Opportunity knocks only so often. Low Stars found theirs by teaming four singers who share a love – make that a passion – for vocal harmonies originally inspired by Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Eagles. The result is a Laurel Canyon buzz for the new century as Low Stars prepare to release their self-titled debut album in February.
“We wanted to make an authentic-sounding record that was reminiscent of that era of music,” Low Star Chris Seefried says of the CSN/Eagles inspiration. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” says Low Star Dave Gibbs. “People don’t even realize that they miss this kind of music until they hear it. It’s straightforward, very genuine music. The situation today is that everything is so processed and artificial. You don’t really have to know how to play anything or how to sing. You can fix everything with Pro Tools in the studio. But that’s not us. We’re just four dudes with guitars. We sound exactly like that when we stand in front of you and sing.” Having known each other as friends and having toured on some of the same shows, Low Stars were hatched organically. The initial seed came when Gibbs booked his annual benefit at Hotel Café (the hip L.A. folk room where Damien Rice broke) to help the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund. He and buddy Seefried were on the bill, and at the last minute Jude showed up and played. “We just started talking after the gig saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to start singing together?’” recalls Seefried. “Then we realized we made a nice chord. I have a raspy rock voice and Dave has a sweet voice and Jude has a really clear natural falsetto.”
Gibbs had been playing in another project with Jeff Russo, and a few phone calls later the four Low Stars were singing on Jeff's porch up in the Canyon in the Hollywood Hills. “We started hitting some chords together that sounded pretty nice, so we kept on singing, and we ended up playing late into the night,” says Jude. “At one point, one of the girls staying at the house came outside and said, ‘I really miss this kind of music.’ We just looked at each other and started laughing a little, 'cause that's how we felt, too."
Low Stars music is an exhilarating, hook-laden blend that is full of the same hope and idealism that fueled some of their idols. The song “Calling All Friends,” which was chosen as the theme for ABC TV series “What About Brian,” could be a motto of the group, as could the graceful Russo composition “Can’t Live Without Your Love” and “Love, Love, Love,” a Jude composition. Other standouts include the sunny, So-Cal-infused “Need a Friend” (boasting a texture evoking the Eagles’ “Take It Easy”), the mellow “Warmer Wind,” Grateful Dead-like “Tracks in the Rain,” and the probing “Child,” a Seefried tune that gently asks, “What do you see, child?” “All these songs are sort of an amalgam of everybody’s experiences over the last four to five years,” says Russo. “I know Chris got into this song because he was about to become a father, and I’m about to become a father. I listen to this and it has new meaning for me. All of these songs have that. It was really important for us to put together a record that was meaningful lyrically.”
Low Stars is four singers who have achieved individual renown before this latest project:
• Chris Seefried was the lead singer of Gods Child (signed by Quincy Jones to Warner Brothers Records) who topped the Billboard modern-rock charts with hit single “Everybody’s 1” and Joe 90 (which issued two albums on E Pluribus Unum, a label started by Adam Duritz of Counting Crows). He has most recently toured with Rosanne Cash as her singer/guitarist, as well as scoring music for the HBO hit Series “Six Feet Under” and writing songs with Jude for the ABC-TV series “Lost.”
• Jude is the brilliantly eccentric folk poet (he has a degree in philosophy) known for such discs as No One’s Really Beautiful and 430 N. Harper Ave. and his recent album, Redemption.The Los Angeles songwriter first gained notice with the song “I Know” from the “City of Angels” soundtrack, and has since been heard on the radio and in numerous television shows, including “Alias,” “Everwood,” “Felicity” and this season's “Lost” and “The OC.”
• Jeff Russo was the lead guitarist and co-songwriter in Tonic, a platinum act that had big modern-rock hits with the singles “If You Could Only See,” “Open Up Your Eyes” and “You Wanted More.” Its third CD, Head on Straight, earned two GRAMMY® nominations for “Best Rock Album” and “Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.” Russo has also written music for New York ballet company Cedarlake Ensemble.
• Dave Gibbs was a founding member of Gigolo Aunts, who became critical darlings with their albums Flippin’ Out and Minor Chords and Major Themes. He has also worked on many films, including “Mr. Deeds” and “Josie and the Pussycats.” Dave also laid down vocals for Counting Crows, Lisa Loeb, Babyface, Matthew Sweet and Ringo Starr.