Stars Burn Stripes

author PP date 31/08/10

Sunny Monday afternoon, and I'm sitting at the casa of Stars Burn Stripes, or more precisely that of Filip's, where Brian is also staying for the time being. It's right across from where the band are about to have a rehearsal for their upcoming European tour. Instruments are lying all around the place, but otherwise it looks reasonably tidy. It's interview time, the first one ever for the band according to their own words at least, and everyone from the band is present and waiting as I arrive fashionably twenty minutes late to our agreed time slot. I've got about half an hour's worth of questions to the band, ranging from current news to questions about their latest EP, the future, and the European tour. Better late than never: here are the answers from the boys.

RF.net: So what's new in Stars Burn Stripes?
Leo: Europe!

Filip: European tour in September for ten days.

RF.net: So how did that come about? Did you guys book it yourself?

Filip: No, we know better.

Lasse: Troels, from Mighty Midgets, is booking the tour. He has the 5 Feet Under label, and they're also trying to establish some sort of booking agency.

RF.net: Is it just you guys headlining or are you supporting some bands, or how does it work?

Leo: I think it's different from night to night, actually. One of the bands playing with us on the tour is a German band, who are playing more than one song.

Lasse: But basically, it's different bands.

Brian: There are a few shows with the same bands, but mostly it's with different bands. We're planning on going to Russia as well in November, but I don't think that any of the dates are confirmed yet.

RF.net: Okay, that's pretty cool. For this tour, there are no other Danish bands going? It's just you guys and a bunch of Germans?

Lasse: We were gonna hook up with The 20Belows but I think that show was canceled. It was supposed to be in Berlin.

RF.net: Do you guys have a following down in Germany already? What kind of expectations do you have?

Filip: We have one big fan. He played saxophone on the last time we were in Hamburg...or was it Magdeburg? He played it on "Sever The Tie".

RF.net: What kind of venues? Are they big or small? Empty rooms or a lot of people? What do you guys think?

Lasse: Well this is our first time really doing a lot of abroad shows. We've only been out of Denmark a couple of times. Back in those times, I guess local people visit the venues and know the local bands, but I saw some Facebook events with at least 30 people. [laughs] So that's gonna be like a crazy night.

RF.net: At least it'll be a good experience, right? Can you guys handle each other in a small bus for 10 days straight?
Leo: Probably not. We actually had a discussion about who would be the first one to pick a fight with one another. We figured it would be Filip and his little brother. [laughs]

RF.net: Why's that?

Filip: We're just brothers.

Brian: Probably some time down the road here after maybe half a minute or so.

RF.net: So you guys are known to be quite goofy and funny on stage when you perform. Is that a direct influence of a band like NOFX or other punk bands who do that, or is it just natural for you guys to appear a little less serious than most other bands when you're playing on stage.
Lasse: Well I don't think we take ourselves that seriously. We only play because we like it. Of course we've been to concerts with bands like NOFX...it seems much more cool when you take it casually on stage and just relax.

Leo: I think it comes naturally for us just to goof around and do all kinds of stupid stuff because that's what we're like.

Lasse: That's what we do when we're not on stage.

Filip: We actually have fun.

Brian: It's the same on and off stage pretty much.

RF.net: Yeah, I've seen that from some of the videos that you guys have posted from the other shows

Filip: We're gonna film a lot of video at the tour.

RF.net: What are some of your inspirations? Lets do a tour around the table.
Filip: It depends on what mood I'm in. RIght now it's Strike Anywhere and Satanic Surfers that I'm listening to a lot.

Brian: Actually, I think maybe Green Day has been my biggest influence because I listened to them when I was like 10, and they got me into the punk rock music. Later on it's more like NOFX, Bad Religion and Pennywise.

Leo: The punk rock bands that I listen to most are Millencolin, Pennywise and Lagwagon. That's the kind of punk that got me into punk rock. I listen to other kinds of music as well, but those might be the three main bands.

Lasse: The funny thing is that we listen to a lot of different music, actually. We have certain bands in common that we've just listened to every since we were really small.

RF.net: Lady Gaga?

Lasse: [laughs] not really, but I listen to a lot of different bands. Spice Girls being one of them. I've kind of grown bored of them...but I listen to Saves The Day a lot. And a lot of other bands, I don't really wanna mention them all.

RF.net: What about here in Denmark? What sort of bands do you follow right now? What's your favorite Danish band?

Filip: I listen to Kill The Rooster. [laughs] (ed note: Leo is in Kill The Rooster as well)

Lasse: Actually I like Kill The Rooster a lot.

Brian: I like Mighty Midgets, especially their new CD.

Leo: It's always easy to pick out friends because the scene is so small here so everybody is friends. We go see each other's shows or just get drunk at parties at people's houses, because we all know each other on and off stage.

Lasse: But we don't really know some bands, like say Assassinators, I don't know them personally, but I really like them, they're very good. I don't think they've been playing that much lately, but they used to play a lot in Ungdomshuset.

RF.net: What about internationally? Do you have a current favorite band?

Lasse: I listen to some music right now that I've never been listening to before, stuff like Bill Callahan. I think Brian would say "it's pretty gay", but he thinks anything that's slower than Pennywise is pretty gay. It's really mellow music.

Brian: I've pretty much only been listening to Bad Religion for the last month for the concert.

Filip: I re-discovered Satanic Surfers.

RF.net: So what do you think of the new Satanic Surfers band?

Filip: Atlas Losing Grip? I missed them at the Bad Religion show, unfortunately, but I listened to them on Myspace and it sounds pretty good.

RF.net: It's a while ago now that you released the "Buy Now, Pay Later" EP. What do you guys think about it now that you have a little distance to it?
Filip: That we have a LOT of CDs.

Leo: All the boxes [points to back of room where a large pile of cardboard boxes are stocked], that stuff over there, all the boxes, that's just CDs.

Filip: And that's just half of them. The rest of it is not here.

RF.net: How many did you guys print?

Filip: A thousand! [laughs]

Lasse: That was the deal that the printing label gave us.

Brian: So far we've sold four.

RF.net: Seriously?

Lasse: No, but I think that every time we record something, it's a little bit better than the last time. So I'm still happy with it, but I'm looking very much forward to recording some of the new stuff we've been writing, so.

RF.net: So you guys have a couple of new songs ready, or?

Lasse: I think four, maybe, and then we have four or five more in the making.

RF.net: So it'll be a full length instead of an EP.

Lasse: We wanna do that.

Leo: It's the eight songs... eight songs or ten songs, not that big of a difference.

RF.net: The title of the EP, is that a reference to piracy, or how did you choose it?
Lasse: We decided right away that we would put it on the internet for free, so I guess that's some of it, and as the cover would suggest, it's about a lot of things, like taking stuff for granted and not thinking about consequences.

Brian: All about stuff that you do now that you will pay for in the future if you don't think about it. Environmental stuff.

RF.net: Okay, so it has a semi social/political undertone?

Lasse: It's just as much as much personal. If you're a schmuck to others, then later on, it'll bite you in the ass.

Leo: Actually, we just wrote a song about why we don't write any political songs. We don't really enjoy being preachers. I think it's very cool to write songs that people can reflect on and get something out of when you're not directly preaching people into thinking in a certain kind of way.

Lasse: I think it's pretty arrogant to think that as a musician you can influence people, that your opinion is somehow worth more. I think you can learn much more just by reading a book than listening to a rock album.

Leo: Most rock musicians are actually pretty stupid [laughs]

RF.net: Filip, you sing a lot more on the record compared to the one before. How do you guys decide where to use your vocals and where to use Lasse's vocals?
Filip: When Lasse's head becomes really red, we say "ok, Filip's turn" [all laugh]

Lasse: That actually happened yesterday.

Leo: Last time we rehearsed, he fainted.

Filip: So we decided to put in a little chorus for me there.

Lasse: No, I think people have always been very positive about us sharing the vocals, because I have a certain kind of a vocal and Filip has the complete opposite. Usually, when we write songs, we write them together and then we sing what we've been writing ourselves.

Filip: We both enjoy singing so it's natural.

RF.net: So what's with you guys not allowing Brian to sing ever?

Lasse: Well, we have a video from Germany...we can show you. [hysterical laughter]

Brian: No need to do that.

Lasse: Lets just say Brian is very talented. Just not with the vocals.

Leo: Or speaking German.

Brian: I guess my guitar riffs are so complicated that no person in the world can sing at the same time.

RF.net: What do you say are some of the differences between the new EP and "We'll Be RIght Back", or even the first one?
Leo: The drummer.

Lasse: Actually, Leo is the first drummer who has the same taste in music and has the same ideas that we do. The previous drummers we've had, had some influences in other genres that weren't really what we wanted to do with the music. And then we've gotten better at writing songs.

Brian: And recording has also improved, even though it's the same place we've recorded at. The sound is much different, and we've become more experienced with recording, I think that's better as well.

RF.net: Did you guys record it yourself?

Brian: No, we were at a studio with a guy called Niels. That's the studio that helped us producing it.

RF.net: Is he good to work with?

Lasse: Yeah, he's very laid back, and he just enjoys rock'n'roll.

Filip: He can say: "Guys, that sounds like crap". And then we can change it a bit. He has some good ideas to some stuff.

Lasse: Actually, he did Kill The Rooster's last EP as well, and also Revolt Of Darwin's. I hope his studio re-opens. It's closed right now. He had to move his studio elsewhere.

RF.net: The EP, as you mentioned earlier, you released it on 5 Feet Under Records. That's Troels from Mighty Midgets. So what kind of deal is it with the label?
Brian: We pretty much talked with him and said we just wanted to put it out ourselves, and we'd put it on the internet for free, and he said he could really use some good bands for his label to show when he goes out. We just agreed that we'd put the name on and he'd do some stuff for us.

Lasse: He certainly has, since then.

Leo: And also it's always good to be on a label. Somehow, people take you way more seriously int he business.

Lasse: Unless they read this interview. He's gonna sell some CDs for us as well. He has an internet store on the web page.

RF.net: So does it mean that you guys are still looking for another label, or are you gonna put out the next thing also on 5 Feet Under?

Lasse: Well, it's kind of weird to think about labels now with music being available for free everywhere. What could a label really do for us, I don't know. We would always like to get more contacts. The goal is really just to get out and play. And if you have a label that has really good connections, and they can get you more concerts, then that would be pretty cool. But otherwise I think we're getting by.

RF.net: So you guys haven't had any approaches by any record labels?

Lasse: No, but we've been pretty lazy as well. We haven't really sent any stuff out.

Filip: We talk about it a lot.

RF.net: So lets say your phone rang the next day and it'd be, say, Brett from Epitaph asking if you'd want to put out your next CD with them...

Lasse: I think I would quit my job. No, I don't know. That's pretty surreal to think about.

RF.net: We kinda covered this already, but what's the timeframe like for the next recording to come out?
Leo: We have a lot of stuff to think about before that, the tour in Germany and the tour in Russia and Poland. Maybe we're gonna record a real music video some day.

Filip: Yeah, there's a lot of plans so it's hard to put a time limit on it.

RF.net: Ok, so not anytime soon anyway?

Brian: I need to write all the songs for it.

Filip: Yeah, and earn some money to pay for the studio

RF.net: How big do you see Stars Burn Stripes becoming in the future? Lets stay in the period of one year, a period of five years, and you know, are you still going to be a band in ten years?
Filip: Well, we've existed for six years.

Lasse: Yeah, in different ways because we've been different people. As a band and the name, we've been around since 2004.

Brian: I think the plan is to go on and I'm pretty sure that we all enjoy it, and we'll keep on enjoying it. So hopefully we'll just go up from here, or at least steady.

Lasse: We've made a deal once, I don't know if we were drunk or something, but we made a deal to be ridiculously old people still playing punk rock. I don't know, at some point I realize that we're very lucky just to be a band and to be able to rehearse and to be able to play as many shows as we actually do, because I can't really believe that we're playing this many shows. And also, we're going on our first tours, and we have two of them, which we have been waiting for ever since we started.

Filip: We still like the same kind of music and don't have big artistic differences, that's really cool that we can work together to make a song and still be happy about it, everybody in the band.

Leo: And also get along. We've all played in different bands with each other..

RF.net: What's your opinion on the Danish scene?
Leo: Five or six years ago there was a good amount of great punk bands in Denmark, and then it all went downhill somehow. I think all the people got too old, or something like that. It's been a bit low in the last couple of years. But I think it's going up again, because those bands who have existed quite some time now, there isn't that many new bands, but the ones that still are around are becoming pretty good. That's for all the bands, I can name drop any band, I think pretty much every Danish punk band is pretty good. It's good quality music, and it's great musicians playing it...

Lasse: There's just not such a big audience for it.

Brian: But it also seems that there are more people coming to the concerts now, I think, than there were two or three years ago.

Leo: Two years ago you would only play for bands. It was only bands coming to see the bands playing.

Lasse: And now we're gonna go to Europe and play for some entirely new bands! Yay! No but I've been following the scene in Ungdomshuset a lot, and that seems to be pretty good right now as well, but it's kinda hard when they have this new shitty place instead of the old one. I mean it's not shitty, just a shitty location. The problem has always been that we're too divided. People are too single minded to just come to every concert, they only go to a specific sub genre of their liking. It's really ridiculous when you think about how small of a country we live in, and people still wanna divide everything up in little groups.

RF.net: Are there any unknown bands in Denmark that you'd recommend for people to check out?

Lasse: Well, that depends on what you mean by unknown because every Danish band we know is pretty much unknown. But we know each other and people in the scene know all the bands, because as I said, it's a very small country. But there's a lot of exciting new bands coming, I mean Stream City is a really original band compared to a lot of other Danish bands.

Brian: Great for the riverdance bands!

Lasse: Yeah if you like to do a riverdancing mosh pit, you can always....

RF.net: [laughs] yeah I read that review.

RF.net: I don't know if you guys have heard the rumours, but apparently The Rock is almost bankrupt. If you've gone there in the last couple of months' time, nobody goes there on Friday nights, it's empty, twenty to thirty people or so. Why do you guys think that is? It used to be one of the premier music venues where everybody went in as a group?
Lasse: My personal thoughts on The Rock is that they do have a lot of great concerts sometimes, but I've never really had that good of a feeling when I'm there. The people working...the bouncer people have always been jerks. And The Rock..it's always been a very self-proclaimed rock venue...they try to be more than they are, maybe, I don't know.

Leo: There's a rumour going around bands that it's a really shitty place to play. I've played there for four or five times and most of the times it has been a bad experience because they treat you like shit, it's like they don't care for the bands who play there. Of course, then nobody wants to go play, and then it's only shitty bands...and when bands go there and play, they don't put up 100% because you get disappointed when you are there. It's like they don't care, at all.

Filip: Last couple of times we've played there, there have been like five bands on one night. It's way too many. There's always somebody getting disappointed about playing at 9pm, and their friends miss them.

Leo: It's too much for the audience also. It's hard to stand and listen to five different bands. At some point you just go, fuck this, and take off.

RF.net: What do you think could save The Rock?
Lasse: I don't know...that's a good question. Maybe a new image? They've always been very 'fashion rock', if you're cool you go there...and that's just not cool.

Leo: Also that scene is not that big in Denmark either. I think they've realized that recently because they've started having techno parties and hip hop concerts and stuff like that, they experimented with that a year ago or something like that. But then there weren't that many people at those kind of events, because they had this idea of The Rock being a rock only place. And then all the usual guests got scared away, too, because they thought "oh The Rock is selling out and is becoming a bad place now" so they didn't go there either. So that was kind of stupid. Maybe just be a more open place? There's not that many dedicated venues in Copenhagen just to one genre. They all have clubs in different ways, reggae clubs and stuff like that. Rust, places like that. I don't think there's a future in having a rock venue in Copenhagen.

Lasse: But when you think about it, a lot of venues are closing down.

Leo: Yeah they are, isn't that also because of the contribution from Copenhagen? Stengade, for example, couldn't get the money from Copenhagen. RF.net: Pumpehuset, as well.

Leo: Yeah, exactly. And Vega, they had these plans about building a larger stage, Mega Vega, it was actually pretty close. They had all the plans and the drawings, they just needed to say go. But then they couldn't get the money for it either.

RF.net: Anything else you guys wanna add? Any final words?
Lasse: Well, I really like Rockfreaks.net, I think you guys have been helping us a lot.

RF.net: Thank you!

Lasse: It's nice to see people who aren't in a band doing something for the scene. That's kind of like what Troels is doing from Mighty Midgets, he's getting more involved than just being a lead singer in a band. I think we need more people like that, if we're gonna save what's left of anything. Not pop music in Denmark.

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