Eden Star

Indulgence, Decadence and Indecency

If you listen to today's music, you might think that '70s punk and '80s glam rock seem to be the forgotten genres. You might ask yourself one question: Why?

Though I might not have an answer, as I am not as hip as I used to be when I listened to, say, Motley Crüe, I seem to get excited when I see a new band draw from unpopular styles.

This is why seeing some recent performances of Eden Star in New Jersey brought a smile to my face. Unlike the music from many of today's crop of budding artists, the Edison, NJ band's sound brought me back to the Ramones, Hanoi Rocks and, yes, even Motley Crüe. (If there was a license for music critics I would be handing it in now for saying the latter is a reputable influence.)

Many new bands seem to draw from their contemporaries rather than from the past. But, in his interview with Chorus and Verse, the band's lead singer Daniel wasn't afraid - as I am - to list Whitesnake and Poison as his influences.

Music will never evolve if bands don't take risks. However, in the mainstream world, solos are always getting shorter, chord structures are getting duller and marketable formulas are becoming the norm. However, record labels are not getting any richer, as financial papers continue to publish reports of a number of music executives losing their jobs and even the shut down of some labels.

With all of that being said, the mainstream might just open its doors to risk; thus leaving room for risk takers like Eden Star or similar artists to walk in and seize such an opportunity. Chorus and Verse recently sat down and asked Daniel for some of the bands' goals, their creation process and his viewpoints.

The band seems to have a '70s New York punk sound to it. Are you influenced by the genre? Who are some of your other influences?

I definitely have influences from '70s and modern punk: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Distillers, Moreso, with the classics like the Ramones, The New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Blondie, and the obvious UK originators like The Sex Pistols, Siouxsie And the Banshees, etc.

It's kind of funny because a good number of my favorite songs in the genre were by female-fronted bands. Most of our music is built on punk basics. But, from then on out, other influences take over, specifically from the Glam Hard Rock era: Whitesnake, Poison, Motley Crüe, Queen.

In recent years, I've been listening to a lot of Velvet Revolver, The Darkness and Japanese rock bands like Pierrot, L'arc-en-Ciel and SADS.

Other influences include Motorhead, Nashville Pussy, and a bunch of psychobilly bands, specifically Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billys.

Can you take me through the band's songwriting process? Do you write off of riffs or does one member tend to write most of the lyrics and music?

We use this method I like to call "mothering". One member comes up with an idea, a theme or a riff and writes most of the material; taking the lead during session work and providing the direction the song takes. [It's] like a mother nurturing her child. The structures and riffs are pretty much laid out and the rest of the members contribute their licks and some additions when necessary, aiding in its growth.

Right now, about 80 percent of our music was "mothered" by me. It sounds kind of conceited when I say that (laughs), but it's not that I'm bragging. I just tend to write and record demos almost every other day, and a lot of the time we end up focusing on the ones that make it to the band practices. There is one song, though, that we've just finished learning: "Devil". Our bassist, Jon, composed it and wrote the lyrics as well.

How does your music contrast from some of the present mainstream bands? What are some of the challenges for a new band looking to make its mark while maintaining an original style?

Currently, a butt load of mainstream is emo. We are so not emo. Our music has this classic punk rock sound with a heavy metal edge, and we focus more on hedonistic themes both in our lyrics and in our sound. Don't get me wrong, though, I absolutely love some emo, moreso when it comes to the old school boys like Reggie and the Full Effect, The Get Up Kids, The Anniversary, and the like. It's just so super saturated now.

As for challenges that any band faces, the list can be pages long: Knowing the difference between buying in and selling out; garnering a solid fan base; striking that perfect balance between "familiar" and "different" ... "accessible" and "alien". Then there is staying true to your sound, which will always be an issue, because at what point does "staying true" become "never evolving?" For me, I just hope we make the right decisions at the right times.

What does the band focus on with its live show? What type of message do you try to get across? How does playing live compare to recording when it comes to reaching out to fans of your music?

For our live shows, we put all our energy into providing a good time for us and the audience. Our music is all about indulgence, so I want the audience to feel as if they can do anything they want at our shows. Within reason, of course.

As for messages, I feel that the type of music we're doing currently has no place for them. We're not out to change the world, start a revolution or invent a brand new sound. We're just rocking out hard as we can without the pretension, hoping that everyone listening to us has just as much fun as we are. Music at its most basic is supposed to inspire emotion, and that's what I'm most focused on.

There is a time and place for a good "thinking song." It's just that it's not here and now for us. If anyone is still looking for a message then it's this: "Have fun. Life's too short so have a good goddamn time."

Playing live is a completely different beast than recording. People don't just hear your music at a show, they see it in action. You've got to do everything you can to capture their interest long enough to get them to truly listen to you, to buy a CD or pick up a flyer, so they can come to the next show, or check you out on the Internet. In my opinion, it's still the best way to get people into your music.

What are some of the band's future goals? How does playing live help a band achieve those goals?

Goals? What everyone truly wants deep inside: fame and fortune, be it monetary or some profound sense of accomplishment.

Aside from that basic desire, I suppose we just want to give people something else to listen to, something that can act as a good segue between pop and heavy metal or punk.

Personally, I want to establish a large family of friends and fans then branch out and do other types of music I've been wanting to. Then I'd retire early to a private island. But that's all in the long run, now isn't it?

As for playing live, I've said it before, it's the best way to spread your music and get people interested in your music. People talk, and they will talk about you if you were good enough to remember the next morning.

[ Website: www.myspace.com/edenstar ]

Josh Davidson

Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.