Yes, STRFKR is pronounced “Starfucker,” as in one who bows down to celebrity. Yes, it is ironic as Joshua Hodges, the band’s fearless leader, is perhaps the most down-to-earth, low-key human in existence. Joining the ranks of other immensely cool and wonderful Portland-formed bands (Yacht, Dolorean, The Decemberists… the list goes on), STRFKR was born of Hodges’ utter distaste for the state of the music industry. Despite the fact that he may not have been “trying to be successful with a name like that,” STRFKR has become quite successful indeed, garnering critical acclaim and general Internet approval for their previous album, Reptilians. Their upcoming album, Miracle Mile, is the sort of thing you fall completely and hopelessly in love with on the first listen. The first album the band has released as a collaborative effort rather than Hodges’ personal brainchild, Miracle Mile is catchy, dancey and an excellent conversation starter when picking up famous people. We chatted with Hodges about the genesis of STRFKR, the new record and the strangest means of employment we’ve ever heard of.
Tell me about your background, how did you come to start making music?
I think it was just something that I found on my own. My parents never had me take lessons or anything so it was something that I liked right away because it was never something I felt like I was supposed to do. When I finished high school I didn’t want to go to college, I just wanted to play music so I moved to New York to pursue my version of my bohemian dream. Just worked shitty jobs and lived to hustle, then ended up moving back to Portland. I got kind of sick of the idea of success through music or something, so that’s how STRFKR was born. I had this other band and the label it was on had this vision for it and I wasn’t that into it. So I just kind of quit doing that and I was still making music in my basement. It’s just something I always will do whether I’m showing it to other people or not and that’s what STRFKR was. I was like, let’s just do this at house parties. I was trying to remove myself from that rat race or whatever.
Everyone always wants to talk about your name so let’s just get it out of the way. Give me a good “name related” anecdote.
It came from what I just said. It doesn’t seem like you’re trying to be successful if you have a name like that. I was on tour with another band and some music industry people were around… it was just a weird, weird collection of people and I didn’t really like them. The music industry weirdo called herself a “starfucker,” her and some other person were kind of bragging about it and I was like, “where the fuck am I?”
So you just moved to LA. How are you liking it?
It’s alright. I like the weather. I like that I can ride my bike every day but there’s a lot to not like too. It’s the same with New York. I fucking love New York but there a lot of really annoying practical difficulties there, like getting groceries.
Let’s talk about Miracle Mile. How does it differ from your last album?
I think it’s a little more eclectic and it’s more collaborative. Before it was pretty much me doing everything. There are two songs on there that were started by other members. I feel like it was a group effort much more than before. Everyone in the band has their touch on the songs even if it’s just a little thing. It’s cool, I’ve always wanted that but I haven’t had the right group of people together.
You guys are constantly touring. What’s your favorite/least favorite thing about being on the road?
Least favorite is being away from friends and family and lack of having a normal life, like being able to have any sort of schedule and routine, and eating. I like to eat healthy which is really hard to do on tour. It’s a pretty unhealthy lifestyle in general, but it’s fun. I like meeting new people all the time and the group that we travel with is awesome. It’s definitely the best job I’ve ever had, it’s like play time. And it’s nice being on tour, I feel like we don’t ever worry about daily stuff like bills.
If being a musician is the best job you’ve ever had, what’s the worst?
Man, I’ve had so many terrible jobs. I don’t know what you call it but I was shredding used insulation that’s made from fiberglass, that’s a really terrible job. You’re working with this machine that shreds it and it spits it out and it gets all over you. It’s really terrible.
Usually people say something like coffee barista.
I’ve done that too, that isn’t that bad.
What has been a memorable show?
On Halloween on our last tour, we did a tour where we went to a lot of smaller cities we wouldn’t normally go to because it was an off time and we didn’t have an album out, that was really fun. We played in Tulsa Oklahoma on Halloween, it was a really fun show in a huge old venue and we were all dressed up like Cobra Kai with the skeleton faces, the bad guys from Karate Kid. And our tour manager was dressed like a samurai and he got wasted. He was onstage and jumping of stage and pulling people on stage and security was freaking out. It was a really fun night, definitely one of the most memorable.
If you weren’t making music what would you be doing?
Probably shredding insulation.
What’s next for you guys?
We have a tour in Feburary and March that’s coming up, so starting to get ready for that and then just keep recording, that’s my plan.
Do you have a vision for the band?
I’d like to see us leave the country more. I’d like to go to Japan and Australia and go back to Europe. I’m sure all that stuff will happen.