Sunset Sons Interview

Ben: So with 12 big shows around the UK coming up this October, how are you feeling about your upcoming tour? 

Jed: Pretty buzzed, pretty excited. After a hectic summer full of festivals, we started writing a few new tunes, whilst chilling in France. Then, more recently, we started rehearsing, getting songs together for the tour and now are based in Newcastle doing a few days of pre-production. At the moment, it’s all sounding good – just want to get cracking! It’s just fun, you know, getting all the arrangements together to keep everyone, especially us as a band, interested during the tour but now I’m getting to the point where I just want to get into the bus and go.

Q: Is there a particular highlight from your summer filled with festivals? 

A: The European ones are great and we did loads of those (plus you get treated like royalty!). But, all the way through summer, I was aware of the fact that Reading was the last one and it’s a festival with a vibe I love, especially having been a few times myself. I just wanted Reading to go off – and it did. So, for me, our Reading show was definitely the highlight. We were on quite early and we’d played the last 3 years with us moving to a bigger stage each time so this time we were on the Radio One/NME stage at lunchtime. I was worried that as it was early there’d be no one there but I poked my head out the curtain before the show and it was full with 12,000 people – so that was a highlight for me!

“I just wanted Reading to go off – and it did”

Q: As you’re from Newcastle yourself, how have your experiences of the Newcastle music scene been? 

A: Although I’ve spent a lot of time travelling through Europe, I was in bands here as a kid and I know a lot of venues haven’t massively changed. When I was here, it was bands like The Futureheads and venues such as the Dog and Parrot, The Cluny – Riverside was just kicking off too. Also, there was a great scene in Sunderland and we’d support one another. The last thing we’ve done in Newcastle was play at the Students’ Union but, as I’ve been travelling so much, I’m a bit out of the loop.

Q: You’re a British-Australian band that resides predominately in France – do you think the collective international nature of the band has influenced your sound? 

A: Yes I do. As a band, we aren’t part of a scene but I don’t necessarily think that’s a negative thing. Often journalists try to pigeonhole us as it’s easier but I think that’s a lazy approach. We all met in the South of France: surfing, bumming about and living out of vans. When we starting writing music together, none of us were listening to the radio or anything current, so we weren’t keeping up to any kind of theme. We were just getting in a room, jamming around, making noises – playing what we liked but it took us a while to work out our ‘sound’, maybe we haven’t still found it. The plan was there was no plan. Then we got signed which meant we got around and saw more bands and were being likened to other bands which you can compare yourselves to. At the end of the day though, it was still just us doing our own thing.

“The plan was there was no plan”

Q: How was making the debut album as an experience? Following the rise of streaming sites, is the debut album more important than ever as a means of getting your sound across to as many people as possible? 

A: I’ve never really seen streaming in that sort of way. I’d like to think most of our tunes are pretty instant but not intentionally. In terms of our influences, we’ve always liked songs that grab a hold of you like Springsteen so I think we’ve gone in that direction – but subconsciously. The debut album is always going to be important as you only get one shot at a debut record. It’s where you set your stall out. I get upset when someone puts music on shuffle as I think you should try and listen to records in their entirety – people have put a lot of thought into the track listing to make it a collective work.

Q: Any advice you’d give to our own student bands trying to make it into the music industry? 

A: It’s going to sound really cheesy but stick to your guns. If there’s a group of you in the room and you can feel something, just go with it. Courage and conviction are the most important thing in a band – don’t try and mould into what everyone else is doing, even if what you think you’re doing is a bit weird! The most important thing these days is to have fun. If you’re having a few beers, making music and having a good time, that’s the most of it and everyone else will get involved with that energy and that vibe. Music is cathartic a lot of the time.

“Courage and conviction are the most important thing in a band”

Q: I think it’s fair to describe your songs are catchy and infectious. What’s the trick behind that? 

A: The process is quite simple really and hasn’t really altered as it still comes from the four of us in a room. We’ll just sit and play some stuff together and we have a total democracy as a band – so if one person doesn’t like it, they have to shut up and get on with it with a good heart. Lyrics generally come a bit later and, as a whole, we’re always searching for that perfect chorus. It’s quite a good quest. We work on stuff until we all like it. Between the four of us, we like a lot of different music but we all agree on making something emotive and melodic. It’s not an exact science but our songs are big singalongs that people can vibe on and that’s how it comes about.

Q: Also, I’ve seen you’re on Guitar Hero! Have you had a chance to play it yourself? If so, was it surreal? 

A: It’s a bit mad. I remember when we came off stage at Reading last year – we were whisked away off stage and taken to another part of the festival so we could play on our own song that just came out on the game. It was pretty funny as we could play the solo we’d just played to thousands of people! It was pretty mental. I think it’s relevant nowadays as people listen to music in so many different ways. We’re on a few different computer games and in the YouTube comments you can see the different ways where people have heard the music from. As long as the music accesses people, I don’t care through what method it does it in.

“We’re always searching for that perfect chorus. It’s quite a good quest”

Q: Yeah it’s funny you say that – my younger brother knows some of your songs – probably without even realising it! 

A: I know – it’s mad. You can be really purist and cynical about it but we just think, you know what – f*** it, if that’s what makes our music get to more people then that’s what we want. We didn’t write these songs to listen to in our own bedrooms – we wanna get them out there in the world.

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