LA Punk Rockers, Starcrawler, Showcase the City’s Authentic Grit with a Heavy Dose of Glamour
Words by Jo Rosenthal
Photography by Jimmy Fontaine
Composed of founding members Arrow de Wilde and Henri Cash alongside bassist Tim Franco and drummer Seth Carolina, LA punk rockers Starcrawler are one of the city’s hottest cult bands and a thousand times more glam than you could dream. It takes a very special group of people to take the authentic sounds and vibe of living in Los Angeles by the scruff of the neck and encapsulate it in music. Starcrawler does exactly that. And more. Unless you’ve grown up in, and roamed the streets of LA, all of its grime and glamour included, you’d never know the real experience of taking it party-fueled night by party-fueled night. And to make sense of what that means. Those of you outside of LA can get close to what that feels like with a listen to any of Starcrawler’s music. Their past brings nostalgia, their present brings power and their future brings excitement.
But forming the band wasn’t easy, according to frontwoman Arrow de Wilde. She knew she wanted to start a band but every aspect of putting it together had to be the right fit. Like David Bowie’s costumes or Kurt Cobain’s persona, it took a lot of time and effort to perfect. “Everyone had to look cool while being good at their instruments,” De Wilde tells me, but it goes much deeper than that. They also had to have this joie de vivre for being beautiful misfits with a lot to say.
All of the band’s members grew up surrounded by music, play- ing it themselves and blasting it at high volume while writing poetry and practicing chords to make meaning of the world around them. Growing up and living in LA only helped further inspire and push that. De Wilde says she “didn’t really get into the depths of Nirvana’s music until later in life,” but bands like X, The Runaways, The Cramps and Ozzy Osbourne helped shape the musician she is today. For guitarist Henri Cash, growing up playing tuba and percussion while paying homage to his inspirations via his passion for band t-shirts. A special bond was formed between him and De Wilde. One that not even the most brutal of tours has broken apart.
Romanticizing Los Angeles is a big part of what makes Starcrawler’s music special. For a city that’s infamous for its plastic surgery and avocado toast, De Wilde grew up seeing its witchy and authentic sides. “I kind of have always romanticized this kind of decrepit kind of part of LA,” De Wilde explains, and she turned Nag Champa burning and eccentric LA characters into lyrical magic with hit songs like “Bet My Brains” and “Goodtime Girl.”
It’s not just about appreciating Los Angeles though. It’s about taking a deep dive into the thick of the city to be able to create the soundtrack that goes along with it. Guitarist Cash agrees, “you could make a song called ‘I Love Delaware’ and people might not understand. But a song called ‘I Love LA’ is universally known to be true.”
With new music just around the corner, it’s hard to not be excited to see and hear all this band can do. They don’t just have the look, they’ve got the hard-working ethos and gut-punching talent to match.
All musicians dream of touring but until you actually experience its grueling intensity you’d never really understand. Long nights on the road, all dreaming of a home cooked meal, kept the band members sane. Because being squished next to each other on a tour bus on a stomach full of only French fries in the middle of Norway forms a special bond. Starcrawler looks forward to the day when they hop on the road again and soon they’ll be able to. Fall and winter finally brings them some release with a full schedule of touring, good times and stories they’ll someday share from the road. For the first half of their tour, they’ll roam around California journeying through its disgusting and beautiful parts, taking it all in just like old times.
One of the greatest things about the band is its collaborative effort to make new music. Cash is “constantly creating voice notes on his phone with guitar riffs or entire songs he’s made in one night.” Usually the group starts with instrumentals and the rest comes together organically. For Cash, “everything they make is about something they’ve experienced.” Different months’ music sounds different. It’s all about how band members are feeling at the times they produce, and when they come together to play or record, they become the storytellers of their different environments.
One of Cash’s main goals for the band is “to create music that young people can relate to.” Putting something into the world that makes people feel less alone is special and rare, and the band always keeps that in mind when producing. Starcrawler uses music as therapy and all of the raw and authentic intensity that comes with it.
Working on their new album during the pandemic wasn’t necessarily a challenge but it was definitely different than the way they usually record. Their quarantines consisted of writing a lot of music as part of a longer process than ever before. “This album was more planned and thought out, with many songs having multiple demos and the slower process making room to perfect every little detail,” says De Wilde. The ability to record songs and then reflect on them gave the band more time to make sure everything came out flawless. “We were on the road for so long that usually most of our records were like, ‘okay, make something but make it quick’, because you have to go back on the road”, explains Cash. “But this time we really just got to record and let that sit and go back and change things to really perfect something. Which we’ve never gotten to do.” For them, this new album is both mysterious and exciting.
The band’s close bond has benefited everything from their music to the way they experience the world around them. Whether it be on tour in the states or in Europe. Days that they spend only talking with each other allows them this sense of closeness that other people might not understand. Starcrawler has not only perfected their relationships with one another through performing but doing things like sleeping in the same bed while on tour in places like Paris. The close bond they share with each other is pure and loving and you can hear it with every stroke of guitar in their songs.
On top of having a uniquely nostalgic sound, their style is something Starcrawler are renowned for. Each band member reminds us of what we love from the 90s and what we wish we could have seen in the 70s. They not only inspire us through their sense of fashion but they make us want to throw ourselves straight into a mosh pit.
The band wasn’t always as glamorous but they’ve always been daring. De Wilde says that in their early stages, they were “constantly emailing their demos, playing gigs wherever they could and posting their flyers all around different neighborhoods where cool people might live.” It did not happen overnight but in a way that only helped them work harder. When that started to pay off, they knew their work had only begun but they never wanted to burn out. It’s not only about having a good look, it’s also about having a good attitude to match. “It’s not like I’m talking like I think we’ve made it or something,” explains Arrow. “Because I still am like: “We’re nothing. We’re not successful. We need to be here. We need to be there.” Like it never stops. You’re never going to be comfortable where you are. And if you are, if you’re comfortable, I think that’s a bad sign. I personally don’t want to ever be comfortable.”
For young people, or anyone who wants to do what the band does, know that it’s not for the faint of heart. You not only have to give it your all but you have to want it as much as you possibly can, and more. De Wilde’s inspiring confidence to start a band with so many goals in mind gave her the power to accomplish so many wonderful things, including lifelong friendships, multiple albums. EPs and a personal style that makes us want to bleach our hair and buy five inch heels immediately. Let us not forget that it’s a full band effort though, with every piece of the band’s puzzle being as import- ant as the next. Cash says, “I remember Rough Trade Records, when I was a kid, was a big thing. And then we were on Rough Trade so all that stuff’s possible. The reason we got a record deal was we were just emailing. We didn’t know anybody. We were just sending out emails like a band in high school sending demos, trying to get a record deal. Arrow didn’t know anybody, she just had the confidence go find people. Whether it’s making flyers or just going up to people. And you got to go through some people, she didn’t just find me right away. She went up to others who didn’t work out. So as long as you have a strong will to just keep doing it and believe in yourself, you could get a lot of shit accomplished.”
From their badass beginnings to being outcast youth looking for mean- ing on the streets of LA, Starcrawler reminds us that music can be fun and emotional at the same time. It’s not always about what you say that matters but it’s about how you say it that really tops off the champagne. You can look cool but if you have nothing to say, you’ll never understand. The band’s ability to remain genuine is what further sets them apart from other modern rock and roll bands. Starcrawler’s music is the adrenaline that our day and age need to feel as good as it feels to turn your music all the way up and speed down the freeway into the sunset.
Starcrawler love where they come from and they absolutely love what they do. So much so that they couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Each member believes in the power of the band to put something out there that encapsulates exactly how they are feeling at any given moment. Starcrawler not only capture and produce sounds that remind us of our favorite rock bands from the past, they do it in a careful yet daring way that gets us excited for the future. The incredibly authentic way they put out their music and videos about where they come from and how it inspires them has not only built their dream of feeling less alone, it’s helped make other people feel less alone and has created a space where everyone loves and appreciates the disgusting yet charming world around them.