Published on August 15th, 2013

Credit: Tyler Kohlhoff

Portland-based STFKR began life as a flippant little side project never meant for the success it has ultimately attained, hence the original name: Starfucker. But then came that Target commercial. For a moment the mastermind behind the quartet and key songwriter Josh Hodges even considered renaming the band. A semi-serious name change, with a– God-forgive them– fan-input contest led to them to re-Christen themselves Pyramid, then Pyramiddd, after music history revealed too many damn bands with the single-d version of the name. The band soon gave up and stopped all the fuckery and returned to Starfucker, offering an alternate spelling of STRFKR to calm down the easily offended.

The name thing was never some middle finger to success, fame and money. It was actually designed as a sort of security blanket for Hodges’ creativity. The non-commercial name allowed the musician formerly known as the even lesser-known artist Sexton Blake, to create music on its own terms. Little did he know that Starfucker’s music, a mix of space rock, disco and new wave, would come out so irresistibly catchy.

A song named after a goofy friend named “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” was picked up by Target for a TV ad and a hit was born without commercial airplay. The band signed a contract with Polyvinyl Records, which released its second full-length album, Reptilians, in 2011. Earlier this year, the Champaign-Urbana area-based label released Starfucker’s follow-up, Miracle Mile. The label even re-issued a limited edition vinyl version of the once hard-to-find second Sexton Blake album, Plays the Hits!, a collection of re-envisioned ‘70s and ‘80s hits by Hodges, originally released by Expunged Records in 2007.

A special element of much of Starfucker’s music includes samples of speeches by British philosopher Alan Watts, who brought eastern philosophy to westerners on easier-to-understand terms. Hodges himself has a rather deep appreciation of the co-mingling of life and death in his lyrics, so Watts fit well with the music of Starfucker. After two full-lengths and an EP peppered with Watts’s voice, the samples were bound to disappear. Miracle Mile embraces the band’s tendency for dancier music and lighter mood across 15 tracks.

When the band appears in Miami at Grand Central on Sept. 24, with Chrome Sparks supporting, one should expect a lively set. Last year when Starfucker visited Miami at Bardot they wore dresses and dove onto people sitting in the couch in front of them. Tickets:
~Hans Morgenstern