Interview with indie rockers Sunset Sons

As one of the few ‘old fashioned’ rock n’ roll bands in the BBC Sound of 2015 poll, Sunset Sons were always going to look like outliers. Their background, four guys meeting at a ski resort and honing their craft while touring venues in the Alps, might not tick too many boxes with the kind of broadsheet writers whose articles constantly bemoan how middle-class rock and indie music is becoming, but the tunes speak for themselves. In particular, “Remember”, backed by thumping piano and some of the catchiest guitar lines in recent years, stands out as a summer anthem to be treasured. The day The Fall Line EP was released coincided with a gig at Glasgow’s famous King Tuts Wah Wah Hut. The Student was on hand to ask the band a couple of questions

The Student: How’s the tour going so far?
Sunset Sons: The tour is charging ahead full steam…three sold-out gigs in a row with no sign of slowing down!!

TS: You’ve got an album coming out later this year – are the shows promotion for this or do audience reactions have a big factor in what goes on the record or not?
SS: There’s no better way to road test a song than a live audience and most of the tunes that made the record have been gigged pretty solidly. However, there’s a few hidden gems kept for the record…

TS: You guys have a ‘surfer’ image that’s become synonymous with you. Is it difficult playing cities such as Glasgow which have absolutely nothing to do with that culture?
SS: No, not at all. People come to the shows because of the music. The Glasgow crowd last night were awesome. We hung around after the show and had a few beers with everyone. The Scots are some of the most welcoming people you can play to. Sold out Sunday night! That says it all really.

TS: There’s a big debate going on just now that the music scene at the moment is becoming increasingly gentrified and middle class. You guys are pretty much the ultimate ‘gap year’ band, forming in a surf resort and honing your live shows touring the alps? What’s your take on this?
SS: We can see why you might think that but maybe you’ve never been to Hossegor. No one there is on a ‘gap year’. We just chose to live in a place where we could surf and be with like-minded people. We heard about the gigs you could do up in the Alps after we formed as a band, and it was a good way to make money and keep writing songs. I’ve never seen one of us ‘chunder everywhere’. We also don’t feel like we belong to any sort of scene. We were writing songs in an environment that made us totally isolated from anything going on in the UK. And we think that’s a good thing.

TS: You guys are helping push piano back to the front of indie/rock. Rory, who are your favorite piano players, and can we expect any classical elements seeping in to the tunes at any point?
SS: I have always been a big fan of the Motown era. Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder are artists I’ve listened to and admired from a young age. Also, I’ve always loved the simplicity John Lennon used when playing a piano, the dynamics and textures he can create with so little have always amazed me, that’s just to name a few though. As for classical, when I was younger I really wanted to play the drums so my mum brought me an acoustic guitar. When I asked for an electric guitar my mum booked me in for piano lessons (yeah, I was confused too) which I did for a year and after that I’ve been self-taught…so classical is something I am yet to master.

TS: Speaking of which, what bands and artists are you currently listening to and being influenced by at the moment?
SS: Recently we have all been really digging War on Drugs and Future Islands. And George the Poet! He’s ace. For the most part we all share similar influences like The Stones, Bruce Springsteen and The Beatles but we bring our individual ideas to the table. Rory grew up with Motown and soul, Jed is right into his Americana, Rob is a Britpop boy and Pete brings a bit more of a rock influence.

TS: Your new EP came out this Sunday (March 8), what’s the song you’re proudest of writing on it, and why?
SS: It would have to be “Medicine”, it just has a bit more of a broader message that I think everyone can take something away from. Everyone has someone or something (Katie) that is there for them when they need it most. It’s had a ton of spins on the radio and always goes down a treat at gigs.

TS: Social media is a huge factor in band promotion today and your Facebook and Twitter accounts are surprisingly laden with jokes, selfies, and promises of bear hugs. Do you find this helps a lot, and is that bringing your fans ‘closer’ to you so to speak?
SS: We could pretend to be all ‘East London’ cool but we’re not. We’re just four mates who spend a lot of time together. We take the piss out of each other. And we make each other laugh. But most importantly we love making music together. Our Facebook page and Twitter is there so peoplecan connect with the band.

What’s white and blue and would kill you if it fell on your head? …
… A piano in a denim jacket.

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