When Stars of Track and Field found themselves without a bassist a couple of years ago, the Portland, Oregon-based band didn't follow the typical steps to find a replacement. No want-ads were placed; no attempts were made to recruit from other bands and nobody within the group switched instruments. Instead, the band opted for the path less traveled: they went digital. “Our initial motivation was two fold; a chance to stretch our boundaries and break from the conventional rock format, and avoid the frustration of rehearsing bass player after bass player,” says Jason Bell.
Stars of Track and Field had become an entirely different band, one that keenly opted to straddle the divide of vintage analog and cutting-edge digital, merging the best of yesterday and tomorrow into a succinct musical package. “We could finally embrace all of our influences,” says Kevin Calaba, “and add the colors of Aphex Twin and early Pink Floyd to a palette that already included the Beatles and My Bloody Valentine.” Adds Dan Orvik, “between the three of us there are many influences, the musical direction could go anywhere.”
If the anthemic rock aesthetic found on the full-length feels somewhat melancholic, then similarly bittersweet is the lyrical content. "We called the CD Centuries Before Love and War due to the fact that all the lyrics deal with maligned memory and love loss. And obviously, with the war going on now, it's pretty hard not to have that affect your writing,” says Calaba. “The difficult part is presenting your politics with insight and thoughtfulness, while avoiding trite rhetoric and cliché,” adds Bell. “How one cannot be shocked and horrified by the random violence and lackluster performance of this administration baffles me.”
With the album wrapped and label in place, the road ahead looks especially promising. The band completed an August US tour with Jeremy Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate & The Fire Theft) and is preparing to head out for another US Tour in October/November with The Twilight Singers (Greg Dulli, ex-Afghan Whigs). “For me, the live setting allows for us to present songs like ‘Movies of Antartica’ or ‘Say Hello’ in a much more raw fashion than the record,” adds Bell. “Sounds like we’ll never be home again,” Orvik laughs.
And although Bell and Calaba have been writing material together for a number of years in other acts, playing in Stars of Track and Field still feels relatively new, particularly since the introduction of the fourth “electronic member.” "We're still a really young band in terms of playing together, so we'd like to think that our best days are ahead of us," says Bell. "We're still trying to figure out what the hell we're doing."