Stars’ Amy Millan, Evan Cranley, and Torquil Campbell, left to right. (Nary a Gaysian in sight.) By David Callicott
Last Friday afternoon, we sat in a noisy DUMBO park and talked to two celestial beings’Evan Cranley and Amy Millan of the Canadian pop band Stars. It was the eve of Cranley’s 32nd birthday, and he was looking much like a honed version of a young Dom DeLuise (although he favors Jack Black). There was some confusion that we would be filming the interview, until we explained that we aren’t that high-tech here. Yet.
Amy and Evan, who describe themselves as uncool, talked to us for close to an hour about growing weed, living in sin, and the “severe mathematical melodies” that seem to attract gay Asian men to their shows. Despite what they say, they are some of the coolest, brightest stars we have ever met.
BLACKBOOK: On the new album, who is the song “Midnight Coward“ about?
EVAN CRANLEY: Those are Amy’s lyrics, and she’ll be here in a moment to discuss it further. [At this point, we’ve been waiting for Amy for half an hour.] But it’s my understanding that it’s basically about looking for love in a bar’maybe it’s about a one-night stand.
BB: What do you think about looking for love in a bar?
EC: I think it’s very difficult to make your life in music and to have successful relationships. A lot of people around me have a hard time maintaining their artistic life and their romantic life because we’re constantly away from people we love.
BB: Has it been hard for you to stay involved with anyone, being an artist?
EC: No, it’s been kind of easy for me because I’m involved with someone who lives the same life as me.
BB: Is it Amy [Millan]?
EC: [Long, pregnant pause]“Yeah. We haven’t really been talking about it in interviews.
[We discuss the joy of living in Montreal, and the beast Williamsburg has become since the band left years ago. Amy finally arrives, also confused that we’re not filming, but relieved to not have to put on lip-gloss.] BB: Congratulations on your new boyfriend. [Amy looks at Evan in disbelief.]
EC [to Amy]: I’m not going to deny it if somewhat asks.
AMY MILLAN: That’s right, can’t deny the love.
BB: So, Amy, you wrote a lot of the lyrics to a lot of the songs on the record. What is “Bitches In Tokyo“ about?
AM: Chris Seligman had written the title “Bitches In Tokyo: Ask Seligman“ in Torquil’s book. I said, “Seligman, what is this about,“ and he said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.“ So I asked Torquil because I thought it was such a funny title and he said, “It’s a song that Seligman wrote.“ And I’m like, “Seligman, what is your weirdo problem, why aren’t you telling me what this is about?“ And finally he’s like, “It’s about you!“ [Laughs.]
So it turns out that, in fact, we [she & Evan] were the bitches in Tokyo. And it was one of the songs on the record that kind of touched a bone that was too close, and Seligman was kind of uncomfortable with the subject matter, so we decided to call it “Bitches In Tokyo“ so we could make it all one big uncomfortable ball.
BB: Do you like playing it live, or are there awkward moments onstage?
AM: I love playing it live. And we’ve sort of moved on, like time really does heal.
BB: So it was kind of therapeutic?
EC: Making this whole record has been kind of therapeutic.
AM: It helped us get through a lot of animosity and difficult times. Getting through it has made us more like family than ever.
BB: I’ve read that Morrissey’s fan base has a massive contingent of adolescent, Latino males. And I’m wondering, since you guys get compared to the Smiths sometimes, do you too have a strange, mysterious demographic at your shows?
EC: Yeah, we have a lot of gay, Asian males who are into us. Don’t know why.
AM: It was so funny too because once I was getting my hair and makeup done for a magazine by a gay Asian guy named Hung. And he was such a sweetheart, and he was like, [in an Gaysian accent, apparently] “Oh, I don’t know your music.“ And I was like, “Hung, you have to know my music, you’re a Gaysian.“ And my friend who was doing the shoot put on “Ageless Beauty,“ and Hung was like, “I love this song.“ And I was like, “Of course you love it, you’re Gaysian.“