Tell Me About That Album: Reptilians by Starfucker

Tyler Kohlhoff
Despite some major jetlag thanks to having just returned from a European tour, Josh Hodges of Portland's elctro-pop group Starfucker, was still eager to field our questions about his band's latest album, Reptilians, even if he hadn't yet had his morning coffee. The LP is a synth-pop pastiche that ruminates on life and death, and which is out now via Polyvinyl. Though the band has been busy entertaining audiences overseas, they'll play a New Year's Eve show at the Crocodile, capping off a busy year for the band, and kicking off a string of U.S. dates in January. Here's what Hodges told us:

Where did you write the songs for the album? A lot of them were written on tour. I got my first laptop so I was able to come up with ideas while we were in the van or sitting in the venue waiting to play. I'd say at least half the album or more was written on tour. And when I got back to Portland I fleshed it out in my bedroom a little bit more.

Does the writing process usually involve live instruments or are you writing on the computer mostly? I usually add-in live instruments when I get home, but on tour I just had a MIDI keyboard. I'm not really tech-savvy. I like to have a real keyboard where I can mess with the knobs and I don't like doing everything on the computer, but it's better than nothing. I have an old analog drum machine I like to use that makes it onto every album too.

Do you have a favorite song on the album? I think "Death as a Fetish" is my favorite song, but I don't think it came out as good as it could have.

How about a favorite lyric? I like the lyrics in that song. My friends and I always joke about how everyone from Oregon is white trash and they can't help it so there's a line about white trash in that song.

Where did the idea and title for Reptilians come from? Sometimes I get sucked into the rabbit hole of watching conspiracy videos all night. One of the theories is that there's an alien race that are called Reptilians that control the human race and like to make them their slaves. It's pretty wild. That's where the name came from. And the album is loosely about the end of the world and death so it seemed to be fitting. We had some other ideas -- and I always like to have a song that is the title track -- and that song was already called "Reptilians" so we just thought it was perfect.

Is the alien reptile theory something you believe? No, I definitely don't believe it, but it's entertaining to watch.

Can you tell me about the album's cover art? Our friend Kevin has done the art for every album so far and when I talked to him I just told him I wanted it to look like an old '70s sci-fi book cover or something. I didn't give him too much direction besides that.

Can you tell me the backstory for one of the other songs on the record? That song, "Astoria" -- there are no lyrics in it really, it's just like, a mantra -- but there's this house in this coastal town where they filmed The Goonies, that's its claim to fame. My mom's friend has a house there which is really nice and quiet and after this tour in January that we're doing, I'm going to go down there and live for a few months and record the next album. So that's where the song comes from. I fantasize about leaving everything and being a hermit and having a calm little life in a place like that.

Have you thought about what your favorite records of the year might be? EMA is a good record. Unknown Mortal Orchestra would definitely be my number one, but besides those I'm not sure.

What are your New Year's resolutions? I quit smoking for a year and started again just now when we were in Europe. I've never done New Year's Resolutions, but I'd love to quit smoking so maybe that's what it will be.

Who will you be kissing at midnight? [Laughs.] I don't know. I don't have any kissing friends right now.

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