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Interviews: Four Stars

On this new occasion, we have had the opportunity to interview the Pop Punk band Four Stars from the USA. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1. Where did you get the idea for the band name?

Aida: Our name Four Stars is an homage to the bright red stars on our city's flag. A constant reminder of where we come from.

2. What drew you to pop-punk and emo?

Aida: I used to listen to bands like Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold, but in 2007 my older brother introduced me to Yellowcard. At first I didn't care for it too much. It eventually grew on me and became my favorite kind of music. From there I got into bands like Fall Out Boy, The Starting Line and Taking Back Sunday. My world was never the same after that.

Ivan: The consistent energy in every song and the joy in everyone’s faces in the music videos. It just looks, sounds, and feels fun and exciting. I remember my older cousin blasting bands like Sum 41, Blink 182, Yellowcard, and Fall Out Boy. I knew right away this genre was a huge part of my life. I felt a connection and I was always excited to hear the music. You know when you really like a song but have no idea who sings it or what it’s called, but you just can’t get it out of your head? Well, that’s how the whole genre was for me. I started annoying my older cousin and older brother about playing those bands and finding specific songs all the time because I craved it but didn’t know who the artists were. Those were good times. Once I started drumming Blink 182 I fell in love with playing this kind of music. That’s what my life is all about. Jamming with the boys, supporting the people around us and spreading energy, joy and excitement in people’s lives the way music did for me.

Danny: As a kid, I would hear my older brother play all sorts of music but it was always the melodic bands of the late 90's and early 2000's like blink-182 and Sum 41 that stuck out. Although I did not know who they were at the time, these would become huge influences and some of my favorite bands when I rediscovered pop punk in 5th grade. As I got older and went to more shows, it was the energy, melodic nature, and sense of community that reeled me in and kept me coming back to my roots. There is something about emo and pop punk that just feels like home.

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed?

Aida: Yes. Ivan and Danny used to play in multiple bands together throughout high school. I met Ivan at Red Lobster, where we both were waiting tables before I eventually recruited Ivan to a jam session. Ivan and I jammed for a year and a half before Danny was introduced to the equation.

Danny: I played music on/off with Ivan for about 10 years before he introduced me to Aida. After jamming a couple songs, everything clicked and the chemistry was an easy find.

4. Each band member's favorite band?

Aida: Yellowcard will always be my all time favorite. However, I have been listening to a lot of Knuckle Puck, Tiny Moving Parts, and Modern Baseball recently.

Ivan: I’d say blink 182. It’s a tough battle between Blink 182, A Day To Remember and August Burns Red. Those 3 bands are a huge part of my life. 

Danny: If I had to make a list, it would include (but is not limited to) blink-182, The Swellers, Rise Against, and Fall Out Boy.

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs?

Aida: I typically write songs as a way to release my emotions. My writing style takes heavy influences from Ryan Key, Dan Campbell, and Nick Casasanto.

Ivan: My son became a new source of motivation and drive for me to write/play music. He’s a little drummer and singer like me so I want to lead by example and & keep being creative. Sometimes I get an idea in my head out of nowhere too. I could see a picture somewhere or some slogan on an ad & it will spark an idea. I know that if I don’t go pick up a guitar or sticks or pen and paper quickly I won’t catch the idea.

Danny: Songwriting inspiration comes from many different places. A lot of times it is an expression of different emotions. Sometimes things get personal but other times it is fun just telling a story or trying to capture a moment in time through melody and music.

6. Tell us about your favorite gig?

Aida: Our most recent show with our good friends in Fluorescents, Wolf Rd, Invictus, and The Kozmic Kicks at The Subterranean is definitely my most fond memory. It was two months after we had released “Alacrity” and when we played it, the crowd went nuts! There were moments I stopped singing because the crowd was singing so loudly it left me in awe. I’m so proud of the show my friends and I put together. It had a great turnout, and I live so close to the venue I was able to walk home after!

Ivan: Aida’s birthday show or the night of 3’s. Those gigs were great. Great crowd, tons of energy and involvement, great sets, great performance, great vibes. Those 2 shows will always be a highlight in our band history. They were wild.

Danny: One of my favorite gigs was playing the When the Sun Sets' EP release show. They turned a basement into a venue with a staging area, lights, and just about everything else you need for a legit gig. There were about 60 people in this basement jamming along and having a good time. The energy was unreal and it reminded me of the DIY shows we would play in our first bands back in high school. Overall a fun and nostalgic experience with great people.

7. Where is your dream venue?

Aida: It’s always been a lifelong dream of mine to get to play Riot Fest in Chicago. I’ve been attending the festival for 7 years now and all of my favorite bands have played there. For me, Riot Fest weekend is a holiday weekend every year. I always get the days off from work to make sure I don’t miss any of the bands playing earlier in the day.

Ivan: I wouldn’t say it’s a venue. I think it would be AMAZING to headline an outdoor summer fest. A big stage, beautiful nighttime summer weather, fireworks to finish it off and then grill some steaks after to celebrate. That’s my dream venue.

Danny: My dream venue would have to be The Metro. It holds so much history and has been a staple in the Chicago music scene for as long as I can remember. I have seen some of my favorite bands play there and it would be an honor to perform on the same stage that they did.

8. Whom would you love to collaborate with?

Aida: It’d be an honor to get to work with Nick Casasanto of Knuckle Puck on some of our upcoming projects. The guitar playing in Knuckle Puck songs really helped me to develop my skills as a guitarist and find my own voice in songwriting. Ryan Key/Yellowcard was the reason I picked up a guitar and started writing music, but it was when I began listening to Knuckle Puck that I found my writing began to thrive.

Ivan: I’d love to collaborate with A Day To Remember. I love Jeremy McKinnon's voice. It’s always exactly where it should be. He’s got great creativity and flow style. The whole band(adtr) is fantastic. I also think Kevin Skaff should sing more!

Danny: I would love to work on music with Jeremy McKinnon of A Day to Remember. Everything he works on sounds really full and is well put together. The tones, mix, and soundscapes are always on point.

9. Have there been any famous collaborations that you really dug?

Aida: The split with Knuckle Puck and Neck Deep was my first time hearing music in that format, and is my favorite split to date. At the time it was some of both bands best work and it meshed incredibly well together. The artwork by Cassie Podish is some of my favorite album art, and was the initial reason we reached out to work with her.

Ivan: Neck deep and Jeremy McKinnon. The song Kali Ma reminded me of ADTR and when Jeremy jumps in at the end it sealed it for me. One of my all time favorites. So great.

10. Any of you has ever suffered from stage fright? Any tip for beginners on how to beat that?

Aida: I get pretty wound up in the last 30 minutes leading up to our performance. I’m typically not too nervous about my performance as much as I’m worried about setting things up improperly and having a technical difficulty. I know that technical difficulties happen and that they’re no big deal, so I use box breathing and tai chi stretches/poses to calm my nerves. Box breathing has helped me tremendously in my day to day life, and even in my performances. 

Ivan: I wouldn’t say stage fright, more so too much anxiety. It sounds simple, but my solution is to just not think about it. Try to find something to do for a couple hours before you hit the stage. Have a drink to calm the nerves, have fun with friends and enjoy the other bands. Also, not to state the obvious, but just be as prepared as possible & visualize the performance.

11. Do you get stage fright/anxiety when you are going to band rehearsals or writing a song by yourself?

Probably not. Remember that at the end of the day, we all just remember how fun it was. That’s why we all picked up music in the first place, right? Be for others what your inspiration was for you.

Danny: Pre-show jitters often get replaced with excitement and eagerness to play. I think the best way to overcome stage fright would be to remember to have fun, relax and enjoy the moment.

12. What bands have inspired you the most? 

Aida: First there’s the core group of bands that made me want to be a musician in a band; Yellowcard, Knuckle Puck, and Modern Baseball. Recently I’ve been moved by bands such as; Tiny Moving Parts, Hot Mulligan, Free Throw, and The Wonder Years. The guitar playing in these bands is truly incredibly. The emotional content of their music also connects deep within me.

Ivan: Blink 182, Yellowcard, Sum 41, August Burns Red, and many many more haha the bands that keep at it day after day and always bring new sounds to the table are what inspire me. Those guys/girls go through struggles like all of us but they don’t quit. They show me that we ( Four Stars ) can always create and write something new for the fans and for ourselves. If they can do it, we can do it and so can anyone else out there.

Danny: My most inspirational bands would be blink-182, The Swellers, and Rise Against but I like to draw inspiration from other artists in and out of the genre to help keep things sounding fresh.

13. Can you tell us more about the new EP? What was it like working with Nick Diener?

Aida: This new EP “Headspace” is our follow up to our debut EP “Check, Please.” When choosing the songs to record we wanted to go for a heavier sound that remained true to the energy of our live shows. The title ‘Headspace’ is a reminder to take the time needed to make sure our mental health is where we’d like for it to be. Sometimes our headspace can become cluttered with unwanted thoughts and it can be difficult to navigate our busy lives because of what’s going on in our mind. All the songs are a reflection of a time when we needed to clear our heads and get ourselves to a better place. Working with Nick Diener was truly an amazing experience. At first it was a bit intense for me because I had to track guitar much sooner than I expected, and Nick is quite the guitarist himself. I was used to tracking bass before guitar but Nick put me up before Danny and I felt an overwhelming pressure to perform well like never before. This wasn’t any pressure that Nick was placing on me, or a vibe he was putting out. I was just in my own head about the whole experience because I wanted to impress him. Once we went to do vocals, I felt much more comfortable and in my element.

Danny: The new EP is an accurate representation of our band not only from the perspective of musical growth but on personal levels as well. The songs hit home for us and we poured a little bit of ourselves into these tracks. Working with Nick was a dream come true. I never thought I would have the opportunity to work with one of my favorite musicians and biggest influences. At first it was a tad bit nerve racking but once we found a groove, things settled in nicely. We learned lots about recording, songwriting,and production. Nick's experience and expertise were invaluable and he really helped shape the tone of the EP.

14. What did you do to prepare for this record? We heard you made some intense changes personally.

Aida: For this record we did pre-production with our friend Javier Degante. We also agreed that along with getting our headspace together, we would be trying to get in better physical shape. I cut back on junk food and began cooking for myself and exercising. At the time I was going on 4-5 mile runs almost everyday along with doing vocal exercises by Stevie Lang. I wanted to strengthen my mind, body, and my voice. When I was warming up to record vocals, I was doing those same vocals exercises and Nick was so confused because he had never seen anyone make those sounds while dancing to warm up for vocals. Definitely one of my favorite memories from our time there.

Ivan: Prep for this record was fun. We really tried to find the passion we have for our sound and our messages we want to put out. We thought hard and with our hearts all day every day. We took care of our bodies and minds too. Making sure to fill our heads with positivity, fill our bodies with healthy food and run/exercise. We constantly communicated about every little thought we had about our songs and how we all felt about them. That’s something we take pride in and also something that all those young bands out there need to understand. It’s not just about one guy and his/her thoughts about the song. It’s about communication and bringing all of it to the sound. That’s what keeps us strong and original. We are all equally involved in the product and we all love each other and our sound.

Danny: We wanted to be physically and mentally ready to record. We practiced vocal exercises and worked on our cardio alongside practicing our instruments. Leading up to recording, we decided to stop smoking for a month or so to get our lungs and vocal chords ready.

15. What are your plans after the record is out? 

Aida: After the record, we plan to add a lead guitarist to complete our lineup. We also expect to tour in support of our release in March. Just a quick weekender or two to get more eyes and ears on our EP. 2020 is already on track to be our best year.

Danny: After the EP is released, we plan on playing more shows and getting back in the studio to record some more music.

16. Anything else to add?

Aida: Thank you to Jesea Lee, Nick Diener, Olav Tabatabai, Cassie Podish, Alex Zarek, Javier Degante, and Charlie Esparza. We’d also like to thank Breathing The Core for this special opportunity! Stream ‘Headspace’ February 29th at

Danny: I would like to say thank you to our friends and families that supported us along the way as well as everyone who has worked on this project. It's a team effort it could not have been done alone. Special thanks to Breathing the Core for this opportunity.

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