Deathstar's Archers of Loaf/Polvo-informed indie rock initially took shape in the northern reaches of California's sun-scorched Sacramento Valley. The powerhouse trio -- guitarist/vocalist Kelly Bauman, bassist Ken Lovgren, and drummer Jim Rizzuto -- released a pair of EPs in the mid-'90s and began work on a third release before aborting the project altogether in late 1997. Original copies of the group's paltry output can be painfully difficult to track down, but Deathstar's legacy as underground noise pop heroes has outlasted the group?s brief recording career by a wide margin.
Bauman and Lovgren went to high school together in Redding, CA, where Bauman's outfit Case for Radio would frequently play shows with Lovgren's band For Pete's Sake at the local Plumbers Union Hall in the late '80s. The pair later crossed paths in the nearby college town of Chico, where they hooked up with ex-Trench drummer Scott Nichol. Nichol soon departed Chico for cooler pastures, leaving Deathstar's drum stool temporarily vacant until Bauman and Lovgren met Rizzuto (formerly of Blackout and Pitchfork Tuning) in the summer of 1994.
The trio's first recording project was a self-titled 10" EP for San Diego's Silver Girl Records; its six songs were four-tracked with John McCall at an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of Chico. An appearance on the Superwinners Summer Rock Academy compilation (which also included Track Star, Knapsack, the San Francisco Seals, and McCall's band the Imps) followed in late summer 1996. Local appearances with Blonde Redhead, Knapsack, Thinking Fellers Union Local #282, and Deathstar's own heroes Polvo affirmed the band's respected status within the region's indie scene.
Throughout most of Deathstar's steak-and-potato days, Bauman moonlit as drummer for Harvester, hitting the skins for the rootsy alt-country rockers on their 1996 Geffen release Me Climb Mountain and even playing a gig with the band in a mine near Nevada City, CA. Meanwhile, Deathstar spent time crafting a properly produced follow-up at Sacramento's Enharmonik studio, and it was these sessions that would ultimately yield the fiery Strikes the Earth EP. However, packaging snafus delayed the EP's release on St. Francis Records until the summer of 1997, by which time Bauman's move to Portland, OR was imminent. The band reconvened in the Rose City later that autumn with producer Adam Selzer (later of Norfolk and Western) in hopes of recording material for a third release, but the sessions weren't as productive as the group had hoped. Bauman eventually returned to Northern California and jump-started both the North Magnetic and Arnica Sync, while Lovgren joined Ant Farm and Rizzuto pursued a teaching stint overseas.