Artist of the day: Four Star Riot
Four Star Riot is a polished power-pop-rock quartet hailing from Pinellas County who maintain a classic rock sound, yet aren’t afraid to experiment and explore alternate sonic avenues, whether by embracing new technology or taking a cue from artists outside their wheelhouse.
Four Star Riot are Steve Alex on lead vocals and guitar, Finn Walling on lead guitar and vocals, Aaron Akers on bass and vocals and Mike Chilton on drums. We sat down with the gentlemen, minus Chilton, over a couple of pints at one of our favorite Seminole Heights watering holes.
What does the name of the band represent?
Alex: It’s the worst thing in the world to come up with a band name. You make a list of a hundred and start whittling it down. Those words came together driving to work one morning, driving next to a Four Star Chemical truck. It was early; it was like 7 a.m. Then it was just, ”What else”?
Your website states that you have had multiple line-ups. What makes this one the best to date?
Alex: Camaraderie, fun-ness. We’re doing it as a release to have fun. Isn’t that what it’s about? With this crew, we all get along great … not great; we get along well (laughs). We all understand each other. We all know where we’re coming from. We’re all coming from different places. Everybody has a different thing they wanna get out of music. We can all live with whatever each other wants to get out of it. We’re not kids.
Walling: There’s always been good chemistry. I can play to the drummer, ’cause I always know what he’s gonna be doing next. Aaron and I have been playing (together) in different projects for a decade now. Once you have been playing with a group of people for 10 years, you have the luxury of inferred chemistry.
Your website also states that you are now employing EDM (electronic dance music)-informed keyboards into your music. What is the result?
Akers: Finn’s the master of that stuff. Just on these recent recordings, we’ve been dabbling in that.
Walling: It started when Steve sent me his two least favorite songs. What I call it is turd polishing. So, send me your turds, I’ll polish ’em. Honestly, this case worked out very well … put some samples on there, some synths, some beats and we realized this song is pretty badass. It added another layer. We went ahead and re-recorded the drums. They ended up being standout songs.
What inspires you and keeps you going musically?
Alex: It was different when you were in your 20s and you’re in a band, like “Let’s go, lets write rock songs!” Now, you sit back a little bit and look back. You at least have more to go by. It’s something to look forward to. You do what you gotta do all week, but I can’t wait to play some music. It’s the release. It’s the enjoyment.
Walling: Honestly, I find my biggest influence when I’m on stage: the act of duty. I find inspiration inside myself.
Akers: We’re at the point with age where we write music for each other. It’s hard to get it out. Who’s really gonna hear what you do? We’re not really doing it for anyone else. To me that’s the whole thing: we get together to play music for zero reason, other than to do it because we like it. We’re not workin’ for a record deal. We’re not playing for money. None of us plan on getting in our van and doing any of that anymore. We do it for that reason: just to make music.
Four Star Riot will perform with Model 7 and the Porch Sessions at 8 p.m. Saturday at Crowbar, 1812 17th St., Ybor City. Tickets are $5.
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*