Over the past ten years, STRFKR’s Josh Hodges has subtly fostered a cult following, but it's unclear whether that was deliberate.
In 2008, Hodges began what was then known as Starfucker in Portland, Oregon. He intended it to be a fun, loose, creative outlet removed from the more serious stylings of his band Sexton Blake.
One decade, five albums, and several ill-advised name changes later, STRFKR — now a full band — has quietly become a beloved indie-rock institution, outlasting more than a few of its more hyped contemporaries. It’s an ironic turn for an act that began as an intensely introverted endeavor and that, by virtue of its name alone, has always seemingly spurned widespread success.
“I really don’t think of myself as famous,” Hodges says, speaking in advance of the band’s tour in support of last year’s Being No One, Going Nowhere. “I’m really boring. I’m like a grandpa. We play videogames on the tour bus, and I go for hikes and hang out with my girlfriend. There’s nothing about my life that’s glamorous in any way.”
In conversation (and apparently in his day-to-day life) Hodges is unassuming and relaxed, a far cry from STRFKR’s presence both live and on record. Despite the band's sometimes somber and heady subject matter, STRFKR’s albums are joyous affairs, melding psych rock and synth pop — with the occasional sampled philosophical treatise — to great effect. The band’s live performances take the buoyancy of its songs to a logical conclusion, with an over-the-top stage presence that involves inflatable rafts, astronaut costumes, and occasional cross-dressing. Like its Polyvinyl labelmate Of Montreal, STRFKR acquired much of its following by putting on impressive live shows. Inspired by experiences such as crowd surfing at a Beck show circa Mellow Gold, Hodges says STRFKR’s live shows not only keep things interesting for him as an artist, but also are a critical component of the band's work.
“[The live shows] kind of evolved naturally," he says. “The drummer, Keil Corcoran, designed all of the light stuff that we have and the projectors. We have these BMX bikes and light panels that all sync up to the triggers and stuff. And that’s all him. He’s supernerdy for that stuff.”
Looking ahead, Hodges appears intent on keeping busy. In addition to continuing the ongoing Vault series — a three-volume collection of STRFKR demos and outtakes — the band also has a live album in the works. Outside of STRFKR, Hodges is fine-tuning a project recorded with another group. He is also working on both ambient material (apparently meant to soundtrack an ideal and calmed mushroom trip) and R&B-influenced songs.
“To me it’s just fun; it’s just really fun to try to mess with things and try new things,” Hodges says. “For a long time, I felt like it was therapeutic, so I kind of had to do it. There were ten years where I just didn’t drink or do anything like that, and music was the main source of entertainment and therapy for me.”
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Luckily for STRFKR’s sizable fan base, he shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.
“I’m supergrateful that we get to do this as a job. I don’t have to... work on music during my off hours like I used to. Now I just have way more time to just do music, and that’s amazing. It’s like... freedom.”