Companion story to A Demon in Midwinter
Kris Starr, legendary former front man of iconic rock band Starrlight, and Justin Moore, the infamous New York Demon and Kris's former manager, don't agree to be interviewed very often. Today they have -- two years after the dramatic events that led to Justin's public outing as a demon, a story which forever entwined with Kris Starr's return to the spotlight, a brand-new critically acclaimed and commercially successful solo album, and on-air declarations of love.
On the heels of their return from a triumphant sold-out tour, they've agreed to sit down, get coffee, and talk to the world. About the album, about family, about pro-demon activism and new jobs and ex-boyfriends and dealing with the past. Along the way, they'll cover new record labels, babysitting, classic rock inspiration, the rescuing of cats, and coffee versus tea ... and maybe a few topics they've never gone on record discussing.
Like what exactly happened to Justin that night two years ago, and how a demon and a rock star manage to cope with both nightmares and daydreams coming true. And, of course, the importance of love songs.
Kris Starr doesn't look like what I might've expected. And I might've written that sentence differently only two years earlier. When no one expected anything at all of a worn-out semi-reclusive lead singer who emerged to perform at local fairs and scrape dust off classic tracks for best-of compilations. When a mention of Starrlight would've earned nostalgic murmurs and a question of, "Oh, man, is he still around?"
He's lost the enormous mass of wild hair, these days. Just long enough to be rock-star fashionable, dark brown that's either not yet grey or else keeps those strands well hidden. His eyes are and aren't the same, those big soulful deep pools that everyone once upon a time fell helplessly into, but calmer now, holding a kind of gentle astonished delight that gets clearer and more radiant every time he glances at his demon. He's not exactly dressed up -- jeans, boots, an Incantation t-shirt that looks like the one from their latest tour, one or two layered necklaces, black jacket that nearly matches Justin's -- and there's certainly no glitter or skintight leather in evidence.
He looks happy, I decide. Which maybe isn't something we've ever seen before: Kris Starr, happy and fond and relaxed and settled down at last. Tucking in paws. Comfortable.
He goes on. "Blueberry cream, you said," and sorts out mugs. I get two. One contains simple strong plain black coffee, nothing fancy; the other one's the coconut latte his other half mentioned, presumably in case I wanted it. I do.
Justin beams at me for this. I ponder half-credited rumors about demonic charm and seduction. Not that he's trying. Seems to be natural. Like gravity, and kindness, and charisma.
"So," Justin suggests, licking a fingertip clean of poor defenseless scone-crumbs. "Should we get started? We know you must have a list of questions, and it's your interview. Whatever you want."
We begin with the new album. It's an easy topic, and one that's on a lot of minds. Comeback of the year, or of the decade. Radio traction as well as critical acclaim. Murmurs about awards being given at a certain prestigious upcoming annual ceremony.
"Oh, yeah." Kris takes a sip from his own mug, which -- entertainingly, in light of Justin's earlier comment -- holds coffee, some sort of nutty creamy variety, not tea. "That's all speculation. No one's mentioned it to me directly, so I've decided not to believe it." This is impressively and unexpectedly modest, coming from that reputation.
Justin glances my way. Starts to say something, then grins and doesn't. Hmm, I think. Justin Moore famously knows famous people. Industry names. Contacts who might drop hints. He opts for, tactfully, "You'd deserve it if you won, you know. Not just because I love you. Because it's good."
"That's not an unbiased review, love," Kris retorts, with affection.
It's a great album. I say this and mean it. Heartfelt, mature, and kick-ass. Tracks that range from the wistful memory of first crushes in "About a Boy" to the glorious apology-turned-rock-anthem "Sometimes" to the unabashed silly kinky joy of "Corset Strings," which made me laugh upon first hearing and then guess that they laugh a lot in the bedroom too.
"I modeled for that one," Justin informs me. "He said it was for me."
"They're all for you." Kris takes his hand, rubs a thumb over pale skin. It's an easy gesture. Unthinking and yet intimate, revelatory, a glimpse of profound heartfelt care. "Every one. You make me want to write all the songs. Every day."
Justin's smile swings into view like a flying comet. He says to me, "One journalist to another, that's totally your pull quote, isn't it."
Totally, I agree, and accept one of his scones when he nudges the plate my way. Kris Starr considers this encroachment with the expression of a man prepared to purchase every scone in existence if his demon requires more.