Starcrawler frontwoman Arrow de Wilde on scary Girl Scouts, masochistic stage moves, and letting go of lo-fi 

click to enlarge Starcrawler, with Poppy Jean Crawford, Pink Fuzz ; Saturday, Oct. 12, 9 p.m. ; Lost Lake Lounge, 3602 E. Colfax Ave., Denver ; $13, ages 16+; lost-lake.com, 303/333-4345 - AUTUMN DE WILDE
  • Autumn de Wilde
  • Starcrawler, with Poppy Jean Crawford, Pink Fuzz ; Saturday, Oct. 12, 9 p.m. ; Lost Lake Lounge, 3602 E. Colfax Ave., Denver ; $13, ages 16+; lost-lake.com, 303/333-4345

Arrow de Wilde has a way of drawing attention to herself. As the photogenic frontwoman of the fast-rising glam band Starcrawler, the 20-year-old LA native possesses an undeniable stage presence, made all the more striking by her lanky, 6-foot-2-inch frame and wildly masochistic behavior torn straight from the Iggy and The Stooges playbook. The band’s sound, meanwhile, has earned favorable comparisons to Black Sabbath and The Runaways.

Given her upbringing, the singer’s career choice was all but inevitable. Her mother shot music videos and album covers for the likes of Elliott Smith and The Flaming Lips; her dad played drums with Beachwood Sparks and Father John Misty.

After meeting in the halls of a Hollywood arts magnet school, de Wilde and her bandmates — guitarist Henri Cash, bassist Tim Franco and drummer Austin Smith — went on to record “Ants,” a one-minute-long single that Elton John ended up playing on his Beats 1 radio show. A self-titled, Ryan Adams-produced debut album followed in early 2018, by which time the band’s praises were being sung by high-profile artists like Shirley Manson and Dave Grohl.

The band’s upcoming sophomore album Devour You is another leap forward, not least because of its wide-screen production by Nick Launay, who’s well-known for his work with Lou Reed, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Nick Cave. The raucous energy is still very much there — “Bet My Brains” sounds like Patti Smith and Bikini Kill performing a long-lost sequel to Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” — but the group also slips unexpected elements into the mix, including a lap-steel guitar on the moody “Born Asleep” and a weird children’s choir on the album-closing “Call Me a Baby.”

We caught up with Arrow, on the eve of her band’s 31-date headlining tour, to talk about music, masochism and right-side-up crosses.

Indy: Iggy Pop once did an interview where he reminisced about his masochistic behavior onstage with The Stooges — you know, the self-lacerations and all that. He spoke of it really fondly, and made it sound like some kind of out-of-body experience. Do you ever feel like that onstage?

Arrow de Wilde: Yeah, definitely. I really don’t know how to explain it. When I get onstage, it’s kind of like anything goes. That’s my whole mindset, and normally I’m fine. I’ll just have some bruises. But sometimes I do kind of fuck myself up when I’m onstage. I can’t feel it when it happens, because I have so much adrenaline. I’ll smash my head with the microphone and be like, “Oh, it’s totally fine.” And then, after the show, I’ll be like, “Oh fuck, my head hurts so bad.”

You recorded The Ramones’ “Pet Sematary” for the recent film remake, and you’ve also covered Johnny Thunders’ “Chinese Rocks” in live shows. Are there any other songs from that era that you’ve worked up to play onstage, or would want to put on a future album?

We’ve thought about it. We were playing around in the studio and did this really good cover of “Fist City” by Loretta Lynn, and it sounded like X doing it. It just sounded so cool, so we were like, “OK, let’s record it.” And then we couldn’t figure out how we did it, so we kind of gave up. But maybe eventually we’ll do that, if we can figure it out.

Some of the songs on the new album — especially “Born Asleep” and “Call Me a Baby” — are a pretty striking departure from your previous work. Do you think that will surprise people?

I think so. I mean, we’ve already released [the single] “No More Pennies,” which was also a softer song, and people were surprised by that. So I feel like they’ll probably be pretty shocked by the other ones.

How did the band hook up with Nick Launay?

I’d actually met Nick before, but I honestly didn’t even know who he was. I thought he was just like this cool guy that I would see at parties and random shows around LA, and we’d hang together. I eventually learned he was a producer, but I didn’t know his catalog or anything. So when our manager was like, “Oh, there’s this guy Nick Launay who wants to record the next album, he’s really good,” I was like, “Oh, cool.” But I didn’t even realize who he was talking about. It took me a week to put two and two together. So yeah, it was really cool and we got to ask him a lot of questions about his past.

Based on the sound quality, I’m guessing you didn’t go the four-track route this time.

No, we did that on the first album, but we knew we wanted a bigger sound production-wise, obviously, because we didn’t want to just keep making lo-fi records. With the first album, it was more like, “This is us, we’re Starcrawler, and this is our first thing.” If it had been super-produced, I think it would have been a little phony.

Who are those little kids you’ve got screaming at the beginning of the album and then singing the choral part at the end. They’re kind of creepy.

Yeah, they were a Girl Scout troop in the Hollywood Hills that our manager’s daughter is in. So we had them come in to sing that part at the end of “Call Me a Baby.” I didn’t want a real choir, because I felt like that would just sound too Pink Floyd-y, like too good. I just wanted it to sound like how kids really sing, which I think is creepier.

So then, after they took a sugar break, they came back into the studio and were just popping off, like bouncing off the walls and yelling. I don’t even know what they were saying, they were just talking and shouting at each other. So I turned to Nick, the producer, and was like, “Let’s record this!” And he was like, “Oh, I already started recording them a long time ago.”

Right before the song kicks in, it sounds like one of them shouts “I’ll kill you!”

“Yeah, I have no idea what she was talking about, but she just screams, “And then I killed a man!”

Last question: You’ve played a lot of shows with Skating Polly, who still rehearse in their parents’ basement surrounded by tons of band posters, Warhol selfies, and a get-well note from Babes in Toyland. What’s on your walls?

A lot of Jesus stuff.

Is that to be ironic, or is it serious?

Um, I don’t know. It’s not ironic. I just really like Catholic art and imagery. So my whole house is filled with crosses and crucifixes and paintings of Jesus. And people will kind of get freaked out, because they think I’m super Christian. It’s like, if I were to say, “Oh yeah, I’m a Satanist,” you’d be like, “Cool, yeah, that’s alright.” But if I were to tell you, “Oh, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ,” you’d be like, “Oh, well, that’s fucking weird and creepy.” Hot Topic sluts wear upside-down crosses, but Ozzy always wore his cross right-side up. So I don’t know, to me the devil is overrated.


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