- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2002

Perhaps New York should consider changing its name to New Rock City. The metropolis has been the center of an old-fashioned rock 'n' roll revival for the past two years producing bands such as the Strokes, Interpol and the Mooney Suzuki and Stellastar may be the latest name added to that list.
The group has been building a steady fan base since debuting in New York two years ago and is looking to expand its impact outside the city this fall. The band opens for the Mooney Suzuki tomorrow night at the 9:30 Club.
"My parents gave me an acoustic guitar for my 18th birthday, and the first thing I did was pick up a gigantic Bob Dylan songbook," says lead singer and guitarist Shawn Christensen by phone from his New York apartment. "I learned over 200 songs from that."
While he talks, Mr. Christensen works on building a frame for one of his original paintings; selling his art helps him supplement his band income without a steady day job.
Mr. Christensen was born and raised in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and is quick to admit that he didn't listen to the best music as a child.
"Growing up, I listened to the worst bands imaginable," he says with a laugh. "Poison, Warrant, Motley Crue. It was the only rock that we had on our radioit wasn't until I got to college that I started vastly changing my musical views."
He attended the Pratt Institute of the Arts in Manhattan, where he studied art and met fellow students and future band mates Amanda Tannen (bass, vocals) and Arthur Kremer (drums, keyboards). They were part of a five-piece group called Ghistor, which broke up not long after they finished school. On a side note, Miss Tannen is originally from Fairfax.
"The band was a direct influence of bands like Nirvana," Mr. Christensen says. "We had way too many complicated parts."
Stellastar came together not long after Ghistor's demise, and the group added Michael Jurin (guitar and vocals) within a week of forming in early 2000. The band name comes from a newspaper story Mr. Christensen had read years earlier ("Stellastar is actually a common name for girls," he claims) and was a good match with one of the band's early songs, called "Moongirl."
"The music is entirely different," Mr. Christensen says. "We have no direct influences the music is versatile."
For the past two years, Stellastar has been gaining a devoted following in New York, part of a growing revival of old-fashioned punk and rock music centered there. Mr. Christensen is quick to point out that New York hardly has a close-knit scene.
"It's not really a scene in that a lot of bands that are getting a lot of press didn't really know each other before that happened," he says. "I'd love to tell you that we're all in this together, but New York is a gigantic city. There's a huge amount of clubs here it's an amazing city, but it can also be cold and distant."
A short sampler EP of the band's music will be available sometime this fall, and plans are for a full-length debut to come out sometime next year.
"I think most songs, I'll lay out the basics on guitar with a vocal melody or Michael will have a riff and we'll build off of that," he says. "We recorded 20 songs, and we picked 11 of those to go on the album, based on response from fans, more or less."
The three songs that will be on the EP were picked to give an overview of the band's music, which ranges from dreamy pop rock to melodic punk. Stellastar is on tour with the Mooney Suzuki; Mr. Christensen says he has seen the band around town, though he doesn't know the members personally.
"Our live show is a little spastic, I suppose," he says. "It's extremely loud, maybe possibly obnoxious. I'm not sitting around telling jokes in-between songs we like to get the crowd involved musically."
WHAT: Stellastar, opening for Sahara Hotnights and the Mooney Suzuki
9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW
10 p.m. tomorrow

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide