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Starkweather Guitarist Doesn’t See Their Music as Artistic

The Starkweather way has been to make sure each musical step was more complex and wrenching than what came before. Sadly, this dedication to the ethics of progress has gotten the band labeled as pioneers, which gets you a footnote, not big sales. “Even though it has not served us well, I’m glad that we’ve never compromised what we do to make it more appealing or marketable,” guitarist Todd Forkin told Noisecreep via e-mail, looking at the band’s entire 21-year career. “We always laugh about our music being referred to as art. It’s a very nice compliment, but at the end of the day it’s heavy metal played by not so subtle barbarians.”

Calling Starkweather art is an understandable mistake; the band takes its time with recording to make sure each release has its own unique character and landscape, many times trying to reach the perfected vision without any error in the studio. “We’re definitely not an autotune/Beat Detective/Pro Tools edit kind of band. We’re old enough to have recorded to tape, and we know what it’s like to have to get songs in one take. We’ve never tuned the vocals or cut and pasted sections in the entire history of the band.”

One song that band did very little editing to was ‘Drug Holiday,’ a 30-minute epic from their upcoming split with Singapore’s Little Girl Terrorist. “We played the song straight through twice and liked the first half of one take and the second half of another,” wrote Forkin. “We love digital technology but don’t use it to create songs that we were too lazy to learn in the first place.”

For many art is the recreation of a moment giving it a chance to be understood and become greater than what it was birthed from. Though Forkin disagrees, it’s hard to argue against ‘Drug Holiday,’ which is named after the time someone goes off prescription drugs, being an artist statement. Diagnosed as a bipolar when the band began, the song was written during such a time of paranoia and manic behavior when the guitarist quit taking his pills.

“I wrote the whole song in a day and a half; completely twisted out of my mind and teetering on the brink, ” he revealed. “After I returned from my ‘holiday,’ I decided that I wanted to keep the song as intact as possible when we finally recorded it. It was the most difficult recording session I’ve ever done, both mentally and physically. My dad was in the hospital, and I was running back and forth to see him. I also drove [Harry Rosa] home after the drum tracks were done and missed a full night of sleep very early on in the session. By the end of my guitar tracking, I threw my f—ing guitar, and by the time the last note was recorded I was broken. That being said, there’s nothing in the band’s history that I’m more proud of.”

Musically done, the song is slated to have the vocals added to it in June and to be finally finished in July. We all await the beast’s unveiling.

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