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Interview: Sunset Sons

Sunset Sons made a huge impact with their 2016 debut album ‘Very Rarely Say Die’. Tipped in the BBC’s Sound Poll, the British/Australian band progressed to score airplay from Radio 1, Radio X and Absolute Radio. Meanwhile, live shows included a sold-out headline date at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire as well as huge tours as guests to Imagine Dragons and Nothing But Thieves.

Before the band kick off their UK tour they are visiting a number of record shops all over the UK and I was fortunate enough to catch up with Jed Laidlaw from the band as they prepare to stop by at Castle Road’s Pie & Vinyl on November 7th.

Could you tell me about how you initially got involved with music and who influenced you most?
This one is a pretty easy answer. My Dad. He was (and still is) a drummer and I spent a massive part of my childhood sitting on the side of the stage watching him play. Apparently, I just thought playing music was what everyone did and once asked the postman what instrument he played, much to his bemusement. There was always music in the house and I can’t actually remember learning to play drums, it’s just always been something I could do.

Could you tell me about how Sunset Sons came to be formed?
I was travelling and teaching surfing in the SW of France and went to see a mate who had opened a bar called Le Surfing on the way. The night I arrived, Rory was playing a little gig in the corner of the room (I think he was getting paid in burritos). We got talking and he said he’d heard that bands could go to the Alps and make loads of money over winter. We met the Pete and Rob in Le Surfing – it was our stronghold for a little while as we were all living in our vans so that bar was our living room most days. It all came together in there and we headed to the Alps.

For those who are new to your music which three tracks would you encourage them to check out first and why?
Remember,’ ‘Dance Your Life Away‘ and ‘Superman.’ I like to think that we aren’t one trick ponies and can do the subtle tunes as well as the big rock monsters.

Can you describe how you felt after you’d released your first single?
Our first release was our Le Surfing EP and I can remember the day it came out. We were playing a little gig near home in Hossegor and our manager was in the audience checking his phone and letting us know how it was doing in the iTunes chart, shouting out between the tunes as it was going up the chart. We were blown away by the response. And that’s when the phone started ringing.

Over the years has your approach to performing live changed?
We started out as a live band. We’d played over 400 shows before we got signed. I think on the road and on stage is where we are all most comfortable. The main difference we have these days is Henry, our guitarist. He brings so much with his playing. He’s a better musician than all of the rest of us put together. But don’t tell him.

How do you feel when you share your music for the first time? Do you prefer to share new music live where you can see the crowd’s reaction first hand or online perhaps?
When we first started out in the Alps, we were a covers band. I think we learned a load from playing all those classic rock n roll songs in sweaty bars – about how to construct setlists and how to work a crowd. When we first started writing tunes, we would just drop them in the set, in-between the Clash and the Who and other belters. If people kept dancing, we knew we’d written something good.

What bands and artists are you currently listening to and how are they inspiring you to explore and implement new ideas with your music?
We listened to loads of stuff when we were recording the record, from LCD Soundsystem to Smashing Pumpkins. There’s some strings on there and we wanted it to sound really beautiful as well as tougher than we have sounded before. It’s a much more expansive record than our debut.

What can those fortunate enough to have tickets expect from your live show?
A shit ton of energy and some massive tunes. We toured constantly for the first three years we were together as a band and we’ve had a little too much time away since then, making this record. We are buzzing to get out and playing again!

What can we expect from you over the next twelve months?
We just want to get out and play this record to as many people as possible, so loads of gigs and then loads of festivals next summer. And then just get back in the studio and record another album. Keep the dream alive.


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