Fresh off of not one, but two, North American tours, Chicago's Starkill has been more than a little busy. Their first tour with Krisiun was one wild ride, and their more recent tour was with Wintersun, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Arsis. Starkill is comprised of Parker Jameson – lead guitar, vocals; Spencer Weidner – Drums; Charlie Federici – Guitar; and Mike Buetsch – Bass.
Author Marisa Williams: What is your home town, and is that where you live now?
Parker Jameson, lead guitar player for Starkill: We live in Northwest suburbs of Chicago. Mike lives in Fox River Grove, and the rest of us live in the adjacent town of Cary.
Marisa: How did you get started in music? Did you come from a musical family? What were your biggest musical influences?
Starkill: Spencer, Mike, and I are all the first musically active people in our families. I started playing saxophone at the age of ten, and around 14 or 15 switched to guitar and dove straight into instrumental soloist stuff (Gilbert, Satriani, Vai, Batio, Malmsteen, etc.). Spencer started drumming around this time, and when I eventually made the transition to metal, I showed him, and then he switched over as well. He was introduced to metal at a far younger age than I was, and some of his earlier influences were Bodom, Dimmu Borgir, and Dream Theater.
Mike started playing bass because we’ve known him since we were in grade school. We needed a bass player, so we just started teaching him.
Charlie comes from a more musically active family. His dad plays guitar recreationally, and his sister attended Indiana University and is an opera singer. He knew what metal was before I had even held a guitar.
Marisa: What instruments do you play, and how old were you when you learned to play them?
Starkill: I play guitar and started around age 14.
Spencer started taking drumming seriously around 10 or 11.
Charlie started guitar around 14, and Mike started bass around 18.
Marisa: What was your first concert that you attended, and how did that compare to the first concert that you played?
Starkill: My first show was Cheap Trick when I was 13-years-old. I saw them at a big outdoor amphitheater with seats, and it wasn’t until age 15, or so, that I realized that most metal and rock shows have open floors. Our first show as a band together was at a local venue near IU, so quite different circumstances.
Marisa: How do you go about writing music? What comes first for you: drums, guitars, vocals or something else? Has the process of writing changed for you over the years at all?
Starkill: Every song I write starts with me opening a blank project on my DAW, setting the metronome to a random tempo, and then riffing. I record riffs as they come, and then start piecing them together once I have two or three good ideas. By then the song has some form to it, and usually finishes itself. Alternatively, I start writing on piano, which tends to result in more symphonic sounding stuff by default. Half of Fires of Life was written on piano first.
Marisa: What is your favorite musical technique?
Starkill: As a guitar player, alternate picking, I guess?
Marisa: What's the coolest thing about your latest project, and what can people expect in the future?
Starkill: Everything is cool about FoL. For our next material though, people can expect a little more consistency between songs, as well as a sound that is both heavier, but also incorporates more extreme guitar lead harmonies. It’s gonna be awesome.
Marisa: What is the scariest thing about being on the road?
Starkill: The lack of toilets between Edmonton and Vancouver.
Marisa: Best or worst tour moment?
Starkill: Worst tour moment: The lack of toilets between Edmonton and Vancouver.
Marisa: What's your favorite way to travel and why?
Marisa: What's your favorite place to travel to, and is there anywhere you have not been to that you would like to go to?
Starkill: Well we haven’t yet been to Europe. Hopefully, that will change soon. But I really liked most of Canada, and Boston was a cool city.
Marisa: What's your biggest musical fantasy?
Starkill: We’ve dreamt of playing Wacken since before our first song was written.
Marisa: I have three personality questions that I ask everyone. They might sound like hogwash, but I promise there is a psychological basis to the answers ;-) First, if you were an unicorn, and you could be any color but white, what color would you be and would you have any special powers?
Starkill: Parker: Black. With purple accents. And I’d have all the powers of Storm, from X-Men.
Spencer: Brown. Retractable horn.
Mike: Blue. Flight.
Marisa: If you were yogurt, would you be mixed fruit, fruit on the bottom, what flavor and why?
Starkill: Parker: Oikos Café Latte yogurt. I eat this stuff literally every morning upon waking up.
Spencer: Vanilla. NO FRUIT.
Mike: Strawberry banana mixed fruit. Favorite flavor.
Marisa: Describe yourself as a dog, a cat or a cartoon.
Starkill: Parker: Cat.
Marisa: Do you collect anything?
Starkill: Parker: I’d like to collect guitars. Except that’s expensive. I do also have a weird thing for Overdrive pedals. Currently, only have four, but I wish I had 40.
Marisa: What's your biggest guilty pleasure?
Starkill: Parker: I like to write Ska music when I have excessive free time. I used to play sax in a few bands, and it’s just really easy and fun to sit down and write some fun, carefree songs.
Spencer Weidner: Avril Lavigne and Sum 41.
Marisa: Do you have any hidden talents or special skills?
Marisa: What's the most important thing to remember?
Starkill: Parker: Your Debit card PIN number.
Spencer: Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen…he was #1.
Mike: Always wear deodorant
Marisa: What was your most influential moment?
Starkill: Parker: It’s a toss-up between the first time I watched G3 on YouTube, the one with Eric Johnson. That was the first time I saw Joe Satriani play, and it literally changed my life. I wanted to be him for years following that.
The other moment is the first time I saw Dimmu Borgir on YouTube playing Wacken. That was when I knew what direction I wanted to take my Satriani-influenced style of playing.
Spencer: Discovering Children of Bodom
Mike: The first time I heard "Fly By Night" by Rush. They were, and still are, one of my most favorite bands - and the one that got me in to music.
Marisa: If you were not doing music, what would you be doing?
Starkill: Parker: Either audio engineering, something involving video, or something science related, like physics or something involving biology.
Spencer: Something else.
Mike: In school playing lacrosse.
Marisa: What are three things you must have with you when you are on the road?
Starkill: Parker: Aside from gear and clothes, I need my DS and that Catchphrase game.
Spencer: A drum practice pad, music of sorts, fruit snacks.
Mike: Comb, sandals, and a Gameboy.
Marisa: Any advice for musicians starting out?
Starkill: PRACTICE. PRACTICE SOME MORE.
Marisa: Where can people find your music?
Starkill: iTunes, YouTube, Spotify, Amazon, etc.
Marisa: Closing thoughts and additional comments?
Starkill: Buy the album, and come see us play live!
Keep spreading the Fires of Life!
The author of more than 100 books, Marisa Williams earned her Master's in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University; for more on Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/spotlight/thorisaz.