After voluntarily releasing themselves from their contract with Capitol Records earlier this year, the multifarious masterminds behind Starlite Desperation find themselves free agents about to embark on their first major tour in years. I got to chat with frontman Dante Adrian recently and he told me all about what it’s like to be a musician in an era where the power has been returned to the artist.
Can you still appreciate other bands as a fan even after you’ve been living the life of a musician?
Yes, I can. If the band is good. (laughs)
And who do you consider to be good?
Well, I mainly listen to older stuff. I’m more interested in music that’s not going on right now because it has the added mystique of another culture that doesn’t exist. So, not only do you get to enjoy the music, but it has a form of anthropology. I’m not saying there’s no good bands that are out now, because there are, but I mainly listen to stuff that isn’t really made anymore.
There are a lot of old, psychedelic garage bands from the mid ’60s that only made a few worthwhile songs, and now they’re probably real estate agents or something. At that time everyone was in a band in the way that everyone now- well I guess everyone is still in a band now, but back then it was a fresh idea. So you’ve got all of these amazing bands that just have a couple songs. There’s those guys, and it’s kind of the same with all of these old, ’50s rockabilly groups. But I listen to a lot of old soul… a lot of compilations- that way you don’t have to buy a whole album.
Do you remember what the first concert was you ever attended?
Yes, it was Duran Duran. It was a great show, too! I was very young, my parents drove me there and they were gonna leave me in the parking lot, but they bought tickets from a scalper. I went as far away from them as possible so that I could still try to look cool- which, I’m sure, I did not achieve. (laughs)… I still love that stuff!
The new retropective/rarities cd is gonna be a tour-only release. How come?
Because a lot of that stuff is gonna be released in another form. Those four-track rarities- those are all gonna be on one record. Two songs from the new record are gonna be on the record. And, it’s a little too early for us to make a “best of” cd so the 3 songs that are from Show You What a Baby Won’t, Go Kill Mice, and Violate a Sundae– respectively- people can just buy those records. But we wanted to have a new thing to offer to people while we’re on the road, so we’re just making a limited amount of these to be able to do that. But all of that material will be available in various forms in the near future, so it’s not like this is the only way people can get those songs.
When’s the new full-length expected to come out?
We just sent it out to labels this past week, so we’re looking around. We don’t know when it’s gonna come out ‘cause we don’t know who’s gonna put it out.
After your experiences with Capitol Records, what kind of label are you looking for?
A label where the most important poeple at the label understand us and have a feel for what we’re doing, basically. Whether it’s a big label, or a small label- just so long as it’s the right label. It was great when we were touring, ‘cause we got to tour a lot, but when it came time to “make the record” it became apparent rather rapidly that Capitol was not the right label. We asked to be let go and were amazed that they were so obliging, but I’m glad that they were. (laughs)
After that experience, has the way you look at the industry of music changed since you first got involved in it?
Sort of… It just reconfirms that you should always go with your gut. I mean, I’m not going to say that I’ll never be on a major label again- I’m not gonna say that I’ll definitely be on a major label either- I just have to listen to intuition and allow that to be the only guide. Esspecially for an artist, it’s the only way to determine if you’re taking the right step or not. So I’m just gonna see what’s out there, and take it as it comes.
With kids finding music online, and with record stores closing all over the country, what do you think needs to be done to help the record industry evolve with the times?
I don’t really care if the industry evolves. I’m glad that the industry doesn’t know what to do, and I think it’s great that the power- at least right now- is seeming to be more and more in the hands of the artist again. Because, ya know, some 13 year old kid in Juno, Alaska can record a song he has in his head and that day he can put it on the internet for free and everybody all over the world can have the opportunity to experience his music, which has never, ever, ever been the case before. It’s a really amazing time in history, and I completely welcome the chaos and the upheavel that it has caused. And I enjoy watching the executives up in their towers freaking out and scrambling to figure out how they’re going to make money off of this thing when it was their greed that created it to begin with. They wanted to know how they could maximize their profits so they said, “Well, let’s limit the cost of manufacturing by going digital and making the cheapest possible product that we can and charge ‘em twice as much for it.” Now that kind of greed has gotten them in this situation where if music is all digital then they can’t own it. So I have no advice for them (laughs).
This upcoming tour you’ve got, it’ll be your first big tour in a couple of years. What can be expected of your live show?
I’m very excited. It’s a big part of playing this kind of music- playing it in front of people. It feels amazing to be doing it again and it’s great to get out of town and play it for people we don’t see that often. We’re excited, so people can expect an exciting show.