Mar 2015 25

After nearly a decade, the industrial/rock monster that is Starlit returns with a new album to show the world how to persa-fuckin-vere! Simara Delilah Rose and Max Cassidy now invite ReGen’s readers into their vicious and luscious world of Machine Guns and Oral Sex.
Starlit: Machine Guns and Oral Sex

 

An InterView with Simara Delilah Rose and Max Cassidy of Starlit

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Sex and violence just seem to go together, for better or worse, in virtually any artistic medium; music is no exception, and given the often harsh and occasionally subtly beautiful parameters of industrial/rock and metal, it is perhaps especially so. For Los Angeles’ Starlit, the juxtaposition is but one of the many defining characteristics of the band’s sound and image; driven by the sultry and melodic vocals of Simara Delilah Rose and the blazing guitar virtuosity of Max Cassidy, the band’s 2005 album She Was a Spicy She-Wolf was an alluring blend of burlesque eroticism and incendiary aggression, given added weight by Rose’s sexually charged visual presentation. Having spent the last decade experiencing the highs and lows of life in the modern world, Starlit has returned with a new album, appropriately titled Machine Guns and Oral Sex, showing the band’s dedication to its craft and the fruits of persa-fuckin-verence. Rose and Cassidy invite ReGen’s readers into their vicious and luscious world, giving voice to their collective experiences over the last 10 years to culminate in Machine Guns and Oral Sex, along with some insights into the band’s veganism, and just who they should be opening for.

 

The new Starlit album, Machine Guns and Oral Sex comes almost a full decade since the release of your last album, She Was a Spicy She-Wolf. First of all, what can you tell us about the time between albums – why so long?

Rose: First off and most importantly, music and many other truly beautiful parts of life have no expiration date. We each have something incredibly valuable to be, see, feel, and share at any and all stages of our lives. Time really matters not when it comes to anything one loves except the moments we are actually doing it and with those precious moments, there really is no such thing as time, as those moments are beyond time – they are timeless. So whether we took 10 years or 100 years, the epic brutal beauty, the magnificent gut wrenching fire of these songs is all that matters. And really, it was not 10 years, because all that cultivated these songs has been in the process of kicking ass since Max and I were born.

Secondly, unless one is an integral part of a passion, unless they are sweating, bleeding, dying, and being resurrected within that specific passion, they have no idea how much it actually takes to make anything happen… which is why I know to give genuine congratulations when anyone accomplishes anything creatively. I could go into the many hells we experienced to get this album made and all the subhumans who tried to prevent it from happening, but I would rather offer up the ambrosia that is the finished album and invite you to pleasure your ears, inspire your soul, and empower your battle.

What can you tell us about your experiences in the intervening years and how they affected your outlook on the band and the music; in what ways are the new songs representative of your lives in the last 10 years?

Rose: Max and I have both met the devil several times; we have been starved, we have been cut down, and burned at the stake. We have felt sickened by the daily cracked out masquerade of society and we been buried alive at least a million times over the past 10 years. We have also witnessed beauty being decapitated and truth drowned. We have awoken to the most treacherous battles and often almost lost all hope. But we always came back to who we really are and what life is really about. No matter how often the masses who are asses tried to wipe that and who we love and what we live for from our minds, we always came to and remembered that Max and I have one song that has been within us since we were born that has one word and that word is PERSA-FUCKIN-VERE!

Tell us about the songwriting dynamic between the two of you and how your partnership has progressed since the last album; in what ways was the writing/recording process different for Machine Guns and Oral Sex compared to She Was a Spicy She-Wolf?

Rose: On this new album, I really wanted Max’s genius and innovative, revolutionary, masterful guitar to shine. He has always been my favorite musician to ever live. So I insisted on having alluring guitar intros and mind-blowing solos. If Max had wanted to have a 30 minute solo, I would have been fine with that. We did a good deal of songs together on the spot, an equal input into cultivating the volcano that would explode into a song that could stop your breath. We also reworked many songs. We have very high standards and are blunt as fuck. I know when I write some hallmark crap lyric. I know when I need to practice a note for days and he would often write until it hurt and than have to rewrite it over because we knew the best was in there and had not come out yet.

No one produced these songs but us. I had a vision, like a director – I knew I wanted these songs to be cinematic and monumental. I wanted demons purged and fucking angels invoked. I wanted to crumble all kingdoms of shit and rebuild a universe of beauty! We decided early on we would have no filler; every single song, each note, each lyric had to be fucking amazing and nothing else would do. We both knew we wanted metal and tribal drums with hints of military. I got my backup vocal ideas from the great harmonies of the ’60s. For my main vocals, I was very into the 1940s. Max’s guitar goes far beyond where guitars go; he is like an orchestra mixed with metal, a graveyard where the dead don’t walk… they fucking dance. We love these songs. They intoxicate us and prepare us for battle. They are seductive songs of war.

Max, Simara has stated that she gave you room for your guitar to shine – tell us first about your background and how you first picked up the guitar. Regarding the songwriting and Starlit’s music, because guitars are always very prominent, what are the difficulties in producing guitars as they relate to the rest of the instrumentation?

Cassidy: I started playing guitar in the ’80s when guitar was dominant – all songs back then, doesn’t even matter what style as long as it had a sweet guitar solo and awesome guitar tones. The music I listen to then and still do now was metal’s real beginning – Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, and then Yngwie Malmsteen came along and brought the neoclassical playing into metal. Randy Rhodes started this but in vitro; I wanted to get to the next level. I got my first guitar and amp from my friend in high school; it was a cheap Memphis Strat style with a mini-amp and the twirling little cord – very rocking, though I put Van Halen stripes all over it. My friends then all played guitar and taught me easy riffs and metal songs to start. I started to become really attracted to the Yngwie Malmsteen album Rising Force. The first players I really loved were Randy Rhodes and Yngwie Malmsteen. Then there was Mike Varney’s record label Shrapnel Records; suddenly, there was a tidal wave of insane guitar players, which I listen to all the time. So that’s about it for my beginnings of playing guitar metal and guitar dominant music. I’m much more open-minded now and love all kinds of music that I used to hate back then.

There are no difficulties in the instrumentation at all. I write all the guitar parts and piece them together with Simara. If she is not feeling one of the parts, then we just work on something until a new one comes out that fits. We always try to write in a middle section that highlights a guitar solo. We did not do much of this on She Was a Spicy She-Wolf; very different way of putting that record together. Machine Guns and Oral Sex was me and Simara sitting together writing as we went with no other influence or distraction.

You and Simara produce your music yourselves, but at any point is there ever a question if you would like to integrate other musicians or performers?
Regardless of how it pertains to Starlit, are there any musicians you would like the opportunity to work with outside of Starlit?

Cassidy: As far is working with other musicians outside of Starlit, there’s no time for this. We need to concentrate on what we are doing and continue to write. Although crossing this question with the previous question, yeah if we could get Lars from Metallica to join, that would be sweet. I think he would be on the same page with us.

Rose: I am working with my favorite musician – Max. I can’t think of another musician I would like to work with, but I think we would be a fucking great opener for Metallica.

In regards to your playing style, there is a very clear juxtaposition between simple yet powerful riffs and wild solos that showcase your technical skills. As a guitarist, is it ever a concern – either during the actual performance, or before or after the recording – that your individual voice is not being heard? In other words, at what point do you feel the skill ends and the soul begins?
Also, since you clearly are able to play other instruments, does it ever come into your mind to let the guitar take the backseat to one of them in the course of a Starlit song?

Cassidy: I don’t write anything with technical ability as the first thought. I’ve tried this in some solos and Simara says that’s a Spaghetti Western. Write something that makes sense. Sometimes overplaying and sweeping arpeggios sound great, but you have to write a story for the song. If something extreme fits in, great, but as for writing, I don’t even take a technical approach. One part simply leads into the next and when it feels like it’s done, it is. Whatever comes out is not written down somewhere; it’s of the moment.

With regards to the album title and the song ‘Machine Guns and Oral Sex,’ along with ‘Blood on My Hands,’ ‘Death to Romance,’ what are your thoughts on the connections between sex and violence; especially with regards to your music and lyrics?

Rose: I openly admit I am a nymphomaniac, but the beauty and love I sing about in these songs is bigger than sex and has little to do with actual sex. There are so many levels to this. Machine Guns and Oral Sex is life. Machine Guns… is every fucking day; sometimes, each second is a battle. We must fight against all the unnecessary cruelty, the constant destruction of all that matters, and often the monsters within our own minds. Then you have the parts of life that is Oral Sex… that turn you on – sexually is just a part of that. We have all had great sex, but if you are lucky, you know of parts of life that turn you on that go way beyond sex, like a passion you have, moments in nature, creativity, the nobility and joy and wisdom in nonhumans, and the rare moments we connect to another human or get a glimpse of courage and kindness.

I have always been connected to beauty with hints of danger. I mean, isn’t a good deal of beauty dangerous? Isn’t it frightening to really see and know of deep beauty, paralyzing with bliss? Don’t we who love get so much hate for what we love and how we love? Isn’t all life always being killed by those who disrespect and have no idea the gift that life is?

So you see, violence and salvation have always been tied. I don’t like it that way, but it has always been that way. I have a tattoo on my right hip bone written in German that sums it up – ‘There is pleasure in my pain and pain in my pleasure.’ And though I loath hell, I will always go through hell if it means I get even a moment in heaven.

Starlit has always been vegan and devoted to animal rights – over the last 10 years, what sorts of positive events or changes have you seen occur for these causes?

Rose: As much as I love music, there is nothing more important that any individual can do other than go and stay vegan. The nonhumans are a species we are so fucking lucky to share this planet with; the nonhumans have more humanity than most humans. They have abilities and skills our very limited human minds can only begin to comprehend. In 2015, there are no more excuses than to go and stay vegan and anything you may need or want is now available in vegan form. Going vegan will not make you a more spiritual person or even a nicer person – I have met a lot of assholes who are vegan. Vegan and animal activist are just words thrown around like love and friend or family. What matters is the actions that one does and how consistent they are with those actions. Vegans are not saints and who the fuck would want to be? There is no level of the best or know-it-all vegan as it is an every evolving journey, but being a vegan means you are saving the lives of innocent beings of which even one is epic.

As it’s been a number of years since the release of She Was a Spicy She-Wolf, what innovations in technology and recording techniques did you find most useful in bringing Starlit’s music to life on Machine Guns and Oral Sex? What did you do differently on the new album that you feel was particularly beneficial to this new album?
On that note, what are your thoughts on the way music technology has progressed over the years?

Cassidy: The technology is all the same – ProTools. On She Was a Spicy She-Wolf, we used different amps and different guitar tones. I was also not there for a lot of the recording. I played my guitar parts at different times over many months. Machine Guns and Oral Sex was very different – one amp, one guitar. I went in one day and played all the songs one after another. The next day, I went in and played all the solos for the songs one after another. I did not abuse the ProTools conveniences and simply played the pieces of the song and pasted them everywhere. All songs were played from beginning to end; same with the guitar solos. As for the music technology and progression, ProTools I don’t care for. At a certain point, all the sound gets washed out when mixing. All the studios use ProTools, but some have an option to record on tape. I would definitely like to do this on the next record. The sound is a lot better.

Rose: I would really like the opportunity in future to record on tape as it sounds far richer. With this album, I worked fucking hard. At points, it was agonizing as I loathe voice correction and refuse to use it so if I can not hit a note, I practice until I can. I did all the vocals and backup vocals. If you can do something and have an integral role, then you should do it; not a machine, not another musician.

Anything you’d like to add to close out?

Rose: Don’t be pushed by your problems; be led by your dreams. Check out our catering company for the best vegan food in Los Angeles at http://rosesvegancatering.com. May your day be filled with Deco-dence, and a swellagent eve to you.

 

Starlit Website http://starlittheband.com
Starlit Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Starlit/229559030387800
Starlit ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/starlit

 

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