The “4+1 and 5” is a series of interviews with popular musicians and their personal crafted playlists edited by Bay Area based (415 area code) blogger, SFCritic. Musicians are given five questions and asked to relate their responses to individuals songs, which are compiled into a playlist for readers to enjoy. With five questions and five mp3s, coming straight from (415), you’ve got “4+1 and 5.”
Josh Hodges, the creativity behind the bands, Starfucker, Pyramidd and Sexton Blake, can easily answer the question “What’s in a name?” with a simple statement–“It’s important.” Over the last several years Hodges has struggled finding the right identity. His personal quest to overcome his social insecurities and shyness lead him into a solo-career as “Sexton Blake.” But Sexton Blake was shelved quickly. The mellow, intimate style was too intrusive and limiting, so Hodges found a different identity, Starfucker. With Starfucker Hodges said “Fuck it” giving in to pop music. The infectious dance music captured the ears of adorning fans. Labels too wanted more but under one condition—change the band’s name. For a short stint Starfucker became Pyramidd, until Hodges decided the change was a huge mistake and fired all his advisers. Starting again, Starfucker released earlier this year Reptilians (click here for our album review ), which layers pop melodies with dark, insightful lyrics about mortality. SFCritic spoke with Josh Hodges before his performance at The Independent about his many identities.
SFCritic (SFC): Who is Josh Hodges? What song describes your mood at this moment?
Josh Hodges (JH): Maybe “I’m So Tired” by the Beatles is my mood at this very moment. We have a new trailer with the van, and it turns out that it’s really hard to park the trailer anywhere in the universe. I didn’t sleep very much because it took a lot to find a place to put the trailer and the van. I don’t know who I am that’s probably a question I’ll ask myself for the rest of my life.
SFC: The question was more intended to reflect on who you are as person in comparison to your many stage personas.
JH: Well the real life me, and this goes almost for the whole band, but especially me, we are the antithesis of the people, people think we would based on the type of music we play. We’re this party band, but in real life I don’t drink or smoke and everyone is pretty much married having been with their girlfriends forever, accept for me.
Also, the whole thing about having a stage persona and all was that this band was about lightening up for me. Not trying to do anything, originally. My personality, I’m pretty shy and awkward in real life or at least I’ve been trying to not be that way as much. I had a friend hypnotize me to be less socially awkward and I think it helped a lot.
This band has put me in a lot of situations where I have to be more social than I’m comfortable with. It’s a good challenge for me to get the fuck out of my shell.
That’s the whole point of the band, nothing fucking matters. We’re all going to be dead. It doesn’t matter if I become a successful musician and the security from that, it’s all going to away so fucking enjoy it.
SFC: Who is Sexton Blake? What song best describe the concept of Sexton Blake?
JH: Actually it’s funny because Sexton Blake was supposed to be what Starfucker is now. The Sexton Blake actually meaning is from cockney slang for fake. I envisioned it as nonsense, hoola-hoopers, crazy musicians, and all this shit going on. I didn’t really start playing out under that name, but I had a collection of songs that I recorded, which were mostly mellow, and somehow this guy in Portland named, Anthony McNamer, who started Expunged Records, got a hold of it and wanted to put it out. So it turned out that Sexton Blake was my mellow side-project. I didn’t want to play this mellow, intimate music because for one I’m not as good at it; for two, it’s kind of personal to put shit out there to be judged it kind of sucks more.
SFC: Who is an artist and song that reflects that “fuck it” honesty?
JH: I feel like Elliot Smith is intimate music where someone is putting themselves out like that. Anything off his Either/Or or XO.
SFC: Who is Starfucker and what song best describes the concept of Starfucker? You’ve already stated that Starfucker is “fuck it” so what other artist is comparable?
JH: It’s also “fuck it” in a positive way. It’s not punk in that way. It’s fuck it more in a way like “we’re all going to die so let’s lighten up and appreciate what we have right now.” There was actually this one Blonde Redhead song “In Particular” that was the idea for Starfucker. I love that song because it has a house/disco beat, and it’s a really good song.
“After we stopped touring, and the dust had settled we realized, “What the fuck did we just do.” I almost considered quitting. I felt like the project had been compromised. So instead we just fired everybody and changed the name back. “
SFC: Who is Pyramidd? What song best describes that “phase”?
JH: Ever since the band existed and other people not in the band, tour managers, managers, we’ve had people trying to change our name. For a long time we were like “Oh, hell no!” It got to this point, we had more legit people around, all these people who worked for really good, respected indie labels, and we were like “Ok, we can trust these people. They know what they’re doing.” They put the pressure [on us] and put it like this, “Ok, you can either change your name, have a career as a musician possibly, or it’s going to be a hobby and you’ll never get that far and probably quit doing it.”
The decision was made at a weird time. We were all exhausted. We were in the middle of a tour. After we stopped touring, and the dust had settled we realized “What the fuck did we just do.” I almost considered quitting. I felt like the project had been compromised. So instead we just fired everybody and changed the name back. [Talk on a tangent about their recent mashups]
SFC: With so many issues surrounding your name, and yet so many clever titles for each track—what is the importance of a name? After all said and done is there a song that reminds you that you’re doing okay?
JH: I think it is important just as a fan when I look at bands. There name flavors the vibe and image that I get. I’ve been told that Butthole Surfers are really good, and have some great albums, but I didn’t know this because I thought that was a dumb name. Unlike Butthole Surfers we can’t even be on the radio. You can say butt, but you can’t say fuck.
I’ve been listening to mostly hip hop today, like Odd Future. That “Yonkers” and “Sandwitches” song are cool. I want to do a mashup of their stuff. I don’t know where I’d get an a capella but that’d be fun.
SFC: Finally, when you’re cross dressing on stage do you assume a different identity? What song best describes this stage persona?
JH: No, I grew up around it. My uncle is a Liza Minelli impersonator in Portland. Shawn likes it. Both of our girlfriends like it when we dress in dresses [laughs]. You can put Cyndi Lauper “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
Starfucker “Bury Us Alive”
1. The Beatles “I’m So Tired”
2. Elliot Smith “Baby Britain”
3. Blonde Redhead “In Particular’
4. Odd Future “Sandwitches”
5. Cyndi Lauper “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”