Between the Cities are Stars is a project that Kyle Hernandez (guitar/ vocals) and Heather (bass/ vocals) began after moving from their hometown of Fresno, CA to the San Francisco Bay Area. Their joint interest in music fueled them toward a new experimental sound. Hyper punk rhythms, fuzzed out soundscapes, and spacey psychedelia shine through on the band’s August 2011 self-titled album. As their bio says, Between the Cities are Stars ‘finds ways to make you move, groove and space out.’
Besides the recent release of a few EP’s and this full length album (on limited edition red cassette), the band has been included on a various compilations with Stellarium, Ringo Deathstarr and many others. Currently, Between the Cities are Stars is looking forward to writing new songs and playing more shows along the West Coast. Kyle spoke with Resonance about creating deconstructive pop in a way that’s more than just noise.
Between the Cities are Stars began with your move to the San Francisco Bay Area. Would you share how you came to that decision? And has it panned out for you?
I’d say the move worked out pretty well, seeing how the move was mostly for a change of scenery and environment. The Bay Area was also the first move in a series of many. Illinois was the next stop but after a few months of gnarly weather, the decision to move back to California to attend school was made. The move made us appreciate home.
~Yep. You certainly can’t beat the California weather. Glad things are working out for you on the West Coast.
Upon hearing the name, Between the Cities are Stars, I am reminded that when we’re not being blinded by conglomerations of artificial street lights, we are able to view the tell-tale celestial guides of the night sky. Tell us how you came up with this statement of a band name.
Our hometown, which is actually pretty much located about three hours away from both San Francisco and Los Angeles.
So the band name is somewhat about Fresno – the area is very rural and very spread out. Our music kinda feels like that.
~I wouldn’t have initially classified your music as rural, but that’s an interesting connection.
I hear a bit of ‘Bleach’ style Nirvana in “All that Mad Trouble.” Name some of your biggest musical influences.
Nirvana was the very first band I had ever heard that made me want to play guitar. I sort of moved on to more 70’s and 80’s punk like Dead Kennedys, The Misfits, Black Flag, and The Damned. After a few years of metal I then heard My Bloody Valentine which blew my mind on song structures entirely.
The mainstream listener could easily dismiss this as ten tracks of varying versions of noise. What do you hope people will hear instead? In other words, what was your goal in creating this album?
The goal for creating these songs in such a way is to take traditional modern instruments like guitar, bass, drums, and vocals and then create a sort of deconstructive pop. Having nothing jump out at you allows you to hear everything as a whole.
~Deconstructive pop. Wow. It does allow you to hear everything as a whole, but it also gives you nothing on which to focus. Like white noise. This music requires more concentration to digest.
Many of your tracks have this hyper punk rock rhythm coupled with moaning bummed-out vocals. Explain the dissonance there.
I have always been into bands that tend to be on the heavier or aggressive side of the musical spectrum, which I think shows in a lot of the songs.
Each song’s foundation is always more based around the riff or vibe, so the vocals are more to accompany the song.
~Right. That’s what makes these tracks very different. The vocals act more as an accompaniment than a focal point.
My favorite track on the album is “Instrumental” mostly because it’s fun and I’m not trying my darndest to decipher the lyrics. What made you decide to throw out the vocals on that one?
“Instrumental” has never had vocals and has always had a nice feel on its own, especially live. So we decided to leave them out.
Would you like to share what exactly you’re singing about in the rest of the songs? Generally or specifically?
The songs are always musically based so the lyrics are done last. By default they are mostly thought to fit the music rather than vice verse. The lyrics are all personal insights on relationships between people.
~I respect your unique song writing approach. I’m also sad though to miss out on those insights.
I noticed that the album includes more drones, soundscapes, and overall chaos in the second half. “Kiss” has no intro and lots of repetition. “Crystal’s Not Clear” is an undulating wall of fuzz…with drums to move it along. “Drown” actually sounds like you’re playing underwater. What’s going on in that section of the album?
Those songs came out of a need to try and take a new approach with minimal tracks. All were down on 8-tracks or less but it still has this wall of sound. Those songs all have this crazy vibe that ties them all together.
Tell us about the compilations you’ve been on.
We have been very lucky to share our music on some really awesome compilations. I’ve seen a lot of bands making their songs available for free on comps, which I think helps the bands and is an all around win in the long run. Compilations we have been on are:
‘Lo-Fi Sci-Fi Vol. 2’ (Lo-Fi Sci-Fi Records)
‘Unexplainable Forever 6 Cassette Box Set’ (Unexplainable Recordings)
‘Jesus in Space 2011, The Resurrection’ (KillRedRocket Records)
‘Decadence’ (KillRedRocket Records)
‘Vibrato 11.05’ (NW Shoegazer)
We have been really excited to be featured with great bands such as Stellarium, Bloody Knives, Screen Vinyl Image, Blemishes, Interstellar Nightmare, The KVB, Ringo Deathstarr, 93MillionMilesFromTheSun, Morpheme, Ceremony and a ton of others.
What are your Music plans for 2012?
The beginning of 2012 has us playing some shows down South in Los Angeles and San Diego and hopefully some newly recorded material by next April, if all goes according to plan. As of now we are trying to focus on playing live.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for taking the time to review our record and thank you to all those who support what we do.
Get a free download of Between the Cities are Stars’ self-titled album through bandcamp.