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Shining Stars of indie rock

Torquil Campbell from the band Stars

Torquil Campbell from the band Stars Credit: Torquil Campbell from the band Stars (Getty Images)

There may be no more appropriate band in pop music today to perform a pair of concerts titled "Evenings of Sex and Death" than Stars, the Canadian indie pop quintet best known for songs like "Your Ex-Lover is Dead."

In six albums over 12 years, Torquil Campbell and company have kept a laserlike focus on those ideas and, at times, their intersection ("I am destroyer/I am lover," Amy Millan sings on "Death to Death").

As the band prepares for its weekend shows at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, amNY caught up with Campbell to talk about life, death and why soul music may have been the king of both.

Aren't the topics of sex and death potentially too heavy for a pop music show? We've been around for ages and these two things have sort of been our obsession. We wanted to play two nights to cover those obsessions. It's pop music - the fragility of life and re-creating ourselves and destroying ourselves. So we thought we'd turn it into a couple of grim nights for everyone.

Who are the artists that, to you, have been the best at covering sex and death? Obviously the Smiths were really huge in that for me, but, in a way, soul music is the form that had it down, because they reduced it to its absolute essentials. Singing a song where you say you need someone is about as elemental as it gets. ... Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway - they walk that perfect tension between life and death, between re-creation and destruction. They're able to contain that much in their vocals and they don't obfuscate. To me, soul music has always been the benchmark. It's as good as it got.

So much of music touring is about supporting a particular album. When you base a set list around a theme instead, does that open up more of your catalog for possible inclusion? We're going way back and all through [the catalog]. We're really trying to play songs that people haven't heard in a long time or at all. We're going to get together and rehearse and try to retrieve these things from the dusty box of our memories and cover the whole career.


If you go: Stars is at Music Hall of Williamsburg at 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, 66 N. Sixth St., Williamsburg, 718-486-5400, sold out.

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