Lindsey Best The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival kicked off yesterday…
- Posted on Jul 16th 2010 11:00AM by Charley Rogulewski
"It was all very glamorous," Millan told Spinner, "and then we remembered, when we woke up this morning, that it wasn't actually over yet -- it was four songs away from being over."
Stars deserve to throw themselves a party -- the band self-released their fifth album, 'The Five Ghosts,' which became their first to enter the US Top 100 Albums chart. In their native Canada, 'The Five Ghosts' charted in the Top 10, and at the time of the interview they were No. 1 on the iTunes indie chart.
To make the album on their own terms, Stars used their saved-up cash and applied for a loan through Canada's Factor program, a non-profit organization that gives grants to emerging talent and artists in the Canadian independent recording industry.
"You have three years to pay them back through record sales," Millan explained. "Then, if you're unsuccessful with your sales, they forgive your loan, so then it becomes basically a grant. But if you're making money, you're actually feeding it back into Factor. People in Canada are very excited about Canadian music."
Stars holed up in frontman Torquil Campbell's Vancouver home and then with producer Tom McFall in Montreal, where the rest of the band is based, but didn't really have a concept in mind despite the album's haunting nature. All that Stars wanted was a concise album. "We felt that in the past our albums were so long," Millan admits. 'It's always double vinyl -- there are four sides -- and we thought, 'You know what? Let's just have a side A and a side B and that's it." Leftover material wound up on 'The Seance' EP.
The band worked every song together from the ground up instead of bringing in separate demos. "You lose something after you demo them," Millan says of Stars' newfound songwriting process. "There's an energy that gets lost in the studio because you're concentrating on the freshness that becomes the demo. It's called demo-itis." The first song came into fruition in Vancouver, after Seligman, who was staying at a nearby bed and breakfast, hadn't slept for two days.
"I was in a dream state, a half dream state," he alleged. "And in the dream I woke up in the room that I was staying in and I looked into a mirror and there was an image of a woman staring at me from the back when I looked into the mirror."
"'He Dreams He's Awake,' that's the song that we first wrote," Milan chimed in.
"I woke up in a lot of discomfort, mental discomfort," Seligman said of his somewhat-supernatural experience. Later that day, the band had one of its most fruitful writing sessions for the album, but mid-recording, Campbell's father passed away, something Milan said was "devastating for all of us" given his closeness to the band. "A lot of the lyrics came from that loss," she revealed.
But despite the heavy nature of songs like 'Dead Hearts' and 'I Died So I Could Haunt You,' Stars add their signature fire to their personal hauntings. The album's biggest rager is the sexually-charged and super-catchy 'We Don't Want Your Body,' which drummer Patty McGee lovingly says Milan sounds "like a pornographic Minnie Mouse" when she sings the "You gave me some cheap ecstasy/so you could have some sex with me" refrain. While Stars won't discuss who the five ghosts really are, it's safe to say the five of them believe in the supernatural, especially Seligman.
"He thought his room was haunted in the actual Roosevelt Hotel, so he took a cabana room," Millan said, picking up on Seligman's paranoia. "He tells me, 'Don't tell anybody I got a cabana room. I don't want Torq's roaches all over the room.' Then, of course, cut to eight hours later, the raging began. But let me tell you something, tonight, tonight is the night. He's coming back, our personal bartender mixologist, is coming back tonight because tonight is actually the last night, so we need to celebrate. Celebration station, right here."