geared toward making you a success. If you are at a major label you probably have ten, fifteen, maybe twenty bands who might be of the same style as you and who are all fighting for the same pot of money and attention. That is really not an ideal situation if you want to break a record.”
Editors strategy has paid off for them. Their debut album, The Back Room, was released by British Indie label Kitchenware and it has broken big, climbing all the way to number two on the U.K. charts.
Though not their first shows in the U.S., the gigs at SXSW were the kickoff of a major blitz Editors are aiming at the market on this side of the Atlantic. Having played a couple of a dates earlier this year, Lay seemed excited about the reception they received. “We came over here for about a week and half in January, just to show our faces and introduce ourselves. We didn’t know what to expect because we had never released anything (in the U.S.), and we didn’t know how the radio-play was going, but we were absolutely delighted at the response we got. The shows were rockin’ and in every town we played the kids were going wild and singing along with Tom [Smith] (vocals, guitar).”
The energy at an Editors show is no accident; they have spent several years creating a stage presence that the audience will remember. “When I was a kid I loved to go to a gig and just be attacked by the noise and the energy and I think that’s what we’ve always tried to convey as part of our live experience,” said Lay. “I don’t think there is anything much worse than a soulless performance. We really care about how we deliver our music and we pack a lot of aggression into it. We play pretty much all the songs on the record but we really try to twist the dynamic a bit and turn them more into rock songs instead of the dance/indie songs they are on the album.”
In a shrewd marketing move, Editors PR firm, Plus One Music, conceived of a co-headlining tour that will be hitting more than 30 markets across the U.S. and Canada this spring. Pairing Editors with stellastarr*, a New York-based band with similar New Wave hooks and deep booming male vocals, Plus One has created a bill that is sure to be the new wave revival tour of the year.
“We were really into the idea of a co-headline tour with Editors,” said Mandy Tannen, the bass player for stellastarr*, in a recent interview with The Marquee. “It just made sense to us because we felt we would both really benefit from being exposed to each other’s fanbase.”
stellastarr* is a band that is very focused on the visual as well as the musical element of the music business. Having met in art school in Brooklyn, all four members consider themselves visual artists as well as musicians. Tannen has designed a backdrop and set for the upcoming tour that ties into the artwork from their recent RCA release Harmonies for the Haunted. “There was another photograph that is similar to the one on the cover of the album and I used it for the backdrop. It is a veiled woman hanging upside down and her head just kind of sticks out from the ceiling. It is very surreal,” she said. “Then I also drape all the amps and cases on stage in that same material used for the veil in the photo. It is very airy feeling and we use a lot of backlighting and fog to complete the effect.”
This is the first tour that stellastarr* has used an artistic set of this nature. For years they, like Editors, worked hard playing small local clubs several times a month to get people talking. “Our motto was ‘short and sweet makes them want to come back for more,’” said Tannen. It has paid off for them, as they recently returned from a very successful run of shows in Scotland and England that led up to the U.K. release of Harmonies for the Haunted.
In a move that is sure to make music collectors stand up and take notice, both stellastarr* and Editors are making a previously unreleased track available to those who attend a show on the tour. A limited run of a 7” vinyl has been pressed and “one side is an Editors track and the other side is one of ours,” Tannen said. “It will be packaged with new artwork and available only at shows on this tour.”
:: Editors/stellastarr* ::
:: Bluebird Theater :: April 21::
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