Interview by Karie Okerstrom and Adam Powell
I had a chance to catch up with Dustin Bates, the lead singer of Starset after their awesome performance at Dirt Fest in Birch Run, MI. He was gracious enough to sit down with me for a few minutes before the band’s long trip back home to Columbus, OH.
Shockwave: First off, what did you think of Dirt Fest?
Dustin Bates: Cool, different, fun. Reminded me of some of the festivals I did with my old band Downplay back in the day. It’s got a little bit of a DIY vibe. It’s different, it’s almost like a super metal version of warped tour with all the bands selling their merch, trying to get you to come to their stage at a certain time.
It’s definitely a cool venue, which leads me to another thing, with all your lights and suits would you prefer to be outside or inside?
It doesn’t matter where, as long as it’s dark. During the day you can’t really see everything that is happening. We pull it off outside in a different way; it’s a little more raw.
You’re on tour with Breaking Benjamin here soon, how do you feel about that?
It’s gonna be amazing. That band was sort of formative for me. Years ago I was learning how to write songs from Breaking Benjamin and other bands, and to now be on tour with them for so many dates, it’s amazing. And they are great guys.
Breaking Benjamin is an influence, who else is?
We have so many because of the cinematic aspect of the music. The heavy aspect is them, Deftones, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Muse. And then cinematic aspects maybe Sigur Ros, or Hans Zimmer, the guy that does the soundtracks for Batman and Inception. We also have an electronic component that’s sort of Nine Inch Nails/house city blend, which is quite a dichotomous thing.
That’s funny that you mention Batman. I was just talking to my buddy while watching your show and the suits and technology reminded us of Batman. We decided if Batman had a band, it would be you guys.
Perfect! I sometimes describe our sound as if a hard rock band did the soundtrack to a sci-fi blockbuster movie. You can tell I’m into that thing. I think it goes without saying.
Why all the suits and face masks and stuff like that?
There’s a narrative to the record and everything we represent and all of the various media that are a part of our campaign. A lot of that is in our graphic novel and on our online content. But there’s a novel coming out that really explains everything. There’s a space component, technology, future components to everything and we want to represent that. Not just in the record but on stage as well. And we want to immerse people into our world with it. Not a lot of bands really do that, so it’s fun to be a part of something like that.
I dig it. It’s cool. Do you control all the lights from the flat screen monitor up on stage?
Yeah the lights are programmed to change at instrumental times, at specific times with the music. It’s all preprogrammed in that giant computer. I’m actually manipulating the electronic components of the music.
What is your favorite venue that you’ve ever played at?
Umm, that’s a really good question. A really good question. It’s fun to play at home, somewhere in Ohio, especially when we play Elsie, it’s great. Rock On The Range was amazing cuz that’s a gig that you look forward to playing as a kid. I think a lot of different venues have a lot of different qualities that are cool. I can tell you a venue that we haven’t played that is one of my favorites that we have to do, Red Rocks in Colorado, is a literal gold mine, bucket list. I really wanna do that, so hopefully one day.
Do you have any albums coming out?
Well, yeah. Well, first the novel is coming out and there’s gonna be more graphic novels, but there will be a record out next year.
Do your write the graphic novels and novels yourself?
The graphic novel, I helped with the first one. We don’t really say who’s gonna to be doing the graphic novel, and the novel itself is sorta under wraps right now.
If you could do one big show with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I’m too pragmatic to be like — oh, this is my favorite band of all time. I would want it to be one that would be symbiotic, something that we would work together. One of my favorite bands that could work, I would say Pink Floyd would be amazing. It would be super fun. Bands that are still doing it that would be a dream come true. Muse would be amazing. Thirty Seconds to Mars. We just all watched Deftones together cuz it’s a mutual favorite band. Deftones a lot of times, in my opinion, brings out crap openers. So hey, if you’re listening, we are here.
Well, that’s all I’ve got man, I really appreciate it.
Sure dude, it was great
Hope it wasn’t too weird.
(Laughs) It was fun.