New Artist Spotlight: Rock group, Starlight Cinema
In many rock bands in Houston, there are voids that need to be filled after losing a band member. For four-man alternative rock group Starlight Cinema, the challenge of filling that void was resolved quickly in the form of architecture senior Ted Hughston—the lead vocalist of the group.
Adding to the fan appeal of his dirty blonde dreads and his popular appearance in the College of Architecture’s Harlem Shake video, Hughston had sung before with Starlight Cinema two years ago when they performed at Fitzgerald’s Battle of the Bands. Although they performed under a different stage name — WORD — and with a female lead vocalist at the time, he stayed on their tails at various performances. As fate would have it, Hughston was around to jump in when their previous vocalist decided to quit.
The rest of the band felt that Hughston was a good fit, especially at their first live performance together at Avon Garden.
“The first show that we did when Ted joined — that was the defining moment for us,” said guitarist and Houston Community College communications junior Kevin Babin. “That’s when we realized, ‘Ok, this is fun.’ We were without a lead singer for a while, and that was fine. Then Ted joined and it was as if we didn’t even lose a stride.”
Starlight Cinema — a name inspired by Babin’s Colorado home and its plenitude of starry skies — and their self-titled extended play on Soundcloud is bundled with four tracks emitting an Incubus-like, pop rock vibe, which is especially highlighted in “Song on the Wall.” Their indie-rock feel, in combination with guitarist and HCC audio engineering junior Patrick Stowers’ knack for production, hides the fact that all of these songs are actually older songs tweaked to accommodate Hughston. At the birth of Starlight Cinema, finding their sound was a bit difficult, and it continues to be even now.
“We’ve all talked about that a lot. We’re always trying to find some hybridization, because we’re bringing so many different tools to the table. We discussed how we can all agree on our sound and how to define it,” Hughston said.
According to drummer and architecture and economics senior Alex Angelescu, Starlight Cinema is now looking to deviate from its previous sound on its next EP.
“Orchestrated chaos is what we want. It’s a lot less chill and not as tamed,”Angelescu said. “We were trying to sound mature before, but we realized that we have a male vocalist now, so the dynamics have changed. We’re banging hard on the drums and playing so hardcore that we’re breaking the strings.”
Influenced by bands such as Soundgarden and Nirvana, Starlight Cinema grew up playing music under the direction of their music teacher, Nick Rossan, who repeatedly directed them to blues and classic rock. Fast-forward to now, and they continue to play and record as they did back then. Although Starlight Cinema attributes their best moment to their first live showing with Hughston at Avon Garden, their eyes are set on creating more memorable shows as they continue to play. Live shows are a higher priority than releasing recorded music.
“I think we can all agree that every musician should seek to play a good show as opposed to seeking to record a good album,” Angelescu said. “For us, it’s a combination of both. When we’re playing a show, we’re in the moment. Same thing when we’re recording. There’s a different sensibility between the two.”
Starlight Cinema plans to live in the moment at its Sept. 20 show at Notsuo’s. Even after having played at venues such as Mango’s and Bohemeo’s, its goal is a lot simpler than wanting to build their name. “We just want to have a good time and we want everyone who hears our music to have fun,” Babin said.