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Dustin Bates; Starset, August 2014

Having a short break between recording an acoustic album,  Starset’s summer tour and hitting the road on tours with Lacuna Coil and then IN THIS MOMENT on the 2014 Black Widow Tour, Dustin Bates was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about his bands, tour life and how the Starset Society influenced his writing style. 

Revenant Media;
After having worked so hard for so many years with Downplay, and having Epic Records drop the band before the debut came out, were you hesitant about signing with Razor & Tie for the release of Transmissions?

 

Dustin Bates;
I was hesitant about the idea of working with a label at all, initially.  I believed in the record I had recorded and had planned to keep the band independent so that no one messed anything up.  So with the help of an outside investor and The Starset Society,  I began marketing the band without a label by contracting some of the work that a label would typically do.  The song actually began to climb the chart, but it wasn’t long until I realized I was holding the record back from its ultimate potential.  I didn’t have the necessary infrastructure in place to economically and efficiently do what a label could do.  Labels are effective because they spread resources around multiple projects, making such an infrastructure work financially.  I needed those resources but realized that without an insane amount of investment money, I was going to need to find a label.  To me, Razor and Tie was by far the best team for the job.  And they have been amazing.  I call them the Goldilocks label.  Not too small that they have no real infrastructure and not too large that they have massive creativity-smothering inertia.  

Revenant Media;
The band has been performing an acoustic cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity during some of your radio station performances. Why did the band pick this song? Does Starset plan on performing it during the live demonstrations or releasing a studio version?

 

Dustin Bates;
I think it fits the STARSET vibe, especially the lyrics.  We may do it at a demonstration at some point, but probably won’t ever do a studio version.  I don’t think we do it enough justice for that.  We haven’t made it our own enough for that.  And are we gonna do a better job than David Bowie.  No way.    

Revenant Media;
The My Demons single was released almost a full year before the Transmissions album, and you hit the road. Having such a long lead time between the first single and debut album is almost unheard of in the music industry. What were the reasons behind waiting so long to drop the full length album?

 

Dustin Bates;
We had to have the right team in place.  Plus we were lucky because the single grew very slowly and organically, allowing us to take our time and let it grow before releasing the record.  The song has been on the chart 37 weeks now. That is crazy.  

Revenant Media;
When Dr Wise and The Starset Society approached you about spreading their message, were you hesitant about accepting the responsibility of delivering that message in a musical form?

Dustin Bates;
At first, yes, but then I realized that I was the right guy for the job.  If not me then who, you know?  There aren’t a ton of rock musicians out there with backgrounds in science and engineering.  

Revenant Media;
How much of the album’s content was dictated by Wise’s message versus the content you wrote from your own personal experiences?

Dustin Bates;
In addition to the message, there was the story of Thomas, the messenger, that was a major influence on my writing.  His story was fascinating and allowed me to incorporate a human element to the record in addition to the themes of the Message.  And yes, I certainly incorporated some of my own experience both consciously and subconsciously.  It’s impossible not to.  

Revenant Media;
At its core, Transmissions is a really dark album wrapped in a thin veil of hope and orbiting analogies of astronomy and exploring human existence. Do you find it difficult to relive the emotions that you dredged up while writing and recording the album every time you step on stage?

 

Dustin Bates;
I actually find it very therapeutic most of the time.  You are right, it is dark indeed, but that is coupled with positive themes of overcoming.  My immersion in this project actually became somewhat detrimental to my personal life and I have had to begin to rebuild and coincidentally the record has become very much aligned with my own situation.

Revenant Media;
How does the onstage persona of Starset’s Dustin Bates differ from the Dustin Bates of Downplay?

 

Dustin Bates;
STARSET’s Dustin is very much an unencumbered, unfiltered version of one facet of me.  It is me, though it’s just not all of me.  It is my introverted,introspective side, which is ironic, I guess, because I am sometimes performing in front of thousands of people.

Revenant Media;
Over the past year, Starset has toured with Trivium, Framing Hanley and Gemini Syndrone. Who’s core fan base was the most receptive of Starset’s message?

Dustin Bates;
They were all largely receptive (though there were a few hecklers in the Trivium crowd lol).  If I had to choose, I would say the Gemini fans were the most into it as a whole, but we made a lot of friends and fans on all of the tours so far.  

Revenant Media;
Since first hearing Transmissions in May, I’ve been all but pleading for Starset to tour with Evanescence or for you to do a duet with Amy Lee. Who would you like to have Starset tour with? Would you consider doing a duet with another artist or having someone do guest vocals on a future track?

Dustin Bates;
I actually had a drink with Amy once in Louisiana when hanging with her producer, though I’m sure she doesn’t remember!  I want to tour with 30 Seconds to Mars and Linkin Park.  Ohh wait, that is called the Carnivores tour, and we aren’t on it.  As for a duet, I would sing Lita Ford’s part with Ozzy in “Close My Eyes Forever”.

Revenant Media;
Aside from your break up while recording and sleeping in the tour van in Walmart parking lots, what’s been the most challenging part of bringing Starset’s message to the world?

Dustin Bates;
I would say that was the most major challenge.  Oh, and I was broke as hell and had to move into my parent’s place for a while.  I had to do some crappy jobs to get by, but most people have to do that at some point.  

Revenant Media;
I’ve heard rumors that you’re a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Are you a fan of the graphic novels as well? Did that have any influence on The Starset Society releasing a graphic novel in conjuction with the album?

 

Dustin Bates;
I do like The Walking Dead, but it is a bit boring nowadays.  I’m more into Game of Thrones, but haven’t watched any of this season, so no spoilers.  I haven’t read The Walking Dead graphic novels.  I am actually not really a big fan of graphic novels.  The Starset Society’s decision to incorporate a comic was Aston’s idea.  It is my understanding that he was trying to reach that demographic with the beginnings of the Message, much like STARSET and I have with the band.  

Revenant Media;
After someone has purchased Transmissions and finished listening to it for the first time, how do you want them to feel about Starset’s music and the Society’s message?

 

Dustin Bates;
First and foremost, I want them to enjoy the record!  Hopefully it piques the interest of a certain percentage of listeners towards becoming further informed of the Message when the time comes.

Many thanks to Dustin for the interview!
Starset will be hitting the road this fall with Lacuna Coil, then joining In This Moment through the winter. Make sure to check the band’s website and Facebook pages for tour dates!

http://www.starsetonline.com

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