Star & Dagger has been performing for just two years, but is already making waves in rock and metal circles because of their culmination of incredible rock talent: Sean Yseult from White Zombie and Rock City Morgue on the bass, Donna She Wolf of She Wolves on the guitar, Von Hesseling of Cycle Sluts from Hell on the mic, Dave Catching from Eagles of Death Metal on guitar and Gene Trautmann from Queens of the Stone Age on the drums. The star-studded band has already released a limited-edition vinyl EP called In My Blood that you can find at LastHurrahRecords.com or in record stores around town. I recently spoke to Sean about the band's history, making fans, and another album on the way.
WYAT: How did the band come together?
Sean: Donna and I were old friends from White Zombie/Cycle Slut days in the East Village - we used to live next door to each other on East 13th Street, the block they shot a lot of Taxi Driver on. Very rat infested. We hadn't seen each other in years, and just a couple of years ago we bumped into each other in the lobby of a nice building in Nolita. Once we realized we both lived there, and life had been good to us, much celebratory drinking ensued. One night we were in a bar in the East Village, like the old days, and in walks Lenny Kaye - like the old days. He saw us and proclaimed: "You two have to start a band! I see it!" Who can say no to a rock legend like Lenny Kaye?
Von was an obvious choice for our singer - we are all best friends, we had traveled all over Europe together for fun, so why not travel together as a band? And of course, she has one of the most amazing voices on the planet, not to mention amazing stage presence that is rare today! Adding Dave Catching and Gene Trautmann to our lineup has made the band a force to be reckoned with, and brought two more friends on board.
WYAT: At your show, i noticed a few different genres of rock in your music. What type of music would you say you play?
Sean: I call it blues metal - it's your basic rock/ metal/blues like Black Sabbath was doing, but some songs are more rock - we definitely have varied influences. One song is even styled after an old chain gang song, which I don't think I've heard from a metal band.
WYAT: How have people reacted to star & Dagger so far?
Sean: Amazing! I'm still shocked at how well we have gone over playing for audiences of bands like Down and High on Fire. People seem completely open and into what we are doing, and buy the records and T-shirts to prove it. In Houston, we signed autographs for over an hour; it was like old White Zombie days.
WYAT: Do you have plans for an album yet?
Sean: Yes - it is done! We have been waiting to find the right home for it. We've talked with a few labels, and I believe we will go with one by this Fall and have it out in early 2013. It's titled Tomorrowland Blues, and the whole thing was recorded out in Joshua Tree, on two different wild trips. Ethan Allen (of Kingsway Studio) engineered it and produced half of the songs, and Dave Catching produced the other half at his studio Rancho de la Luna. J. (White Zombie) mastered it, and Donna and I did the artwork. I should give credit to Donna's husband, Chef Riad Nasr (Balthazar, Minetta Tavern) who kept us in steaks, oysters and king crab legs during both sessions!
WYAT: Do you have any more shows planned for this year?
Sean: Definitely. We are doing two or three shows in NYC Oct. 11 - 13, then coming down to New Orleans to play Voodoo Fest. Besides that, we are hoping to play some more shows with Down [and High on Fire]; those guys are like family, and they and their fans treated us so well!
WYAT: since most, if not all, of the musicians in the band are in other bands, how do you find the time to devote to this band?
Sean: It's a little tricky, but not too bad. Dave is doing summer festival touring with Eagles of Death Metal for July and August so we had to take those months off, but we had planned on that anyway. We're pretty flexible, so we don't mind working around his schedule. Our guitarist in Rock City Morgue moved to Los Angeles, so our performing will be scheduled way in advance, with at least a record release show in New Orleans. Donna's band She Wolves is also playing very rarely, although I just saw them put on a great show at the CBGB's Festival!
WYAT: Where do you hope to take star and Dagger?
Sean: I really have no conceived notion of where this is going, that is not how we started this band. It started with Donna and me enjoying each other's company and riffs, and her insane lyrics. I'm just happy when people see us, hear us and appreciate it. We have been getting offers from old friends to open up for them (like Down [and High on Fire] and St. Vitus), which is nice and really great for us because this band makes sense with those bands that I toured with in White Zombie days.
WYAT: Is there anything you'd like to share?
Sean: We have a completely absurd video coming out soon that I hope you will all check out - it's for a song called "Your Mama Was A Grifter." It has references to Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!, John Waters, Night of the Hunter, and Cleopatra - it's completely wrong in the best way, and we can't wait for it to finish in editing right now! One more thing: come see us at Voodoo!
CD Review - Star & Dagger's In My Blood Last Hurrah Records
The rock supergroup Star & Dagger's first release brings out the variety of musical backgrounds of its members. The three-song EP is a 500 copy limited vinyl release only available in New Orleans and at their shows, so it's certainly special in that way. The album is also unique because of its coloration; the 12-inch record is half clear and half blood red. As far as the music goes, I find that the songs each vary in style, such as "Stories" that has ex-White Zombie and current Rock City Morgue bassist Sean Yseult's signature nostalgic, bluesy and heavy bass line as guitarist Donna She Wolf performs a great scaling solo. In My Blood really portrays Von Hesseling's smooth and strong voice like metal queen Doro Pesch with Gene Trautmann's burlesque-inspired drum beat backing her. There's nearly a St. Vitus-like classic rock/metal sound in "Out of Focus." In My Blood also has the distinction of excellent production value made by the legendary guru J. Yuenger, who also plays guitar on part of this album. Star & Dagger is a true rock band, and I for one can't wait to see a full-length album from them.
Photo Provided Courtesy of Leslie Van Stelten