- Crosswind by Mo'Fone
- Honest Opinion by UAF - Feat. Eric McFadden
- Kick It With Me Now by Blackwash
- Blood & Silver by Jessie Evans
- Speakeasy by Brent Goodbar
- Love Conquers All by Scott Katsura
- Bring The World by Jessica Will
- Breathing (Instrumental Ver) by KB
- Come Home by Marquis Canaan Da Lion
- I'm Good To Me by Go Indi (Indigo)
- Piano Sonata #3 by P. D. Witter w/Fred Horowitz, piano
- Run 2 U by Shawn Michael Perry
- Mosquito's Buzz by KB
- Culbutos by Djizoes
- In My Blood by Star & Dagger
- Kool by Mo'Fone
- I Feel Love by ElectroSexual & Sunday Luv
- Flower Lei by Scott Katsura
- Class Magic by Jessie Evans
- Life String by Scouts Honor
- Bookenka (The Adventurer) by Ancient Future
- Got me Like by Marquis Canaan Da Lion
- Dog Star (Fly On) by Blackbyrd McKnight w/ G. Clinton and P-Funk
- What Do by Go Indi (Indigo)
- West Wham by KB
- Untouchable by Stimulator
- No Tomorrow by Jessica Will
- Let Me On by Jessie Evans
New York, New Orleans
Star & Dagger is the blues/metal act formed by veterans Sean Yseult (x-White Zombie, Famous Monsters & Rock City Morgue), and Dava She Wolf (x-Cycle Sluts From Hell, She Wolves), along with newcomer Von Hesseling. This trio of fabulous and talented women is backed by a rotating cast of musicians on 2nd guitar and drums, including Producer Ethan Allen, co-Producer Dave Catching (Eagles of Death Metal), Dustin Crops, and Gene Trautman (Queens of The Stone Age). Their full-length recording, ‘Tommorrowland Blues', has blasted onto the scene, debuting at #1 on Amazon.com, and generated excellent reviews from industry peers and fans alike.
The genesis of the project began when old friends Sean and Dava were having cocktails in NYC, and mutual friend Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group, Rock Scene Magazine founder/publisher) stated "You guys should be in a band!". While the two had collaborated briefly in the past (recording the theme song for San Francisco music/interview program ‘Reality Check TV'), this remark essentially set the wheels in motion.
Subsequently, they recruited the relatively unknown Von Hesseling to front the band, and journeyed to the remote Joshua Tree area of California to cook up this tasty brew of sonic sludge. They progressed slowly, with select dates and an EP release, and then more recently have begun playing high-profile shows with DOWN, ST. VITUS and HELMET, and a doing full-on 10 city tour of England prior to the release of the record. I catch up again with S&D bassist, Sean Yseult to get the scoop.
Q: Sean, briefly describe your relationship with Dava prior to the band, and how that translates into the music and feel of this new project?
SY: Our prior relationship apparently began with being in the mutual admiration society: she was a bad-ass Cycle Slut and local celebrated bartender, and I was a bass-playing Zombie! We lived practically next door to each other on East 13th Street, possibly the worst block in the East Village at the time. (No, you old-timers, I am not including Alphabet City or LES please notice, I lived there too!) Anyway, we really didn't know each other back then, she just always seemed like the nice one in the band and we always exchanged hellos and smiles. I ran back into her after Katrina, when I had evacuated up to NYC. We immediately hit it off and started hanging out, going out for drinks, dinners, clubs etc. Starting the band seemed, natural, after Lenny Kaye brought it up!
Q: Interestingly, the band is mainly split between NYC and New Orleans, which also seems to infuse the music to a degree - what is it about these places that has such an impact on you as artists and musicians?
SY: Dava is from NYC so it is in her blood. I chose to live in both cities - NYC at the time was full of artists and gritty. New Orleans is like that now, although quickly becoming the hot new place, soon to be too pricey for artists and musicians. Both cities are rich in history, with a diversity of cultures, great architecture, clubs, bars . . . all of the things anyone artistically inclined needs to sustain themselves. Cheap lodging helps. NYC still adds the grit to our music, and NO adds the groove.
Q: Instead of recording the tracks for the EP and full-length record in either NYC or NO, you decided to boogie down in Joshua Tree, of all places. Did this location add any additional inspiration, and how did it come about?
SY: We did actually record the EP tracks in New Orleans with my old guitarist from WZ producing, J. Yuenger. He had an amazing studio situated in the middle of an enormous graveyard! New Orleans is full of the dead, so I guess it shouldn't be a surprise but I was still blown away by this studio. But we went to Joshua Tree twice to make the album, both times on the kind offers of dear friends. Morgan Night, who used to own the club in NO that is now One Eyed Jacks, invited down to his amazing studio and trailer park in Joshua Tree, Hicksville for our first session. He wanted us to be the first to break in his studio, and the in house engineer happened to be another dear friend from New Orleans, Ethan Allen.
We all got our own wacky trailer (think outer space, western, the Cramps) drank, bbq'd, shot guns and drove ATVs while in between making music - it was amazing! The second session, a very old friend of mine and one of the greatest personalities on Earth, Dave Catchings, invited us down to his studio in Joshua Tree. It was the famed Rancho de la Luna, where Kyuss, QOTSA and Masters of Reality have recorded amongst many others. We brought Ethan back to engineer, and he and Dave co-produced while we proceeded to partake in a week of music, friends, booze and food of the most extreme proportions - we're talking lobsters and fresh shucked oysters daily via Fedex - in the middle of the desert! We will never be able to thank both of our hosts/studio proprietors enough, or our master of food ceremonies, Riad Nasr!
Q: The record's music is vocalized by the lovely Von Hesseling, who is virtually unknown. How did she become involved?
SY: Another very good friend of mine from New Orleans, we vacation together and on occasion we end up at some drunken karaoke - the last time I remember was in Barcelona, when I talked Dava into joining us and flying in from NYC. So there we all were, at some sordid punk rock anti-karaoke night our friend there runs, and Von gets up and sings her ass off, as usual. I think it was Led Zeps Whole Lotta Love... After that it was obvious she was not just our vacationing and drinking buddy, but our singer. She has stage presence like entertainers of the old days - Tina Turner, David Lee Roth, Freddie Mercury. She reminds me of all of them! Of course she looks more like Cherie Currie, which doesn't hurt!
Q: I noted that there is some co-writing of songs on the record, and some written solely by one or another of the members. Describe how the songwriting process worked, as far as input and arrangements.
SY: That pretty much shows it - sometimes one of us comes in with the whole thing, sometimes we all pitch in. Often, either Dava or I will have a riff, mail it to the other, then she or I will add on to it. Then we play it for Von and she will sing a vocal melody over it - then it goes back to Dava, and she will fit lyrics to Von's vocal pattern. I know that sounds crazy but we did a number of songs that way!
Q: One of the other things that came out of Joshua Tree is the awesome video, "Your Mama Was a Grifter", which is the last, but not least, track on the album. Who came up with the idea, and how did it all come together?
SY: There is an obvious homage to Director Russ Meyer in there... Although I wrote the music and lyrics for this one, it is still collaborative because Dava had the idea - hey, we should have a song based on an old chain gang song! Then it was also her idea to have the video based on "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!", and then all three of us came up with ridiculous ideas for scenes over a bottle of Blantons - that is how we do it! Drinking and bullshitting - then make that bullshit happen the next day, haha!
Q: The EP came out on a small label, but the album is on another label entirely, with distribution via Megaforce, if I read the fine print correctly. How did the biz side play out for both records, in order to unleash this musical beast upon the world?
SY: Both labels wanted to work with us, and we like to work with people who like us! Missi is the best, I've known her so long and we are happy to be part of the Megaforce family.
Q: Related to the above, as I understand it, S&D currently is without an outside manager. Describe the challenges of being both an artist and also having to handle the biz?
SY: It sucks! We need a manager! Anyone?
Q: You've had to both record and perform live with various musicians. What are the obstacles of doing so, while keeping true to the original vibe of the recordings?
SY: You have to do whatever it is they want you to do - get the right sound, look the part - it is their thing after all! Mostly, learn you parts and don't fuck up - I would never want the wrath of Andre Williams or Lux or Ivy of the Cramps upon me, and thank goodness that never happened! Thanks to Dava, I got to play with Richie Scarlett at our recent NYC gig - he got up and played lead guitar on Mississippi Queen, appropriately. When someone like that gets up on stage, just "move over and let Jimi take over", if you know what I mean! Just stand back, let' em shine, and try to keep your jaw off of the floor!
Q: Lastly, what's on the horizon for the band?
SY: There is a new live video out, which was recorded during your UK Tour. There were the multiple Record Release shows as well... We love making videos. We have two more in the works, one that we are filming next month. It is based on the Shining and requires a lot of involved shots. Luckily we have our fantastic director Arty Haynie on board, as well as a star line producer, and our friend Allen Jaeger on props who was prop master for the new Planet of the Apes movie, so we are in great hands! We just finished the record release parties, and our next live gig scheduled is for the Housecore Horror Film Fest on October 26th in Austin. We hope to premiere our new video (described above) "In My Blood" at the Fest as well.
Q: Many thanks to you for taking the time out of your hectic schedule. Looking forward to seeing the band play live here in San Francisco sometime soon!
Buy ‘Tommorrowland Blues'
Related Article: Star & Dagger's Dava She-Wolf Q&A