INTERVIEW: Steering By Stars

Recently I was lucky enough to do an interview with Rory (guitar, backing vocals) and Tom (drums) of Adelaide band Steering By Stars. They’ve got their debut LP “Cables” coming out on Thursday the 8th of July, 2010, and I’ll have a review of it up very soon. But for now, enjoy!


On The Tune: Firstly, congratulations on recording such a great album. I’m interested though, what made you decide to only release Cables digitally and on 12" vinyl? There’s been a resurgence in the popularity of vinyl, and digital downloads are a large part of music distribution now, but why leave out a CD release?

Rory & Tom: Thanks for your support, greatly appreciated. CD’s are somewhat of a redundant medium in our opinion. Sure, we still buy them occasionally, but they don’t really have the romanticism of a Vinyl, which is something we all enjoy, and why we chose to press to Vinyl. We recognise though that not everyone has a record player, and so the digital medium allows our music to be shared diversely.

OtT: You allowed yourself only three days to record Cables. How did that impact on the recording process? Was there a lot of tension in the studio, having the mindset that you had to get it right and there wasn’t time to mess around?

R & T: We actually only took two and a half days to record this album. I make this admission not in a gloating sense, but rather, that we just couldn’t squeeze out any more music. Having only three days to record we realised the importance of being well rehearsed and clear about what we wanted the record to sound like. It also meant that it had to be a live recording. The first two days were fantastic; we had almost tracked the whole album, with just finishing touches remaining. By the third day exhaustion had taken its toll, and worries both monetary and timely in nature had started to creep their way into our conscience, yielding quite an intense vibe amongst the band members. Because it was quite intense towards the end of the recording, I think some of that angst came out onto the tracks, which is probably a good thing!

OtT: At the moment it seems like the music industry is constantly telling us how much illegal file-sharing hurts everyone. However I’ve noticed a divide in the opinions of musicians. As a smaller independent band, what’s your stance on the file-sharing debate? Do you feel it hurts or hinders the artists, or is it somewhere in between?

R & T: Being a small band, and being unlikely to profit greatly from this release, we feel that file sharing is probably a good thing. Personally if someone in France gets hold of the record for free and enjoys it, or even gives it a listen, that’s probably better for our interests than profiteering. However, we can sympathise with the bigger bands, which need to support their touring and livelihoods. For them I imagine the business side of the industry becomes quite important.

OtT: The Australian alternative music scene seems to be warming to you guys quite a bit lately. Do you think Australia is going to develop a stronger post-rock scene in the near future? Do you feel like it is growing on people as a different style of music that many wouldn’t have been exposed to before?

R & T: We don’t really have any evidence to back this up, but we think post-rock is starting to make headway in the Australian scene. Maybe not typical post-rock, but you can definitely feel its influence in a number of Australian bands. We think its growing on people; we’ve had a few compliments from punters who have said that they wouldn’t normally listen to a style of music similar to ours, but that they really enjoyed it. We think post-rock is pretty innocuous and accessible.

OtT: I feel that Cables is one of those albums that you should listen to in its entirety, but on the other hand, there are moments, like single "Closer", that stand up on their own. Was it a conscious decision to make certain songs more accessible as individual tracks, or is that just how it turned out?

R & T: We had written ‘Cables’ as a single piece and we attempted to record it that way. However there are single tracks like ‘Dissonance’, ‘Closer’ and ‘Ether’ that have that single vibe. That being said, they weren’t intentionally written as singles, but over time it became obvious that they could stand on their own.

OtT: The tracks on Cables seem to blend together effortlessly, it’s a very cohesive album. Was it difficult to get the tracks to flow and stick together correctly?

R & T: We really love placing emphasis on the fluidity of our sets. Almost as much as we work on the individual songs, we work on the transitions between them. We wanted to create a contiguous listening experience for the audience. We thought that through not giving the audience time to clap etc, that they would be more captivated by the proverbial ‘journey’. We hate using that word. Perhaps we could substitute, ‘field trip’, or ‘excursion’, or ‘jaunt’. The thesaurus isn’t helping us right now.

OtT: How do you as a band interact in a live setting? Do you expand upon tracks, mix stuff up and chop and change songs, or is it essentially a performance of Cables?

R & T: At this point, we have chosen those aforementioned tracks that ‘stand on their own’, and mixed them in with our new material. We still try to provide that contiguous listening experience though, focusing on the transitions as much as the songs themselves. In a live setting this more often that not translates, but sometimes due to sound constraints, or audience vibe, I think it can leave us feeling a little vulnerable.

OtT: Do you have any plans to tour the other states anytime soon with your new album?

R & T: We are heading to Sydney to play a show at the World Bar on the 23rd July, and we are hoping to make it to Melbourne and Brisbane in August. Touring is definitely something we’d like to pursue!

OtT: Lastly, who are your favourite contemporary Aussie bands at the moment? Anyone you think we should be keeping an eye on?

R & T: We all have quite divergent musical tastes, so not according to genre or locality the following bands have really captivated our attention: Parades, Bearhug, My Disco, Absolute Boys, These Hands Could Separate the Sky, Box Elder, Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire!, and too many other Adelaide bands to mention!


Thanks so much to Rory and Tom for answering my questions and to Emma and Samuel who helped organise it all. Look out for my review of “Cables” very soon!


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