Last Star Shining
NPR said: 'With songs about super balls, death robots, and the dubiously anthematic 'Punk Like You,' Stuporhero's latest album, Last Star Shining, is perfect driving music... if you're driving the Batmobile.' "I don't want to be punk like you/ You can't tell me who I'm supposed to be/ It can only come from inside me." It's a softly sung sentiment relegated to the end of the disc just before a hidden track of road noises and a chanting "let your freak flag fly" jam, but it's an apt dénouement for Stuporhero's sophomore release, Last Star Shining. Stuporhero, delivered to you from Seattle, Wa., bring an enticing punk-ish mirthful sound, hilarious lyrics, and a mannequin to the table for the follow up to their debut, It Would Be Nice To Wake Up. That doesn't mean they don't take their music quite seriously, though. In fact, you'll find the evidence of years of experience and self-taught talent on this release. Jen Garrett and Will Troy create optimistic and winsome songs, incorporating male-female harmony, singing words that will absolutely crack you up, all on top of buoyant guitars and drums. The songs were all specially selected: during the beginning of 2006, the band began crafting new material and recorded about 40 rough mixes of songs in their basement. Over the next six months the group whittled it down to the final sixteen tracks and recorded them with their friend Chad Yenney of Earth to Emma studios. Stuporhero themselves matter-of-factly explain a bit about Last Star Shining: "Lyrics in the song 'The Amazing Death-Defying Yo-Yo Stunts' are of yo-yo tricks pieced together into a story that almost makes sense. 'Deathbot' is about a killer robot who wants to change and be good...will he prevail?" Along with 'Yo-Yo' and 'Deathbot,' there are other songs about hope, depression, super balls, drug addiction, and being an individual no matter what anyone says. In July of 2005, Stuporhero recorded their first album It Would Be Nice to Wake Up, also with the help of Chad at Earth to Emma. The group started playing live in November of 2005, and at their first show ever, opened for The High Dials. Following a few more shows and some good reviews of their debut album, released May 2006, Stuporhero took their act on the road on a two-week Western US tour. Technically they are a duo, but physically and nominally Stuporhero are a trio. Jen Garrett and Will Troy have been in bands, and a romantic relationship, for years. "We had wanted to form a pop band together for a while, but were busy with our previous band, Tarantulada," says Stuporhero. When Tarantulada, a Seattle punk band, moved on to other things, Jen and Will teamed up with drummer Chuckles and formed Stuporhero. Chuckles is a mannequin who sits on stage behind a child's drum set while Jen and Will play to the accompaniment of recorded drum tracks. Jen (bass, vocals, cello and synth), Will (guitar, vocals, trumpet and synth), and Chuckles (drums) all began playing music at a very young age. Will is a self-taught musician learning guitar and drums from friends and family. Jen played violin through high school until adulthood where she picked up cello and electric bass. Chuckles traveled for many years learning different percussion instruments until meeting Jen and Will in a junk shop in Portland. So what's with the mannequin? Well, she's more of an actual third band mate. Jen and Will are happy being the two main decision makers as Chuckles doesn't argue much, plus from the beginning they have liked the idea of playing all the parts themselves and keeping the sound more "lo-fi." As the band relates, "A few people (not surprisingly, almost always drummers from other bands) have asked us when we're getting a 'real' drummer and we always respond, "We already have a real drummer, her name is Chuckles. Duh."