Volume 75, Number 40 | February 22 -28 2006

Tag Team Media

Northern Lights: Stars cashes in on Canadian rock craze

By Emily Zemler

About ten minutes into a phone interview with Stars drummer Evan Cranley last week, he was forced to cut the call short when the car in front of his band’s van flipped off the road. Luckily, the Canadian group’s near constant touring since their third album, “Set Yourself On Fire,” has gone much more smoothly.

“The response has been fabulous,” Cranley said once the Stars reached St. Louis — safely. “It’s been a slow burn for the past couple years, so when the record came out, almost a year ago, people seemed to be kind of interested. Now a year later it seems to really have caught on with the kids. We’ve been playing all-ages shows too, so we’ve been getting to a younger market that we haven’t played for before, so that’s been really fun…And even though we’ve been around a while and we used to live in New York, the attention on Canada right now has obviously helped.”

The attention on Canadian bands like The Arcade Fire, the Deers, and Broken Social Scene has certainly helped Stars accrue a much greater buzz in the States. When asked why so much indie rock is currently emerging from the Great White North — a question Cranley says he fields on a daily basis — he attributes the critical mass of Montreal-based bands to their supportive attitudes.

“It’s a place where, unlike New York or L.A., there’s not this competitive spirit,” he explains. “In other cities people tend to follow their own way and not support each other. There’s a great support system up North and that’s really great for being a band up there. No one’s trying to out pose each other or anything like that.”

Cranley, who backs the Stars’ emotive indie rock fueled by the dueling vocals of singer Torquil Campbell and guitarist Amy Millan, loves playing in the U.S., but has lately noticed how refreshing the crowds in his native country have been.

“Playing in Canada this time around has been great,” Cranley says. “I think it’s really exciting for music fans and young kids to be into stuff that’s coming from their own backyard…I’ve never seen this before ever in Canada, this kind of craze or support.”

New Yorkers are obviously smitten, too — their show this Friday at Webster Hall is already sold out.

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