In late March, the local seven-piece pop band We Are Star Children released a single called “City Saints” on its Bandcamp webpage that allowed friends and fans to buy the track for as much—or as little—as they were willing to pay. On the side of the page was a tiered payment system that offered the option to “donate” anywhere from $10 for a CD preorder, to $1,000 for a private party. While it may come as a shock to pick up its new album, Love to the Wicked, to find it emblazoned with logos of local businesses like Bittersweet and the Blue Moon Diner, jaws might also drop upon finding out that Star kids’ new EP was produced with the proceeds from its lead single—with almost zero overhead.
We Are Star Children gets a little more serious on Love to the Wicked, its first EP since changing its name from Straight Punch to the Crotch. Just because the band doesn’t have a funny name doesn’t mean it’s not still funny, identifying itself as a “seven-piece pop band with one eye on its destiny and the other on your mother.”
“We’re getting at this idea that the physical media is becoming more obsolete,” says Gene Osborn, the band’s electric frontman. “We’re less concerned right now with producing the physical copy of the CD to sit on someone’s shelf, or in someone’s collection. The idea is that the album, the physical media, we’re trying to really bring the value down as far as what we want to make off of it. We want to get it out there; we want to give it away.”
The beauty of We Are Star Children is that the band’s attempt to minimize cost is not in the name of maximizing its profits (though it’s doing that too), but in the name of providing free entertainment. “Being financed the way we are, a lot of our live shows are free, playing for charities,” says Osborn. “The real return is to make enough money so that we can keep recording and that the live shows are wild enough that an audience walks away with its head spinning.”
Love to the Wicked is the band’s first release after changing its name from Straight Punch to the Crotch, a name that highlighted its tenuous relationship with what the uninitiated might call “seriousness”—as in, “is this band really called Straight Punch to the Crotch, and, like, are they for real?” Osborn says that the name first came to him when he was sitting in a shoe store, waiting for his wife to finish shopping. An initial lineup took the form of Osborn, Kathy Compton and Marita Delgado, a “kitschy folk group” that he says wasn’t intended to appear at a proper venue. That slowly changed, with the addition of various members, including Billy Hunt on a keytar retrofitted to shoot flames. Plus, a dummy that squealed when you hit it in the crotch.
Entertaining an audience, however, is serious business. “Getting a house up is part of the art form for me; it’s one of my favorite experiences.” With the addition of drummer Tristan Puckett, “we needed to line everything up and create a different type of stage show. To me, it’s just all an approximation of what I want to create in a live show.”
Though the packaging is disposable, not so the music itself. Love to the Wicked builds upon the band’s signature strengths: a propulsive rhythm section, arrangements that marry keytars and trumpets, and Osborn’s boundless lyrical energy, delivered in a voice that belongs on the pedestal where the great nasal singers are kept, alongside Bob Dylan or Destroyer’s Daniel Bejar. An added bonus comes in the form of singalongs, courtesy of backup singers Katie Gambale and Jessica Moffatt, that beg the audience to join in.
Will you? See for yourself as We Are Star Children celebrates the release with a September 25 show at The Southern Café and Music Hall.