Interview: Sunset Sons

Sunset Sons

Words: Lauren Grigor

Photos: C. Alex de Freitas

sunset sonsI’ve always found that artists and bands with the most staying power in the industry are those with integrity; they believe in what they’re doing and they don’t fake it, even their extra-curricular activities are reflected in their music genre

That’s exactly the feeling I got from Sunset Sons. I’d been following (stalking) them on their various social media channels and was looking forward to sitting and chatting with four lads who seemed laid back and ready for a laugh when they’re not performing, surfing or skating.

We kick off our conversation talking about the band’s recent festivals including opening Kendal Calling but nearly playing to no one; fans were delayed getting in,
“You want people to clap, it’s nice to go on stage and people are like Yay!” says Rory, “but it was like, nothing” Though it paid off with Jed enjoying it “seeing the whole crowd running down towards us – like Braveheart!”
It was thanks to social media that they even were able to delay. Initially when the band’s management suggested getting them onto social media Rory’s response was like that of a 5 year old being told No, “Twit-ter?!” and Pete asking “What’s a Twitter?” (not sure if he was serious) but the band have loved being a part of the network now and it paid off as fans at Kendal Calling were tweeting with “Lads we’re still stuck outside. So they were trying to get us to go on stage and we were like ‘Read the Tweet!’”
Pete’s response was that  “The People have spoken!!”

Between the four of them, they have a great dynamic. Pete offers such a great dry sarcasm to the conversation, probably for the fact that he’s originally from Australia, Rory enjoys making himself heard and tended to butt in a lot, then promptly apologises if he interrupts, Rob takes a step back in conversation unless he’s got something valuable to add and Jed is a big talker and the best for giving detailed answers, they really were a joy to talk to and I appreciate their style of music even more now.

In terms of their music, their genre is quite the mouthful and these guys are hard to pigeon-hole. They are a surf-rock-pop-indie 4 piece who don’t limit themselves and don’t rely on extra players on stage or in the studio. I find their production on their songs to be relatively simple, yet paying full respect to all the components of the song, and the reason is that they don’t want to overproduce something to the point that they couldn’t recreate that same sound live, Rory cites Alt-J as one of those inspirational bands who sounds as good and tight live as they do on record. Some of their other muses come from Mo-town, Rag-time, Ray Charles sort of sounds, which then get tweaked to have a rockier feel.

I love that these guys don’t take themselves too seriously – just the music they write and perform. When I ask what their best fan experience has been so far,  Rory jumps in with “A guy wanted me to pee in his mouth. I was waiting in queue for the toilet and a fan was like ‘Dude, you’re in Sunset Sons, you don’t need to queue’ and he got down on his knees ready to do it”.
I then made sure that he heard that I was asking for the BEST experience he confirms and elaborates “When someone says ‘That was great!’ I’m like, gimme a bit of abuse”.
Jed gives details on a picture of a sad and sorry young man that featured on their Istagram earlier in the week, “We had a group of fans from Plymouth going to Valencia to see us play and one of their friends who got way too drunk to make their show woke up with the Sunset Sons setlist taped to his blanket by his friends, who apparently were so stoked that they got featured on our Facebook”.

sunset sonsOn their European Festival experiences they start listing countries that were good: “Holland, Spain, Germany..”, until Rob finally interrupted with “The Continent generally is good.”
The band usually get early daytime slots and Rory points out, “If you get put on early, which we usually have, on the Main Stage, which is rad, but there’s always the risk of ‘Will anyone turn up?'” But Jed sees the opportunity of working with a smaller, less intoxicated crowd. “It’s harder but working for it is good” and about their fans at the festivals, “All the ones that know you, you can tell cause they’re in the front four rows and they’re the ones that are really excited, and they know all the words and their hands are straight up, and then it goes back in stages, the ones behind come next, then there’s some people at the back with their arms folded, we always get them by about half way through” To which Rory adds “You know you’re doing well when the security staff, who can’t watch you, start dancing”

One of their highlights of festivals came in Valencia. Jed tells me, that in the opening bars of She Wants the whole crowd started cheering and singing along. “How do you all know it?”, he recalls, seeming baffled still. “In the south of Spain at 2’o’clock in the morning and we’ve never been here before, how do you all know the song? I just thought, That’ll do me for now!”

They tell me about their writing style, which doesn’t follow a traditional band style of letting one member dictate everything, in fact as Rory says if one person was like “Here’s this song, I’ve written the lyrics and the melody. We would probably tell each other to f**k off if that happened.”
Pete explains it;  “We stand in a circle and just go through it, Rory might have a voice memo on his phone, Rob could have a guitar lick, Jed has a drum beat that he really likes and it goes from there” and Jed confirms, adding, “One thing we’ve always agreed on is that melody is important”.

Apparently after extensive touring before The Great Escape  festival one year, the boys had hoped to come up with lyrics to a song they’d been working on for a while but by the time they played, they still didn’t have anything prepared. In the end, Rory just mumbled the words for the entire song. Pete said people were coming up going “‘I really like the lyrics to that song!’, But they got their own vibe from it and made up their own story”. Rory added,  “I’m still surprised that that was the industry gig and we decided to do a song with no lyrics! That was ballsy, I’m proud of us!”

When it comes to putting songs together and performing, they never do anything that they can’t go and play live. Pete says that in rehearsal they “play everything live, just our four instruments with no backing band”. The guys continued  to discuss, and to be humble:
Jed: “We’re not the best musicians but we play well together” Pete agrees, dropping in “We’re no virtuosos.” Rory claims that you should “never listen to us on our own!” – “Yeah, No drum solos” Jed calls out. They don’t quite do themselves justice but hey it’s just their humble nature shining through.

I  go on to tell them that there was an article of acts to see at festivals and it said about them, “If the sun’s out, you’ve got the Sunset Sons to thank!”
Rory isn’t so sure he wants this accolade and his response is simple …”Well you don’t!
Pete is quite agreeable on this statement, adding “Thanks for making it our fault if the weather is shit!” while Rory has clearly been thinking on it while his band made spoke… “How powerful do you think we are?” ha ha! See? So humble, and funny.

ewa2hb0bfqzB72S6f7QgHoALhInIlZi890-uH8-q-nxfROMrZ7VbSYGySe83jc9El8_OGbOG_xOdf1t1Q65T4teR7ghW-gD0EviRA_tyFnGk7zYoAt8VfdcwPlJaZWFDsOWm6BXhBwfjfNXLRbFZvm3gLjKeloY07hnC-k5L372OZZX0pWtoy0p1IdU8bOtoueMpAbFwgjGy1uaIZ3Pfekh3o9After discussing the more serious matters of being in a band we have a little fun with some idle quick-fire questions.

Dream support slot, alive or dead:

Pete: “A Million, but probably The Stones.”

Jed: “I keep having this weird recurring dream, Supporting Bruce Springsteen – sitting in the backstage area and the drummer falls over and breaks his wrist and Bruce asks ‘Does anyone know all the songs?’ and I just go ‘Yup!’”

Rory: “Bowie is in the toilet with food poisoning and I take his place with Freddie Mercury in Under Pressure“.

Rob: “You take Bowie’s Place, I’ll take Freddie’s place”.
To which everyone started cracking up
Jed: Didn’t Jay-Z try and do that? cover Under Pressure?
Rory: No it was Kanye West doing Bohemian Rhapsody

Jed: It’s just one of those songs you can’t cover

Ideal future collaboration?


Jed: “George The Poet
Rob: “Tay Swizzle
At this they all laughed at the contrast.
Rory: “Let’s say Noel (Gallagher). If we pop up on his radar and he says ‘Those guys can fuck off!’ Then – That’s all I want!.”

 

The Best thing about being in a band?

Pete: “Free Vans”

Rory: “The free shit. A free T-shirt? I’ll wear that T-shirt till it falls off. And it’s quite cool cos we’ve done everything ourselves. We’ve been touring and lugging our gear around. We’ve done our time so when someone is like “I’ll drive” Then That’s cool!

Pete: “It was cool when we could go and get new gear, all this stuff we’d wanted for so long.”

Rory: “Well yeah. I was more upset because it was pretty much that month that I’d just fucking paid off mine.”

Pete (almost unable to talk through his laughter):” He had a 36 month payment plan, and then the next month he got a free one exactly the same!!
This really does seem like a sore spot for Rory but I’m sure he’ll get over it eventually….. hopefully!

What’s the deal with the album?

Rory:” The album is done already“”

Pete:” We keep writing more songs

Jed: “It’s good to keep writing new songs and releasing them for fans, We’ve recorded ‘She Wants’ about 4 times. We want to take the time to make sure that all the songs go together.”

At this moment I point out that the underlying theme in so much of our conversation has been integrity, to which Jed replies with “If you haven’t got it you’ve got nothing” and Rory follows with “Yeah, you ain’t got shit!”

I’m very excited to hear what these guys produce in the studio. I know they’re a class act live – and hopefully I can catch them before the year is out – but honestly I think that with all their different influences, when they really get down to it they could produce a very unique rock album for 2015. They don’t have a lot of ego but they are confident in what they do, and they’re not limiting themselves to any genre or demographic.

I hope we get to share a pint again soon boys, I can’t wait to hear about the rest of your adventures!


 

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