STARS with HEY ROSETTA! at the Danforth Music Hall (147 Danforth), Thursday to Saturday (February 12-14), doors 7 pm. Sold out. ticketmaster.ca.
You either love them or hate them: 15 years and seven albums into their career, Montreal/Toronto pop perfectionists Stars would have things no other way. From their early days as purveyors of soft-focus electro-pop to their latest dance-floor-fuelled album, No One Is Lost (Soft Revolution), the quintet have quietly continued to do what they do best, with little regard for trends or convention.
Ask the dynamic duo of singers Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell about why Stars always seem to fly slightly under the radar and you’ll get two very different but complementary answers (not unlike the pair’s onstage push/pull chemistry).
“We’re a punk band,” Millan declares from her Montreal home after a successful European tour. “We’ve never won an award – we don’t get recognized by that gang. But if I’m selling out theatres across the country, then I have my gang. People who [played] us at their wedding or when they lost their virginity or when their friend got sick – that’s my gang, those are my people, and I don’t need anything else. It’s an amazing life. We’re the biggest band you’ve never heard of!”
Campbell, calling from Calgary, where his wife is appearing in a Shaw Festival production, adds, “At this point in our career we don’t worry about the people who don’t like or know Stars we’ve kind of given up on dealing with them,” he says. “We have a beautiful little shop on the corner and we sell beautiful little things in it. We work our asses off, and if you like what we sell, you can come into our shop and we’ll sell you something and we guarantee it’ll be quality. That’s the relationship we have with our fans. They love us and we love them, and we’re gonna keep our shop open.”
It’s a rare feat for any band to enjoy longevity in today’s fickle pop culture landscape, but Stars’ entire run of Canadian dates (including three nights at the Danforth Music Hall) is all but sold out thanks to their diehard fans – music nerds in their 30s and 40s who appreciate the band’s savvy grasp of pop history and penchant for a killer melody, and teenage romantics who mouth every wistful lyric.
Both Millan and Campbell say the band is stronger than ever, having nearly broken up a few times along the way. (Campbell quips that Stars might have more cachet if they were now on a reunion tour like everyone else.) The secret to staying together? Forgiveness, according to Millan.
And a good laugh.
“Everybody in Stars is in it for the jokes,” Campbell says. “If there weren’t catchphrases, we would all quit the band. The extent to which comedy defines our existence cannot be overstated.”
For a longer Q&A with Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell, click here.