Everything about LA based punk rock band Starcrawler is larger than life. From the six foot tall otherworldly lead singer Arrow De Wilde to the slashing, almost assaultive nature of their songs, nothing about Starcrawler could be categorized as understated. The way they carry themselves onstage is the epitome of performative, their energy contagious in a way that makes it impossible not to want to jump around. Their recently released self-titled album is filled to the brim with tracks that are both incendiary and celebratory in nature. People like to talk about the death of rock and fringe culture but Starcrawler are antagonistic and sonically militant in a way that’s reassuring to the subversive future of punk.
New York City audiences specifically tend to be fairly jaded when it comes to live music. How much of an audience’s enjoyment do you think stems from their engagement with the performance?
Austin Smith: It can go both ways because we have had shows where an audience isn’t as engaged as we want them to be but we’re still going to play anyway. We can’t force an audience to like us.
Henri Cash: If an audience isn’t engaged it’s just boring because it’s a two way street and if they’re not having fun it just kind of sucks. But the last time we played New York the audience was really engaged. We actually had a lot of New Yorkers screaming “I love LA!” So that’s an accomplishment.
On stage you are like some unholy mixture of Joan Jett, Yolandi Visser and Blondie. When you get home at the end of the day are you still walking around covered in stage blood or do you leave some of that personality for the stage?
Arrow de Wilde: It’s all part of the mystery
Tim Franco: I don’t know, I’m pretty normal at home
Arrow: You’re normal on stage too!
Austin: He’s everyone’s grandpa
Arrow: He’s a chill grandpa though
You have said before that you find California to be quite dark underneath all of that sun but at the same time I find it interesting that all of you seem to be absolutely in love with your home-state. What do you find beautiful and/or inspiring about hidden darkness?
Arrow: I think darkness can be inspiring for sure. There’s no where that is completely safe and that’s what is cool about New York and LA. It can be dark and depressing and dangerous but then it’s super rad and it can be super creative.
When you met Henri Cash, he was carrying a tuba down a hallway. How could you tell he played guitar?
Henri: People with long hair have to play guitar.
Austin: The tuba would not have been allowed in the band. I knew he played guitar because he had long hair and he’s white. It felt like if you can play tuba you can play guitar.
You tend to get pretty crazy on stage, has this ever gotten you guys in trouble? Is trouble sort of the point?
Austin: She got kicked out for playing two nights ago. We will leave it a mystery but it’s a nice reason to be kicked out as opposed to some other reasons we’ve been kicked out before.
Your music could easily be categorized as “angry” but personally I saw a lot of it as more celebratory or maybe even cathartic. One outlier I found on your album was “Tears” which, unsurprisingly, seemed quite mournful.
Arrow: We just wrote the song and it happened like that.
Henri: I wouldn’t say our music is angry I think it captures different emotions. There’s love and anger.
Tim: It’s very stripped down. Just vocals and guitar. We wanted it to come across more honest.
With your video for “I Love LA,” why did you think donuts and Chinese Food go together so well?
Arrow: I don’t know if they do but in LA there’s like a million of those places that are weird Chinese food and donuts or pizza and donuts… It’s one of those things that when you’re in LA you understand but no one really talks about. That one place we shot in just looked really cool on the inside.
Do you believe in aliens why or why not?
Arrow: Yes I have seen a UFO. Me and my ex were in Sherman Oaks walking in a park and we were looking at the sky and there were just a bunch of stars that night which was weird to me. I was looking at the sky and I saw this rainbow disc shooting through the sky really fast. I don’t know if it was aliens but it was something unidentified.
Tim: I’m on the fence.
Henri: When we were in Nevada there was this light that kept getting closer…
Austin: Actually it was confirmed that that was a car. It was super eery though…