Stardog Champion is no stranger to the bumps and bruises that come along with being a band. Originally band mates in Lifer, Nick Coyle, Aaron Fink and Mark James went their separate ways in 2002 to myDownfall, The Drama Club (Coyle,) and Breaking Benjamin (Fink and James.) Over a decade later and with a combined four million records sold, the trio came back together with new drummer, Josh Karis, to officially start making music once more. Now that the lawsuit involving Fink and James between their former band has settled, Stardog is reunited and reloaded. Exhale, a five-song EP, is a polished rocker, with hit written all over it. I got a chance to talk to Nick Coyle, front man and guitarist of the rock quartet and find out more about their recent EP Exhale and their newest venture in the music industry.
Substream Magazine: You and your band members are certainly no strangers to the music industry. You’ve been in Lifer, The Drama Club and even put out your own solo work. What’s different or unique this time around with Stardog Champion that’s unlike the work you’ve done before?
Nick Coyle: It’s more the chemistry between the band, I think. Out song writing chemistry is great and our friendship chemistry. There is just a really great vibe within the band. I think the music, as well is unique and it’s more what I want to be doing.
SM: Even though you guys are veterans, Stardog is brand new. One of your first shows you officially played together was Pointfest in St.Louis on Sunday. What was that like to get back out on stage with your band mates?
NC: It was awesome, you know. That show was great. There was probably about 10,000 people watching us when we did our set. It felt really good. There’s a different energy on stage when you’ve got that many people there watching you. Certainly doesn’t hurt the energy.
SM: Think you got some new fans from that show?
NC: I hope so. (laughs)
SM: You’ve said in other interviews that you and the rest of Stardog Champion have been together for about two years now writing and messing around with sounds. Out of that came a 5-song EP titled Exhale. Tell me about the process of making this record.
NC: There’s been a lawsuit that’s been going on with Aaron and Mark with Breaking Benjamin. So because of that lawsuit, we haven’t been able to put anything out or really do much of anything. Now that that’s over, we can go out there and do what we need to do. We have about thirty or forty songs that we have written in that time period. It’s not like we’ve spent that whole two years writing an EP. When it came time to work with a producer, we picked the five best songs that we felt would be our first introduction as a band.
SM: This was your first time working with producer Neal Avron (The Used, Linkin Park, New Found Glory,) what was it like working with him?
NC: It was awesome, he is a great guy and a great producer. He has a really good ear for music and a good ear for the song and what it’s supposed to be like. You know, a lot of producers they try to change things around just for the sake of changing them around. But with Neal there was none of that. It wasn’t an ego thing, he did what was best for the song. Plus, he was just a super cool guy, really laid back, down to Earth.
SM: When writing Exhale, was there an artist or an album you were listening to a lot? Did you have any inspirations for your EP?
NC: Actually, I think we kind of rocked out to the stuff that we were writing. When we’re writing music, I don’t really listen to a whole lot of other bands because you tend to lean towards that and sound like that. We were trying to create our own unique sound within the band.
SM: “When we Fall,” the single is fantastic. It’s a great heavy hitter. Why was this song chosen as the single?
NC: We felt that that song was a nice crossover point for our past bands to new fans. Somewhere in the middle to where we are heading and our past.
SM: The music video for “When we Fall” was excellent. It looks like you guys had a lot of fun with it. What was it like making that?
NC: It was cool. We had a friend that owns a production company, Fantasy Camp productions. Basically he wanted to help us out and shoot a video for us so we had some ideas for a performance video with projections and we had the idea with girls in masks and whatnot. It took about two days. We shot the performance part on one day and the girl’s performance on the second day. It was a blast.
SM: As of now, you’re still doing a lot of things DIY. You’ve just teamed up with M7 Agency, but still have to rough it a bit. What’s the best and worst aspect of not having a label at the moment?
NC: Well the worst aspect is that there is no money. Whether it be for tour support or all that. On the plus side of not having a label, we obviously have complete control of everything we do. But where we are at, we are looking for a label. I think that is something that will be coming in the near future. We’ve got some stuff that we’re working on now.
SM: What’s coming up this month for Stardog?
NC: We just locked down that M7 agency, so they have some things cooking as far as shows. They’re setting up a tour for this summer.
SM: Future plans: What do you want to see Stardog Champion do next?
NC: Our plan is to do some touring this summer and hit as many areas as we can. Then maybe in the fall head back into the studio and do another record. We kind of want to keep music coming out. We tossed around the idea of releasing a series of EP’s as opposed to a full length record that way we can get more music out to people at a quicker pace rather than the tradition two years it takes to make a record and put it out and tour on it. It keeps the music fresh for us.
SM: Last question: what’s the one thing you want people to know about Stardog Champion?
NC: That we ROCK (laughs)
SM: (Laughs) Nice, that’s what I like to hear. Well, Nick, thank you for talking with us. Good luck with everything.
Interview by Stephanie Roe