Pat McGee, drummer of Stars, sits down with the Texan

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Stars will return to Austin for their fourth ACL performance this weekend. (Norman Wong | Girly Action)

Patrick McGee has been playing drums for 30 years, 12 of which have been with Stars. The Canadian indie band will be on tour until Christmas 2013 to promote their sixth album The North and will be playing the Austin City Limits Music Festitval this weekend. The Daily Texan spoke with McGee about hockey, ACL and time travel.

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a musician?

A: Well when I was about six I decided I either wanted to be a drummer or a hockey goalie. I tried [ice] skating, I’ve skated since I was 6 years old, and then one day I got my big break to play goalie, but we lost 14-2. I figured I might as well play drums.

Q: Any other hobbies?

A: I still skate recreationally. I live for fun. I make jam, love girls, make ice cream, do drugs, go to concerts and ride dirt bikes. I’m all about fun!

Q: Why are you called Stars?

A: Well, [Stars lead singer-songwriter Torquil Campbell] started the band. He had a philosophical idea back in his 20s. It has to do with the fact that [stars] are equated with a dual meaning of being beautiful, endless points of light that are untouchable and forever inspirational, and the rapidity of what we associate the word stars with on Earth, like Hollywood people that are just there to entertain us and look pretty. It’s an empty notion of what the word star really means.

Q: You haven’t had any ex-members since your inception in 2000. How have you guys kept such solidarity?

A: We’re too afraid to break up, fear keeps us together [Laughs]. Well, we’ve been friends forever, we’ve had ups and downs, so what the fuck? We all get along and put a lot of work into it. We’ve become family at this point, we haven’t broken up, we’ve been through hell and back and we’ve survived. Starting another band at this point is one of the most depressing things we could embark on. 

Q: What’s up with the new album art? What is it?

A: The album art is a picture of a place called Habitat 67 in Montreal that was built for the World Expo in 1967. I guess back in the ‘60s people had a quirky, crazy, utopian view of the future. It makes no sense in terms of practicality, it’s not about being practical, it’s about thinking outside of the box. That’s another reason we called it The North, it dates back to a time where places like Canada lost track of what the future should be. Now everything is so homogenous and they want everything to be the same.

Q: One distinct part about Stars’ sound is the two vocalists. What’re the advantages of having two singers?

A: Conversation! And it’s always good to have a girl in anything you do. I guess it’s kind of like that Brooks & Dunn song, “Put a Girl in It.” It’s a great song, its just about, to make things better, putting a girl in your life, band or just anything you do. It sort of diffuses the tension. It could be a disaster to have two singers, but it’s nice to have a conversation, to have two sides to the story.

Q: What do you think sets you apart from other contemporary bands?

A: We’re not very cool. We tried to be cool for a while, but we’ve given up on that. Contemporary bands are all very cool, but we’re not, which is totally cool with us. We play music for uncool people. Sometimes cool people sneak in to see us and like us, but nobody listens to them.

Q: Have you played ACL before? Are you excited for this year?

A: We’ve played at least three times. We love Austin. I used to not like Texas at all except Austin, but now, I love all of Texas. I love Dallas and Houston. I don’t like El Paso, though. Sorry El Paso, I just don’t like it there. But Austin — Barton Springs and Amy’s Ice Cream, great tacos, what more do you want?

Q: What would your 10-year-old self say if you traveled back in time to say you would one day be in a famous band? 

A: No fucking way!! I used to joke when I was kid, when people asked me what I wanted to be, I would say I wanted to be a rock star to piss my parents off. We didn’t even make money; it was never supposed to be a viable career option. “Rock and roll musician” was not ever on the list, so I would probably laugh at myself but would be psyched at the same time. I really loved drums and rock and roll when I was 10. Me and my Walkman all day long; Me and Depeche Mode.

Printed on Thursday, October 11, 2012 as: Stars member shares carefree take on life