by Susan Lloyd
Stellar Kart Interview : They "Expect the Impossible"
want our music to be encouraging for kids in their Christian walk,
but we also want it to be a resource that they can use to reach their
friends at school and work that don’t go to church."
Pop-punk band Stellar Kart hits the road again touring behind their third album Expect the Impossible. The Phoenix based band members Adam Agee, Cody Pellerin, Jordan Messer, and Brian Calcara are no strangers to the road and stay hard at work because they are passionate about spreading the message that there is hope for a dying world. In spite of a busy schedule, front man Adam Agee took some time out to answer some questions for Titletrakk via the wonders of email!
Susan: Your third album is one which your producer, Ian Eskelin has said stands apart because of content. Do you feel as if you made a conscious effort on this album to be even more straightforward with your lyrics than you have in past albums?
SK: This is the first time we’ve written and recorded an entire album with the same producer from start to finish. On our last album, Ian came in once a lot of the album was already conceptualized. This time around, we collaborated from the start about content, topics, music, and flow of the album. We have always been straightforward with our lyrics, this album just happens to be more of a complete thought from start to finish.
Susan: This is your third album in as many years. How have you found time to be as creative as you need to be in order for your sound to remain fresh?
SK: At least for me, creativity ebbs and flows. Sometimes I can’t wait to get up in the morning and write songs or I can’t sleep at night because so many ideas are going through my head. Other times my brain is just exhausted and wants nothing to do with anything that requires creative thinking. I think the key is balancing the time I spend writing and touring and having plenty of time to rest in between.
Susan: As I’ve studied bands and their sonic progression, I’ve noticed that creative expansion usually starts around the 3rd or 4th album and new elements are introduced into a previously predictable sound. As a band, I know that creative expansion is vital, but how you do expand without alienating fans who are expecting the same sound on every album?
SK: If a band is fortunate enough to make it to album 3 or 4, they are apparently doing something right. As a band grows and matures, so do their fans. I think bands are trying to find out who they are with the first few albums and once they do that and gain confidence in their abilities, then they feel that they can explore sounds outside of those that got them noticed in the first place. If fans are true fans, they want to stay with you step by step of your journey, regardless of slight sonic and style changes.
Susan: Each band member needs to answer this question (if possible!). Give one word to describe your new album.
Susan: When you are writing, are the messages of your songs directed more to kids who are already involved in a relationship with Christ and who need more encouragement or are you writing songs that you feel are going to have impact on all kids, regardless of their spiritual condition?
SK: I definitely feel called to write songs for everybody. I believe there are bands that feel called to encourage Christians and there are also bands whose main purpose is to reach non-Christians. I think we fall somewhere in between. We want our music to be encouraging for kids in their Christian walk, but we also want it to be a resource that they can use to reach their friends at school and work that don’t go to church.
Susan: We know that Cody is a classically trained guitarist, but what about the rest of you? Did any of you have any formal music training, and how does that training affect your compositional style?
SK: I didn’t start playing guitar or singing until I was 19. I took some piano lessons when I was young, but didn’t pursue it because I was too into sports. Jordan has been playing drums since he was 3 years old and has studied the world’s greatest drummers for years now. Brian was in a band playing bass and singing before he joined our band. The beauty of having four of us with completely different tastes in music is evident in our music. I’m an 80’s pop music junkie, Cody is a child of Metal and Arena rock, Jordan knows every punk song ever written, and Brian is just a straight up rock ‘n roll guy.
Susan: Which bands, past or present, inspire you musically?
SK: Audio Adrenaline, DCtalk, Newsboys, Van Halen, Green Day, Something Corporate, Blink 182, Simple Plan, Relient K.
Susan: Several years ago I took some of my youth group to see you guys perform at an ice skating rink. You were just starting out and made sure you had time to talk to kids after your show. You made a lasting impression on the youth I took. Now that you are more well-known, is it difficult to find time to connect to kids after shows? Do you have a management team that understands that connecting like that is a large part of your focus?
SK: Every show and every situation is different. Sometimes we are able to hang out with kids for a long time before and after the show, sometimes it’s very brief. Our management definitely understands the importance of interaction at a one on one level. Our goal has always been to be accessible as often as possible.
Susan: How do you balance the commercial aspect and expectations of your career with the ministry aspect? Are there people in your lives who help keep you focused and grounded?
SK: I believe the more we are blessed on the commercial side of our career, the more our ministry will grow. That’s just the way we’re wired. If God gives us much, there will be much to give away. We each have pastors, youth pastors, friends, and family that keep us focused. Some could care less whether we’re in a band, they’re just concerned about our spiritual walk and they keep us accountable. They call us every now and then, and we can call them at any time day or night.
Susan: Bands that are passionate about their music and the message they have to share are often very passionate about touring. Stellar Kart’s tour schedule never seems to end! What are the challenges and the blessings of life on the road?
SK: The challenges are fatigue and being away from family. You deal with those by playing for a fresh set of faces every night. Each night we have the chance to inspire and possibly change somebody’s life for the better. That makes it all worth it.
Susan: Have social networking sites and like myspace and facebook been beneficial for Stellar Kart and Stellar Kart fans?
SK: I think so. Anytime you have another outlet to play and share your music, it benefits you. I think the fans enjoy the interaction and feel like they get to know us more than they could have before the social networking revolution.
Susan: Teens are close to your heart and I believe is a lot of the motivation that drives you. Aside from chatting with kids at shows, how else do you stay connected to what is going on in the world of the adolescent? Do you have youth pastor friends who help you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on?
SK: Yes, we have youth pastors constantly telling us what their kids are dealing with and the different trends that come and go. I like to think that we have a healthy interest in pop culture and that keeps us relevant today. Whether it’s keeping up with the latest music, tv, film, etc…I like to think that we are hip and cool. :)
You can get more information about Stellar Kart’s current tour stops, buy merch, and read up on the band at their official website www.stellarkart.com or hit up their myspace at www.myspacemusic.com/stellarkart
Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com