New York City’s newest modern rock offering comes in the form of Starcode; a band founded by brothers Dave (Vocals and Bass) and Dan O’Connor (Drums), and joined by Greg Nicotra and Steve Bernstein (Guitars), whose style of “high-energy, dark pop rock” separates them from the herd.
Working with famed producer Dale Penner (Nickelback, Mathew Good) Starcode put together their stellar, brand new record, A Fine Line, which delivers no-nonsense melodic rock that is built on a strong acoustic base and decorated with plenty of tasty electric guitars and harmony vocals.
Recently, Dave was kind enough to take the time to answer some of our burning questions.
Q: Hi Dave – thanks for taking to time to chat. To start, tell us a bit about how Starcode began.
A: Starcode began with a few friends and family – Dan, the drummer, is my brother – getting together to share their love for creating and performing music.
Q: Do you have a favorite track off the new release? If so, what makes it stand out for you?
A: This is something that evolves with my moods. So, my favorite track today may not be my favorite track tomorrow. Even tonight as I doze off it may change. So, right this second? I’d have to say I Found A Way. It stands out for me at this time because we’ve just shot the video for it and done some shows where it really seems to have moved the crowd. There are few things better than seeing a roomful of people singing along to a song that you’ve sweated and tortured yourself to create.
Q: Working closely with a relative can be a double-edged sword. How has it been for you and Dan?
A: Dan and I have been playing together for years. Our first band, Amethyst, had their first gig when I was nine [at the Shriners Hospital in Springfield, Mass] [but] we have most definitely had some moments of rivalry. There were many things and tantrums thrown over the years. I must say however, that when things got serious for the band and we started going on the road it sort of morphed into an “us against them” sort of thing. We tend to unite along with the other guys instead of getting at it amongst ourselves. So I guess our secret for not killing each other is finding a common enemy. They’re out there and we’ve conveniently found a great way to come together against them.
Q: Do you and your brother have similar tastes in music? Which bands influence each of you the most?
A: Dan and I are constantly bouncing bands off of each other. The most recent was Kings Of Leon; he loved them and had the hard sell on me. We were in New Orleans for Jazzfest last year and they played, he really wanted me to check them out, but I got caught up in the fray trying to get in at the gate and left in frustration. I wasn’t too disappointed at the time but now I sort of like them and am hesitant to admit that to him. Maybe I should try and get him to join me in hating them thus creating another joint enemy? Nah, just having a rib. I do like them and that’s how we find new music; he hears something and throws it at me and I do the same to him.
Our roots influences though, what started us off, was really The Beatles, The Kinks, and Zeppelin. Our first popular band together was a Grateful Dead cover band. We aren’t much like that now, but we are capable of working some jams into our songs thanks to Steve and Greg [Guitarists] which is a great way to mix it up in a live situation so people who come to see us can’t say, “Well, could’ve stayed at the house, had the CD on and thumbed the internet, eh?”
Q: If we borrowed your mp3 player for a day, what bands could we expect to hear?
A: Ah, well, you’ve caught me in the holiday season so there is Your Vegas, The Kinks, Travis – all the holiday classics. In the off-season I’ve been quite into Stereophonics, Muse, A, Quicksand, you know I could go on. The great thing about living where I do is that I am able to see so much music, the only limit is time. Just in the next few weeks I’ll be checking out Dave Davies [The Kinks], Carmen Cansoli and B.B. King with Buddy Guy. Then there’s always Carl Thompson, a great friend and amazing jazz bassist, it’s limitless. I need more time!
Q: You’ve performed with some very high-profile acts, including the Goo Goo Dolls, Smashmouth, Buck Cherry, Belly, and many more. You must have at least one good story from your tour diary that you can share with us?
A: Actually, one of my favorite stories didn’t happen when we were touring but in Nashville recording. We were to be laying tracks in a studio following a session that Zack Wilde was completing. While his people packed his gear up and we readied to go in, we had the most amazing time hanging with him on the loading dock. He had us all riveted with some amazing stories. He even laughed at a few of ours; it was a great opportunity to see how someone who’d made it can treat someone who hasn’t with equal respect.
Q: I understand you also played the former Czech Republic for UN troops, tell us about that.
A: It was one of the most bone chilling, eye opening experiences of my life. We were flown into our first base camp on a Chinook and it had to hover because the ground was so muddy, they tossed our equipment off on pallets and in the darkness we saw silhouettes and heard one voice: “Welcome to Bosnia’. I can honestly say we didn’t have any idea what we were getting ourselves into. It was damp, cold and depressing. These UN troops had been living this for who knows how long and we were supposed to lift their spirits. There was one show in particular when the crowd seemed extremely flat. Afterwards a couple of the troops came up and wanted to let us know that they weren’t hating us, that our music and banter was just making them homesick. They thanked us, we were all pretty taken by that.
We did fourteen shows in twelve days, had locked and loaded escorts everywhere we went and saw things I’m sure we weren’t supposed to. I’ll never be the same. Am I glad I did it, absolutely, no one should have to live in those conditions but everyone should see what is happening in the world. Suddenly trying to decide between the Better Than Ezra or the Tom Waits T-Shirt after a shower isn’t so traumatic.
For more on Starcode: http://www.myspace.com/starcode
Read our review of A Fine Line here!