EMURG’s Interview with Stardog Champion

If you are familiar with any of member’s history, you are probably well aware of the presence that the members of Stardog Champion have made in the world of music. In some ways, Stardog Champion is the reunion of long time friends who have had only one simple goal, creating great music. For members Mark James (bass) and Aaron Fink (guitar, vocals), it is a step outside from their traditional stint in the band Breaking Benjamin in which they have now found a new creative freedom and direction with former Lifer/The Drama Club frontman Nick Coyle (vocals, guitar). More so, the three members have a history together playing in the band Lifer in which they set a precedent for their former bands that would follow. As a result of their journey, Stardog Champion is the culmination of band that has a new found drive and energy for creating great music. With the release of their new EP, “Exhale”, the band is showing that its members are back and are as hungry as ever to take the world of rock by storm. In another exclusive interview, EMURG spoke with Nick and Aaron about their new band and what makes them a champion among champions in the realm of rock music.

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PART I

EMURG: What artist(s)/band(s)/songs/album(s) have influenced you as a band?

Nick: Well, we all listen to different genres that range from classic rock to electronic music. We all have different tastes as well, but if I had to say specific bands it would be early 90’s stuff like STP, Alice In Chains, Nirvana, and especially bands like Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd. We’re fans of all kinds of music and everything is an influence so that’s a tough question!

EMURG: What is each member of the band currently listening to right now?

Nick: I’ve been on a Beatles kick lately, Rubber Soul, and Revolver. I have also been digging a Swedish band called Graveyard. They have a throwback vibe but it’s just some cool rock songs. One of my guilty pleasures is the new Bruno Mars cd because it’s a pretty awesome cd!

EMURG: The members of Stardog Champion have played many shows in various bands throughout the years. What show/performance has been the favorite for each band member? Can you elaborate as to why these shows were considered special to you?

Nick: I would have to say The Whisky in LA with my last band. It’s not the biggest or nicest place I’ve played. Hell, we didn’t even have the best show there, but that place is legendary! It was just cool to be on the same stage that so many other great artists have played on in the past. I could think of more but that’s one that jumps out in my mind.

EMURG: What are your current views of the music industry? How does Stardog Champion fit into the ever growing landscape of the music industry?

Nick: It’s a scary place out there for rock bands right now with all of this manufactured, auto tuned, American Idol, pop material floating around. It just seems so polished and shiny to me. I think that rock music needs to make a comeback. I mean we’re not inventing the wheel, but we’re a good rock band. Rock n roll isn’t about sounding “perfect” but it’s about attitude and we’re going to do our part to bring some of that back!

EMURG: If you want people to remember you for one song it would be?

Nick: Probably the song, “Aphrodite”, because it’s one of, if not the first song we wrote together as a band. It’s pretty tough to just pick one song!

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PART II

EMURG: Stardog Champion’s members have been apart of some great musical groups such as Breaking Benjamin, The Drama Club, and Lifer. What made the former members of these bands decide to combine forces to make Stardog Champion? Can you give us the history of how the band came to be?

Aaron: The catalyst for this band was actually an acting gig believe it or not. Mark, Nick, and I played members of an acoustic death metal band, “Gentle Rape”, in my buddy’s web series, “The Coxton Campaign”. Being involved in that project paved the way for us with jamming and writing songs together.

EMURG: The album “Exhale” is a refreshing blast of hard rock that is greatly needed in the world of music. What is the overall concept of this album? Can you describe the events and experiences that went into making “Exhale”?

Aaron: Mark, Nick, and I wrote a whole slew of songs in the last two years together while trying to craft the “sound” of the band. We definitely made it a point to lean to the looser, more sloppier side of rock rather than the pro-tooled, metallic stuff Mark and I had been doing for the past ten years. It’s not that that stuff wasn’t great, but we are just in the mood and have the freedom now to explore some different sounds.

EMURG: Stardog Champion’s debut single, “When We Fall”, is a blistering track in which the listener is introduced to the band’s high energy and presence. What is this song about?

Nick: It’s about the distractions that we have in our lives that we thrive on (TV, Facebook, media, etc.) and how we forget how to communicate as a society. We’re supposed to be so socially connected, but I think we’re more separated than ever before.

EMURG: What doe you want fans to take away from “Exhale”?

Aaron: That it’s simply a cool rock band with some decent songs!

EMURG: When can listeners expect a full album from the band? Is there an album in the works?

Aaron: This EP was self-funded DIY kind thing, but if we get picked up by a label, then a full-length album will soon follow. 2014 maybe?

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EMURG: Aaron Fink’s guitar playing is better than ever and it’s evident on “Exhale”. What was Aaron’s mindset with co-writing this EP? What type of gear is Aaron using in his arsenal?

Aaron: Danka! All I used on there was my 50 watt Randall, a Krank head, and a P-90 style PRS along with an Eastwood Airline guitar. Nice and simple. All you need is three chords and the truth. Now that I actually think about it, I might have overdid it!

EMURG: Nick Coyle has a history of fronting bands like Life and The Drama Club to his own solo career. How does Stardog Champion differ from the other bands that Nick has been involved in?

Nick: I think the songwriting process is the most different because everyone is involved in the writing process. We’re all writing music and lyrical arrangements to the best of our abilities. We do whatever is best for the song without having any rules to follow.

EMURG: What can fans expect from the band’s live performance?

Aaron: We will try to make every show different so that we can keep the fans coming back for more. We’re not going to use the same set list every time! Plus, we want to incorporate a few surprises along the way!

EMURG: What is the band’s schedule like for 2013? Are you going to be touring or headlining any shows?

Nick: We have a few things in the works right now. We’ll be in a town near you soon!

EMURG: At the end of the day, what do you hope that Stardog Champion will contribute to the world of music?

Aaron: Good songs, good songs, good songs, and you guessed it…GOOD SONGS! That’s always been a guiding force and always will be for all of us in Stardog Champion.