Aug 8, 2023
Stella Vir are progressive-infused sounds full of spatial concepts
Coming up August 19, 2023, Louisiana’s own Stella Vir is set to perform at Rad Fest 2023 at PARC International in downtown Lafayette, Louisiana. With tunes full of howling guitars and crisp clean vocals, this band hails from Hessmer, LA and they are the third band in our installment of interviews with all acts on the bill. The band was formed in 2019 by Josh Ferguson (vocals), Justin Theriot (lead guitar), Waylon Wilkinson (bass), and Shane Landry (drums).
Gaining a following on the local scene due to their energetic performances and catchy, melodic songs, Stella Vir’s debut EP “Meridian”, released in 2020, is so good that you’ll want to turn the dial all the way up to eleven to engross yourself in the soothing sounds. And if you have an iPod handy, pop in those headphones and disappear into the abyss.
In 2022, the guys released their follow-up EP “City Lights”, continuing the band’s evolution with a more mature sound and showcasing more complex songwriting. With songs such as “Getaway” and “Full Speed” that provide ferocious guitar licks, Stella Vir is quickly solidifying itself as one of the most promising of all the up-and-coming rock bands coming out of Louisiana.
Each member feeds off their own unique styles and the band has managed to find a cohesive sound that is distinct and one all their own. The band has the talent, the drive, and the sound to make it big and with their continued touring, Stella Vir is sure to become one of the most popular rock bands in the country. You must see them live to experience their sound in all its depth, truly. With a love for all things sci-fi, I was able to chat recently with Josh Ferguson, the lead vox, about everything from the band’s name to how their unique sound is achieved and his love of everything sci-fi related. Geek out with us and get lost in space by learning a bit more about what makes up the band known as Stella Vir.
MaM: I dig your music. Who or what inspired your current sound?
JF: So, I've been I've been playing music for about 20 years, and in the late 90s/ early 2000s. There is just something about the grunge era and when emo came out. Post-hardcore bands as well, such as Finch and Thursday … I really got into all of those styles of music. My writing style has always been somewhat of an emo-derived kind of sound. It's just a blend of all kinds of music that makes us what we are.
MaM: With so much going on in the world, what influences you to make music?
JF: It's kind of like a sickness. I had quit playing music about five times now, but I wake up some mornings with just ideas in my head. I feel like I can't do anything without writing these ideas down, and the next thing I know … I'm writing music in a band again. It's just been in me, and my guitarist. We've been writing music together for 20 years, and it's just something we can never shake off.
MaM: Can you tell our readers how your band initially came about?
JF: I went on tour with a band, and then when that tour finished up … I decided to be a husband, and a dad, and not really play music anymore. My guitarist from over 20 years ago … [He] and I started talking again. We decided to do something different. So rather than trying to write music that we thought people would like or would get people to go to shows, we decided to start writing stuff that we would wanna listen to, and that's where we ended up. The first song we wrote together is on our ‘Meridian’ EP! It is called ‘With Fire Comes Truth’. It's one of the most fun songs that we have to play. It's just about not caring what anybody else says [with the message to] just burn the world down if you must … TO BE HAPPY!
MaM: Love the name of the band. How did it come about?
JF: So, Stella Vir! At first, we had decided on the name Meridian for the band. In the process of uploading our music to social media … We realized that there [were] 63 bands named Meridian at that time. Obviously, we can't go this route if we want anybody to find us. We spent a couple of days trying to think of something that would be original, and my buddy Justin, [who] plays guitar, mentioned Stella Vir, which in Latin is roughly translated to Man of the Stars.
We are all just really into space-related themes. We were all in love with it as soon as he said it, and we never looked back. It's just the idea of extra-terrestrial beings in space looking down on us, and the planet Earth. That's the kind of vibe that we make all our artwork around and our merch. I absolutely love the space theme. I can't get enough of it.
MaM: So, growing up? What sci-fi movies or series played a huge role in developing the concept for the band?
JF: I'm a huge fan of Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm a huge fan of Star Wars. We are all fanboys of Star Wars. I also listen to a lot of podcasts that are sci-fi based, fiction, and non-fiction. Whatever I can find, I eat it up. I remember going to the NASA space center when I was a kid, and I really got into the whole idea of space. So, anything I come across, I'm just a huge fan.
MaM: Are there any specific things that you like to use to achieve your sound?
JF: Honestly, the main goal that we've had as a band from the beginning is we just wanna be natural. We want to write stuff that we can perform live, and we don't need a huge production to do it. If you hear us on the radio, when you see us live, or when you hear us on Spotify, it's nothing different than what you heard on our albums. Our main goal has always been to just be real, and natural. We don't spend a whole lot of time on post-production. It's just whatever we can play. We just put it on a track like that to make sure everything stays as real as possible.
MaM: Do you have any specific brands of guitars or bass guitars that you like to use?
JF: I have a Gibson Explorer, and I have an SG that I use. The other guitarist, he likes Fender. He also has a Gibson Les Paul, and that's his main guitar. We both really got into AXE-FX within the last two years. It's really simplified our consistency as far as our guitar tone goes. Every time we plug in, we know we're gonna sound the same regardless of the venue. That's really the main thing. We try to have a strong guitar front. The AXE-FX and Gibson guitars … That's our go-to.
MaM: What types of amps are you currently using?
JF: We both started digging into the AXE-FX. For the last few years, I was using a Marshall DSL 100, and [the other guitarist] was using a Friedman BE-100. We try to stay in that Marshall, Friedman, Mesa/Boogie kind of sound on the fractal, but before you know it, you're dialing into six different cabs and five different amps. It's just kind of all over the place. Whatever sounds good for that particular song. We may switch it up for different songs, so it's kind of hard to nail that down. I can't say enough about the AXE-FX. You can do anything with it.
MaM: Do you consider “City Lights” a concept album?
JF: I wanna say the first song on that album was ‘City Lights’. We actually had that one written before we created the first album. I wanted to do a concept album, but I have two kids and three jobs. To write a concept album is a lot more time-consuming. The songs are kind of pieced together about different things. It's just about different things that have happened to us in our lives. That's what that album is all about. I wish I could say that it was a concept album, but I haven't had the time to really go down that rabbit hole. Hopefully, for this next album … That is the direction that I wanna go, and we'll see what happens.
MaM: Any future plans or aspirations for the band?
JF: I think RAD Fest is gonna open a lot of doors for us. You would think that social media would make it easy for people to get their music out. I think it makes it more difficult because there is just so much stuff thrown at you in a day. I think that a lot of stuff gets overlooked. RAD Fest is gonna be huge for us. Huge for all of the other bands too. I think it's gonna open the door for us to get shows with bands that we might not have been able to play with before. People will be able to see us that have not ever heard of us before. So, I'm looking forward to that. This is gonna be our biggest show, and I'm really looking forward to that. I can't wait to see what happens with it.
MaM: Can I get any information about the new songs you are writing?
JF: There's a new song that we play that is called ‘Anything at All’ and it is, by far, one of my favorite songs. We have a live version of it on our YouTube page from our last show if you wanted to check that out, but it's just a high-energy type of song. We try to keep our shows full of high energy, and that's probably the most pulled-up song that we have.
MaM: Are there any memorable shows you have played so far?
JF: We played at the Cajun Heartland State Fair last year. We're hoping to get on again this year, but I think we missed the deadline to apply. That's a cool thing that the Cajundome allows local bands like us to do. I can't say enough about the local scene in Lafayette. You have all these bands wanting to put on big shows and include us. The Cajun Heartland State Fair is probably the most notable thing that we've done so far, and I think RAD Fest is gonna be right there with it.
MaM: Do you have any other plans in the future after RAD Fest?
JF: We do. We've been tracking some new songs, and hopefully, before the end of the summer, we'll have a release date for ‘Anything at All’. Then, we're gonna start working our way up to a full album release. That's the most exciting thing we have going on right now. I love writing music, and we all love recording it. That's definitely on the horizon.
*cover photo by Ahnvee Photography https://www.ahnveephotography.com/
Je’an Paul Keller is a member of the 501st Legion and a huge sci-fi nerd. He’s also a HUGE music lover and is very passionate about drawing, sketching, painting, and making cosplays and movie-accurate costumes.