Rock ?n? roll needs a wake-up call. And once the members of Whitestarr get over their hangovers from last night?s gig, they might get around to dialing the phone.
Until then, the Southern California rock band is adding to its ever-growing legion of fans the old fashioned way: by delivering kick-ass tunes, unforgettable live shows and a style that?s indisputably their own. Combining the scissorkicking style of Southern rock bands like the Black Crowes and the Kings of Leon, the bombastic musicanship and sexy swagger of Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, massive rock hooks and a whole lotta fun, the guys are bringing a fever to the genre that it hasn?t experienced in decades.
In other words, says charismatic frontman Cisco Adler, "I just say we?re everything rock ?n? roll."
Whitestarr started out simply enough in 2000, when Adler put down some tunes on his four-track recorder in his Malibu living room. It quickly became apparent that Adler needed to play his songs for a live audience. So he booked a gig at the Roxy Theater on Sunset Strip mailed out his demo tape as an invitation and enlisted members of friendly local Malibu band, Backbone69 to, fittingly, serve as his backing band. The debut show was a sell out and a complete hit. And the crowd wanted more.
Tragically, around the same time Backbone69 lost its lead singer in a car accident. But neither musical force wanted to stop, so they came together when Adler invited Backbone69?s band members to join Whitestarr. The members clicked and Whitestarr began its rock ?n? roll revolution.
"Whitestarr is made up of guys who play their instruments incredibly well and bring a musician?s mind to the table," says Adler, who worked as a graphic artists and hip-hop producer. "It?s great when you demo a song and bring it to the guys and you can hear how much more alive they make it. It?s truly amazing and brings a band to a whole different level."
Onstage Whitestarr is unstoppable, bringing a circus-like vibe to any venue that dare have them. During various incarnations, there have been up to seven people rocking stage at one time, including numerous back-up singers, a saxophone player and multiple guitarists. Along the way, the band even picked up Tony Potato, who?s only job is to dance and keep the crowd?s energy off the charts. Even with the relatively pared down five core current members, the Whitestarr?s live shows are larger than life and built for the arenas of the world.
If you think this is a bit of grandstanding, guess again. The members of Whitestarr have rock ?n? roll in their blood - literally. Cisco is the son of legendary producer and musical pioneer Lou Adler and drummer Alex "Orbi" Orbison is the son of Roy Orbison. But the guys aren?t in this to ride anyone?s coattails and chose early on to let the band grow organically.
"The name thing is a double edged sword," says Adler. "It?s hard enough to prove yourself as a band. But then when people have this preconceived idea about what you should be like, it?s even harder. Really, it?s all about just sitting back and listening to the music and seeing for yourself."
On their own merit, the band made great strides and signed a deal with Atlantic Records in 2002. They recorded an EP and a full-length CD with the corporate label?s cash and even hit the road for a nationwide tour with Kid Rock, wowing his audiences in every city, quite a feat for any opening band. But Whitestarr?s time at Atlantic was marred with label politics and various hold-ups (like having to go to court over the rights to the name Whitestarr). After a massive corporate merger in 2004, Whitestarr had enough and parted ways with the label, but not after getting some valuable experience.
"Looking back on that time, we got to work with a million great fucking people on their fucking penny and it made us a better band," says Adler, although the split did throw the band off for a bit. "It made us really depressed for awhile. We went through that. But now it?s made me fucking more hungry. Now we?re way into doing it ourselves and getting it done. We?ve got these fans who keep coming and wanting us to make this music. How the hell am I going to stop?"
Since leaving Atlantic, the members of Whitestarr took clear control of their future. Adler began to write songs quicker than ever, weekly gigs at the Viper Room on Sunset were winning over the too-cool Hollywood crowds, and band?s music appeared in the Showtime series "Huff" and in the indie film "Pauly Shore is Dead." In 2005 Whitestarr signed with indie label Contango Records, one of the few homes that understands the band?s rowdy creative vision and allows this untamed animal to run free.
The guys quickly entered the studio to record an earth-shattering album. And having survived some rough patches, Whitestarr was more ready than ever to conquer the world.
"I?m overflowing with music now. You can?t write during the darker times. But when you come out of it, you gush," says Adler, who?s written over 30 songs to be considered for their upcoming album.
While waiting for the album, fans can experience Whitestarr?s jams on its website, www.whitestarr.com. Downloadable tracks from the EP "Sexual In Yo? Window" range from the unruly no-holds-barred jam "Decadent" to the lighter-waving ballad "Call it a Dream," which showcases Adler?s ability to pen poignant, heartfelt lyrics. In the studio the sexually-charged jams and good times are still prevalent, but the band is expanding its style in ways even the guys never originally imagined.
"The songs we?re recording now are more introspective and grown up and sincere," says Adler. "Back in the day if we tried to slow it down and launch into a ballad when people didn?t know us, I think they?d all go have a cigarette. Now we?ve got diehards that?ve been into us for four years who will totally dig it. And in the end, if they?re jams, they can?t refuse it."
The Contango Records release will be Whitestarr?s official debut album, half a decade after the band was connived in Cisco?s living room. But through it all, the guys have never lost the passion for delivering true rock with heart and soul.
"I think we can be the biggest band in the world. I thought that when that first song was passed out," says Adler. "They say that overnight success takes years. I?m learning that now. But I?m ready for it. I always have been."