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11.04.09

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Phaedra

CALLING ALL STARS: Angie Thurman isn't sure about the future of Stars Misplaced.

An Artist Misplaced

Why the local scene needs the return of Angie Thurman

By Garrett Wheeler


THERE COMES a point in every artist's life when he or she simply hits a wall. Picasso's hiatus following World War II, John Lennon's "Lost Weekend" from 1973 to 1975 and Hemingway's 10-year literary absence after writing For Whom the Bell Tolls are all examples of an artist's need for a temporary departure from the creative realm. For San Jose songwriter Angie Thurman, that time is now.

"At some point, I just kind of lost my motivation," says Thurman, who performs under the moniker Stars Misplaced.

"What happened was my drummer had twins, and then my bassist joined the Mumlers, so they both had their hands full," she says. "I took it as an opportunity to play by myself, which was something I've always kind of wanted to do."

But after playing a number of solo gigs, Thurman says she eventually lost her desire to continue: "I found myself asking, What's the point?"

The point is that her songs are beautifully delicate, wistful and intensely intimate. There's a quality of tragedy implicit in the music of Stars Misplaced, like on the ironic and dreamy "Horrible Song." On "Prophets and Kings," Thurman reveals a more vivacious side, employing a lively drum beat to coalesce a straight-ahead post-punk melody.

Thurman's influences run the gamut of popular music, "except for house and techno." She remembers learning to play guitar in seventh grade, strumming the chords to Bob Dylan tunes and the "pretty" Pink Floyd songs.

In the mid-'90s, Thurman joined the punk band American Waste, where she channeled her love for the Ramones, the Cure and Souixsie and the Banshees into loud-fast rock & roll. But after a few years, Thurman decided to strike out on her own path.

"I wanted to do some guitar pickin' of my own, and after playing loud distortion music for a while, I felt it in me to do something different," she says.

Though the future of Stars Misplaced sometimes seems shaky, Thurman's love for music is obvious, as is her talent. Sometimes she questions her own motivations ("What am I doing this for? A hobby? A career?"), but like all passionate artists, the desire to embark on a creative journey always lurks.

"I really want to go through the process [of playing in a band] again," she says. "I miss having a band, but it takes time to find people to play with." Asked if she has considered posting a classified ad for band mates, on Craigslist or otherwise, Thurman says she hasn't. "I've had friends who have found people that way, but I don't really have the confidence—it's a little intimidating."

Listening to Thurman's recordings, it's easy to see how her vulnerability as an artist is channeled into her music. After all, her doubts are nothing abnormal—in fact, in a way she speaks for all of us closet musicians who view the prospect of climbing into the spotlight daunting.

But her presence on the local scene is much missed. When will she next return to the stage?

"I'm not sure. There are so many things to do—read, watch TV," Thurman says, her voice creased with shy sarcasm. Then, more seriously: "Sometimes people ask me to play, and if I feel like it, I do."


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