SUIT YOURSELF INTERVIEWS
JASON EDGE - THE ELECTRIC STARS.
When the 2020 pandemic struck in March the country went into lock down, 1000's of people suddenly were very unsure of their futures as businesses closed their doors and other than key workers the rest of us stayed at home for what seemed like an eternity here, 4 months into the Coronavirus crisis the government is taking tentative steps to ease restrictions allowing people to return to work and some sort of normality. These have been dark times for a lot of us and the virus has claimed its fair share of poor souls whilst others battle on to keep us safe. Of course there have been many times in the past where the world has had to deal with the unpleasantness of natural, economic and political ugliness and in each instance people have always looked for a glimmer of light in the darkness.
Music has always played its part in healing and helping regardless of genre, it soothes and transports us to places of joy, away from bleakness into worlds of euphoria and good times, an escape even for a small moment, especially now whilst we slowly step into our all new world is needed. Our own tastes in music are of course wildly different, someones Ella Fitzgerald will be someone elses Small Faces, The Doors or Abba but regardless of genre it all amounts to the same thing. Good music helps us through the roughness of life.
Through our own journey through the pandemic we have been able to lay our hands on lots of music here at Suit Yourself HQ,and all of it has been great but there has been one particular band who have outshone on the feel good factor, they are no way a new band and a lot of people over the last 10 years have had the pleasure of enjoying their shows around the world but their music seems to resonate particularly at this time. They are of course The Electric Stars, a band dedicated to the hazy days of the late 60's and early 70's, their sound can only be described as a sensational sumptious caress of the senses moving effortlessly through the genres of the era, transporting the listener to a time of wonderful goodness away from the madness of the world.
In this exclusive interview Cris Davies talks with the bands lead singer Jason Edge about the band, the influences, the shows, his own stories, the music and the fantasticness that is The Electric Stars......
Hi Jason, can you tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, what it was like growing up in your area and your early musical influences.
Growing up in Manchester has been great. Its a City with great musical traditions and its own swagger ya know. As a kid I was very lucky that the Radio was always on & back in the day when Radio was Fab, not the limp domain of the Presenter who's knowledge of Rock n Roll is minimal to say the least. As for early influences, anything because like I Radio was great then, but the guitar always dragged me in. I love its energy and excitement! Bowie, Stones, Rod, T Rex punk ya know. But after that, Anywhere you like. If its good.. Listen!
What or who inspired you as a young man which led you into the music business?
I wanted to be a Footballer when I was really young and I was pretty good, so you can imagine how devastating it is to be told that you are not gonna be the next George Best haha... As for being a singer, I just did that all the time. Impersonating Elvis & watching TOTP's was what all kids did right! Once I realised I wasn't gonna play for United, I thought I better get a band together because the idea of college or work was terrifying. Around that time I was buying a lot of music. In fact all the pocket money went into Records! My role models were all pop stars and footballers which is probably why I turned out the way I have ha ha...
How did you get your first break and how did it make you feel?
As for getting any kind of break as a musician, tough question. When you are young it's finding a gang to play music with. Then it's getting your first gig.. Recording.. Getting real fans.. Getting a review.. Radio play ya know. But in terms of moments when you knew that what you were doing was not only fun, but had substance. One of the bands I had started got a support slot to Steve Harley. I met him at the sound check. He had watched us and took me to one side for a chat. I'll never forget all the advice he gave me.. Don't trust anyone till they earn it. Keep going even though people may say your shit.. Songwriting is the key, don't do cabaret! Best of all, if you still love it, keep going because it will feed your soul!!!
You are the lead singer for The Electric Stars but can you tell us a little about your musical journey before this.
Life before The Electric Stars was, er, well, a learning curve like everything I suppose. Filled with great moments but lots of gargantuan cock ups ha ha. Learning about songwriting is my most important thing I guess. Understanding what turns people on. Makes them dance, laugh, cry. All my heroes are great songwriters. I don't really like much music where the song is weak ya know. I respect great writing whatever style. When we got The Electric Stars together, the idea was to have hopefully learned from all the cock ups and mistakes. Get it right this time ya know.
Can you tell us about a couple of crazy early memories you’ve had during these times
The band I was in just before the Stars were good, but not quite the real deal. So we split up but the Bass player Keef, who is still with me and of course my best friend now, wanted to carry on. So I came up with the crazy idea that we should go & live in Japan. So, we packed up the guitars and got a 3 month visa. Tokyo didn't know what had hit it ha ha.. As well as playing over 30 Acoustic shows, making a fan base from nothing and releasing a CD while we were there, we caused all sorts of troubles. Think about it, two Manc lads in Tokyo with a Licence to Rock n Roll. I'm not going to tell you the stories, just give you the headlines ha ha... Police. Girls. Alcohol poisening. Girls. Yakuza. Girls. Earthquakes and... You can take the boys out of Manchester, but you can't take.... Ha ha!
The Electric stars are fantastic, beautiful music for beautiful people, and indeed it is, can you tell us about the ideology behind the band, when and how it started and more about the other members
The idea behind the band is actually very simple but at the same time, really difficult. Form a band of people who love the same music. Want to play dynamite live shows. Not scared to get in a bus and travel. Ambitious to record. And finally, % committed!
How easy is that?
Fucking hard I'll tell you!
But, in 2011 I found Andy (we had already been jamming) Johnny & Keef of course is in this for the long haul. Damian arrived a bit later. I was so sick of fuckers into shit music or wanting to play covers all night long. These boys wanted the same thing. We completed the first Album - Sonic Candy Soul - Dizzy over at Detour put it out. Dizzy understood the band totally. We are not a Mod band but our influences, musical morals and attention to detail have made us very popular up & down the scene in the UK.
We are massive fans of the Kinks, Who, Stones, Small Faces and Rod, Yardbirds, Creation and we love Soul Music!
But unlike a lot of bands we also embrace sounds from elsewhere.. Hendrix, the Velvets, Doors, Brian Wilson, Dylan, Stooges and MC5. The Electric Stars are a melting pot. A link to the golden era of music. Music today is fuckin awful. I could quite happily take 50% of the so called guitar bands of 2020 into the car park and slap them all back to their pissy little bedsits. They look like students and sound awful. Don't even get me started with TV gameshow pop!!!
So the Stars are here for people who want something with a root straight back to Music worth fighting for.
How does the creative process work within the band?
Songwriting is pretty simple now. I come up with the song on the Acoustic. Go to Andy and we kick it around till it smells good. Then we get it in the room with the boys and hey presto! Shit ideas get kicked in the bin early doors, so I won't take a bum tune in for the band.
How have you guys been coping in the lockdown?
This whole Covid19 thing is weird. Listen I'm not gonna bleat on about this & that coz people have died from it... Its tough for everyone, but we get our heads down and work hard. We get through it. We're from Manchester. That's what we do!
Can you tell us about the releases and your relationship with Detour records
Dizzy at Detour has been brilliant from day one. He supports New Original Music and is one of the few labels out there who will take a risk. The music industry now is a pale reflection of what it was 20 years ago.. The Internet, TV pop, and the demand for labels to 'make money' irrespective of the talent they promote has fucked us all. Do you like mainstream radio any more? No, me either! So Detour have been wonderful. Sonic Candy Soul plus the songs that are going to be on the next Album have all been Dizzy releases.
The band have been going for nearly a decade now, has the style of music changed over the years.
Yeah, it's been 10 years but so much fun, because we have done things just like we wanted to. As for the sound... Mmmmm, not so much. For me, the progression is more in the way of, can we improve the songwriting. A great song is a great song, whether you play it on an Acoustic guitar or have a 50 piece orchestra. Take Hey Jude, any less impressive if it's just Macca on a piano than with the full gang? No way Jose!
The band is the epitome of everything great from the style and music from the late 60’s/early 70’s period, could you describe what a night out at one of your shows would look and feel like.
I suppose my total obsession with all that was Wonderful from that period, late 60's early 70's, the sounds, the clothes, the freedom, the stance against authority, ya know. It was the first time music came together with people along with art and fashion. That period really did change perception! Does Ed Sheeran change people.. Do Biffy Clyro influence fashion.. Does Simon Cowell create pop genius.. Do they fuck! We are influenced by great bands from a great era where pop stars looked like gods not dossers. A gig night out then would see you watching Hendrix with support from the MOVE & Traffic plus the Grooviest tunes around to dance to. Dig!
Now, and I know this is going to be difficult, but could you pick out two outstanding moments you have had with the band.
Tough questions ha ha OK two moments. Firstly, we were asked by David Quaife to record a version of the Kinks hit Tired of Waiting for the Peter Quaife Foundation. Huge fans anyway but to be asked by PQ's brother who then went on to say he thought our Psyched out version was one of the best tracks on the Album was amazing. There was like 15 bands on it so that was cool. Also we were asked by John Hellier to play a set at the Small Faces Convention a few years ago. Steve Craddock was there and it was a great night. We made a lot of friends that night. To be fair I could have picked a few more crazy moments like having a private audience with Macy Gray backstage at a Festival, or flying to Germany to play with Jefferson Airplane ha ha
Once the world has found it’s feet again what are the future plans for the band?
OK, once we get back to normal, we will be releasing the new Album - Velvet Elvis: The Only Lover Left Alive. This should have been out aged ago but all sorts of stuff got in the way, including this crazy pandemic!
As for gigs we can't play till probably next year, but we already have a few dates in the diary, including the Club gig in June with Mollie Marriott and a few Festival slots!
Where can our readers find out more about you and where can they buy your releases?
As well as the Detour Records, you can grab as much Stars info & Merchandise as you like from the website
Lastly, given your mantra of beautiful music for beautiful people and the wonderful world in which The Electric Stars reside, could you say a few words of positivity to our readers……
I'm probably not the best person to ask this question to... Every day is a gift in my world. Make something happen. Make a difference. I believe in the power of music! Life is tough enough as it is. In the words of Velvet Elvis - New song on the Album - 'Got a soul got a voice, Feelings sound like Music'... Thanks for the support and giving me the chance to say a few things about the band. Hope to see you soon at a gig........