Glam-shock Los Angeles delinquents find hope for rock’n’roll.
It’s 9am in Los Angeles, and judging by the half-asleep tones coming down the line, it’s clearly too early for 18-year-old Arrow de Wilde to be out of bed, let alone give a lucid account of Starcrawler, the hi-voltage rockers she’s fronted for the past year. But she soon settles, and begins to fire up, especially when asked about a fashion blog that named Arrow “The Indie World’s Next ‘It’ Girl” back in 2014. “They said I was a style blogger, which I’ve never done, or written about fashion,” she seethes. “My only professional modelling was for my mum.” Mum is photographer/video director Autumn de Wilde, while dad is drummer Aaron Sperske, formerly of Beachwood Sparks; he unwittingly kickstarted her path to Starcrawler by playing her Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard Of Ozz album when Arrow was 11. “It totally changed my life,” she declares. “Ozzy seemed like this tough prince of darkness, but vulnerable, and funny too. By not trying to be cool, he was the coolest.” Ozzy led to Iggy and Alice, far from ‘indie world girl’. But Arrow’s problem was that “The only people who liked the music I did were 50-year-old men! I loved The Beatles and old country music too. I was at an all-girl Catholic school in junior high, and I didn’t like anyone there, it was classic angst. But I eventually made some friends, who made me realise that I should make music myself.” Later, when Arrow accosted a tuba-toting Henri Cash on the stairway in high school, she wasn’t to know he was a Jack White in the making. The guitarist’s a year younger than Arrow, while Starcrawler drummer Austin Smith and bassist Tim Franco aren’t much older. It’s all happened fast; a tip-off led Rough Trade to snap them up and release debut 7-inch Ants in May, with an album in the pipeline, produced by mum’s pal and Starcrawler convert Ryan Adams. As Arrow explains, “Henri wrote Ants about an infestation. But it was a joke until he came up with the slow breakdown part, and I was like, Now it’s a song. To me, the ants can be people conforming, or the crowd at our shows, my enemy but also my love. I go through different moods with my on-stage persona.” Said persona is classic ‘wild child’: Alice meets Iggy meets Runaways singer Cherie Currie, another Arrow favourite. Stage props include a hospital gown, a straitjacket, (fake) blood and a rhinestone-encrusted jockstrap. Spitting water at the crowd is not uncommon. “No one acts like that any more,” she vouches. “I’m surprised people still get shocked or angry by it, which makes me want to do it more.” She laughs. “The fact they get mad shows there’s still hope for rock’n’roll.”
“PEOPLE STILL GET SHOCKED, WHICH MAKES ME WANT TO DO IT MORE.”