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Their debut album “Good Time” was released on September 8th
By Jeff McCord
Over the last few years we’ve become wary of surprise. When the unexpected comes along, it’s not unwise to duck.
Yet not all surprises are bad. Take DAIISTAR, a band that was on pretty much nobody’s radar before the release of their thrilling debut album, Good Time.
Except DAIISTAR (pronounced ‘day star’) seem to have already gathered a psych rock pedigree. The album is produced by Black Angels frontman Alex Maas, engineered by White Denim’s James Petrali, and is out on the influential London label Fuzz Club. They’re about to embark on tours with the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Their lead singer and songwriter, Alex Capistran, seems bemused and I guess, excited (he’s so low-key it’s hard to tell) by all this instant acclaim. I’m talking with Alex and DAIISTAR’s bassist, Misti Hamrick.
“It wasn’t going to be a band,” Alex says, laughing. “Around the pandemic, I was playing music solo. I released a couple of songs like that and, I don’t know. It felt a little lonely. So I decided to start a band and I hit up [Nick] Cornetti, Derek [Strahan], and Misti. We started jamming and then everyone kind of just fell into place. The day we got together, we just felt like it clicked, you know?”
And in the pandemic’s peak, it wasn’t like there were many distractions.
“No one was playing shows around that time,” Alex continues. “So that gave us a lot of time to practice. We’d meet up a couple of times a week. It was kind of nice to get out of the house for a while.”
Still, as Misti recalls, it wasn’t the most normal of circumstances. For one thing, they were all masked.
“It was weird when I first jammed with the guys because I think I was the last of the group to join,” she says. “It was interesting to be wearing a mask and not really have a face-to-face conversation with these people that you’ve started playing with, And we continued playing with masks for a few months. It was definitely a weird thing.”
“I think we were just honing in on our craft,” Misti recalls. “We all agreed once we all started playing together that these songs were really good and [we thought] let’s make sure we can pull off how great everything is sounding in the studio and live as well. A lot of people did not know who we were, we did come out of left field. But a lot of it had to do with us preparing.”
“A lot of those songs are pretty old,” Alex explains. “I was starting to write those around like 2017. I was just hanging on to them for a while, trying to see what would happen. And then DAIISTAR happened.”
What happened next was even more surprising. Their drummer Nick, was friends with the Black Angels’ Alex Maas.
Alex explains: “[Nick] reached out to Alex Maas and said, I’m in this band. Check it out if you want to, produce or manage or something. So he listened to it. And then a couple of days later, Alex Maas called me and was just telling me how much he enjoyed the demos and that he wanted to do something with it. And we didn’t really know what we were going to do. We decided to make a record with him and he wanted to produce it He did a great job.”
Recorded at James Petrali’s studio, Good Time, much like the album’s title, is an economic no-frills wonder. Ten songs, 33 minutes of memorable psych-rock, beautifully recorded and mixed. The kind of music that doesn’t get in in its own way. Our large music-obsessed staff here at KUTX, who agree on almost nothing, gave universal thumbs up to this record on first listen. So did the Fuzz Club label when Alex Maas sent the record their way.
And this year, when music from Good Time began to reach people’s ears (the album’s official release date was just September 8th), DAIISTAR was a secret no longer.
All the members are veterans of the Austin scene and are accustomed to the usual slow build-up for new bands. Did the accelerated pace of DAIISTAR surprise them?
“I’m used to things taking a little longer,” Alex says in a droll fashion. Misti laughs.
“I’m not going to complain about how quickly things are going. I’m very happy that everything fell into place the way it did. And I’m I’m glad we got on that tour. These are some of the biggest shows I’ve ever played. We’re excited to go and do our thing.”
In an age when a lot of new bands don’t even have a guitar player, DAIISTAR is a bit of a throwback, making music that dates back to the time of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators. They’re hardly alone, but unlike their psych and shoegaze peers, they have a strong purist streak. Are they concerned with being a fish out of water?
“I don’t really worry about it,” Alex confesses. “I mean, in a way, we’re not shoegaze. We’re not. But at the same time, we do have some of those elements. I think the fact that we sound different from all those bands sets us apart. We use tons of fuzz. The Jesus and Mary Chain is one of my favorite bands and I feel like they’re kind of proto-shoegaze, which is more of what I’m into. Maybe that’s where the sound comes from.”
Alex pauses, gathering his thoughts. “It was never about making good music. I think it was more what I wanted to hear, what I wasn’t hearing on the radio. If no one’s going to make this music, then someone’s got to do it. I just needed to hear this.”