Despite what the band’s name may imply, Artificial Stars had a completely organic creation.
Friends Jeff Koithan and Neil Strub were looking to start another group, ultimately deciding to share singing and guitar responsibilities. Drummer Luke Sweeney provided a space to jam -- an upstairs attic barely big enough to fit their equipment -- while Koithan coaxed musician Jesús Iñiguez to meet them all at their first practice to play bass, the first time he would ever play the instrument.
“That’s kind of all she wrote,” said Strub. “We basically just said, ‘Hey, let’s just have some fun and write some songs. Keep coming back if you want to.’ And we just kept doing it.”
The persistence paid off when Artificial Stars played its first “official” show at the Woods Unsigned Battle of the Bands 11 on October 21 at The Marquee.
The band had previously jammed during an open mic night but had no prior bookings.
The song ideas and riffs that had been steeping inside the minds of Koithan and Strub would finally be put to the test. Artificial Stars showed off its ability to draw from multiple genres of music, finding a happy middle ground between heavy alternative rock and pop. As a result, the group attracted a large crowd and kept their attention with an energetic stage show, eventually earning first place in the competition.
“It was a really nice feeling to win our first time out there,” said Sweeney. “I feel like we have something here that’s pretty good. I feel like this is the best project I’ve been involved in. It was nice to have that reaffirmed.”
Much like the band’s beginnings, creating songs feels natural. Building upon another member’s idea is not only welcomed with open arms, it’s encouraged. The songwriting process and stage show also seem to go hand-in-hand. Strub aspires for the band to play quality songs while also delivering a performance the audience can move to, an attitude shared by his fellow bandmates.
“When you’re at a concert, I don’t want you to just be like, ‘Oh I can just listen to the CD and have the exact same experience,’” said Strub.
Everyone is on the same page, especially when it comes to egos. Strub said, “None of us really give a sh** about being a prima donna or being the front man or being ‘the best’ in the band.” And as a result, the guys don’t set restrictions for themselves or the band. They won’t toss away a song because it doesn’t fit their genre (although don’t expect a country song by Artificial Stars any time soon).
“For the most part, we all have similar tastes in music and we all have the same goals,” said Strub. “We’re all talented enough to not lean on somebody or follow somebody else.”
But don’t expect the band to play a show when it’s not 100 percent ready. Sweeney said he’s a stickler about booking shows until the material is ready. Simply put, he “doesn’t want to suck.”
“I really want to put on a good show and that’s important to me,” he said. “And I feel like I’m in a group now where everyone is capable of putting on a good show.”
Everyone will get their chance in the spotlight at one point or another. That wasn’t a detail that was really discussed or agreed upon – it just came natural.
“You’re gonna get a solo here and I’m gonna get a solo here,” said Strub, pointing to his bandmates. “You’re going to sing this song. I’m going to sing this song. Luke is going to throw his sticks around and rock out. We’re just going to have all this fun and play off each other’s energy.”