Sunset Sons

by
ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL - BACKSTAGE PORTRAIT BOOTH
Rob (guitar) and Rory (lead vocals and keys) from Sunset Sons discuss what the future holds for the band.

Photo Credit: Will Bremridge

Congratulations on the success of the album and the tour, hows the tour going so far?
Rob: Ah, thank you.
Rory: Thank you very much, its mental.

You were in Bournemouth yesterday but whats been your favourite gig so far of the tour?
Rob: You cant really ignore how good Shepherd’s Bush was, that was wicked.
Rory: The first one that blew up was Glasgow. Manchester blew me away, I know we’re not from up North, but I just loved the response we got there.
Rob: But we’ve still got Exeter tonight and Cardiff tomorrow, then we start heading off to Europe, filling in the gaps.

And how is it for you in Europe, you guys all met in France, so is that another special place for you?
Rob: It is, we’ve got quite a good fan base in Germany and France. Germany’s a great place to tour anyway, they love live music. We did our first gig on the last tour with like a thousand people in the room, which is great cause the tour before that there were about 100-150 people in the room.

How would you guys say you started as individuals?
Rob: I just became a teenager and started liking Nirvana, so I picked up the guitar, and that’s exactly where music started for me, at that exact point. Before that, I had no idea.

The first EP is called Le Surfing in homage to where you met. How did that come about, those first four tracks?
Rob: They’re more or less the first four we wrote. We took a Friday afternoon out every week for an entire summer living in Hossegor, just purely to try and write some songs. By the end of the summer we had like a little collection of things which we started throwing into our gigs which reacted really well. We self-funded and released the EP and it spiked and got some attention from the industry, purely because we had a bit of a following anyway.
Rory: People seem to say they can’t put a finger on our sound and under what genre we are, which I think is a good thing. That’s us.

For people that don’t know who you are, who would you compare yourselves to?
Rob: I don’t know what my response usually is. As we’re based a lot around Rory’s keyboard and the tone of his voice, it feels like quite a classic sound. We’re not reinventing anything, they’re fairly simple songs. We just fell upon this sound when we were doing covers. I’d compare us to… Fuck, I don’t even know.
Rory: It was weird when comments started coming with reference to Kings Of Leon. With the writing style we have, the piano being a big part of it, you realise that we don’t. But I like the fact that you can’t put your finger on it.
Rob: Actually, when we’re writing songs, before its got a name we think something like, “oh this sounds a bit like a Blondie song”, so it just gets labelled Blondie. That one stuck, though most of the names change.

Kings Of Leon have the new album out, but in terms of new music in general, what are you listening to?
Rob: I like that album, Rory got me into it.
Rory: Yeah, Kings Of Leon are massive and people love giving them stick, they will always be like “its not as good as the first two records”. But new music out at the moment… Man Made for sure, they’re an underrated band. They toured with us, a proper indie band. The singer and guitarist is Johnny Marr’s son. Which I didn’t know till after they left. Also, Mystery Jets, I love those boys. I’m really excited about this band that got on the tour yesterday, called Cortes. There’s some great bands out at the moment, but bands that don’t get recognition for what they’re doing, and then there’s the normal crap that’s all over the charts. There’s the odd gem.

Recognition is obviously important, how did you find the process of getting discovered?
Rory: Really easy, I have to say it, we were lucky,
Rob: But that’s not to say we weren’t working for it. It just happened so quickly, it was a bit of a learning curve. All of a sudden we were discovered, we signed a major record deal. The pressure was on, at the time you wouldn’t think it, it was just like fucking rocking around, balls swinging out, but the truth is, the pressure was on and it was fucking hard. It didn’t go to plan, it probably never does.
Rory: There’s no preparing for it. You’re either a band that struggles for five, six, seven years to get your break. But we’d been a band, as Sunset Sons, for not long, I think not even a year, maybe seven months.
Rob:  But we’re nothing without music, really.

Do you still find time to write new material while being on tour?
Rob: Yeah we do, you have to keep it up and really the best stuff comes from when we’re at home with a bit of time blocked off to do that, but we have sound checks.
Rory: We have done stuff in sound checks, just a little jam, record a voice memo and take it back home.

And where do you count as home
Rory: The south west of France, that’s where I’m happiest. We’re on the road so much, any free time is spent there. You just get away from everything. If we were living in London, obviously we could write, but its just not what we know.

Living in France sounds amazing, but how do you find it being away from your family and friends in the UK?
Rob: We all moved away a long time ago. I think that’s how we met, just getting away from all that.
Rory: Yeah true. I mean I get a bit of a bollockin’ from my sisters every now and then. I saw my sister last night and she went, “you better come out for a drink!” But being on tour takes a lot of energy out of you, so I said “I just really wanna go to bed” and shes like, “It’s family, family comes first.” It’s hard, you want to see your friends and family… But you’ve got WhatsApp.

And what would you say is your career highlight so far, in terms of either gig overall, any release
Rob: Supporting Imagine Dragons, playing in Manchester when everyone got their lights out, that was mental. The little highlights too. What about the time we got picked up in a cab each from Switzerland and taken to a room each in the fanciest hotel in Bern? They treated us like Gods!
Rory: And we got a helicopter ride as well that festival, that was pretty radical. And you know, on this tour, every city we have played, bigger gigs.

In regards to set lists each night, do you keep it the same, change it up or blag it completely?
Rob: You’ve got your basic skeleton set with your start, middle and an end and then you can change the little bits here and there to give it a bit more fairy dust. We wanna push On The Road forward in the set but we can’t because its too fucking banging at the end.

Are music videos something you enjoy doing or something you feel you have to do?
Rob: Lets face it, they are a massive ball ache, but they’re very important. We did a new video just last week for VROL, our latest single, and we captured it on Facebook Live, which was quite an innovative thing to do we thought.
Rory: The boys have a new favourite for the last couple of videos, and they’re like, “well why don’t we just get some pretty girl and Rory can do it?” I’m happy to do anything that’s for the band. On Somewhere Maybe there was a model who was lovely, and I thought, shes just gonna lose her shit at some point and be a real diva. But it got to midnight and she was still fine. But I lost it. I went to Steve, our manager saying, “Mate I’m fucking over this” and bailed before she did.

And what about Spotify? A lot of artists have come out recently and said they’re quite against the idea of streaming, is that something you’re against?
Rob: I think Spotify is really important. The industry is so different now, it’s more relevant. You cant do away with it.
Rory: You know the artists saying that? They’re already recognised millionaires, but for a band on the rise, you get put on a Spotify playlist and you’ve got the opportunity for five million listeners. The new song got put on a load of brand new music playlists around the world.

Outside music, and outside of surfing, what do you guys like to get up to?
Rob: We did a little track day at Thruxton the other day.
Rory: Myself and Rob are big racers. We managed to sort a day out on the tour to do it, fucking awesome man.
Rob: We were on the edge.
Rory: I mean we have a good life, we get to travel the world, I love travelling.
Rob: Pete’s a keen chef.
Rory: Pete’s a damn good cook.
Rob:  Jed likes to go out.

When you do go out, what’s your favourite drink?
Rob: Well I’ve been cutting out the mixers so I just go straight for the Bourbon
Rory: Last night I had a Knob Creek, a nice Bourbon on ice.

And when you play do you drink? A bit of Dutch courage before you get on?
Rob: Not for the Dutch courage, just for the crack. We used to get so pissed playing gigs when we started, I don’t know how we did it. To this day I don’t know how I drank that much. But we gave our crew these little hip-flasks as a little present, we just take them and drink at various choice moments during the gig.

As well, you’ve played Reading, Boardmasters and all sorts of festivals, do you prefer the festival scene to your tour?
Rob: They’re very different things. Festivals are a great opportunity to find the crowd, grab it and win it over. Then you can just enjoy the festival. And touring is our chance to get our fans and put on a big production for them.
Rory: A big sing-along. Everyone knows the words, which I’m always really impressed with. They’re both epic. But with festivals, the suns out, the ciders flowing, its an absolute winner. I’d never want to not do it. If it ever stops I don’t know what I’m going to do.

Whats your favourite festival that you’ve been to?
Rob: I enjoyed Pukkelpop, that was a lot of fun this year.
Rory: Reading and Leeds is just everything I love about a festival.
Rob: Readings the nicer site, lets be honest.
Rory: It is a nicer site, but I also like Leeds because you get there and everyone’s like “fuck it its raining, weathers shit, but we’re gonna have a great time”. I’m always proud of the Leeds crowd. We’ve played on stages there that bands I love have played. I remember my sister told me about going and seeing Nirvana at Reading. For her, it changed music. And we get to play on that same stage.

What about the worst gig you have done?
Rob: We’ve done no bad gigs.
Rory: Honestly, I couldn’t tell you, I’m not just saying that. When we were a cover band, I could easily tell you. We played this bar, and there was a hundred students that rocked up form somewhere, we were playing MGMT and they came in like “wooooo”; we thought, “this is gonna go off”. Then we played Biffy Clyro and they all left. We played for two hours to no one. But we got pretty drunk that night.
Rob: It’s just training. If you’ve not done the shit, you’ve got no stories in interviews.

Most embarrassing story?
Rory: Amsterdam. When Imagine Dragons were headlining, probably the biggest one of the whole tour.
Dave: 16,000 people there for that one.
Rory: I just went on in a cheerleader outfit. You’ll get aroused if I tell you about it. I was like, “I cant go on and be nervous, I’ve got to be Carlton from Fresh Prince”, really give it everything. Got a good reception.
Rob: It was a very good reception.

Okay, where do you see yourselves in five years time?
Rob: Still touring, I don’t know. If we’re still doing this, making a career, then that will be nice. Cause what else can we do Rory?
Rory: Nothing! I wanna be doing the O2. Five years time, I wanna have done it or be doing it. Have it booked or bragging about it.

Is that after second, third album?
Rory: That’s a hard one, probably on the third.
Rob: We could have done seven studio albums by then!
Rory: Fuck it, aim big!

Do you think doing a gig like Shepherd’s Bush gives you more of a desire to do something like that?
Rory: I’ve always had the desire to do something massive like that.
Rob: I think ultimately I just want to keep this thing going, and growing, and well who knows in five years what we will be doing.
Rory: Just keep writing good songs, I don’t want that to stop. I want them to get better. Bands like Foals – I love what they’ve done. Each each album they’ve done has been amazing, the last one is great, and then they headlined Reading, and played the Pyramid Stage. The Pyramid Stage, hey? Get me on that. Yeah, that would be awesome. Aim big or go home.