WEB EXCLUSIVE: Indie-rock band Stars to shine at Grog Shop tonight

Ben Breier


Playing with Most Serene Republic, Series

When: 9 p.m., Tonight

Where: Grog Shop, Cleveland

How Much: $10 (Ticketmaster)

Stars is an indie-rock band that has been shining across the country and beyond, and that’s putting it mildly. Lead singer Torquil Campbell, a part-time actor best known for his role as Carrie Bradshaw’s bisexual boyfriend in “Sex and the City,” began forming the band along with Chris Seligman, who had been playing French horn in various musicals. Stars went on to add bassist Evan Cranley (of Broken Social Scene) and vocalist Amy Millan.

The final piece of the band, drummer Pat McGee, came into play for the recording of their latest album, Set Yourself On Fire. McGee had played in several other bands along with Stars, but they eventually dissipated and Stars became McGee’s central focus.

“A mutual friend introduced us five years ago, and the rest is history. This last record was the first record that I played on,” said McGee.

Set Yourself On Fire was the first Stars album to actually be recorded in a studio. “We got some money,” said McGee, explaining the sudden shift to the studio.

“Night Songs was recorded in a loft in Brooklyn, and The Comeback was recorded in an apartment in Montreal. Heart was actually recorded in a series of bedrooms and school classrooms – pretty much anywhere we could set up,” said McGee.

The money that Stars used to get some studio time ended up coming partially from the Canadian government, who has a program set up to aid Canadian music artists.

“The Canadian government is extremely helpful to all Canadian artists, although that help is becoming less and less,” noted McGee.

Stars is just one of the many solid independent rock bands to emerge from the Montreal music scene, which includes bands like The Dears and The Arcade Fire. McGee said, “everybody just got really good and put out some great records,” most notably, the Dears.

“We’ve known the Dears for years and years and they’ve been slamming it for years,” said McGee.

Stars is currently touring in a Ford F-350 super-duty van. While some bands dread touring in such a cramped area, McGee had a rather optimistic and bubbly feeling about touring in the van.

“Summertime is heaven, so being out on the road has been hot and beautiful,” McGee said. Touring for Set Yourself On Fire is going to be going on all summer, with a European tour happening in September. A future tour with Death Cab for Cutie would turn heads, and is currently in the works, according to McGee.

As for what bands are currently piquing McGee’s interest – you might be surprised. McGee says he’s been listening to a lost of rap, especially 50 Cent, The Game, and Dr. Dre.

“I just can’t get enough of that stuff these days,” said McGee with a chuckle.

Another band who has garnered his attention is Converge, a hardcore outfit from Rhode Island which McGee says he’s “been in love with for several years.”

Currently, there are no concrete plans set for a future album. However, the future seems very bright for Stars.

“We’re always working on something,” said McGee.

Contact general assignment reporter Ben Breier at [email protected].