“This band is a creative outlet that I absolutely crave. Making an All Star project is an excuse to reunite with friends around the globe and make some noise together, something exciting that doesn’t have a lot of rules.”
Emerging from the post-nuclear wreckage of the late-nineties grunge scene, All Star United’s self-titled debut CD galvanized an unwavering fanbase across the globe. Incorporating spot-on hooks, a redemptively acerbic (sometimes self-deprecating) wit, and ‘amps on eleven,’ All Star jolted the subculture with new energy, like some sort of musical CPR, breathing life into the collective consciousness, proving once again—in case anyone had forgotten—that rock n’ roll is best when it’s fun.
Buzz around the Grammy-nominated act increased exponentially into something bordering on legend. How many rock outfits, after all, can get away with releasing a record “whenever they feel like it” and still boast a solid fan base on four continents, claiming certifiable rock star status in far-flung sovereignties such as Singapore where All Star has topped the national charts?
All Star’s new project, Love & Radiation, is a smash return to the best of what made ASU great in the first place. As the towering, twenty-story hook of the title song declares, “You’re the one I’ve been waiting for!” Fans can uncross their fingers at last. The Eagle has landed. Elvis has returned to the building. Love & Radiation is a comeback package that’s simultaneously innovative, thundering, and beautiful. The wit is back. The mock-Jagger posturing. The incarnational rub calculated to subvert the subversives.
From sparkling pop anthem “We Could Be Brilliant” to tongue-in-cheek tour de force “Let’s Rock Tonight” to the radio- friendly hilarity of “The Song of the Year,” All Star demonstrates a reach and span few of its peers can approach. And somehow, the band manages to make it all mean something, too.
“Love & Radiation has some recurring themes,” Ian explains. “This idea that God’s light is most visible through us when we’re shattered shows up repeatedly. It’s that paradox of strength in weakness, joy in sorrow, riches in poverty that, ultimately, can only be described as the movement of ‘grace.’”
While the band has enjoyed a number of cast changes through the years, Eskelin has been faithful to bring back original members to participate repeatedly. There’s a dynamic sense in which All Star United has morphed into a “fluid community” where parts are recurring and interchangeable, but the sound is consistent even as it evolves. Ian himself has spent the last few years writing and producing for other artists, as well as releasing a solo record, marrying, and having a kid. But All Star United is an entity he stubbornly refuses to let go of.
“No matter what else I’m involved in,” Ian says, “I can’t stay away from All Star for long. These are the songs that keep me sane, creatively. I can’t help writing them, and no one else is going to record them. They’re just too... well, they’re too All Star United."