By Kirsten Ferguson ON FEB 15, 2024

In the 1990s, 100 Acre Wood was a prominent local band that generated lots of college radio play and opened locally for big-name artists including Buffalo Tom, Matthew Sweet, Yo La Tengo and King Missile.

“We were very ambitious in the early days of 100 Acre Wood, and we were lucky enough to have a good relationship with Howard Glassman at [Albany music venue] Bogie’s, and he really gave us some amazing shows there, where we opened for a lot of national acts. It was exciting,” said Clarke Hingeford, who formed 100 Acre Wood with his childhood friend, Kyle Pemrick.

Hingeford and Pemrick both grew up in Johnstown and now reside with their families in Charlton. Their friendship and musical collaboration spans not just decades but rather a lifetime, culminating recently in a new album, “Self Appeal and Mass Fulfillment.” The pair’s current group is the Bitter Stars, a trio with Harrison Depew on drums.

The Bitter Stars, consisting of Clarke Hingeford, left, holding studio dog Hector, and Kyle Pemrick, are seen in the band’s Charlton home recording studio. PROVIDED

At the time of 100 Acre Wood’s success in the ‘90s, indie rock was taking off and some bands found themselves fielding offers from major labels. At the time, 100 Acre Wood met with Dublin-based Mother Records, a label founded by U2 in 1983.

“They listened to our whole demo and loved it. They were very eager to see us live, but we just couldn’t pull it off,” said Hingeford. The band’s planned tour to Ireland fell through for financial reasons.

100 Acre Wood ended up releasing a debut album, “Binge,” in 1994 on Paint Chip Records, a well-regarded local indie label run by Albany musician and audio engineer Dominick Campana of the band Dirty Face.

“It was cool because [the deal with Paint Chip] was so fair,” Pemrick said. “It was so refreshing to have somebody try to organize everybody under one roof, and do it legitimately and with principle.”

“I think that experience really gave us a lot of confidence that musically we were heading in a really good direction,” Hingeford added. “Kyle and I have been writing together for 30 years. So we know each other’s instincts really well.”

100 Acre Wood eventually ran its course, and in subsequent years Hingeford and Pemrick continued to play together in a succession of bands including Dooojj, Nair, Scrapper and Captain Freedom and the Anarchists.

Hingeford built a recording studio in the backyard of his home in Charlton, where the pair continued to write and record music, swapping off on instruments and taking turns playing guitar, bass, keyboards and more exotic musical implements.

“We have such a similar aesthetic that it just makes perfect sense,” Hingeford said.

But the experiences of their youth playing in the local scene inspired, in a tongue-in-cheek way, the band’s current name, the Bitter Stars.

“At 25 I wanted to be a rock star, playing at Bogie’s and thinking I was going to be somebody and something. And you get a little older and you realize that you’re not. And then we started doing music for fun. After I realized that I didn’t want to be a rock star anymore,” said Hingeford.
“It’s always been about fun first, and exploration,” added Pemrick.

The Bitter Stars’ latest album, “Self Appeal and Mass Fulfillment,” is the band’s third in the past several years, reflecting the trio’s growth over time. The album kicks off with “Fjords,” an anthemic track that recalls the guitar crunch and melodic punch of the ‘90s indie rock days, but then the album gets progressively creative and quirkier on tracks such as the dance-punk “Blip in Your Life,” which recalls the weirder art-rock of artists such as David Bowie and early Peter Gabriel.

In a clever twist of words, the album’s title expresses the urge to put creative freedom over a desire for press or acclaim. “ ’Self Appeal and Mass Fulfillment’ means literally that we’re doing this for ourselves first, and if somebody likes it, great, we’re happy. But that’s not our primary reason for doing it,” said Hingeford.

The new album is available on major streaming sites. Visit for more.

The Bitter Stars Offer New Self Appeal And Mass Fulfillment

The Bitter Stars is a veteran independent recording duo from upstate New York. Longtime friends and collaborators, Clarke Hingeford and Kyle Pemrick returned to the studio in 2021 to relaunch the project after a nine year hiatus, reigniting a decades-old creative collaboration. Readers of The Static Dive will remember the band from their album Winters, as well as the follow-up single “Dance me to death.”

Since their return, the prolific pair have released an impressive volume of work. The Bitter Stars followed their debut with a string of seven singles. Then they dropped their sophomore LP Nowhere in early 2023. 

Self appeal and mass fulfillment is the brand new album from The Bitter Stars, released worldwide via all major streaming services on January 8, 2024. The nine-song set is a genre-bending ride. The band says it is their most definitive record to date.

“It was really about us. A true mix of our musical influences. We hope it makes you move!”

The Bitter StarsWhether they are dealing social commentary over lo-fi indie prog-rock jams like “Fjords” and “Ugly makes beauty,” or dicing up some avant-garde noise-rock on tracks like “Crawling,” The Bitter Stars sound is the product of indie styles from across the decades. From proto-punk rockers like “Loch Happy Ness” to the Talking Heads meet Peter Gabriel nerd-funk of “Blip in your life,” the band creates a rich pastiche of alternative music.

Throughout the album, The Bitter Stars weave together the organic and electronic. Never more so than on The Art of Noise-inspired “The inner workings of my mind are an enigma” and the hypnotic “Noctambulate”. However their guitars are always in the mix, and featured prominently on tracks like “I’m not bitter anymore” and “I just got to learn to have fun.”

Check out Self appeal and mass fulfillment in its entirety below. You can also hear the song “I’m not bitter anymore” on the Deep Dive : Pop & Rock playlist, and “Noctambulate” on Deep Dive : Dance & Electronic. Follow the links below to connect with The Bitter Stars.

— The Static Dive


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