The Stars Explode started as a kind of vanity solo project by Doug Edmunds, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and founding member of critically acclaimed '90s power pop outfit, Gladhands. Following the untimely demise of that band, Edmunds set to work writing new material in the early aughts but waited for several long years to begin putting his tunes to tape (yes, 1/2-inch tape). Taking a Todd Rundgren/Jon Brion DIY approach, Edmunds tracked the first TSE record almost entirely alone at home, layering one part after another, while staying true to the limitations of his 8-track analog format. By summer 2008, he found himself with a bona fide solo album.
To promote that first disc, Edmunds assembled a band by reaching out to friends and by advertising on Craigslist. The one and only response he got from that ad came from FJ Ventre, a talented bassist and Boston native who'd relocated to Chapel Hill several years earlier and whose influences included, amazingly enough, XTC's Colin Moulding & Elvis Costello's bassist, Bruce Thomas, both of whom Edmunds had referenced in the ad. Ventre has been the "anchor man" ever since, holding down bass duties and backing vocals while seeing guitarists and drummers come and go.
In 2010, the lineup finally solidified with the addition of seasoned veterans, Eric Peterson, on lead & rhythm guitar, and Will Rigby on drums. Peterson and Rigby had shared time together years earlier in the seminal North Carolina pop band, the dBs. Peterson's resume also includes stints with Let's Active and Matthew Sweet, while Rigby's highest profile gigs since leaving the dBs have been with Matthew Sweet and Steve Earle and the Dukes.
In December 2010, this solid new lineup headed to Mitch Easter's celebrated studio, the Fidelitorium, to record the basic tracks for its sophomore release. The results of those sessions and a year's worth of overdubbing at the band's personal studios can now be heard on Between The Lines, a 10-song collection that is equal parts rock and pop, bursting with hooks and melodies, unapologetic in its classic approach to songcraft. The band's energetic performances leap off the disc, with highlights throughout, including first single, Funny Feeling, the rollicking Cinderella At Half Past, and the Stonesy What's It Gonna Take To Make You Happy? Though the music is often upbeat, the lyrics are darker than one might first expect, with themes of death, marital dissolution, madness and addiction providing a fitting contrast to Edmunds' undeniably catchy songs.
With Rigby having amicably departed to rejoin Steve Earle's touring band, new drummer, Jackson McGee, and the band will be promoting Between The Lines with live dates in and around its home base of Chapel Hill, NC, starting in February 2012, with dates along the east coast and beyond planned for summer and fall.