Don't be put off by the abrasive moniker. STRFKR might roughen up your sense of vernacular propriety, but they'll smooth out the ripples in your eardrums. The American quartet is "Starfucker" to your friends and "STRFKR" to your mom, and it's clear that they don't need the vowels to round out their distinctive blend of indie-pop and electronica. Although their affinity for consonants hardly disguises thinly-veiled references to interstellar coitus, STRFKR is a rocket ship fuelled by galactic glitter and champagne, and it's headed straight for the Sled Island music festival next weekend.
In Earth terms, STRFKR is a perpetual house party where looped samples mingle with everything from synth to classical guitar, and the Gauntlet happened to snag a coveted invite. We conversed with multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Joshua Hodges, whose astral journey will have traversed one solo project, two cities and three name changes in order to arrive at the doorstep of the Hifi Club at midnight on June 22.
The Gauntlet: So, Joshua, you're originally from Portland, Oregon?
Joshua: Yes, born and raised in Portland. I moved to New York [from 2000 to 2005] and recorded stuff out there under the name Sexton Blake, and then a Portland label put out my first two albums under that name. Then I got bored with that and started STRFKR.
G: What prompted the change?
J: Sexton Blake is mellower. It wasn't really that fun to play live. And it wasn't really something I intended on releasing, it was just kind of like a journal. Making that album was like a tool for me to keep myself sane. I didn't plan to put it out into the world to be judged. Starfucker is intentionally more fun. It started as something that I did in my basement-- [eventually] I was like, 'This is kind of good, I should do this at parties and stuff,' so that's what it was for a while. [It's] like [one] big house party in Portland. And then we started touring, which I never thought we would.
G: You transitioned out of your solo project, but called it "PYRAMID" and then "Pyramiddd" before finally settling on "Starfucker." Why?
J: There [are] a lot of problems with the name. There are like three bands with that name. People check us out and say, "You fucking suck," but then others say, "No, [you're thinking of] another band." That's part of it. Another part is that there are labels that were recording us at the time and . . . they weren't interested [because of our name] and wanted us to change [it]. We're pretty much set on the name now.
G: How has touring been for your second album, Reptilians, the 2011 follow-up to your 2008 self-titled debut album?
J: It's been good. This is by far our best tour as far as how much fun we had and how well it did. The shows are all well-attended. We get back from [a one-date tour to] Mexico City, and we have a couple weeks and then go to Sled Island for a week and then get back and then have another festival in California called Outside Lands.
G: What prompted the move to focus on playing festivals and isolated concert dates until the fall instead of going on the standard summer tour?
J: We can't really tour all the time. For one, it makes us want to kill each other and ourselves. It's a lot of time to spend with five other dudes in a tiny space. Also, we can't just keep touring around the U.S. We can't play these cities every couple [of] months. I think the next thing is going to Europe [in the fall] and we're going to try to go to Australia. I'd definitely like that. I love travelling.
G: Is STRFKR a full-time job for you and the rest of the band? Do you have any side gigs?
J: I have [the musical side project] Skeletron. Do you mean boring work? No, no one does any more. This job is kind of like being in a minimum wage job. That's kind of how it goes for now. We want to get a little bit more comfortable. I think before our last tour, a couple of people were still working. [Drummer] Kiel [Corcoran] does web design stuff. He used to work when we were on the road. That got to be too much.
G: So, you say you "want to get a little bit more comfortable" with STRFKR. What are your plans for the future, then?
J: Who knows. I never know. I'm working on the next album and try[ing] to put on good shows.
G: Speaking of good shows, which artist or band are you most excited to play with at Sled Island?
J: I'm most excited to play with Blonde Redhead, who we're actually sharing the stage with. It's doubly exciting for me that I get to see them and that we're playing one or two bands before them on the same stage. They were my favourite band when I was younger. I'm really excited about them. There [are] a whole bunch of cool bands playing [this year].