Those who still doubt the power of MySpace need to look no further than the Tulsa-based start-up band Stars Go Dim
. The pop/rock group managed to build up a fanbase of over 10,000 people in early 2007 via the social networking site—even before they had released a single song.
“We started writing songs, and we knew it would be a long time before these songs came out, ‘cause we wanted to have professional recordings,” bassist Michael Wittig says. “So we came up with this idea, of building fans though from day one with no music. We started videotaping everything. These guys would be writing songs and I’d be in their face, annoying them, taking pictures and stuff. But we were releasing that stuff constantly, so all these people were watching the whole thing evolve, so when we posted our first songs in December of ’07—our first three released songs—we had like 10,000 MySpace friends, and 700 or so on our email list, ready to buy them the first day they were out.”
It’s a strategy that wouldn’t have even been possible a handful of years ago, but it should go without saying that it’s become increasingly common recently, as the Internet has made it possible to publish anything to an enormous audience “from your bedroom in your pajamas,” as lead singer Chris Cleveland puts it. And for Stars Go Dim, it’s been a phenomenal success. A quick look at their website or their MySpace page reveals a some catchy R&B-flavored pop that’s pretty impossible to dislike: swirling guitars, striding pianos, and passionate, soulful vocals. It’s music with undeniable appeal—and of course, that was the intention.
“We’re not trying to be cool,” says Wittig, “we’re not trying to wear tight pants and look cool. It’s about hit songs, and the maximum amount of people enjoying the songs. That’s what we’re trying to do here.” It’s a mildly surprising turn for Wittig—“totally one-eighty” from what he was doing before, he says. Of Stars Go Dim’s four members, three of them—Wittig, plus guitarist Joey Avalos and drummer Lester Estelle—are current or former members of the Tulsa-based Christian metal group Pillar, which has been touring and recording for the last eleven years (Wittig is currently working as a consultant for up-and-coming Christian rock bands). Stars Go Dim was a chance to go in a different direction—and jettison the record label while they were at it.
So far, it’s working: not only has Stars Go Dim received support from Tulsa radio stations like 104.5 The Edge, their music is also streaming through the speaker systems of The Buckle outlets nationwide. And when the release their debut EP (titled, aptly, Stars Go Dim EP
) on Oct. 21, they’ll already have thousands of fans to buy it. Of course, it’s all just leading up to the album, Love Gone Mad
(due out in March), which Wittig describes as an “accidental concept album.”
“We had these songs that revolved around love, so we built a concept album kinda backwards. [Switchfoot singer] Jon Foreman has a solo project, and I was looking at his website. It said ‘lyrics,’ and I clicked on it—and this thing opened up and it was scan of a real piece of paper with his handwriting on it. So I showed Joey [Avalos], and he was like, ‘How about if we make the lyrics for these ten songs, like, love letters between a couple?’” A novel will be launching alongside the album to complete the story of the fictional letter writers. “We’re trying to give you great music, and then a whole world to be involved in,” he says.
Stars Go Dim EP goes on sale on iTunes Oct. 21. It’s available for pre-order now at StarsGoDim.com.