Stars and Flights are a three-piece Welsh alternative rock band that has recently been turning heads with their new album Moral Colour. I had the chance to conduct an emailed interview with their lead singer James Davies. The topic of the bands name, fellow Welsh rockers and the influence musicians have on their fans were discussed. Also, a myth about Welsh people was busted.
MEB: Firstly, could you give a brief history of the band for the Mind Equals Blown readers?
James Davies: The name ‘Stars & Flights’ has been around since the end of 2009, when me (James Davies – guitar and vocals) and Kierran (Tomkins – bass) were playing with a different drummer. We did a few shows and released a couple of EPs, nothing serious. Things began to pick up when Brad (Ratcliffe – drums) joined 3 weeks before we started recording our first album in 2011, and we haven’t stopped since.
This has been bugging me since I heard of you guys, but what inspired the name Stars and Flights? It is most definitely a rather unique name.
I wish we had an amazing story for how it came about, but we don’t! It was basically a commentary on how many bands were using plurals as band names, the idea that eventually EVERY word that could be pluralised would be taken so they’d have to start putting two words in one name. Adding to that, we just liked the words “Star” and “Flight”…
You guys are from Wales, a country that isn’t well-loved in the UK for some peculiar reason. Does this age-old dislike of the Welsh from the English create any issues when you play in other parts of the UK?
The ‘dislike’ really isn’t that prominent… if anything, it’s the Welsh showing dislike for the English! We’ve always been fine on tour, in fact, we get more love from people across England than English bands, if anything.
Wales has birthed several world renowned rock and metal acts like Bullet for my Valentine and Funeral For A Friend. Do you guys ever feel any pressure to match the standard of music that these bands have created?
Not really. It’s great that South Wales has this legacy of quality rock music and it’s great to think that we could be considered a part of that in the future, but we just kind of focus on we do and try and make it the best we can, rather than comparing it to bands like that.
There is some infamy applied towards Wales and Welsh rock band now, thanks to Ian Watkins. What was your reaction to hearing about his heinous crimes?
Obviously it was hugely shocking, discovering that someone I’d grown up listening to had done such unforgivable things. I wouldn’t say that Wales, the Welsh rock scene or Welsh rock bands have had any backlash from it at all though – not that I’ve experienced, anyway.
This links in with what I just asked. Nearly all the comments on Lostprophet music videos have been disabled because people are spewing hate about the band. Do you think that it is right that people now hate the band as a whole and refuse to listen to the band? Or do you think that there should be a separation between what the lead singer did and the music they created?
I think in some cases it’s right to separate the personality that created the music and the music itself – for example, I think Morrissey’s a pretty big tool, but I still listen to The Smiths. This is a completely different situation though. I suppose when you listen to the music you’re reminded of what happened – which obviously you don’t want. That’d explain the refusal to listen to Lostprophets songs.
Furthermore, do you think that it is scary how much influence a band or artist can have on a group of people? Take the recent drama with One Direction and the #skinfor1D twitter trend. Girls literally started posting nudes to help one of the members through a weed addiction. Is this influence something artist need to take into consideration when doing stuff within their personal lives?
When someone becomes famous there’s a huge burden on them to become a ‘good role model’ and to act accordingly, so I suppose the question becomes, should all artists (and actors, footballers, etc) be considered as role models? Most of the time they just want to play music and reach people that way, rather than becoming a public figure. They definitely need to be careful with what they do because, like it or not, they have massive influence on people. That said, I think it’s unfair to blame One Direction for things like Twitter trends that their fans have started. Whatever they’ve done in their personal lives, they don’t call for their fans to do that kind of thing.
Now, “Repeater, Repeater” is one of my favourite songs off Moral Colour. What is the inspiration and story behind that song?
Musically, it’s a nod to At The Drive-In and those kind of bands, that chaotic alt rock with a melodic edge. It’s got some of my favourite riffs off the album in it. Lyrically, it started out as being about a habitual liar in a relationship, told from the point of view of the person receiving the lies. As I got further into it though, I realised it was more about domestic violence. I did some research into it and came across a true story of a man abusing his paraplegic wife, and the thought of it makes me feel angry and physically sick to this day. This is where the lyric in the last chorus, “A pretty bird in a cage”, came from.
“Dearest On Show” is definitely a unique song on the album as it is the only slow song. It sort of puts me in mind of Funeral for a Friend’s “History”. What is the meaning behind that song and was it different recording that song than the others?
I don’t want to give too much away about the meaning of this one, it’s a bit of a secret for people to work out! It’s basically a twisted love song. There are a lot of clues in there as to it’s actual meaning though! It wasn’t really that different, we used the same gear and everything, just we played a bit softer! It was definitely the ‘dark horse’ of the record – we only finished writing it days before we went into the studio so it was awesome to see it come out like it did. We took influence from stuff like Pearl Jam’s slower tracks – ‘Release’ being the obvious comparison, with the build-up to the end of the song and stuff.
What influences and inspires you guys to create the music you do?
Aside from direct musical influences (there’s quite a few), I’d say our contemporaries in the UK rock scene. There’s so much amazing stuff being released all the time, and it really inspires us and pushes us to write the best stuff we can. The level of passion and integrity shown by a lot of UK bands is seriously inspiring too.
Finally, are their myths you’d like to dispel regarding the Welsh? If so, now is your chance.
Despite popular belief, neither me or anyone I know has EVER fucked a sheep. To my knowledge, anyway…
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Keep rocking.