Star Scene: Dustin Bates ~ STARSET

Dustin Bates‘ scene is “picking up on the energy” though sometimes “from the sidelines”.  The founding member, multi-instrumental and vocalist of STARSET states: “My scene is where I am right now, in my apartment at a place called the Short North, in Columbus. This is a place where the arts meet, and it has a little bit of a hipster aspect but it’s super fun, cool place with a lot of social energy. My scene is to be on my balcony, at the periphery of it. I like to be where everything is happening and everything is going on, but I like to sometimes be on the sidelines. I’m not missing out on the energy, I’m picking up on the energy.”

Bates is also a graduate with a Masters Degree in electrical engineering. He has taught at the international space university in France and conducted research for the US Air Force. This passion of science and music has led to the creation of a musical beast within an intellectual society, the Starset Society. The eclecticism of his influences has also helped shape his musical direction. Bates states: “Numerous influences and at numerous phases and it all came together to paint the palette of who I am. First I can remember was with my mom, she was listening to Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, mostly those big ones. And then my dad was into rock. So the first ones you’re subjected to are usually your parents’, but the ones that really get to you after that are the ones you discover on your own. My first band that I became obsessed with was Weezer, their first album. And I decided I wanted to write songs. And then I discovered Metallica and then I went back and found of their older metal records and I read about them in magazines and decided I wanted to be in a band. Then my palette became a little more diverse and complex, and I discovered other elements that find their way into the music whether it is cinematic like Hans Zimmer or Sigur Ros or progressive – Tool, Deftones – heavy, or electronic acts. It was just across the board.” 

Weezer … Metallica … Then my palette became a little more diverse and complex, and I discovered other elements that find their way into the music whether it is cinematic like Hans Zimmer or Sigur Ros or progressive – Tool, Deftones – heavy, or electronic acts. 

Though now himself a name in the music industry, Bates still feels that he doesn’t want to intrude on those who have inspired him to start out in the scene. He recalls an instance with Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo: “A little over a year ago, we were direct support for Weezer, and I was in our backstage area and Brian the bassist came up and said how much he liked the show and I was like ‘that’s amazing’. And then I went downstairs before the changeover and River was playing frisbee with Pat, the drummer of the band. I wanted to go up there and say ‘hello’ but didn’t want to interrupt. The closest I ever got was watching Rivers Cuomo playing frisbee about ten meters away from me. I’ve never been able to bug people like that. I’ve been near many influences but never did went up. He seems like a pretty good guy to me but in the end, I think he probably appreciated me leaving him alone.” Bates’ attitude may stem from the fact that he himself is, at times, an introvert. He states: “I don’t follow that exactly but absolutely. I’ve gone months without even talking to people, it’s crazy. You know alcohol tends to help with that and obviously on stage, the different persona helps with that.”

The persona on stage and the concept of the Starset Society are unique and the live performances are called demonstrations, helping to spread the message. Allowing the image to be maintained, according to Bates, the president of the Starset Society, Dr. Aston Wise, contacted him and asked if he was interested in forming a band to promote the organisation’s message through their outreach campaign.

This never-ending persistent surveillance started, at least to me, looking like 1984, and that was terrifying.

  Bates states: “All I can say is that my own personal experiences and how they are aligned with the Starset Society’s general outlook and mission, as an engineer and a technophile, I love technology but I also worked on various projects. I worked on a project for surveillance for the military and that project ended up doing a lot of good, in application, where you know if something happens you can be rewind around an event and see where something of interest came from and you can track it back to its source. But then soon after there were reports of this same technology, people wanting to use it in every day domestic, city, urban areas. This never-ending persistent surveillance started, at least to me, looking like 1984, and that was terrifying.  You hear all these other reports of surveillance, and that’s just one aspect of technology, it’s only going to become more double edged. That’s how I find myself very much aligned with the Starset Society. And they’re going to be putting out a new website soon, and I can’t wait to provide content for it.”

As well as content for the website, Bates delivers demonstrations that spread Starset Society’s messages. Bates states: “There are various messages. The most boiled down message is again that dichotomous aspect of technology; the technology that has allowed us to achieve free time essentially, that has allowed us to achieve leisure over the last hundred years is now – and it has almost inherently been positive outside of weaponry – coming back to change things in a potentially negative way. We now see issues with cell phones and social media within society. We’re going to start losing jobs by the millions because of technology. We see we are benefiting but also are now beginning to see losses at the hand of technology. So we need to be aware of it and the Starset Society’s goal to raise awareness of the pros and cons of technology in our society. Also by the way it’s approached by those in power, social politicians. Jobs are being replaced by technology here in the US; we didn’t really see that. That’s the primary driver in all of these changing trends in the labor force and that never really entered the debate; there were bogeymen who were generated. But really it helped to sway an election, to a large scale. I don’t think people realised. People were affected by technology, not by Mexicans, not by immigrants, but by technology and if we don’t raise awareness of the power of technology to be two sided then we’re going to see demagogues of a scale we’ve never seen before because people will vilify what they don’t understand.”

Bates states that the single Monster from their new album, Vessels, is not directly related to politics but he has left it “ambiguous”. He reflects: “I guess Monster came from a lot of places. I just try to keep things ambiguous in terms of songs having something that can be ascribed to; a personal relationship, a social frame, a look at technology, an experience. And so Monster has multiple meaning levels. And the video itself is sci-fi but at the same time looking at our own disconnect socially at the hands of social media. And it’s only going to be exacerbated in the future.”

Demonstrations are an excellent way to raise awareness and to try to reconnect people. Regarding these demonstrations, Bates states: “I actually really like them. Everyday I try to push the visual aspect of the demonstration further and, sonically, I try to think about what I can do to improve every aspect of the show really. That’s a fun challenge. But again, it’s super rewarding to come off of a tour and be very certain that you are leaving it a higher place than you’ve ever been from a live standpoint.”

As for demonstrations down under, Bates states: “Being our first time there, we’re sort of going back to our roots in terms of production. We’ve got our video content and our spacesuits and other elements but we won’t be able to bring our cube but I’m sure we will be able to next time. So we have to make essentially a hybrid show. The quality of sound is still 100% up to par and that’s the most important part of the demonstration. We’re really super excited about this.”

Following the awareness raising and warning signs from Bates on behalf of the Starset Society, the best way to reconnect with others is to get down to a demonstration. The Australian demonstrations start tonight in Brisbane! Don’t watch it on your mobile phone. Get there in person!

STARSET TOUR DATES:

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 9- THE TRIFFID, BRISBANE (Licensed All Ages)

THURSDAY AUGUST 10 – THE FACTORY THEATRE, SYDNEY(Licensed /All Ages)

FRIDAY AUGUST 11– THE BASEMENT CANBERRA (18+)

SATURDAY AUGUST 12 –MAX WATTS, MELBOURNE (18+)

SUNDAY AUGUST 13–FOWLERS LIVE , ADELAIDE (Licensed All Ages )

PRESENTED BY SELECT TOURING & BLUE MURDER

 

One of today’s most innovative rock bands STARSET are heading to Australia for the first time this August in support of their stellar sophomore album, Vessels.  

Dustin Bates is the Albert Einstein of rock and the bands epic cinematic music acts as the scores to equally epic science fiction tales.” – Kill Your Stereo

Starset’s debut album, Transmissions, and accompanying graphic novel ‘The Prox Transmissions’ established the fictional back story of planet Prox, a future haven from a dying earth. The album went on to sell over 250,000 albums. Since then Starset have dedicated themselves to understanding how various technologies might affect our lives politically, socially, and economically. Their new sophomore album, Vessels, single-mindedly tries to push the boundaries further. Vessels splits its narrative into an interconnected inter-zone of four separate dangerous visions. From a return to Prox to an admonishment of the dangers of genetic engineering to a near future where advances in artificial intelligence defy convenient notions of love, life and death, Bates has engineered an aural anthology that will challenge the Starset faithful while delivering on the first albums powerful promise. 2017 will also see Marvel Comics release a graphic novel based on The Starset Society continuing the journey of Vessels.

“If revered darkwave pop veterans Depeche Mode multiplied their aural dimensions by seven, something like Vessels would emerge.” – Kerrang!

Starset’s live “demonstrations” are built on the same alloy of ambition, technology and raw emotion. With over 300 shows logged to date, Bates and his helmeted-and-pressure-suited crew have distinguished themselves as one of most entertaining live bands.

Vessels is out now via Razor & Tie / Cooking Vinyl Australia

Catch STARSET live. Tickets on sale now:

http://selecttouring.com.au/tours/starset/

STARSET TOUR DATES:

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 9- THE TRIFFID, BRISBANE (Licensed All Ages)

THURSDAY AUGUST 10 – THE FACTORY THEATRE, SYDNEY(Licensed /All Ages)

FRIDAY AUGUST 11– THE BASEMENT CANBERRA (18+)

SATURDAY AUGUST 12 –MAX WATTS, MELBOURNE (18+)

SUNDAY AUGUST 13–FOWLERS LIVE , ADELAIDE (Licensed All Ages )

PRESENTED BY SELECT TOURING & BLUE MURDER

About Mary Boukouvalas 654 Articles
Mary is a music photographer and reviewer.

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