STAR STAR has morphed into SCREAM IDOL, a scary montster for a new degeneration. We’ve asked Johnnie Holliday (vocals/guitar) a few questions about this new incarnation and the STAR STAR days…
You were one of the first bands I interviewed for Veglam back in 2002. I remember thinking it was so cool to be able to talk to you by email since “The Love Drag Years” is one of my favourite albums. A lot has changed since those days for the music world and especially rock’n’roll. How have things changed for you and your music?
-I like much less of the music I hear at clubs now…and…being that I’m the only guitar player now… we only do songs that can be played with the guitar hung very low. We’ve become so comfortable as a trio that I can’t even imagine playing with another guitar player again. Musically we’re closer to what we sounded like when Mickey Mess and I started Star Star. Long before the Love Drag Years of course.
Can you tell us about the name change, going from Star Star to Scream Idol, will you ever play under the name Star Star again?
-We feel too far removed from the band that was Star Star to continue using that name. We felt like a different band for a while now. I’m not saying that we’ve matured or that we’ve cleaned up or anything crazy like that… but, we definitely feel a rush breaking out as a new band man! Will we ever play under the Star Star name again… hmmm…. kinda’ like if I’ll ever fuck an ex-girlfriend again.
You have re-recorded a few songs from your first album “Go Go Girls In Love”, can you tell us why you have chosen to do so? Did you ever think about a re-release of the album?
-When we did that album I had just started singing and we were in this high lifestyle that didn’t allow us to focus. We’ve always felt that those songs never had a fair chance. So we re-did them….. not that I can sing much better now, but, at least I’m a little sober now….ok, maybe not….but, anyway, yeah, we re-did them the way we sound now..
How do you record music in 2021? Do you have your own home studio?
-We carefully set up our recording situation. We basically bought the gear that we use in the studios. We also built a vocal isolation booth that’s also a guitar booth and a laundry room. Technically speaking…we run Universal Audio and Avalon pre’s through UA and Apogee converters.
Can you tell us why you’ve chosen to cover The PARTRIDGE FAMILY’s “I Woke Up In Love This Morning”?
-The first time I heard that song I thought it was the best chorus ever written..and the singer David Cassidy had the coolest hair on TV. It doesn’t have many chords and I could look cool playing it…and we thought we could bring a fresh feeling to it.
You also covered The SISTERS OF MERCY’s “Vision Thing” live. Have you ever thought of recording it?
-Oh yeah man! We’ve already recorded it. Actually we’ve recorded a Sisters Of Mercy medley that we’ve been playing live. It’s gonna’ be released as a dance Maxi Single along with some club remixes later this year.
STAR STAR was a great mix of rock’n’roll, glam and punk. “Soul Sucker” says “Not a punk, not a rocker…”, is this how you feel in the rock’n’roll world today?
-Music has lost its spirit as it conforms to the guidelines of social and streaming platforms. It has strayed from the culture that influenced generations. The music industry has also been cultivating a mindset so that bands will endeavor to sound like other bands. Do you know where that leads? Check out this years Grammy nominees… that’s where it leads. Generic music without attitude or style! It makes clubs less cool, less chicks, less colorful personalities, more straights, less fun, less artistic spiritual freedom. I feel heartbroken by artists condoning censorship…I feel sad for this generation that is discovering the world through regulated mediums… I feel pissed at punks and rockers that parrot establishment narratives. Other than that I don’t like to talk about what our lyrics mean
I’ve read that you were also a club owner in Greece and I remember seeing some cool flyers about glam/goth/punk nights. Can you tell us more about that?
You didn’t see flyers for that club. It was strictly word of mouth. It was a simple metal door on a street in the center of Athens that led to a staircase going down to the club. We only opened on Saturdays and it was always packed. It was also like 70% dance floor. It was a dark wave, goth, industrial, fetish club so we made sure the atmosphere was comfortable for the regulars. The flyers you did see were for parties that we host at clubs in various cities. We do DJ sets, get drunk and meet chicks… sometimes we’ll arrange fashion or music promotions. Those “Trash City Nights” events always attract very interesting crowds. They are nights of madness
Speaking of Greece. How come you’ve chosen to move there?
I had an uncle that was like a father to me. He became sick and I wanted to spend the time he had left close to him. Weeds, Jay and I decided to do it together and make a new start in Europe. Obviously after Jay’s suicide and my accident it wasn’t such a great new beginning…. but we turned it around man.
These last two years have been difficult for many musicians but have you played live with the SCREAM IDOL line-up before Covid?
We’ve played many shows together as Star Star. Jack was our first drummer when we first got to Europe. We parted ways for a while, then reunited when he got back from Brazil… and Scream Idol was born
I learned in your great interview with Suits and The Platform Boots that you lived in Hollywood. Do you think that New York was better for STAR STAR?
Probably not. We struggled with bad habits everywhere we went. I preferred the scene in LA. Going back to NY was more to straighten up and start fresh, and not so much a musical decision.
Last but not least. It happened more than once when pronouncing your name in France that people thought I was talking about French singer Johnny Hallyday who was over famous here!: )… Ever heard of him?
Yes, of course I was asked that question a lot when I did a French press tour. I listened to a bunch of his stuff. Pretty good songs but not enough guitars!