Amanda Tannen & Arthur Kremer - stellastarr*

March 20, 2004

Photo Credit: Angela M.

Tell me how the band formed and how long it's been around.

Amanda: We've been together for about three and a half years.

Arthur: Almost four. In June it'll be four.

Amanda: Arthur, Shawn, and I were in another band in college together. The three of us met in college and then Michael moved into Arthur's old apartment. Arthur met him when he went to go pick up some mail. That's how he met Michael and asked him to come.

Arthur: It's like a sitcom script.

You guys are from New York but you seem to have a lot of fans in Texas.

Amanda: We've been here three times.

Arthur: We'll see tonight.

Amanda: We've been to Dallas twice. We've played here twice.

To a pretty good crowd?

Amanda: Yeah, we were opening for other bands so it's hard to say who was there for us and who wasn't. This is our first time on our own and we'll see how we do.

You guys just started your tour.

Amanda: This is our first date and we just played SXSW.

How was that?

Amanda: It was a lot of fun. It's one big wild party.

You guys have other talents besides being in a band. Acting, art, and whatnot.

Arthur: All those things are all different disciplines of the same thing. Music, acting, and art are all one.

Amanda: We all do a lot of different things. We did go to art school and we were studying other things before we put the band together. We were all artists. Arthur and I before we quit our day jobs, we worked in graphic design.

Arthur: We use the term artist loosely.

Has quitting your day jobs been worthwhile?

Amanda: Yeah, we still do a lot of design together. The whole band does all the art.

Don't have to pay a middle man.

Amanda: We'd rather do it ourselves.

How did you get interested in music?

Amanda: Arthur was the last one to join the last band that we were in. Shawn taught himself how to play Bob Dylan songs on an acoustic guitar. I bought an electric bass and had it in my dorm room and I'd play classical music on it. I never knew how to improvise and play with a group like that because I was really trained to play classical music. Shawn asked me to join his band just because I had a bass guitar. I was the only person he knew that had a bass guitar and I said I really didn't know how to play it but okay. That's how it came about. We just decided to have another project in our school.

Arthur: Michael I think was playing since he was little.

Amanda: Michael's been in bands. Mike's been a musician all his life.

Arthur: When I was in college, a gramophone fell on my head and that's how I knew music was for me.

You decided to pound the skins after that incident. A lot of musicians are classically trained and they can bring that into the rock scene.

Amanda: One thing that I thought being trained that way, it basically ingrains melody and just what's going to be in tune with the music in your head. You just grow an ear and that really helped me improvise. I can hear what's going to sound right in my head before I play it. I have to fuck up though and then I know.

You guys have an EP out called Somewhere Across Forever. This is your first full length.

Arthur: The first one we recorded, all things considered, is a fairly low budget album. We recorded it through a period of over a year and we had to stop at one point because we didn't have enough money to finish it and we moved around from studio to studio. We recorded music in some really shoddy places. It all came together in the end. This is our first experience recording with a producer in a studio. It was a great learning experience for all of us. I know I learned a great deal. We had fun working with Tim O'Heir. I felt he got some really good performances out of us and he was a good friend. He wasn't like some honcho who came in and said let's take out this chorus and rearrange it. He really captured what we wanted to capture.

He worked with what you had.

Arthur: Yes, he had no choice. At the end of the day it was going to be our way or the highway.

A lot of people work with producers who call all the shots and they don't have as much creative freedom as they'd like to.

Arthur: I think the job of a producer is to get the vision of the artist. As close to the vision of the artist as possible. It's a collaboration no doubt.

You guys played with Joe Strummer once.

Amanda: That was his last show in New York before he went back to Los Angeles. It was a lot of fun. It was actually our first large show. We were nervous and excited to play that show.

Are you guys nervous and excited about tonight?

Amanda: We're excited. I'm excited to see how it goes. The venue's really awesome and has a great sound system. I know we have a lot of competition tonight like SXSW but we're hoping to get a good crowd.

Where are you guys going to end up as your last date and what are you guys doing after the tour?

Amanda: We end up in Coachella, CA. We're going to do some more touring. We're going to try to make some festivals over in Europe and we're going to Japan.

Arthur: Maybe try and write some new stuff. We have a whole bunch of stuff in the works but it needs some ironing out.

Amanda: We're going to do a couple of one-off dates I'm sure after the tour. I don't think we're going to have very much time off. They're still filling our schedule already.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Arthur: People should always wash their fruits and vegetables before eating them.

Ingesting pesticides is not healthy.

Amanda: Don't open a can of Coke over your car. If it sprays, it will ruin your paint job.

But if it sprays on your windshield it will take off the gummy stuff left over from old stickers.