“Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine.” – Nikola Tesla
Ohio band Starset is one of rock music’s biggest YouTube success stories. Though Starset only came into existence in 2013, its story begins over 100 years earlier…
Dec. 31, 1910. Engineer Nikola Tesla is working on a wireless power signal transmission system at his Wardenclyffe Tower in New York when he intercepts The Signal, a message to Earth sent from the depths of outer space. Based on his discovery, Tesla forms a secret group, The Order of Teslonia, to decode and understand the nature of The Signal. By the 1940s, The Order has received a second transmission with which they are able to decode The Signal, now becoming “The Message.”
The United States Capitalism Oversight Organization (USCOO), a government-controlled anti-communism think tank, had been watching The Order for decades. In 1979, NASA inadvertently intercepted The Signal, which was soon seized by the USCOO.
Fast forward over 30 years to 2012. Dr. Stephen Browning of the Stanford Research Institute, an astronomer at the Allen Telescope Array in Menlo Park, California, receives a letter from a German colleague requesting a scan of the heavens on New Years’ Eve with specific guidelines where to point the telescopes and what to do with the data he collects.
Browning follows orders and discovers an anomalous signal that appears to be coming from a star in the Ophiuchus Constellation, about six light years away from Earth. Dr. Browning takes the data directly to Dr. Aston Wise at the Starset Society in Sunnyvale, California as his colleague had instructed.
Browning and Wise find themselves on the run from the USCOO while decoding The Message as Tesla had done over a century ago. They discover that The Message is a series of warnings about the future of technology and the Earth, information the Starlight Society determines must be disseminated to the general public. The Society decided the best way to do this is through music as they can attract and reach large audiences.
Dr. Wise and his assistant, Lara Godfrey, begin searching for musicians and on Feb. 26, 2013, the band Starset is formed. The chosen ones are vocalist Dustin Bates, bassist Ron DeChant, guitarist Brock Richards, and drummer Adam Gilbert. By July of that year, Starset has accepted its mission and begun releasing videos and holding “demonstrations,” otherwise known as concerts, and The Message begins to spread.
Today, The Message and its audience continue to grow. A second album, Vessels, has just been released to critical acclaim. New demonstrations have also just begun—starting near the band’s home base, mid-Ohio and Michigan, and now commencing on the West Coast. Despite the band’s hectic schedule and the pressure of their critical mission, singer Dustin Bates was able to take a moment and provide us with some details on Starset’s second campaign to spread The Message.
“The Message is a lot about automation and how it will affect our lives politically, socially, and economically in the near future. The band intends to promote the tenets of the Starset Society. It’s a style I would call ‘cinematic rock,’ which is basically a soundtrack merged with a hard rock band. [The Starset Society] thought that would be the most applicable sound.”
Starset’s first single, “My Demons,” spent 41 weeks in the Billboard charts in 2014, supported by a strong YouTube presence and fan base that’s resulted in over 85 million views. “Monster,” the first single off the new Vessels album, was released last fall and has already amassed over two million views. The Message is being received.
“The band is using various programs and narratives to exemplify the Society’s Message,” Bates says, “but we haven’t gone public with all of those yet.”
We do know these narratives will include a second graphic novel to be produced with Marvel Comics. Bates says it is “definitely an extension of the initial story” presented in The PROX Transmissions, Starset’s first graphic novel and book.
And then there’s the “demonstrations.” The band is known for appearing in concert wearing spacesuits and producing some incredible space-age visuals. “We’re always adding new elements to the demonstrations,” Bates says. “This time around it’s our first headline tour, so we’re definitely stepping it up on all kinds of things—image projection, an element of audience participation. We’ll be playing songs from both records. We’re always going to be evolving and advancing our live shows. It’s going to be really exciting.”
After just a few years, Starset’s success has spread The Message worldwide; they have several international demonstrations coming up in March and will hit the festival circuit throughout April and May.
As it so happens, Starset’s new single was released on Election Day in November while the new album dropped on Jan. 20, the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States. Though Bates is somewhat mum on the correlation between them, he does say, “Take it for what you will, but the record is about a journey through perilous times.”
Reach For The Stars
Don’t Know Starset? Singer Dustin Bates Tells You What You Need To Hear
“This is our most recently released song. I’m pretty proud of it from a song standpoint, and I also think it exemplifies a lot of our current direction, sonically—integrating electronic and cinematic elements to a higher degree than we have in the past.”
“I think the lyrics and build of this one really exemplify what Starset is about.”
“This was the first single off Transmissions. People seem to dig it. It has been incredibly successful for us, like, crazy successful. It has so many streams it’s currently the #6 song from any band on YouTube.”
“Our new record, Vessels, brings on a more progressive element to the guitar and rhythm at times and this one has a lot of that. Still, ever-changing time signatures aside, I think it has the melodic sensibility and cinematic sound that make us what we are.”