Shimmering Stars

CARRY MOONBEAMS HOME IN A JAR

For years now Vancouver (and the surrounding areas of British Columbia) has been a bit of a melting pot in the Canadian musical landscape. Countless bands rehearse, record and perform in the venues in the region and every so often one of them gains popularity and they stretch beyond the “friends and family in attendance” vibe at shows. For each band that makes it big, dozens of others are on the cusp of finding success.

It is a combination of luck/timing/skill/dedication and some bands have it and some don’t. One of those bands on the rise in this region is Shimmering Stars. I had the pleasure of chatting with the guys in Shimmering Stars; Rory McClure, Andrew Dergousoff & Brent Sasaki over some drinks before their recent performance in Vancouver.

After listening to the band’s sound check it was clear that the music they listened to and were inspired by is very diverse. Rory touched on that once we sat down. “Yeah. We listened to a lot of Beach Boys and Phil Spector stuff but we were also really into indie rock like Pixies and Sonic Youth. So we kinda pull from both ends.” You can definitely notice the influence of Brian Wilson era music on their album Violent Hearts. The band is based in Vancouver but they did all the recording back in Rory’s parent’s garage (which has been dubbed “The Garage Majal”) in Kamloops. What truly interests me is where the inspiration comes from for these bands. “We get most of our writing done in a dark alley, around 3AM when Rory is near black out. We could call it parking lot-inspired music”, said drummer Andrew. “We are very economical people. Some people go to clubs or to pubs; we just spend a lot of time drinking in parks and parking lots” he continued as he took a drink of his pint. “Shows are different obviously. These beers are all free.”

We moved out to the patio of the venue to have a smoke and talk about what is up next for the band after this show in Vancouver. They were signed to the label Almost Musique out of Paris and they are getting ready to head across the pond for a tour of Europe. “We just played a show in Merritt last week and the next logical step was to go play Paris. Almost Musique has been very supportive of us since day one and they have set up this entire European tour for us.” Being a small band from Vancouver, Canada it seems weird to see that they got signed to a small indie label in Europe first. Since signing with Almost Musique they also became a part of the Hardly Art label out of Seattle

Once we got back to our table there was a plate of nachos waiting for us. “Did you order these?” asked Brent “Nah man. I ate before I came down here” I said as I looked around for a waitress. “Whatever, we can eat them” said Brent as we all sat back down. “Rory doesn’t like olives or tomatoes” said Andrew as we dug into the food. Brent forced “Worst vegetarian EVER!” through a mouthful of nachos. “A vegetarian that doesn’t like tomatoes? Isn’t the tomato like your cow?” I asked. Rory responded with saying he is “a fair weather vegetarian. It is hard on the road.” The band might not all agree on the food on the road but they all see eye to eye on the beverage of choice: Beer. “That is the one thing we are looking forward to the most, well aside from playing the shows, with this tour. Belgium has some far out flavours.”

The band also was quick to agree on who was most likely have issues getting through the international customs. “Hands down it is Rory. Tell them about how you managed to travel to the shows in Seattle, Portland and SXSW without your passport”, joked Brent. “I knew this was going to come up. We had all these shows booked in advance in Washington State through our North American label Hardly Art, including a showcase in Austin for SXSW and I managed to travel across the border and within the US using only my crumpled up birth certificate.”

Once the band makes it back to North America they are going to be focusing on their CD release party at The Waldorf in Vancouver. Rory commented “Once we are all back safe and sound from the Europe tour we are going to be releasing this album then most of our focus all goes back to school.” That being said it really all depends on how well the tour goes, and once that CD comes out, every parent of a musician’s worst nightmare might come true when they put the education on the back burner to focus on the music.

Despite having a pair of record labels representing them now, the guys in Shimmering Stars recorded their debut album independently before they signed with either label. “It was weird, ’cause we were done recording the album and we were taking our time just slowly releasing a few songs online then we were contacted. We never went out and solicited labels. These guys (Almost Musique) wanted us and that made the decision even easier to make. It was just a perfect fit for us at Hardly Art too”, noted Rory. When asked about the people at Almost Musique Andrew quipped “They are all dicks! Kidding. They came down to Austin for SXSW and they are all really cool. That helps since we will be sleeping on their floors in Europe. It was good that they came down to Austin so we’ve had some really good shared experiences with them.”

As I said, it takes a mixture of things for a band to break out of the local “scene”. With the support of Hardly Art in Seattle and Almost Musique in France, a growing fan base in Vancouver, a debut  album ready to be released and an always-appreciated matching outfits look, Shimmering Stars have all the pieces in place to make the next step.

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