When The AS Review spoke to drummer Pat McGee of Stars, he was across the country in Providence, R.I., stretching his legs outside the band's tour bus (which Stars affectionately refers to as “the can”). Stars played in Providence with Death Cab for Cutie during the first show on their tour together a few years ago, McGee said, so he has happy memories of the city.
He was looking longingly in the window of a store across the street that sells shiny pink Stacy Adams suits. “They only make them extra large, so it's hard to find one that fits,” McGee said. “They sure look good on the rack, though.”
Stars will be playing at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10 in the VU Multipurpose Room. They have been on the road all year playing in North America, Europe and Australia.
“It's become one gigantic blur at this point,” McGee said.
The band got a little bit of vacation time over the summer, during which they found time to record five original songs for their EP “Sad Robots”.
“We wanted to have something to take with us on this tour,” McGee said.
The EP went on sale on Sept. 1 with very little to announce its release other than a cryptic website called sadrobots.ca. Despite the quiet release, the album has generated a buzz in the press.
“People are checking it out,” McGee said. “We see it as kind of a slow burn.”
Lately, several bands have been releasing surprise albums without the anticipation and the media blitz. For Stars, the sudden release of “Sad Robots” was not a publicity stunt, McGee said.
“It had a lot to do with circumstances,” McGee said. “We just didn't have a lot of time.”
Instead of spending a lot of time writing and rehearsing, the band came into the studio more or less unprepared, McGee said.
“It was an experiment for us,” McGee said. “We didn't want to think about it too much.”
Stars is planning a theme for their live show to accompany the release of “Sad Robots”. Although there won't be any robot costumes, there will be an “aesthetic and a mood for the night,” McGee said.
“Our last tours have been very energetic,” McGee said. “This time we wanted to bring it down a little bit and make it a little more romantic.”
Stars are known for creating pop songs with big instrumentation, emotive vocals and narrative lyrics. Their last full-length album, 2007's “In Our Bedroom After the War”, was nominated for a Polaris Music Prize in Canada. Their 2004 release “Set Yourself on Fire” and 2003's “Heart” were also nominated for Alternative Album of the Year at Canada's Juno Awards.
Bellingham is the last stop on the United States leg of Stars' tour. After a short break, they will play a few dates in Canada and then hopefully take some time off to record more music, McGee said.
“There are moments when living next to ten other people is challenging,” McGee said.
“But we're very fortunate that we love each other and we can all still do this together.”
McGee said he's heard good things about Bellingham from his friends in Death Cab for Cutie. Through the fog of constant touring, McGee said he can't even remember whether or not Stars has played in Bellingham, but said he is excited for the show.
“People should come out with open hearts,” McGee said. “Bring that lovely Bellingham smile.”