Stars' Torq Campbell Talks The Five Ghosts, "a Return to the Core" and "Spooky Shit"

Stars' Torq Campbell Talks <i>The Five Ghosts</i>, "a Return to the Core" and "Spooky Shit"

The new Stars album, The Five Ghosts, dropped yesterday (June 22), marking a return to the band's original sound: dancing in the dark. "That's actually a great description of it, because that's literally what we were trying to achieve: a sad dance record," Torq Campbell, co-lead singer of the Montreal-based dream pop/rock group, says of the new album in a recent phone interview with Exclaim!

Campbell is excited about Stars' return to form, saying from his temporary summer home in Stratford, ON, "Stars has always seen itself as a sad dance band. We'd kind of gone up this alleyway of writing multi-part dynamic songs, but this feels like a return to the core of what we want to be writing about."

Ghosts caps the band's first decade together. It recalls the group's breakthrough 2004 album, Set Yourself on Fire, but the songs are more propulsive and leaner, though no less lyrically dense; the sonic equivalent of seeing a former flame who looks even better and younger than when you were together.

Ghosts is also a veritable haunted mansion of moody, macabre images, which Campbell attributes to a "heavy year and some painful shit" the band went through together, including the death of his father and a few other romantic heartbreaks (none his own, though). Even the album's title is the stuff of slightly eerie campfire stories.

"I got an obsession with the number five for a while," Campbell says. "I find it a spooky number... oh, and I'm now getting attacked by a wasp!" He puts down the phone for a few seconds. "See, spooky shit, as soon as I say five, a wasp attacks me. That's the kind of flaky shit I say."

He laughs and then launches into how he uncovered that the Five Ghosts is actually a phrase from Chinese feng shui that refers to the energy in the house after a loved one died. "I didn't know that and it seemed very uncanny... [the album] just named itself."

Five Ghosts is out now on Soft Revolution in Canada and on Vagrant in the U.S. In support of the record, Stars will be embarking on an extensive U.S./Canada tour. You can see all the band's dates here.