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Drummer Arthur Kremer catches up with The Wig to talk Harmonies for the Haunted
November 1, 2005
by Katie Sauro
“Times they are a-changin’…”
Borrowing this infamous quote from Bob Dylan was Arthur Kremer, drummer for New York’s 80s-influenced dance-punk band stellastarr*, as he described the making of their latest album, Harmonies for the Haunted, released last September.
“Our first album was for the most part a collection of songs which were written from the time we all met to the time someone said ‘Hey let's record some of this,’” he said.
However, on the new record, Kremer says, “We were most certainly ‘going for something’ specific,” adding that all four members of the band had a definite goal in mind when they started writing the songs. “For the most part, we knew how we wanted to record it, how we wanted it to sound and how we wanted it to feel… We wanted cohesion, and unity… We also wanted to achieve scale and capture mass, and volume.”
This probably explains why stellastarr* seemed to, for the most part, ditch that pop-punk sound so prominent on their debut and aim for something new, something grandiose, something epic.
“I guess this album does not have the kind of punky, angsty songs like ‘Jenny’ or ‘No Weather’ but what can I say, we are in a different head space now than we were then...” he said.
The band’s latest U.S. tour has just recently come to an end, where they were able to try out most of their new stuff for the first time, and Kremer says it went very well. For him, touring isn’t just something a band has to do to promote an album, but is actually really enjoyable for the opportunity to experience different food, cultures, and people, and above all, to experiment with some of their own songs.
“I like the idea that you can make it ‘better still’ while playing live,” he said. “A song on a record is as is. For better or worse it is solid finished entity and can never be diminished or embellished. However in a live situation you can make it larger than life. Of course you can fuck it up as well and have it ‘suck ass’ as the kids would say, but I am an optimist.”
The shows stellastarr* puts on are incredibly energetic, so it is not surprising that Kremer admits that touring can be arduous and tiring at times, but the band thrives on putting on entertaining shows. That’s why some of his favorite live bands are those that can grab an audience and keep them captivated, like Brooklyn’s The World/Inferno Friendship Society and classic indie favorite Blonde Redhead.
“I love watching Blonde Redhead play… There is this great sensuality and perhaps even sexuality on stage between the players which is quite riveting to me. They seem to be in on something I don’t quite understand which always makes a great performance in my book,” he said.
Not to say that stellastarr* emulates these or other bands’ performances in any way, Kremer explains, in fact they “go for something else entirely during a live show.” But they do always try to put on the best live show they can, bringing an inimitable energy to the stage night after night and sending the crowd home danced-out and happy… not to mention sweaty.
With the success of their latest tour, the critical praise heaped upon Harmonies, and several television spots, including a hosting gig on MTV2’s Subterranean on November 6th, Kremer says that the band is really happy with where they are right now and how much they have progressed in their time together.
“I feel we came along a great way as both musicians and collaborators. I also think we have ways to go and many more uncharted territories to explore... I guess that's what's so exciting about it.”