Worshipping At The Altar of Rock: An Interview with Star & Dagger's Dava She Wolf

I've been listening to Star & Dagger's album "Tomorrowland Blues" and I find myself humming the song "Your Mama Was A Grifter" in my shower, in the car, at the dinner table, and even while waiting in line at the grocery store. This is some great stuff: one just can't help it. Aside from the old man creepily staring at me while I bounce my head around to music that he can't hear, this seems to be the general consensus when I let anyone hear the songs that make up Star & Dagger's debut album. The characteristic heavy bass lines from Sean Yseult, the sexy, bluesy guitar of Dava She Wolf, and the deep, sultry voice of Von Hesseling will haunt anyone who listens to this record - and I mean that in the best way possible. (You'll get even more excited when you find out there are limited copies available on blue vinyl. Or at least you will if you're a rock nerd like me.)

I had the magnificent opportunity to do a brief Q & A with the ladies in Star & Dagger, and in addition to great music, I found out they have a great sense of humor and are true rock'n'rollers. No time for poseurs here folks. This is pure, unadulterated rock music that is made with passion and attitude. Dava She Wolf answered the questions on behalf of the band, and she was so incredibly professional throughout the entire process. I am eternally grateful I got to communicate with an artist/band that clearly loves what they do and is so far from the corporate pre-fab, reality-tv-show-winning-contestant-based "stars" we've come to expect these days. I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I had doing it.
 
 
 
 
Photo by Leslie Van Stelton
 
Martina Fasano (M): The sound on “Tommorrowland Blues” is a departure from both Dava’s work in Cycle Sluts From Hell as well as Sean’s work in White Zombie – there is a lot more of a “bluesy” sound to the music. Was that a conscious decision that was made when the band formed or did it happen more organically and as the songwriting process unfolded? 
 
Dava She Wolf: It all came together very organically, as far as songwriting and sound. I didn't play guitar on Cycle Sluts, that was Pete Lisa a.k.a Lord Roadkill whose style of playing I happen to love and after 6 years I hope that some of it rubbed off on me. Sean has heavy roots not only in metal, but also the blues in many of it's aspects and I think that comes through on this album.
 
M: What gear setup/rig do you and Sean play live/in the studio?
 
Dava She Wolf: I have several different kinds of amps; Marshall of course, Bogner, Cornford and a few others. On this album I played through a remarkable amp called a Zinky for five songs,and also through a Sunn when we recorded at Rancho de la Luna. Our co-producer Dave Catching provided the amps and helped get the tone we wanted. Our other co-producer, Ethan Allen, contributed to this as well, especially with the guitar overdubs. I played a '74 Gibson SG on this record. I also have some beautiful Les Pauls, and a fantastic Schecter Solo-6 custom that I played live on this release tour. Sean naturally played her custom coffin Schecter bass. As for amps, previously for live shows she's used an Ampeg SVT, for this record she had a bass rig made by TC Electronic.
 
M: I know Sean is classically trained on piano, and with that often comes intense practice regimes/rituals. What do each of the band members do to “practice” or hone their craft on their instrument? (scales, no scales, regimented practice on a daily basis, air guitar, torture from watching guitar-based instructional DVD’s, etc. J) 
 
Dava She Wolf: Whiskey with a splash and muscle memory. 
 
Photo by Leslie Van Stelton
M: I noticed that for your record launch parties the band gave away a Sean Yseult  Schecter Signature Coffin bass – 1 at each of the 4 shows. This is definitely something that is fan-friendly and not something too many bands do. How does your relationship with your fans inspire you to do what you do?
 
Dava She Wolf: We LOVE our fans, old and new. And of course it makes us very happy when they like our shows and any of our stuff.
 
M: Rock music doesn’t get played on as many radio stations as it used to – we seem to be in a lull that way. What do you think about the state of rock music in today’s pop culture? 
 
Dava She Wolf: We don't think of other stuff too much. We always like hearing new stuff by artists and bands that we love, I guess many of them do not fall into the "pop culture" category but they are prolific enough that they have significant impact on their listeners. As far as popular mainstream of other genres, I really don't keep up with it too much.
 
M: What tips do you have for musicians/bands that are starting out or not having an easy time in getting noticed in the industry? 
 
Dava She Wolf: Keep making the music you want to make and if nobody gets it, it's their problem.
 
 
M: What are your plans in the upcoming months with regards to touring?
 
Dava She Wolf: We are doing another video this fall, looking forward to some festivals and more touring. Right now we are also in the middle of writing our second album.
 
 
M: If you had to choose 3 artists/bands that inspired you or really made you want to become a rock musician, who would they be? 
 
Dava She Wolf:I cannot possibly choose just 3, too many amazing players, performers and songwriters to mention, I worship at all of their altars, and as far as choosing this life I only have myself to blame!
Photo by Leslie Van Stelton
Be sure to follow Star & Dagger on their Facebook page to make sure you don't miss them when they come to your town. In the meantime, go do something good for rock'n'roll and get a copy of "Tomorrowland Blues". Special thanks to Star & Dagger for their time and candor.