Opportunity knocks only so often. Low Stars
found theirs by teaming four singers who share a love – make that a passion – for vocal harmonies originally inspired by Crosby, Stills & Nash
and The Eagles
. The result is a Laurel Canyon buzz for the new century as Low Stars prepare to release their self titled debut album in February.
"We wanted to make an authentic-sounding record that was reminiscent of that era of music," Low Star Chris Seefried says of the CSN/Eagles inspiration. "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel," says Low Star Dave Gibbs. "People don't even realize that they miss this kind of music until they hear it. It's straightforward, very genuine music. The situation today is that everything is so processed and artificial. You don't really have to know how to play anything or how to sing. You can fix everything with Pro Tools in the studio. But that's not us. We're just four dudes with guitars. We sound exactly like that when we stand in front of you and sing." Having known each other as friends and having toured on some of the same shows, Low Stars were hatched organically. The initial seed came when Gibbs booked his annual benefit at Hotel Café (the hip L.A. folk room where Damien Rice
broke) to help the Audrey Hepburn
Children's Fund. He and buddy Seefried were on the bill, and at the last minute Jude showed up and played. "We just started talking after the gig saying, 'Wouldn't it be great to start singing together?'" recalls Seefried. "Then we realized we made a nice chord. I have a raspy rock voice and Dave has a sweet voice and Jude has a really clear natural falsetto."
Gibbs had been playing in another project with Jeff Russo, and a few phone calls later the four Low Stars were singing on Jeff's porch up in the Canyon in the Hollywood Hills. "We started hitting some chords together that sounded pretty nice, so we kept on singing, and we ended up playing late into the night," says Jude. "At one point, one of the girls staying at the house came outside and said, 'I really miss this kind of music.' We just looked at each other and started laughing a little, 'cause that's how we felt, too."
Low Stars' music is an exhilarating, hook-laden blend that is full of the same hope and idealism that fueled some of their idols. The song "Calling All Friends," which was chosen as the theme for ABC TV series "What About Brian
," could be a motto of the group, as could the graceful Russo composition "Can't Live Without Your Love" and "Love, Love, Love," a Jude composition. Other standouts include the sunny, So-Cal-infused "Need a Friend" (boasting a texture evoking the Eagles' "Take It Easy"), the mellow "Warmer Wind," Grateful Dead
-like "Tracks in the Rain," and the probing "Child," a Seefried tune that gently asks, "What do you see, child?" "All these songs are sort of an amalgam of everybody's experiences over the last four to five years," says Russo. "I know Chris got into this song because he was about to become a father, and I'm about to become a father. I listen to this and it has new meaning for me. All of these songs have that. It was really important for us to put together a record that was meaningful lyrically."
The four caught the attention of Starbucks Entertainment who decided to feature the group in the Company's innovative Starbucks Hear Music™ Debut series which was created to introduce Starbucks customers to exciting new artists. Low Stars debut album is available exclusively at the more than 6,000 Starbucks Company-operated locations in the U.S. and Canada.
"Great music is sold there, so we're into being around that,'' adds Low Star Jeff Russo. "Starbucks is a gathering place. It's about coming together as a community, and our music is the same way. It says, 'Come join us.' That's what it feels like. People are singing along. It's a party with guitars."
The party increased while Low Stars recorded their debut. Outside instrumentalists included Brendan O'Brien (a great bass player also known for his production work with Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam), steel player David Immergluck from the Counting Crows
, and many others, all friends from previous projects. The overall sound was crystallized by producer George Drakoulias, who has worked with The Black Crowes
, Tom Petty
, Maria McKee
, Tift Merritt
, and Primal Scream
. And what about the name Low Stars? "The hardest thing to do is to come up with a band name," Gibbs says with a laugh. "But I was out in my car and listening to mixes of our record. It was a glorious Southern California night with about a billion stars. It was really beautiful. I could see the stars and the moon, but from where I was sitting, the stars looked like you could touch them. They were low and beautiful. I said to my girlfriend, 'Those are some pretty low stars.' She said that's a great name. And the next day that was the name of the band."