Benjamin Starshine looks and sounds like a man who just stumbled out of a time machine. Hell! He was at the top of Mt. Tabor doing some yoga when we conducted this interview (think less Sting, more George Harrison). His bubble-gum psych-pop is nostalgic and refreshing with clean hooks and atmospheric freak-outs you can get lost in—like a child getting lost in its own back yard. Having backed-up Sky Saxon, former frontman of Nuggets legends the Seeds
, for years, Benjamin Starshine is stepping into his own light.
What's your favorite thing to have for lunch?
Probably a carnitas burrito from Los Gorditos.
Yes! So amazing there. Do you use the green sauce and the red sauce?
The red sauce.
What's the funnest thing you did this summer?
I went up to Hood River. On the fruit loop.
On the Fruit Loop?!
Like the cereal?
It's called the fruit loop. It's just a loop of all the farms in the Hood River area. Cherries were in season when we went.
That's awesome and makes so much more sense [than Fruit Loops]. What was your favorite farm?
It was the first one on the loop. Cherry Karma's Purple Pit Stop.
Do you have a favorite kind of cherry?
Do you think cherry is your favorite berry?
Actually I've really been digging blackberries right now. Usually topping either yogurt or ice cream. Yum.
Where do you want to tour but haven't?
I'd love to go to New York City. Tour the East coast, the Northeast.
Have you ever been over there before?
I've been to New York, haven't been north of that. I'd love to hit Boston…
What was your favorite place in New York?
Probably East Village.
Was there a specific place that made you go “Awwww?”
Washington Square Park. Definitely.
What is your…
Oh no! Wait, wait! Can I change my answer?
Paris! I want to tour Paris!
Have you ever been?
Yes! It was amazing!
What was your favorite thing about it?
Hanging out with my love, Pekio. Having coffee and French cigarettes staring up at Notre Dame & ile de la Cite.
Ok. Favorite late night cart?
The Mexican place down on Hawthorne and 12th. El Brasero.
What was the last great movie you saw?
Can I say what my favorite movie is, instead?
Yes. Yes you can.
Busby Berkeley's Gold Diggers
, from 1933. It's about a Broadway musical during the depression. All the Broadway dancers are out of work and then there's word of a musical happening and it's all about the producer finding the money to put on the show. Just amazing sets! Busby Berkeley's choreography is just breathtaking, too!
He does those great large dance numbers, right? With all the dancers going together in unison like synchronized swimmers?
What's your favorite outdoor activity?
Swimming in the ocean!
Do you have a favorite spot?
Yeah. Oswald West, near Manzanita.
Favorite David Bowie album?
[The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the] Spiders from Mar
Favorite song on there?
I can't think of a favorite right now.
In the Wizard of Oz, which character do you identify with the most?
(long pause) Probably Dorothy.
Do you think Al Gore actually invented the internet?
Where's the best place to find a record in Portland?
Probably Mississippi Records.
Do you remember the last record you bought there?
Final question: What's your favorite decade of music?
Any particular style, label, band?
I love so much '60s music. All the '60s pop—the Beatles, the Stones, all the psychedelic stuff. Probably my favorite artist is Lou Reed...Velvet Underground. I can keep coming back to most of the Velvet's stuff repeatedly for years and years. Probably the first record is my favorite.
How did you first find out about them?
I was in a bookstore in Berkeley where I grew up and I just found a Best of Lou Reed
album and just instantly fell in love with it.
Did you know who he was when you picked up the record?
Somebody that I had messed around with on the guitar had said “Oh, you would love Lou Reed,” and I let it go for like a year or so until I found that compilation and was like “I'm going to give this a try.”
GIVE HIM A TRY:
Benjamin Starshine is playing at the Woods with Pete International Airport and Happy Prescriptions this Friday, September 3. Doors are at 9 pm, show's at 10 pm. $5.
(Psst. If you miss the band then, Benjamin Starshine is coming back on September 24 to play the East End.)
Free download of Benjamin Starshine's first album!
Images by Kat Gardiner.