I’m not sure why I like the proggy goth sounds of Starcrossed so much, since they frequently remind me of deadpan electro-bands whose buzzsaw hum I was already tired of in the ’80s (Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Killing Joke, Joy Division, the Cure). There’s a kind of guileless sincerity and dogged (if droning) consistency to most every song they’ve recorded since their 2001 debut.
Clubby tracks such as “Discotheque Love Song” ring like Dead or Alive meets Sisters of Mercy, while “The Wishing Star Kills Tonight” (“All your sighing makes me cry/ all your crying kills the show”) is drenched in breathless beats à la the Motels. Singer/keyboardist Christina Haemmerle frequently injects a bit of chick power into the proceedings (“If you need me/ call my name/ I won’t come running/ but I’ll show”), particularly on “Wind Up,” which sounds for all the world like a Jesus and Mary Chain outtake (“Never knew that being optimal/ meant I was more than the perfect doll”).
“We combine ’80s new wave and indie rock with a touch of shoegaze, goth, and dance beats,” says singer/guitarist Mark Haemmerle (Sleepy Hollow, Winter Winds). “So, basically, it’s guitar-and-bass-driven rock, with preprogrammed electronics and a drum machine.”
According to Christina, “Our sound is dark electro-pop, but with a twist.”
“I’d call it ’80s rock meets modern electronics,” says bassist/guitarist John Falk, a member since 2005. “We sometimes also have go-go dancers for the live shows.”
Starcrossed was nominated Best New Electronic Artist for the San Diego Music Awards in 2007, the same year their guitarist Bridgit Bardell died from a heroin overdose. Their newest CD, Samurai, was released in March.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
Christina: “Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Beat the Devil’s Tattoo. Perfect for driving through a cemetery in the fog. The intensity of this album is a fave for me when I’m feeling a little spooky.”
Mark: “Tom Waits, Bad as Me. I’ve always loved Waits and, since he doesn’t release new stuff often, it’s been in rotation about four months.”
John: “Been listening to the Beatles’ Abbey Road lately on iTunes. You can’t go wrong with the Beatles.”
ANYTHING YOU WERE EMBARRASSED TO MENTION?
Christina: “The silliest music on my iPod is Flight of the Conchords.”
Mark: “Wesley Willis and Captain Beefheart are pretty strange but not embarrassing.”
John: “I guess Lily Allen. I just came upon it.”
WHERE DO YOU HANG OUT?
Christina: “Balboa Park has always been one of my favorite places. I love to bring my sketchbook and a book to read or wander around people-watching.”
Mark: “My Bloody Valentine, April 19, 2009, at Coachella. I waited almost 20 years to see them, and they blew my mind and my ears.”
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THE YOUNGER YOU?
Christina: “Ice cream is not a food group.”
Mark: “Smile more.”
John: “Be more confident. That’s also what the future me would tell me now.”
WHO DO PEOPLE SAY YOU LOOK LIKE?
Christina: “When I was younger, I used to look just like Drew Barrymore.”
SOMETHING YOU NEVER RUN OUT OF?
Christina: “I can’t answer that; my parents might be reading this.”
Mark: “Contact-lens cleaner.”
John: “I’d have to say toilet paper.”
FEARS OR PHOBIAS?
Christina: “I’m irrationally skeeved out by meats with mystery ingredients, like, pepperoni, bologna, and hot dogs.”
Mark: “Giant spiders.”
John: “Being burned alive. To death.”
Christina: “When I worked at Blenders in the Grass, a smoothie and juice bar in Santa Barbara, I got a stress fracture on my wrist and thumb from scooping fro-yo. My bone actually cracked from the repetitive stress, and I had to wear a brace and go to physical therapy for six months.”
WAS THAT OTHERWISE A GOOD JOB?
Christina: “Sure, I had a lot of celebrity customers, such as Christina Applegate, Jeff Bridges, Christopher Lloyd, and John Cleese. The most regular was Rob Lowe. I can’t even tell you how many times I gave that guy a shot of wheatgrass.”
Mark: “My ex-girlfriend hit me with her car in 1992. She also hocked my bass guitar at a pawn shop for drug money but later had to use the money to get her car towed.”
EVER BEEN A CRIME VICTIM?
John: “Three guys came upon me when I was waiting outside my friend’s apartment in Hollywood and tried to mug me. I emptied my pockets for them and had absolutely no money or change, so they went on their way.”
Mark: “Not opening a home recording studio ten years ago, when I still had a steady job to fund the pricey equipment.” ■