Since 2008, when the infectious single "Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second" appeared online from seemingly nowhere, STRFKR (fka Starfucker as well as the short-lived Pyramiddd) have remained a constant presence in indie music. Long after many of their peers of the late-aughts have lost momentum and/or relevance, the band continues to thrive. This is due, primarily, to their exuberantly unruly live performances which they've taken to nearly every festival of note from the last decade. A STRFKR set is not to be missed. From the over the top costumery to the flotation devices of all kinds hoisted out towards the audience, every aspect of their set brings drama and non-stop fun.
In July, the band played a last-minute set at Capitol Hill Block Party, filling in for Jungle. The late notice didn't mean scrimping on stage presence for these professional performers. Josh Hodges, Shawn Glassford, and Keil Corcoran adorned themselves in brightly colored wigs while a horde of characters joined them on stage including a wizard, dinosaur, chicken, and astronauts. Ahead of their set, KEXP met up with the eternally cool sunglass-bedecked trio to chat about their relationships with each other, the music, and the different cities they've inhabited over the past decade.
KEXP: You guys are known for your amazing live performances and I'm wondering what you have in store for us tonight (ed. note: this interview took place on July 21, 2019), if you're upping the ante or doing anything different from your usual live performance?
Josh: Yeah, well this is kind of a last-minute show so because someone dropped off we got asked to do like a week ago but we were able to gather a good crew together and we're gonna do kind of our normal thing but we rented a bunch of weird costumes and stuff for people. We'll try to have our normal dancers, our friends, dancing on stage with us. Some flotation devices I think.
Cool, sounds great. Yeah, like you said this is a last-minute show but I did see online that there is a tour coming up. Is something dropping before that or are you just touring to tour?
Josh: Yeah, we're touring in September. Just kind of a short tour but we're also hoping to have a single or maybe two out before then or maybe right around then and then we're also road-testing some new songs on that tour. Actually, I live in Portland now and the rest of the guys are in L.A. and I was actually flying to L.A. tomorrow to drive back from this festival in the morning and then fly to L.A. tomorrow. Yeah, I'm working with Jeff the next two days on that song. So yeah, going down there to finish some new songs and then start practicing for the tour.
Hectic! Intense. So the last thing you released was the Vaults albums which were comprised of a bunch of demos and unfinished songs and I'm curious if releasing those gave you a certain relief or whether it was just like, "I just need to do something with them."
Josh: Yeah, kind of both. I now have a new batch similar to that and I didn't want that to have to happen with those, it's better when they get fleshed out and finished and turned into songs and put on an album. But some of them just got to the point where it's like we're never gonna fucking finish these. It's definitely better to just release them and have some people enjoy them than not release them at all. And Shawn kind of curated that. I just like sent all of the demos to him and he put them into the different series and organized it. Keil did the art for that series. I feel good about it. We've had a lot of people at the merch table when I'm talking to them say they really like that stuff. So I think it's kind of cool getting the unfinished stuff and to see someone's process more that way.
Have there been any fan reactions that were so strong about certain songs on them that you feel like you might need to finish them?
Josh: There's a couple that we want to and have been thinking about finishing and I think that might be okay. It's like, "That one's good and I can hear different parts and maybe we should just go ahead and finish the song." So there's still a few that we might.
Keil: Yeah there's a handful that I think we should do. That song "Baby" I think would be good to finish. It's like 15 seconds or something and that song basically everyone seems to like a lot but it's already kind of a full song.
Everyone loves a song called "Baby." It's just like too relatable. Some Paul McCartney stuff right there. So you're now a decade into being a band, what continues to excite you about the band and keeps you grinding?
Josh: I don't know, I mean at some point it just kind of turns into a thing that's happening and it's really awesome that this is our job, that we just get to make music and get to do this. And we have a good working relationship. The three of us have been doing it for over 10 years, it's crazy. We're like family kind of and it's fun. As hard as tour is, it's still fun to get together with everybody and hang out with people.
Shawn: Adding new songs and putting them together for the live show and doing video and lights and stuff for them. It's really fun when you see all that come together.
Josh: Yeah, planning out the new shows and songs is really fun.
How has your relationship with each other changed over the years?
Josh: I mean it's kind of the same. It's just the physical distance with them in L.A. which is recent but I just fly down there to practice with them. And we have a house in Joshua Tree that we all share with people so we can meet out there to get ready for tour. Yeah, I don’t know, it's good. It's a pretty weird thing to do, touring... like it's a really intense thing to do and so you have to be really good friends with people or have like a really good way of just letting everyone be themselves. I feel like we have that and we have a really good crew too like the rest of the people we tour with. They're all friends. We just like got our friends to come with us so it's almost no one that we didn't know before that tours with us.
That's beautiful. How are you guys feeling about L.A. so far?
Keil: Oh I like it a lot.
Shawn: Yeah we've been there for what, six or seven years now? Yeah.
Josh: You know, everyone hates on L.A. from the Northwest and from New York but it's fucking beautiful. You can go hiking in like 15 minutes from my house and he [Shawn] disc golfs so he's doing that all the time. The nature there's the super underappreciated part of it I think that I really miss. You can be at the beach, you can be in the mountains, you can be in the desert. And Griffith Park is like in the city. Yeah, it's beautiful.
Keil: There's a lot of diversity there too which Portland does not have at all. And after being there for 10 years it was super refreshing to get to LA and see different cultures everywhere. There's a big smorgasbord of everything you know.
Josh: Yeah it's amazing in that way the food has the largest Korean population outside of Korea and the largest Armenian population. It's almost like a collection of all these different people and it's huge. It seems like it could be its own country or something. I love LA, I think it's so interesting.
Does Portland have the same thing that Seattle has happening where we have a lot of musicians are all moving from Seattle to L.A. or anywhere? Pretty much just moving from Seattle. Is Portland experiencing that right now as well?
Keil: Portland just recently kind of got super expensive like everywhere else on the West Coast so there's not much advantage to living there anymore as far as being a poor artist goes or whatever.
Josh: When we all lived there it was like everyone paid like three or four hundred for their room in a house where you could practice in the basement and that shit is disappearing. It's just like condos. All the empty lots are becoming multi-use condo things like that and it's super weird to see.
Keil: It's like San Francisco, it's had the most exodus to L.A. like everybody that lived in San Francisco is gone and pretty much seemed all go to LA.
Shawn: New Yorkers too. And then they're like, "Wow the rent's so cheap here." And we're like, "Oh God no it's not." You're making it go up.
STRFKR will play Fawcett Hall at Alma Mater in Tacoma this Sunday, September 8 with Portland band Reptaliens. Tickets can be purchased here. Watch STRFKR's KEXP in-studio performance from 2016 below.
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