Published on September 6th, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
Don’t be fooled by the moody, grey-tinged promo shots and the retro, uniform apparel – emerging Manchester indie rockers Daystar wield some gorgeous tunes, chockfull of the kind of spirit and adventure that elevates them beyond the realms of mere revivalism.
Just ask Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and Inspiral Carpets’ Clint Boon, both confirmed fans, or check them out for yourself when they play at Manchester’s Cavfest this month alongside the likes of James, Mark Burgess and Tom Hingley and The Lovers.
Rocksucker caught up with front man Simon Monaghan ahead of the release of his band’s rather lovely new single “Off Our Heads” to get the lowdown on a ‘star very much in the ascendant…
Your band appears to share a name with a Christian television network…
(Laughs) Right, okay – when we first set the name up, we didn’t do a lot of research on it and, in hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have chosen the name Daystar. But by the time we realised what we were up against, it was too late because we’d already had a lot of stuff done for us. The reason we chose the name Daystar is because it represents the sun and I like the idea of the sun rising.
Apparently Daystar started off as a recording project between yourself and various producers. How did that develop into the band we see today?
Basically, I wanted to write music and I didn’t have a band or anything like that – I was just doing it in my spare time. I was running nightclub nights in Manchester at the same time and I had some friends who were producers and had a studio who wanted to write music as well. That’s how it started out, really. I took my ideas in and they helped me get those ideas out there into actual songs. As soon as we had a few songs sorted and I’d stopped doing club nights, we got the rest of the band involved and now we write as a fivesome.
Were the other guys in the band people you knew well?
Steve the bass player was – I worked with him at the time. Our lead guitarist Ryan is Steve’s cousin, Tom the drummer is Ryan’s best mate and Budgie, the new guitarist, is one of Tom’s mates.
I read about what Steve’s been going through recently on a recent blog post on your site. How’s he holding up?
Just taking each day as it comes, really. He’s having counselling at the moment to try and deal with it. When I see him at rehearsals, like last night, he’s a laugh like he is normally but then there are also times when he’ll drift off and you can tell that something’s on his mind. It’s hard to watch but, like he said on the blog, it’s all about time.
On the band’s Facebook page, you’re also listed as General Manager and Booking Agent. It sounds like you’ve taken on quite a workload!
Yeah, kind of! We’re trying to sort out a live agent at the moment, trying to find the right people who can help us. We’ve got Liam Walsh doing press stuff and PR for us, plugging and stuff, and there’s another company that helps us out with a bit of PR as well called Smith and Smith, so bookings is the only area I feel we’re weak in at the moment and it’s purely because I don’t have the contacts that a booking agent would have. I think I’ve done alright with some of the gigs that I’ve managed to get but I know that there’s a next level we can get to and I don’t have enough contacts to get us to that next level, which is frustrating for me because I feel like I’m holding everyone back at the moment! But everything else seems to be in place and going in the right direction.
Given that your debut album came out last year, will you be working on another one soon?
Yeah, we already are. We’ve got two tunes pretty much done – they just need to be recorded – and we’ve got another twenty or thirty ideas for songs, riffs and vocals and stuff. The thing that’s holding us back at the moment is the rehearsal room that we’re in, the amount of money that we pay for it – we can’t afford to rehearse twice a week so we’re waiting to get a rehearsal room that we can pay for per month and use as much as we want. As soon as we get that, we’ll be able to dedicate a lot more time to writing and turning these ideas into finished articles.
The video for “Off Our Heads” all seems very prosaic – you go to the pub, watch football, do a gig, pile back to someone’s flat afterwards – and then, at the end, someone sets fire to a photograph…
The video company had an idea where they wanted to portray me as some sort of Lothario character. Being honest with you, I wasn’t majorly happy with the idea of it but I went along with it because they had a concept and everything. In hindsight, I probably should have looked at that idea and thought, “Nah, it’s not really strong enough.” We’ve rectified it now because we’re looking at another company for the next video but, yeah, I think what the idea of that was…have you seen the film Groundhog Day? That’s what it’s supposed to be like, our life just repeating and repeating, and that’s where the ‘sunset/sunrise/sunset/sunrise’ thing comes from.
So it’s showing the repetitiveness of life but it’s also giving you insight into five lads in a band, just having a laugh and being themselves. It’s what you get up to on a standard sort of weekend – except the Lothario bit, because I don’t really sleep with one girl in the morning and then another in the evening! I’m past all that now. With the burning of the picture at the end, what happens is that I’m in bed with a girl and I go to the bathroom, and then she looks at a picture which is sticking out of a drawer of me and my actual girlfriend. As she’s doing that, my girlfriend who I live with comes through the door, so that’s why the picture’s all burnt.
The media presentation of Daystar feels quite familiar, which might lead people to want to peg you down as nineties revivalists. Are you worried that some might focus on your image as opposed to the music itself?
Yeah, I am a little bit, because I don’t think that the music was written with that intention. A lot of our influences were actually sixties/seventies bands. I think a lot of the people who are saying that, their era was the eighties and nineties so they’re hearing all of that sort of stuff in it but the fact is that the people who were making music in the late eighties and early nineties were influenced by the sixties just like we are. So I can understand why people are getting the eighties and nineties from it but we’re not trying to be an eighties or nineties revival band – we’re just trying to make the music that we enjoy making. We’re not trying to be anything more than that, really, and I think it’s lazy journalism to pigeonhole us like that.
Are there any other up-and-coming bands you’d like to recommend or give a shout out to?
There’s a band called The Suns – one of my mates is managing them. They’re really good, sound a bit like the music out of Pulp Fiction. They’re on a couple of bands before us at Cavfest. A more well-known band who I love at the moment are Tame Impala (Rocksucker says: click here to read our in-depth interview with Tame Impala). I saw them live when they played in Manchester the other month and they were fantastic.
If we asked you right now to name your top three albums of all time, just off the top of your head, which ones would you go for?
It’s tough because I don’t listen to full albums that often these days. I’m guessing OK Computer by Radiohead is one of them. The Gift by The Jam. And any album by The Smiths.
“Off Our Heads”, the new single from Daystar, will be released on 26th September. For more information and a list of live dates, please visit daystarband.com