Photo by Juan R. Govea

Darstar is back.

The power-pop group formed in 2010 and released the album Tiny Darkness in 2011 before disbanding a year later after a family tragedy forced one member to call it quits.

But to frontperson Lisa Hardaway and her bandmates, being back together has been good for their souls. Although the circumstances surrounding the reunion are sad, the serendipity could not be denied.

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“I think each of us needs Darstar in some way,” she said. “The last decade has had some serious ups and downs for all of us, and reuniting, at least for me, has reignited my sense of purpose as a human and a creative.”

When Darstar started out, the North Texas music scene was a lot smaller seeming. You promoted your shows with flyers in bar bathrooms. Now to get butts in the seats, you tap a few buttons on your phone screen.

“Back in the 2010-era of Darstar, I feel like booking was simpler,” Hardaway said. “No one was really looking at your Instagram followers to determine your worthiness on the stage. We’re kind of normal people in a pretty normal band, and everyone else seems to be competing to be the weirdest band in the world or the most genre accurate, so, ironically, maybe we’ll stand out.”

The diversity of today’s local scene has been a big plus, she said, and she enjoys seeing so many other types of creatives shining. “There are a lot of opportunities for everyone in the scene, be they musicians, photographers, graphic artists — it’s a massive collective, and that is awesome.”

Since reforming, Darstar — rounded out by bassist Tony Newman, drummer Josh Pitts, and guitarist Carson So — has released two singles. “Pony Girl” and “LUVVVACATION” were recorded by Clint Niosi at his Orange Otter Audio studio in Fort Worth (Rage Out Arkestra, The Boozy Moods, Frosty) and mastered by Grammy winner Alan Douches (Fleetwood Mac, Run DMC, Fatboy Slim), who also mastered Tiny Darkness. The songs were released by longtime Dallas label Idol Records (Flickerstick, Lorelei K, Black Tie Dynasty). Darstar plans to release either several singles or an album soon.

“As a band, you should record as a testament to your existence,” Hardaway said. “Everyone wants to leave a mark, and a band’s discography is that mark. I’ve been sitting on a pile of songs and have been adding to that pile since 2012, so basically all of our new stuff is either material we didn’t get a chance to record back in the 2010-to-2012 period or material I’ve written in the meantime. Some of it is even the 2.0 versions of songs we used to play but never recorded.”

The family tragedy that brought Darstar back together happened late last year. Former guitarist Ben Piché’s 17-year-old stepdaughter Loralai died after a long illness. The members, who had not seen one another since 2012, found themselves in the same room together, and it triggered something, Hardaway said. They all knew they wanted to get back to doing what they loved. Life is too precious, too short, not to.

“I’m so glad we are back making music and excited,” Newman said. “Every practice brings something new.”

There also have been shows. Since reforming, the band has played Arlington, Dallas, and Denton in addition to Tulips FTW and The Cicada, and they will roll into Lola’s Fort Worth this weekend.

“People’s lives change a lot during spans of time,” Hardaway said. “Just being together in the same room in more than a decade and getting back together kind of became therapy. With the growth of families and moving, we all went through the same shit when we were not together, and it came full circle. Playing together feels awesome.”


Fri w/Overshare, Ester Shank at Lola’s Fort Worth, 2000 W Berry St, FW. $10-13.
Hardaway (second from right): “Just being together in the same room in more than a decade and getting back together kind of became therapy.”
Photo by Juan R. Govea