Inking a deal with Limp Bizkit’s management company’s newly established label, cunningly titled The Label, they recorded 2001’s groundbreaking ‘Shakedown!’ album and pricked up the ears of America’s youth through tours with the likes of Sugar Ray and Incubus. Although still yet to convince their label’s UK office to release the album DiS caught up with Miss Echo and Mr Miller a short time before they attempt to prove themselves to their label who, on the strength of tonight’s show at London’s Mean Fiddler, will decide whether or not to go ahead with a UK release.
Although Jamie and Aimee’s previous bands slotted firmly into the heavier end of the musical spectrum the Start’s relatively lightweight poppy approach would probably come as a surprise to most fans but to Aimee it seemed a perfectly natural, and comfortable, transition. Growing up in the affluent pacific coast town of Huntington Beach Aimee was captivated by the sounds of the Beattles, The Doors and Janis Joplin. “Luckily, my parent’s had really good taste in music!” That was, until she was introduced to “punk rock”, she declares, thumping her fist firmly on the table.
Bands like ‘X’ and Siouxsie & The Banshees were especially looked up to by the teenage Aimee who still regards them as role models today. “And they’re both still playing music, which is really, really cool.” Human Waste Project were the first serious group that allowed Aimee to persue her singing career and although she lives about 45 minutes south of Hollywood and LA they’ve long been associated with the LA scene, something she finds quite amusing considering most of the bands connected to the ‘scene’ don’t live there either (Deftones live about 7 hours away).
Many rumours circulated about the cause of HWP’s split, some suggesting they weren’t getting on, others claiming they were dropped from their label Hollywood Records as part of it’s ‘spring clean’. Aimee, however, views it very simply.
“I quit the band.”
Were you not enjoying it any more?
“I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I can’t say at all at all, I enjoyed it to a degree but… I’ve never been into heavy metal. I’ve never liked heavy metal. And I found myself playing in-between Soulfly and Pantera and it wasn’t what I ever wanted to do. I’m a punk rock girl; I’ve always been a punk rock girl, gothic tinged. But for someone to quote in a magazine “the high priestess of nu-metal” it’s really strange and depressing. And that was it. I just freaked out, especially at Ozzfest. It was just like ‘ok, I’m done’. The other songwriters in the band were talking about writing the heaviest songs in the entire universe and that wasn’t what I wanted to do. We got into a fight about it because they didn’t want me to leave and ultimately I quit.”
Didn’t Scott Ellis sell his drum kit with the intention of staying out of the music business?
A: “No, he sold his kit because he tends to sell things when he runs out of money (laughs). He actually sold his drum kit so he could visit a girl in Ireland -he sold his kit for a plane ticket and she turned out to be not very nice. Isn’t that horrible? It’s ok, he’s got a new kit now.”
Thankfully, after HWP, and the premature break-up of Snot, Aimee and Jamie Miller hooked up through a mutual love of Siouxse & The Banshees. Under the early guise of Hero they soon began concocting a sound that would be unlike anything their previous acts had produced. Their songs were near impossible to pigeonhole and their debut had reviewers baffled as to the best way to describe it.
A: “I think it’s post-punk in the truest sense in that it’s always gonna be changing and it’s always gonna be evolving. I say post-punk because it’s beyond three chords.”
J: “Yeah it’s four chords”, chirps Jamie, who, passing by, decides to join in the interview. Although he was the drummer for Snot, Jamie started as bassist and keyboardist for the Start, moving onto guitar for their last EP. “He’s a multi-instrumentalist”, comments Aimee. “I call him the Swiss army knife of musicians!”
Like Aimee, Jamie wanted to create something a little more song-orientated and more artistic than his previous band. “My old band had one sort of style and they didn’t wanna stray anywhere from it, like ‘this is what we do and it’s all we’re ever gonna do!”
But then that’s kinda understandable because you had a pretty original sound.
J: “Yeah, but it was sorta like, ‘you can only do the one thing’, and that’s great for certain people. Me and Aimee were both fascinated by Siousie and The Banshees – they had a particular style but within that style there were no constraints. I mean, they have ballad-y songs, they have poker music, that band did whatever and that was kinda the idea that we wanted to do. It doesn’t have to be heavy, it doesn’t have to be this, it could be whatever within these constraints, instead of just chugga chugga chugga.”
A: “I think that was the only rule that we had with the Start, that there was no chugga chugga chugga!”
J: “And now it’s starting to creep in! (laughs)”
Indeed, one listen to their latest release, the ‘Death Via Satellite’ EP and much more of a centralised guitar sound is evident, which Jamie attributes to an exploration of the band’s heavier side. “Now we’ve made [‘Shakedown!’] we’re progressing towards something that’s a little more raw and kind of darker now. “
One reason why the Start are perhaps proving so popular and accessible to so many different crowds (from Weezer to the Warped tour) is the fact there are so many possibilities for them musically. “People will hear something they like”, muses Jamie, “and they’re like ‘ok, I like this’ – we can be heavier, we can be a little lighter… there’s a little bit of everything for everyone. That’s why we get asked by so many different bands to play with them and it seems to work out.”
Despite professing a love for all things New Wave, Jamie still maintains his darker metal influences through a bizarre but very, very cool on-the-road item.
J: “I keep an autographed Slayer drum head with me. At all times. I love Slayer – the logo is stencilled on!”
A: “Y’see, I like Slayer too. I love Motorhead. I just don’t like many other metal bands.”
Or is it just all the new metal bands?
A: “Yeah, the problem is the ‘nu’ they throw in front of it.”
All those bands who can’t spell their name properly. A: “Or play their instruments properly, or write a song properly – yeah I said it! Like, ‘ooh, they’re so scary.’ Gimme a fuckin break!”
From these words it seems remarkably clear Aimee’s exasperation at her apparent ‘metal girl’ image, and a willingness to distance herself from any form of pigeonholing. For now though, it seems she has a band that are able to give her the artistic freedom she so desperately needs. She also doesn’t rule out any guest appearances on friend’s records, maintaining that she’ll always pretty much end up singing on a record by whoever asks her. As for the future, a “fun” side project with Hunter from AFI is on the cards and Jamie has already helped out fellow LA band Enemy (containing ex-members of Handsome) with some drum parts.
With the Start though, it looks to be the start of a new beginning for all involved and one whose future looks remarkably bright.