Interview: Eternal Summers

Eternal Summers

Words: Gary Lambert

Photos: Gaz Jones

eternal summersWelcome to meeting one of the best bands that you have probably never heard of. Popped Music had their latest Snap n Chat with the finest band to come out of Roanoke, Virginia, the wonderful Eternal Summers. We surprised the band with not only our arrival, but  with questions and camera in hand, as they had not seen the email about it. Thankfully the band took their time to speak with us, pose for us and take us through the looking glass into the back stage area, which at The Deaf Institute in Manchester is like a small hostel for backpackers with a bedroom of bunk beds, kitchen, living space and bathroom.

Eternal Summers are a three piece made up of Nicole Yun (vocals and guitar) with fellow original member Daniel Cundiff (drummer) and Jonathan Woods (bassist, backing vocals and one lead vocal per album). The band were formed in 2009 and expanded in 2011 whilst they were recording their sophomore album Correct Behaviour. The jamming, getting to know you sessions from that period proved so fruitful that “two or three of the jams” ended up forming part of the album.

By the time we came to be sitting down in the public bar below Manchester’s most characterful music venue, the trio had that day driven from London, completed their sound check and had their eyes firmly fixed on the fast approaching flight home. But that did not affect our evening or their performance later. They were witty, friendly and delightfully talkative and then brilliant in their later support slot.

In their words the current feeling of the band was “a mixture of fatigue, homesickness and WOW. – We are still feeling excited at all these amazing cities and countries we have been to – and by the amazing fans we have met for the first time. We are always going to remember this tour, it’s been life changing. Someone came up to us and said ‘I have waited five years for this’. That in itself creates a new kind of excitement at both ends”.


The excitement for Eternal Summers obviously comes at a price on the body though as everything has been a new experience for them. “You try to get over jet lag on a trip like this but it isn’t easy as you’re constantly bouncing from place to place. From originally landing in the UK then going over to Ireland and then back to the UK and then into Europe before coming back to the UK and then going over to Eastern Europe. Finally then you get back to the UK for the last leg of the tour”.


eternal summers copyright gaz jonesAs you would expect though a long, relentless tour of Europe has its benefits musically though as the band admitted they had found a new level of confidence and belief in their playing. “It’s cool to be at this level of comfort to be able to trust your brain and body to get on with playing the songs and then we know if we want to try something new out on stage we can do”. Whilst this may sound a bit robotic, I took it more like a great sporting team who through training and playing together knew exactly how their team mate was going to behave and could risk taking it up a notch in terms of risk and reward.


The band were obviously all enthused at being over in the UK and, at that time in particular, in Manchester even if one aspect of Mancunian life did let them down in an unexpected way. “It’s been so cool to see the towns and cities that inspired the music we have grown up with. Yes, you can do that in the States too, but growing up you never expect to see London or Manchester. Although it has been a bit disappointing to be here and see blue skies all day rather than the rain and grey that we had always heard of”.


Given they are a tried and tested American band with a sound which can easily cross over genres and oceans, it seemed somewhat surprising that this was their first ever European tour. The band explained “we were actually meant to come over as early as 2011, but as we were planning and preparing for it that tour fell through. So we tried with a different booking agent to get over again a bit later, but after a while that didn’t happen as that person quit the whole field of agency. So we got our heads together and decided that if we were ever going to go to try to go over again we would make it worthwhile. It costs a pretty penny to come over here and do all this, but at a point earlier this year we realised we had enough money saved up to do it. We are all glad we waited as we have wanted to come over for so long and now we have we appreciate it rather than just take it as something bands do”.


“We have played some towns and cities that we had been warned back home were tough crowds to play and we have got through without a hitch. Maybe if we didn’t have that additional five years of experience then we would have felt the rougher end of the crowd reaction.”


Whilst doing our research prior to meeting Eternal Summers, everything we had found out about them told us they were from Roanoke, Virginia, but their press release had described them as Brooklyn based. As we see in the UK so many bands feel they have to move to London in order to make it, so we asked them about being in Brooklyn. And I for one felt pretty red-cheeked.


“Oh my goodness! That’s wrong. So wrong. So very wrong. We don’t identify with Brooklyn at all. Our label is based there, but we are so far removed from that scene. We are from this small, little country town and people ask us why don’t we move to Brooklyn but we love where we are from and Roanoke brings its own flavour to our music especially compared with what Brooklyn would”


eternal summers copyright gaz jones“There is no disdain for New York or Brooklyn but we do get a little frustrated by it all over there. Even though the fanbase treats us really well, it is a town that can treat bands very rough. We just can’t imagine how we could identify with the music scene there”.


If the Brooklyn scene does not suit Eternal Summers then what about the scene in Roanoke? “There is only a very small music scene in Roanoke. The biggest things happening musically are cover bands and bar bands. We do play New York far more than we get to play our hometown. We have played Roanoke twice in 2015 yet we have three gigs in two days in New York when we return from this tour. You get the impression that some people at home feel a little bit of disdain for us for doing that, but if there was a consistent venue that was the right size and stayed open late enough then we would love to play there more often.”


It is obvious as Eternal Summers discuss Roanoke how much they love it and want to show their friends, family and fellow townspeople how the band has progressed. Even though there is no obvious venue for them that does not stop the show. “To play there we have to make things up to get what we need. Recently we had to find a way to coerce and convince this pretty large venue that only usually has jazz and classical to host a show of ours. The show went very well and hopefully that will open things up more for rock in our town. At the moment Americana is about as leftfield as it gets around there with nobody amplified like us”. You get the feeling though that is changing as Eternal Summers must be role models for the younger members of Roanoke.


There is more to their location than it being home though. There is a big of thought in it too. “We live in a town that allows us to create and practice and be in a position to be able to go on tour. One thing we do know is that there are right now a lot of bands from Brooklyn or LA where the rent is very high and they cannot go on tour as they cannot stop working at other jobs in order to pay the rent. Even the record labels are starting to notice that now, that maybe they shouldn’t pick up a band just because they are from New York as they can’t go out on tour”.


This could be a good lesson for young bands in the UK too who used to leave their hometowns in the hope of being seen playing pubs in London. In the modern world with the power of social media and rising rental prices, stay at home and play music and build up a presence and then take it around the country. Don’t get sucked into the Big City rat race, but become who you need to be. And then when London or Manchester or Liverpool or Bristol want you then move in rather than get swallowed up.


Take heed of the words of Eternal Summers “maybe it’s less thrilling than big city problems, but what we have is pretty cool”.


Watch the video for Roses by Eternal Summers here:


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