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Interview: Joshua Hodges Of STRFKR

Sivani |
October 15, 2013 | 3:55 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

The members of STRFKR (Hodges top right). (Photo by Rachel Hubbard, 2013)
The members of STRFKR (Hodges top right). (Photo by Rachel Hubbard, 2013)
Starfucker – also known by the more family-friendly abbreviation, STRFKR – is an electronica band that emerged from Portland about 5 years ago. Their fourth full-length album, "Miracle Mile," came out earlier this year. 

The band is currently made up of four members: Joshua Hodges, Shawn Glassford, Keil Corcoran and Patrick Morris.  They are touring around the US right now, and will be playing in L.A. later this October.

NT had the chance to catch up with lead singer, Josh Hodges, over the phone on Monday. Read on to hear his thoughts on killer bees in Japan, the hardships of tour life and the process of producing their latest album, "Miracle Mile."

So you guys are on tour - playing a show tonight in Colorado - and you guys have been on tour since June, on and off. And in-between you went to Japan?

Yeah, that sounds right. We went to Japan in July.

How was that?

Japan is one of my favorite places I’ve ever been to. 

Had you been there prior to the tour?

Yeah, we played one show in Tokyo a long time ago, but it’s pretty new - and that was kind of random. We were only there for like 3 days. I was really intrigued after going there, especially after going that one time. I was like oh my god, we have to go back! It took a while.

But it was a great tour too, because we went to 11 cities. We went all over, we went to different islands and you know, we drove - kind of like touring here. We got to see the countryside.

And they have these crazy bees there that can kill you, and I didn’t know what they were - but I kept seeing them and they’re gigantic. I was like, what are these bees?

Really? That’s terrifying!

(Laughs) Yeah, that is seriously terrifying. The problem with killer bees is… they will kill you.

Well, at least you found out eventually! How was it different playing in Japan – was the crowd very different, being an international crowd?

Yeah, it’s different, They were very polite, you know. It’s really nice. A lot of people brought us gifts - someone even brought us an instrument. That was really cool, actually.

Wow! That’s so nice.

Yeah, I know, it’s really cool. It’s great. That’s my favorite thing about travelling, you get to connect with people. There are so many really great people over there… I could talk about it forever.

Do you have any particularly weird or funny stories from being on tour?

Yeah, sure… it all kind of blends together. I don’t know… we’ve been able to play with some really cool people…

We almost died in a wreck. Which I always think about, cause, you know, driving is one of the most likely ways people die, and touring has us driving, yeah, so… I’m scared.

You were talking about people that you got to play with. What are some artists or bands you want to collaborate with or play with that you haven’t gotten a chance to yet?

I don’t know… we’ve been touring so much I really haven’t had a chance to think about it. I mean, next year we won’t be on tour for a while – for the US anyway – so next year’s all going to be about writing and recording.

But actually, you know we’re touring with the band Chrome Sparks - and that dude is such a good producer. We were talking about doing something together.

I know you dropped your last album earlier this year – so you haven’t begun writing or anything yet for the next album?

I mean a little bit, but yeah, no. We’ve been on tour so much… yeah, I just haven’t had time to do anything.

So, how is the process of songwriting or making an album - do you hole yourself in for a few months and then come out with it all done?

It’s different. A lot of times it’ll start with a sketch… it’ll be like a melody or a baseline or a beat or something that I write and then I might be able to build on it.

Does the music usually come to you first, or the lyrics?

It depends. Usually music…

How long did it take for you to put together all the songs for "Miracle Mile"?

It was different because some of the songs on the album are really old - that I’ve had for years but never really felt like they had a home.

Did you always want to be a musician, since you were a child?

Pretty much, yeah. We just had guitars and stuff around the house. But - my parents, they never really encouraged me to play music, but I think that’s why I sort of did music, really.

So it was kind of a rebellious thing?

Yeah… I guess I never liked to do things that I was supposed to do or told to do. If anyone had been like, “I want you to take piano lessons”… I don’t know.

I got a 4-track, and then I went through this break-up… kind of really bitter, so I did these songs on my 4-track and then I learned how to record.

So a break-up was what spurred your first song?

First album, yeah. Which only my friends have heard.

Who is the earliest musical role model you can remember having?

I guess… my parents had a friend who was a drummer in a band… we would meet sometimes. And I thought that was really cool. Pretty cool man, and… maybe that’s when the seed was planted.

But I mean, when I was young, Portland had a really good music scene. I was going to shows a lot… That was definitely a big influence on me.

So if you weren’t in a band, what do you think you’d be doing right now? What are your other passions? 

I was a home caregiver for old people before we started touring - I really liked that. I like working with old people, and I like working with people who are dying… so I’d probably be going more into that actually.

That’s a big theme in your music too, mortality and death.

Yeah, I think about it a lot.

Yeah, I’m a big fan of Starfucker, and the first time I heard of Alan Watts was through you guys.

That’s great, that’s exactly why I chose to put it in my music. It’s like, really helpful. Yeah… there are other people and other authors that are maybe more… whatever. But I just think he’s so accessible, you know? Defining those ideas for people… He’s very charismatic.

So, coming to the “While I’m Alive” music video that came out two months ago - how did you guys come up with that?

Actually, we didn’t even make that - we had nothing to do with that. We met this guy who worked on this other project that we were involved in, and he was the camera man on it. And he was like, hey, I’d really like to make your video for you. And he was really cool so we were like, yeah, sounds great. He told us about his idea, and you know, it fit the song.

Yeah, it’s really fun but then gets pretty dark at the end…

Yeah, totally, it’s great. I think it’s one of my favorite ones.

Do you have any interesting stories behind the songs on "Miracle Mile"? Like one of the songs, “Kahlil Gibran,” is titled after an actual writer. 

Well, it wasn’t really about him. I always name my songs before I even know what they’re about just because… that’s how the programs that I use work. I don’t really know why I was thinking about him.

So that was what was on your mind, and the song kind of just grew out of that?

Yeah. That song, and the song called “Golden Light” used an autoharp – it’s such a cool instrument. It has such a weird, cool sound. And apparently, when it’s tuned, totally tuned, it’s like the most in-tune string instrument. It’s really, really cool. 

That’s really interesting! What about the song "Malmo" – that’s the name of a place in Sweden – again, that was just on your mind?

No… Keil wrote the main parts of that song, like the keyboard thing, while we were sound checking in Malmo to play a show. I heard it and I was like, that’s cool, save that! And then when we got back we fleshed it out. 

Does that happen with a lot of songs - one of the band members will just come up with something and then you guys build from it?

I mean, that never really happened before this album - it happened a few times in this album. Basically, I did everything myself before this album.

So "Miracle Mile" was the first album where the band started to get more involved with the songwriting process?

Yeah, "Miracle Mile’s" been the most collaborative…

Like that song “Leave It All Behind,” I actually wrote that while we were in Minnesota, so we used to call it Minnesota, because we were in Minnesota… but we actually changed it - we changed the name.

Do you have a comfort album, like a favorite album you like to go back to?

My favorite album to listen to right now is by a guy named Mockasin – he has a new one coming out. He worked with Charlotte Gainsbourg. I don’t know that much about him, he just has one album… it’s psychedelic pop. It’s really good. Yeah… I want to meet him someday.  

Who are your main inspirations musically?

I don’t know… he’s actually the only one that I’m really excited about now. I mean, I like a lot of stuff.

I don’t really listen to music that much when I’m at home. I just listen to podcasts a lot. (Laughs) I’m really into Marc Maron right now.

Yeah, I guess because music is always around you, you kind of need to get away from it?

Yeah, I feel like it’s special – I don’t want to just listen to it in the background all the time, it kind of drives me crazy that music is just, you have no choice, it’s always on. Like in restaurants, in elevators… I just feel like it’s like pollution. I’d rather actually sit down and pay attention to it if I’m going to listen to it – you know?

That’s true actually, yeah.

I feel like we treat it almost in the same way that we use talking to just fill the space, even if we’re not really saying anything. Like, I just need to not – to hear stuff all the time. 

Sometimes I’ll just do that – because I drive a lot, sometimes I’ll do that, where I’ll just not do anything while I’m driving, not listen to anything, just be…

But then it gets uncomfortable. It’s like, I guess this is where I’d normally turn something on… but sometimes I just need to be here. It’s nice sometimes.

It must be hard, being on tour for so long. Don’t you guys ever get sick of each other? 

Well, we all get along really, really well, actually. The thing is it’s really exhausting.

The main things are not having alone time, you know? And most of the dudes in the band have girlfriends, and they bitch forever - they all miss each other a lot. But they sometimes come meet them, on tour.

Yeah, it would be hard being away from your family. That’s complicated. 

Totally. It’s complicated when you miss your cat, you know?

I know you guys have had issues with your band name in the past, and you thought you might change it but then you didn’t change it… so now are you definitely sticking with Starfucker?

(Wryly) No, we’re going to change it today. We’re changing it right now.

Yeah no, we didn’t really change it. We had a manager… she was trying to… I don’t know, we just drank the wrong kool-aid. this lady… you know. So then we fired her. That lasted about a week.

I think that was a good call.

Yeah, you know, it’s cool, and now it’s just interesting. The name started off as me kind of being disillusioned with the music industry and wanting to kind of remind myself that the only reason to do it is because it’s fun...

But it’s turned into something else now - now it’s just kind of funny, that we could do what we’ve done with the stupidest name. And now it’s almost just like, I want to see how far we can go…

Doesn’t it cause problems with the radio though?

Well we’re on the radio a lot, but we have to be called "STRFKR," which is just like on college radios usually. Or like, “Star Effer.” But yeah, I mean - I think the abbreviation pretty much solves the problem.

Catch STRFKR playing at the Avalon in Hollywood, CA next Tuesday on October 22nd - grab tickets here

Download STRFKR’s latest album, "Miracle Mile," here.

Read more of NT’s interviews here

Reach Staff Reporter Sivani here.



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