A little more progressive, a little more modern and a whole lot louder—that’s Kara Tucker’s approach to StarChaser, a band born out of her previous music group Elliot Bigger in pursuit of creative freedom and a brand-new sound. Tucker, who has been playing music around Indy since 2006, serves as the group’s guitarist and vocalist. Backed by her husband Nick Teedo on the bass and Dorian Phelps’ killer drum skills, she’s writing songs for the band’s debut record, which will blend together progressive metal, rock and pop.
Though you can’t yet find StarChaser on traditional streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, you can find them performing locally at spots like Healer and State Street Pub. On the side, Teedo and Phelps frequent The Mousetrap, Jazz Kitchen and Chatterbox.
Tucker’s favorite onstage memory came from opening for Canadian power metal band Unleash the Archers. She remembers performing for a crowd of 600 people right after StarChaser had been formed—and it was incredible. Tucker noted that it came as a much-needed experience, as the band was in need of a sign that the long hours spent on rehearsal were well worth it.
“It breathed energy into Nick and Dorian,” Tucker said. “Had it been a real shit show, it would have been like, ‘Well, maybe we’re good on this.’”
The group’s stage presence is intense and passionate, yet serious. It’s almost as though the three get lost in their own little world onstage, finding themselves deeply in tune with their own sound. Above all, they are focused on the music, fiercely shredding, djenting and drumming away.
Tucker can typically be found front and center with her white guitar, wearing something custom and conveniently self-made. Her seamstress skills are put to good use when it comes to crafting onstage outfits, as is her endless creativity. The fits are funky and eclectic, such as her floor-length organza dress and tiger-printed bodysuit combo. Think pop princess, but with an edge. But love for fun fashion isn’t the only reason why Tucker opts to dress the way she does onstage—sometimes, it serves as a suit of armor against sexist comments she sometimes receives for simply being a woman in music.
“I’m very intentionally making extremely effeminate costumes that are absolutely effeminate because the music is so hyper-masculine,” Tucker said. “That’s very, very planned, because I think it’s time for the world to be okay with women doing things that are traditionally feminine.”
In addition to throwing a metaphorical middle finger to the patriarchy, Tucker’s girly, larger-than-life fits serve to level the more understated stagewear of her bandmates.
You’ll find Phelps on the drums in a much more low-key outfit. Tucker describes his drumming as “progressive and artistic,” and when he’s in the zone—which is always—his technical skill shines. Though he’s tucked behind his drumset, he’s impossible to miss. His speed and precision? Jaw-dropping.
In a similarly laid-back ensemble, Teedo nods his head to the rhythm of his bass, underscoring the pop-metal melodies wafting through the speakers. While Tucker swore she would never play in a band with her husband, Teedo complements her vocals and guitar perfectly.
Together, the three balance one another and breathe life into any space with their high-energy music and intensely focused onstage demeanors. They’ve all been playing since they were small children, and their experience is evident in their stage presence.
For Starchaser, some of their favorite memories happen offstage, too. The three live for their rehearsals, where the pressure’s off and they can kick back and jam without worry.
“It’s so chill,” Tucker said. “It’s so much fun. It feels like home. It’s really cool. Nothing is ever personal, which is amazing. We can sit and we can say like ‘Hey, why don’t you change that one melody,’ [and] I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, you’re right.’”
But of course, there’s no point in rehearsing without aiming to perform, and recently, that’s been StarChaser’s focus, thanks to a grant from local cultural development firm GangGang. After being encouraged to apply, Tucker whipped up some demos and received GangGang’s Next Up Music Fellowship, a program created in partnership with the Indy Arts Council aimed to encourage artists to stay and grow in Indianapolis. Tucker says she feels like “GangGang’s redheaded stepchild” thanks to the support she continually receives.
While having the funding to produce music has been immensely helpful, Tucker notes that having professional guidance on navigating the music industry has been much needed. As someone who doesn’t consider herself particularly business-savvy, Tucker says she appreciates getting advice on expanding StarChaser’s social media presence.
“My downfall as an artist is social media,” Tucker said. “I [want to] get content made. That’s so stressful. I hate it so much, but [I want to] get the record done, get a music video done, get a photoshoot—hopefully, have a professional-looking social media presence.”
The grant will help StarChaser achieve long-term goals as well. The band hopes to have their debut album finished around the fall or winter of this year, and they’re practically halfway there. The songs have already been written, so it’s just a matter of getting them recorded—a task that is made much easier by the fact that Tucker and Teedo are producers and engineers, respectively.
A music video is also in the works for the band. Tucker says the video will involve a storyline to accompany their upcoming song “Czars of the Universe,” which happens to be about the Bolshevik Revolution.
“I don’t write love songs,” Tucker said. “It’s gonna feel kind of post-apocalyptic, but I also want it to feel very archaic. So it’ll be a blending of things.”
In addition to the video, keep your eyes out for singles from StarChaser, which will precede their album release. For now, you can catch them at their upcoming shows this summer—you don’t want to miss this group’s talent (or Tucker’s ethereal vocals and avant-garde outfits.) In the meantime, you can stay up-to-date on all things StarChaser via their Instagram.