BANG BANG ROMEO
Bang Bang Romeo’s Anastasia “Stars ” Walker puts her foot down over self- love, body positivity and sexuality — we don’t advise crossing her…
Frontwoman Anastasia “Stars” Walker really is lighting the way
Every once in a while, a voice emerges from the wilderness, packing more welly than a pile- driving power top. Step forward Anastasia “Stars” Walker, the lead singer of pop- rock group Bang Bang Romeo, with a Richter- Scale- shaking vocal range that doesn’t so much raise the roof as completely rip it off. However, Stars isn’t content with just smashing the shit out of a big note. As an out- and- proud queer woman, embracing all her swerves and curves, she is also on demolition duty to bulldoze stereotypes around sexuality and body image . We pity any fool who tries to stand in her way. Raised in a mining town in South Yorkshire, Stars didn’t have anyone to look up to as a kid and struggled to come to terms with being gay.
Now 26 and engaged to her childhood sweetheart Charlotte (“To this day, I still have the hottest girl in school”), she has wedged her rainbow flag into the ground to become the LGBTQ role model she never had.
On the ascent, Bang Bang Romeo — the line- up is completed by guitarist Ross Cameron, 30, and 26- year- old drummer Rich Gartland – performed at Attitude’s 25th anniversary party at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office earlier this year, and have just supported superstar P! nk on her sold- out European tour.
While cooped up on a bus trundling along to a gig in Southampton,
Stars spoke to Attitude about everything from the band’s debut album A Heartbreaker ’s Guide to the Galaxy to her slightly concerning obsession with Megan Fox, and, erm, punching animals in the throat.
All will become clear…
You recently hit the road with P! nk. That must have been a huge badge of honour.
She’s a hero of mine. They say never meet your heroes, but whoever said that had a shite hero because you should 100 per cent meet them. It was incredible, not just learning from her while she’s on stage, but also as a person.
Did you get a chance to hang out and pick her brain?
At the end of the show, we went to say goodbye to her and she came around the corner with some yellow roses and a bottle of champers. I said: “Look, if there’s any advice at all you could give me, what would it be?” She replied, “Don’t take any shit, and only give it when you have to.” I’m going to get that tattooed on my face.
Should we now expect more harness work in your shows?
Does it look as if you can expect much harness work in our shows? Absolutely not, I’ll leave that to her. I would be like the wrecking ball in Miley’s music video.
E WHO SAYS
YOUR HERO YOU
MUST HAVE SHOULD
NEVER MEET A SHITE
People would have to sign things on entry to the show, you know, if I fall on you, you still have to fucking pay for the ticket [ laughs]. Maybe [ I’ll do] a little stage dive, if I choreograph a team of body- builders at the front.
Your debut album, A Heartbreaker’s Guide to
the Galaxy, is out now. What kind of mind set were you in while writing it?
We take you on an emotional rollercoaster, and ping- pong you between love and hate, life and death. It’s just theatrical as fuck. Very dramatic.
Theatrical and dramatic are two of my favourite words.
Mine too. And Lindt, that’s a good word.
What song on the album was the most difficult to write?
You & I. It was written while I was watching the news about the Pulse nightclub shooting. I didn’t know how to deal with it, so I picked up my guitar and wrote a song. My partner Charlotte came home and I played it for her, and we both sat on the floor and cried.
How old were you when you came out?
I came out to my friends when I was 16, to my parents when I was 18, but I knew when I was 13 or 14. It was a massive head fuck. Not only was I from a mining town, where there weren’t any gay role models to look up to or learn from, but my parents had just got divorced and it was still pretty nasty. I’m also a big girl, so I probably did get a bit of hate in school, but you know I just broke someone’s nose and I didn’t get it again. My dad always used to say to me, “Never start it, always finish it.” My friend Ben and I came out to each other first. It was absolutely fucking terrifying. The school wasn’t awfully supportive. I could be a much more subdued, shyer person now if I didn’t have the support from my family and friends.
So, your family were supportive?
I was very lucky. When I came out to my
dad, it was a matter of, “Yeah, I know, you have six Megan Fox posters in your room, and your friend stays over a lot.”
Do you still like Megan Fox?
I’m obsessed. Charlotte doesn’t understand it, but a first love never stops. If I were to go on Mastermind, my specialist subject would be Megan Fox.
What’s your favourite Fox fact?
That she had a relationship with a Russian stripper.
Talking of your fiancée Charlotte, how did the two of you meet?
At a Halloween party. I’d left school to go to art college and she came to my school to join the sixth form and met all my friends. We’ve been on- and- off since we were 16. We were together when we were younger, then went on a break for a couple of years. Now we’ve come back as adults and are happier than ever and hoping to get married.
Give us the details. Who proposed?
I proposed to Charlotte in a field where we had one of our first kisses. We’re walking through this field, it starts raining and she just looks at me and asks: “Why am I in this fucking field?” She starts walking [ off] and I’m like, if I don’t do it now, this isn’t going to happen. Her hair's getting wet and she’s not in a good mood. She turns around, I’m on my knee and she burst into tears and said it couldn’t be a more perfect place.
Your new single is called and you once said that if you could give Charlotte one gift, it would be for her to see herself through your eyes. What do you mean by that?
Even though she is the most beautiful woman on Earth, the girl can’t take a compliment. If we get ready to go out or anything, I’ll say: “You look stunning,” and she replies, “No, I don’t.” Or I’ll hear her weighing herself, or over- examining herself in the mirror. It upsets me. I see her with her hair scrunched up in a bun, no make- up on, in joggers, and I’m like, holy fucking shit, look at her. I’d just like her to see that sometimes. I’ve got to the point where I love and accept myself, I honour myself and I’m proud of myself.
Does Charlotte appreciate the sentiment behind the song?
She’s very proud of me for saying it, because you’re throwing yourself to the lions as a big woman talking about selflove and self- care. I’m more than happy to be thrown to the lions — I’ll punch the lion in its fucking throat. I wouldn’t really harm an animal, unless it was trying to hurt me, like a shark. Wait, do sharks even have throats?
Hmmmm, I think so. Are you confident the world is moving forward when it comes to body positivity, especially with the likes of yourself and Lizzo putting the message out there?
Absolutely we’re moving in the right direction. People are not taking shit and accepting the hurtful things that are thrown at them. What the fuck is “normal” or “average” anyway? It’s not about bigger being OK, it’s about any body type being OK: thinner, shorter, fatter, whether you’re a pear or an hour- glass. Why is that even a thing? I am the shape of me, I’m not the shape of a fucking pear!
The music industry is a notoriously difficult place. One, you are a female- fronted band in a male- dominated business, and two, you’re a queer woman. Have you ever encountered any misogyny or homophobia?
There is misogyny in the industry. Less now, but more so in the early days. You know, when you walk in holding your guitar, and it’s like: “Is that your boyfriend’s guitar?” or “Are you here to see your friend [ play]?” No, I’m on at 8pm, you prick! What annoys me is the term “female- fronted”. What the fuck does my vagina have to do with my band? Why does it matter that I have tits? In terms of experiencing homophobia in the industry, I’ve been very lucky not to butt heads with that too much. I’ve had the odd slurs from people, “What you playing Pride for?” Just fuck off, I’m not even going to entertain that conversation. And if hear another person ask me why there isn’t a Straight Pride, you know what I’m going to do… punch them in the throat [ laughs].
Are queer women being better served in music these days?
I think we were told to turn it down. It’s like: she’s a lesbian, but don’t talk about it. Christeene, Hayley Kiyoko, St Vincent… they are incredible queer artists who are unapologetic and honest. That’s inspired me. You’ve got your Elton Johns, your Freddie Mercurys, George Michael, but now there is this rush of queer women being allowed to be openly queer women. Such a wonderful thing. And they’re all really hot.
Do you feel a pressure to be a visible LGBTQ role model, especially having grown up without one?
I get a lot of messages from young women coming to terms with their sexuality, and I try to give as much of my time as I can. I don’t feel pressure to be that voice for a community, I feel it’s my obligation and I am more than happy [ with] that. I don’t want another 14- year- old Stars not being inspired by anyone, not having anyone to look up to or talk to.
A Heartbreaker’s Guide to the Galaxy
"IF ANYONE ELSE ASKS ME WHY THERE ISN’T A STRAIGHT
PRIDE, I'LL PUNCH THEM"