With support from the likes of Guitar Player Magazine who call their music “synth-heavy with lead singer’s Kimi Shelter’s witchy voice dripping with 80’s glam”, Atlanta-based quartet StarBenders have had a rather good year, thanks in large part to the release of their album Heavy Petting. ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Kimi to find out more about the background to the band, their dream show line-up and their ultimate career ambition.
TITL: How do the four of you know each other/how did you come together?
Kimi Shelter: Katie and I met when we were in middle school at a camp that was somewhere between Alabama and Georgia. We didn’t get an opportunity to play music together until StarBenders, but stayed on each other’s radar until the conception of the band. Aaron and I have played in other bands together and knew one another from the local scene. We caught Kriss playing at a house party in the middle of nowhere one night and the rest is history.
TITL: What would you say each of you brings to the band?
KS: Musically, we’re pretty traditional when it comes to being a 4 piece rock band. We rely on one another’s strengths and weaknesses intuitively. I build the skeleton of the song and the band puts on the meat. Everyone plays and writes their parts, respective to their instrument. We don’t do the ‘musical chairs’ thing where everyone switches instruments, we just play.
All of us sit more on the ‘shy’ end of the spectrum personality wise, with myself being the most outgoing. Aaron is really amazing with talking to other people and getting them excited and interested in things. Kriss is very caring, he likes to make sure everyone is taken care of. Katie is really funny and has a goofy side to her that you get to see if you’re lucky.
TITL: Can you recall the moment/time when you knew you wanted to make music a career?
KS: I think we all knew from inception.
TITL: Which band or artist would you say most similar to?
KS: We have a pretty healthy mix of influences ranging from Blondie to Fleetwood Mac to The Rolling Stones…the list goes on and on and on.
TITL: How would you sum up your album Heavy Petting? Could you each pick your favourite track from it?
KS: The album was a really exciting milestone for the band, seeing as how it was our first full length. We really got to shine and push the boundaries of what “rock” music is. My favourite track is “Blood.”
Aaron – “Powder.”
Katie – “Public Transit.”
Kriss – “U Like Me Now?”
TITL: Who or what are you most influenced/inspired by when it comes to song-writing?
KS: Life in general, love is my moving emotion.
TITL: Which four songs (or one, if you happen to all agree!) would you say are the greatest ever written and why?
KS: How about we all pick one? Mine would be “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys.
Kriss: The Beatles – “Across the Universe.”
Katie: The Band – “Atlantic City.”
Aaron: Black Sabbath – “Symptom of the Universe.”
TITL: If you could, which venue, anywhere in the world, would you most like to play?
KS: It would be a dream come true to play at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
TITL: Please put together your dream show-line up for me. It can feature four bands or artists, who can be living or dead.
KS: That’s a doozy, but off the top of my head… The Beatles, David Bowie, Elvis and The Rolling Stones
TITL: How do you feel about social media? Do you believe it’s had an entirely positive impact on bands and artists/the industry or like most things, do you believe it to have a darker side?
KS: Social media can be frustrating at times because you can feel like you’re shouting into the wind. But, it’s really incredible that you have the ability to reach people from all over the world. Just last week a fan came all the way from Belgium to see us play in Charlotte, NC. It’s pretty incredible.
TITL: Finally then, which band’s career would you most like to emulate and what would you like your legacy to be?
KS: I mean, The Rolling Stones have had an incredible career. A run like the one they’ve had certainly wouldn’t be too shabby!
For more information on StarBenders, visit their website, give their page a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. Their album Heavy Petting is available now. Header photo credit: Ian Vegas-Giovanni Benboe.