I was fortunate enough to sit down with Dustin Bates, the lead singer of Starset. We spoke at length about Starset the band, his Marvel projects (including THE PROX TRANSMISSIONS), and Dustin’s thoughts on being “true to who you are as an artist.” The band is currently (as of January 2018) set to tour from January 28th, 2018 until April 22nd, 2018. You can look to see if they’re coming to a town near you HERE and follow them on Twitter @starsetonline as well.


Starset was formed in 2013 by Dustin Bates in the singer’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Their debut album Transmissions peaked at number 49 on the Billboard 200 charts in 2014. It was their second album Vessels in 2016, however, that catapulted Starset into the mainstream, as their hit single “Monster” got up to number 2 on the Billboard US Mainstream Rock Chart in May 2017. That same year, they also announced an upcoming 88 page graphic novel with Marvel called THE PROX TRANSMISSIONS, an innovative sci-fi/rock-opera type concept with a “rather dystopian, future esque twist.”

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Robert Lewis: Dustin! Thank you for joining me today.

Dustin Bates: Absolutely.

Working With Marvel

RL: What led to your relationship with Marvel?

DB: Part of [it is] the Starset Society, which is the band that I represent. One of the reasons I loved the idea behind THE PROX TRANSMISSIONS in the first place was that it definitely fits what Starset represented. It’s a graphic novel that looks at how technology has affected our lives, and how technology is shaping the future. We kind of take that same approach with Starset and all of our projects as well.

RL: I’m sure that had to be very fulfilling on both a personal and artistic level.

DB: Most definitely.

RL: How would say this project ultimately came about? Because you’ve obviously achieved a great deal as a musician already with a number 2 hit on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts in “Monster.” You’re also touring internationally and selling out venues. How do Dustin Bates and Starset enter into the Marvel Universe?


DB: Well it’s a funny story actually. I initially went to Marvel with the intention of possibly working with them in some sort of musical capacity.

RL: Sort of like as a contributor to a soundtrack or something else of a musical nature?

DB: Pretty much, yeah. The graphic novel was kind of just a chance opportunity that was brought up during my initial meetings with the people at Marvel. They loved Starset, and they dug what we represented. So they figured, “why not take the whole post-apocalyptic, technological, spacey vibe and put it in a book!”

RL: That’s a pretty incredible circumstance to fall into.

DB: It was definitely a great thing for the Starset brand, Marvel, and especially our fans. I think they love us because we don’t try to be like anyone else. THE PROX TRANSMISSIONS kind of mirrors that ideology as well.

Talk Nerdy to Me

RL: In terms of your familiarity with Marvel, or comic books in general: were you ever a fan of comic books as a kid? Did you ever feel like you related to any characters? Because Starset is definitely a band that has attracted the attention of the sci-fi and comic book community in the last few years.

DB: I kind of think I relate more with the socially awkward characters, though I’m not a huge comic book guy. I definitely feel like it’s an easily relatable medium.

RL: But that meeting with Marvel sounds like it was a big opportunity for you to become a part of the Marvel Universe. A lot of people go on these interviews and shout: “I’ve been a fan my entire life, and this is something I always dreamed of doing.” You don’t go out of your way to say that, however, and I respect that. Your band has a mission statement, and it doesn’t seem to be one that you want to be diluted with “fakeness.”

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DB: I’m glad you see it that way. I’d rather be the guy who stays true than says I loved the X-Men or something. As a kid, I think I think I had more of a perspective on the world around me than just going along with what everyone else was into.

RL: It seems like you really love your art, and I think that’s really cool. With regard to other projects, however, are you looking into further Marvel projects? Maybe another book, or television?

DB: In terms of Starset society, we are definitely moving forward with a lot of different projects. Nothing set in stone in terms of Marvel, but there is definitely a relationship there.We have talked about future projects and there is definitely some interest there.


RL: How did you come up with the title: “THE PROX TRANSMISSIONS?”

DB: A transmission arrives from the future, essentially warning man of his impending doom. The story explores the possibility of a dystopian type future. One man could ultimately be the only thing separating  the world from impending doom! But the forces around him might make an improbable task nearly impossible.

RL: So in a lot of ways, it’s sort of a classic “hero tale” with a twist?

DB: That’s probably a great way to put it actually. I feel like it’s definitely a classic “hero tale” with a lot of sci-fi elements that make it unique. What would happen if you woke up one day to find that YOU were the only hope the world had to survive? What if you woke up to find several weeks had passed by that you had to recollect and “piece together” to save the world? It’s definitely a unique story.

RL: Will the next story be completely different? Or will it be a sort of continuation of THE PROX TRANSMISSIONS?

DB: Yes. There is a definite tie-in.

RL: Almost like a wink and a nod or an “homage” of sorts to the previous story? Is it in the same universe?

DB: Yes. It will definitely be in the same realm as THE PROX TRANSMISSIONS.

The Rise of Starset

RL: How did Starset get as big as it did?

DB: Once we started getting radio play, it was crazy to see one of our songs get up to number 2 on the radio. After that, things just sort of took off from there.

RL: It’s got to be very cool to have all of this happening in a sort of gradual way. You’ve built a brand and a following that has propelled you guys from “YouTube sensations” to top-rated Billboard artists.


DB: Absolutely, and we ultimately just wanted Starset to not be a flash in the pan type of band. That’s why we’ve done our best to just stay true to the concept, and keep growing Starset’s fanbase while remaining true to what got us here in the first place.

RL: That’s a very logical way to look at it, and it’s obviously worked for you guys so far.

DB: I’m definitely happy with the success we’ve had.

RL: Just for the sake of discussion: you’re obviously a highly intelligent person. Some may not know you have a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. You are also a highly creative person, as shown with your band Starset. Would you consider yourself to be more of a left-brained logical person or right brained and purely creatively driven?

DB: I’d like to think I do a good job of tapping into both when needed you know? I feel like it’s important for me to take more calculated risks sometimes in terms of the business side of things. That’s important. But at the same time, of course, you need to have that freedom to create. So I think I do a pretty good job of tapping into both sides when needed.

Famous Last Words?

RL: Do you have anything you’d like to share with your fans and our readers? Anything about upcoming tours, Marvel projects, and anything else you may be working on?

DB: Yeah. So you can check our website at and catch us on tour right now. We actually just got done touring, and we’ll be back on the road again shortly. You can also still pick up copies of THE PROX TRANSMISSIONS in bookstores everywhere or on Amazon. But other than that? Yeah. Just, thank you to all of our fans and keep supporting the Starset society.

RL: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to speak with me today, Dustin.

DB: Absolutely. Thanks again, and take care.

Thanks again to Dustin Bates of Starset for taking the time to speak with us! I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I can’t wait to see what’s next for both Starset and Dustin Bates. Not just in terms of any future Marvel projects, but for the band overall.

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