Hungry like the music lovin’ “wolves”

By Latifa Pelletier-Ahmed

A red sumptuous mouth with large lips like sex, reminiscent of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, birthing and consuming an eye of translucent blue dripping fluids of burning tears and saliva. This is the startling image gracing the cover of Montreal indie band Starvin Hungry’s latest CD. It causes lead guitarist and vocalist John Milchem to pause, before explaining it as “the desire for sensory overload.”

This is the philosophy lending itself to the band’s unique sound: Starvin Hungry is about bombarding their sonically starved audiences with an intense array of sounds from a variety of influences.

Loosely described as having a garage rock sound, Milchem reluctantly admits the influences of such bands as The Gories and other bands from the Detroit and New York punk rock scenes. However, as Milchem says, “Some people who are into garage rock don’t really like what we do. It’s not typical.”

On the other side of the spectrum you can also hear the influences of The Velvet Underground, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and even John Lee Hooker. These are groups Milchem claims have provided a lot of inspiration for the band.

“They were people taking that blues format of music and doing something louder or just doing their own thing,” he says.

Starvin Hungry was truly birthed in the city of Montreal, becoming a quartet in 2002. (Although, Milchem notes, “I don’t know if we’re really a typical Montreal music scene band.”) This foursome was joined by Eric Larock from Tricky Woo, who helped produced their album Damnesty. Tricky Woo remains an influence of the band, but early in 2004, Larock rejoined Tricky Woo and was replaced by Dave Lavoie from Soft Canyon. It is these shifts, though, ultimately contributing to Starvin Hungry’s unique sound.

But Milchem is definitely following that idea and doing his own thing, regardless of the current trends or any sort of popularity contest. He shrugs, “I’m doing what I’ve always done.” You can hear that in his music, gritty and with no frills, while ultimately being just plain entertaining. “Shadows,” for example, illustrates a time in Milchem’s life when he was in a period of darkness. “It’s a typical blues song in the sense that it’s about having the blues.” You can hear the vague blues undertones that provide such a large inspiration for Milchem, but the overall intention is still clearly rock and roll.

In their new form Starvin Hungry is definitely a must see band. You can only get so much of who they are from their CD.

“If you wanted to get a more updated idea about what we are now you’d have to see us live.” says Milchem. Fortunately they have an upcoming show, where you can get your own taste of Starvin Hungry and what they’re all about. For they are sure to overload your senses.

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