Although STRFKR’s Shawn Glassford grew up in the small, agricultural town of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, he was still exposed to a pretty healthy musical community. All of his friends were in punk or hardcore bands and would routinely put on shows in various dingy basements, basically whatever they could get their hands on. Glassford was fascinated by bands like Nirvana and Fugazi. It started in 5th grade when he got his hands on a copy of Nevermind. After that, all he wanted to do was play in a band. He got a guitar and the rest is history. After a move to Portland, Oregon, he eventually linked up with Josh Hodges and joined his band, STRFKR (Starfucker). The group’s fourth studio album, 2013’s Miracle Mile, finds the band in top form. Almost like a modern-day disco album, Miracle Mile is full of uptempo beats, ethereal keys and the whimsical musings of mastermind Hodges. Glassford delivers the bass lines, drummer Keil Corcoran keeps the rhythm and guitarist Patrick Morris completes the puzzle. Glassford took some time to talk about learning to play bass, the Portland scene and the word ‘f*ck.’
BandWagon Magazine (Kyle Eustice): When did you learn to play bass?
Shawn Glassford: I played guitar all through my teens, then fell in love with playing drums and just did that mostly. I didn’t start playing bass until I moved to Portland. My friend had this crazy fantasy-themed costume band called Marmits. They needed a bass player so I tried it out.
Did you have any family members into music growing up?
My brother moved out when I was in 4th grade, but I found a box of his stuff once with a Fugazi CD in it and they became one of my favorite bands, still to this day. My friends, of course, influenced me. That’s all we did was listen to and talk about music, play music and skateboard. Fugazi was huge for me actually, everything about them influenced me. There was so many amazing bands that shaped my taste and styles of playing, but ya Fugazi was definitely the biggest on different levels.
How did you meet Joshua?
My girlfriend, now fiancé, introduced us in the spring of 2007.
I was just in Portland and it seems like there’s a pretty decent music community. How has living in Portland cultivated your career?
Portland was good for us. We could practice in our basements and back then rent was still cheap. All that rain helped keep us inside to work on projects. There’s definitely a very strong music presence and lots of crossover between different styles and circles. PDX POP NOW is a really great all local festival. The lineup sort of sums up what’s happening in Portland music each year.
There was a lot of back and forth with your band name. Are you glad you decided to keep it?
Yeah, I’m glad we stuck with it, I guess.Using the STRFKR spelling is fine. It’s just annoying that’s it’s still a holdup sometimes. Everyone hears and sees the word ‘fuck’ constantly; it’s everywhere. But for some reason we have people afraid of it all the time—promoters, festivals, and obviously radio. I don’t know. It’s all silly to me.
What was the joke behind it?
Josh just hated to music biz and everyone trying too hard to make it playing music. So he named his new project Starfucker to make sure it was never too serious and just be a band to play for fun. I guess that’s the joke now; it being our main careers in life so far.
The music biz is rough. Do you think the internet makes it harder or easier to survive?
It’s both really. Being able to immediately connect with your fanbase and being able to share anything you want makes it way easier, and being able to be discovered by new listeners on sites like Pandora has really helped. But it’s obviously way harder to actually sell any records. And I think there’s just way too much music being released. Every piece of recorded music ends up on the internet these days and it’s all pretty much out there for free. It desensitizes people and makes it harder to appreciate the art.
How important is touring? What do you loathe about it? I know there’s something!
Touring has been almost the most important thing to us. It’s definitely been the reason we are where we are. We toured and toured and toured and toured and more and more people kept coming out each time, so we were able to sustain ourselves from it.
There’s actually a lot to loathe about being on tour all the time. You’re away from your family and home constantly, you miss loved ones birthdays and holidays, sleeping proper amounts is rare, and you almost die a lot because you’re driving on the highway for half your day everyday. But we love it, too. There’s just as much good about it. I definitely don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
STRFKR, February 24, at the Aggie Theatre, 204 S. College, 8 p.m. Tickets are $20-$22. Visit www.aggietheatre.com for more information.