A star called Torquil
Torquil Campbell of the Canadian band Stars practises for media interviews in his bedroom, so this article should be a great read. He talks to Tony Clayton-Lea
Aer way because it’s such an arbitrary choice to talk to one person about their experience, and to create a sense of occasion about it.
“With Stars, we want to make kitchensink music for people; music that you can do the dishes to, drive home to from your mother’s funeral, and get drunk and shag to – all the things you can use music for. We want you to use us and sort of disappear into what your life is. Ultimately, we’re just a soundtrack band for people’s lives.”
According to Campbell, that was the ethos from the start; it’s all they had ever hoped and planned for. “Simply put, what we do is storytelling.” The obvious corolNOTHER month, another lary here is that the art of effective storyband from Canada. If you telling mixes collective influences with an must blame anyone, blame original voice. Are Stars there yet? Their the Canadian government previous album (Set Yourself on Fire) and and its forward-thinking arts their new one (In Our Bedroom After the grants policies. It is, says, Torquil CampWar) would certainly indicate they are. bell, the singer with Stars, the main reason “We’re doing alright, we got a bit of a for the recent avalanche of Canuck musithing going, but it’s not like we’re reinventcal activity. ing the wheel,” says Campbell, ever the re-
“If anyone is making an argument for the alist. “I love storytelling bands, and I alfunding of art, they should take a look at ways thought that would be a way to make what has happened in music in Canada over things interesting. I was a big fan of The the past few years. The whole thing started Beautiful South, and the idea of having about 20 years ago as a funding mechanism two points of view in the songs gives you a for bands, and you can really trace a lot of lot room to create stories. If you like that, what is happening now to the ability of just then fine, if you don’t, then it’s because getting out to tour, getting records distributyou hate me.” ed. Once you have that incentive and a Er, sorry? That’s a strange thing to say, sense of being able to do something, rather even if your name is possibly something than being stuck at square one for years, that got you picked on at school. But then the sky’s the limit. Torquil Campbell is unrepentant.
“It isn’t that hard to play rock’n’roll; any“As we get a bit of notoriety you can see one can do it. It’s just a case of being so difan element of vitriolic hatred directed toficult to get anywhere with it, and the head wards me. On the face of it this is not good, start we had in Canada accounts for a lot but I actually think it’s fantastic . . . as an of the success we are having now.” artist I’m quite happy about it.”
Isn’t too much being written about these In a way, clarifies Campbell, it’s someCanadian bands, though? If it isn’t Arcade thing he has always wanted. “Getting into Fire, then it’s Metric, and if it isn’t Patrick rock’n’roll, for me, was about picking a Watson then it’s Broken Social Scene. fight with all the people who said that Campbell is pragmatic about the level of what I listened to and what I was as a kid media coverage. was nothing. To annoy these kinds of peo-
“Oh, look, there’s too much being writple is my revenge!” ten about practically everything in the world except for the things that really matter. I guess Stars are just another distraction, but we’re a little bit more sincere. The whole thing of publicising records and talking about them is something that I dreamed about in my bedroom – I had all my answers ready. That was amazing for a while, but now I find it interesting in anoth-
Torquil Campbell (centre) and Stars