Stars Go Dim
- Article by: Cameron Duke
- Posted: 08/30/2011
In an unassuming white building that sits on Fourth Avenue just spitting distance from the very center of Nashville, Stars Go Dim, comprised of members Chris Cleveland, Michael Wittig and Joey Avalos, oozed both energy and soul as they kicked off their fall tour.
For the uninitiated, Stars Go Dim is a band based out of Tulsa, Okla. that began as a side project collaboration between Wittig and Avalos and has since grown like Kudzu.
“It really just started with this crazy idea,” Wittig says. “Me and Joey were on tour with Pillar (their then-band) somewhere up north – I don’t even know where – Montana I think. It was like 1 a.m., we were driving and we went to Walmart and bought a bunch of music. Me, him and Lester were just cruising. Then we were like, ‘We should start this side project!’ We thought we should do pop music ‘cause we were a pretty heavy rock band and we just wanted to do something different.
“We knew of Chris, who was a mutual friend,” Wittig continues. “We literally just called him up the next day and said we had this idea and we wanted to write some songs. He was down, and it just got out of hand really fast after that.”
Stars Go Dim have since opened for Goo Goo Dolls, had a No. 1 song in the Philippines and had their touring trailer dented by another rogue flying trailer. (To see the last part in action, watch the promo for their documentary Life. Love. Music. Soul. On the Road With Stars Go Dim.) Fast forward a short bit, and we arrive at an overcast Thursday night at Rocketown.
SGD opened their set with “Hesitate,” the first single from their upcoming EP Between Here and Now. Soon after, their sound began to range from radio-crafted hard rock cuts to dancing bassline and tambourine-grooving pop songs. SGD seem to play what they want because nobody can tell them to do otherwise.
The band showed no lack of energy, though the crowd was a bit disappointing in numbers. That intimacy truly proved effective, however, when Cleveland took to the well-loved, road-worn and seemingly war-experienced upright piano. Cleveland has a unique ability to change gears from fronting a rock band and screaming his lungs out one minute to crooning soulfully over intricate piano lines the next – an ability he credits to his hometown of Tulsa.
“I think probably what I took most from growing up in Tulsa was this gospel soul, southern thing going on,” he says. “I’m a white dude, and I try to have as much soul as possible, but, you know, growing up in the Midwest, you’re in church every Sunday and doing that kind of stuff, so you get that soul thing going on.”
Stars Go Dim chose to end the show by calling up their good friend and producer Lester Estelle Jr. to sit in on drums for the last song, “Get Over It.” Estelle is a Nashville resident, founding member of Stars Go Dim and former Pillar bandmate. The onstage chemistry during the cameo was unbelievable as Estelle fit with the rest like the final piece to a puzzle you’ve been working on for hours.
Stars Go Dim are currently touring to support the release of their upcoming EP, Between Here and Now, which drops October 4. When asked about the creative process that went into the new EP, principal songwriter Avalos says, “It’s really organic, you know? We’ll have some songs, but when we get to the studio it all completely changes – melodies, lyrics, everything.”
This is a far cry from the creation of Love Gone Mad, their 2009 release, which was recorded in a communal fashion.
“For this record,” explains Cleveland, “we just booked studio time and got in and made ourselves do it and simply played the parts. We just wanted to feel like a band more. We wanted to have those creative struggles. For me, it was a lot more fun to just dive in and see what gets done at the end of a session rather than taking a year and a half to track a song.”
All in all, it was a very good show. And even though the room wasn’t totally packed out this time, it will be next time if Stars Go Dim continue to climb as quickly as they are now.
If you don’t have their debut album, you can download it for free at starsgodim.com
"Like I Mean It" - Stars Go Dim