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Love And Music: Sunset Sons On Making Their Own Waves

Friday, 22 April 2016 Written by Milly McMahon

Sunset Sons appear haloed by kaleidoscopic stage lights as an enigmatic wave of euphoria passes over the crowd. Currently touring ‘Very Rarely Say Die’, their debut album, the band are halfway through a hectic 14 date UK schedule.

Underpinned by a wild sense of revelry, the quartet bring tan untamed and a timeless, raw energy to life on stage. Swigging from Buds and jamming impromptu between tracks, bandmates Rory Williams, Jed Laidlaw, Robin Windram and Pete Harper synchronise with gritty cohesion.

Formerly living to just ride waves and make a wage basic enough to afford that freedom, drummer Jed discovered Rory playing covers in a bar between potwashing stints in Hossegor, France. Two turned into four and the friends then began writing the tunes that would eventually find them signed to a major and recording with producers Jacquire King and James Lewis.

Having spanned the UK, the band will head to the Isle of Wight and Reading and Leeds this summer, with a sense of escapism, poetic lyrics and layered instrumentals slung over their shoulders. We caught up with Laidlaw to discuss an outstanding first album and how the music continues to evolve as the band grow ever closer.

Different tracks on the album emphasise a variety sounds. On The Road has a real feel of Nashville to it. Did each of you take responsibilities for different tracks or was each song an equal effort production and writing wise?

We write everything together. Music first, the lyrics come later. We’ve worked with three different producers thus far and they have all got the best out of us in different ways. On The Road we recorded in Nashville at Blackbird Studios with Jacquire King so you’re right to pick up on that vibe. It’s a big song. That track was one of the first songs we wrote together. We jammed on it in the rehearsal room and had the tune a little while before Rory wrote those lyrics. It was his idea of what our lives might be like in the future. He wasn’t too far off.

The album ‘Very Rarely Say Die’ was recorded between Nashville, London and France. Why did you decide to work in different countries on the material? What did relocating to new environments add to the aesthetic?

We started recording in Nashville over a year ago and then we came back with about 15 songs. We went on tour and after that came the festival season. Before we knew it, six months had passed and we’d written a bunch more songs, so we just recorded them when and where we could, to give each a chance to make it onto the album. We ended up finishing it in a little studio in Bayonne, near where we live in the south west of France. We went back in with James Lewis who produced our first two EPs because we knew he understood the sound we were looking for.

Why is the album named ‘Very Rarely Say Die’?

Occasionally, Rory has been known to get his phrases mixed up but that’s all “water under the fridge now”. We were having a particularly hairy drive home one night after playing a show up in the French Alps. It was snowing and the roads were icy and there was a 300 metre cliff on one side. Someone said they feared for our lives and Rory said: “Sunset Sons very rarely say die.” Whether it was intentional or not, it stuck. When it came to naming our début, it was easy.

Your videos have a specific, beautifully considered feel. What do you hope to communicate through the visuals and how do you cast the shoots?

We’re involved in everything that we do. Videos have always been really important to us as they represent the band visually. We made the first few videos ourselves and the video for Remember is still my favourite. I think it captures the vibe of the band and our outlook perfectly. The woman in the Somewhere Maybe video just appeared from the heavens on the morning of the shoot. She was just made to be there I guess. I’m not really that comfortable in front of the camera. Rory is though, he is great in the Somewhere Maybe video.

What music, other than your own, has themed the road trips between shows?

I never listen to our music. Once it’s recorded, we’ve agreed on the mixes and it’s on the record, I’ll listen once and then let it go. I listen to lots of different bands on the road. I’m really loving the ‘Sound and Colour’ record by Alabama Shakes at the minute.

You tour relentlessly. How does the band maintain such an energised spirit?

We always write our best music when we are back at home in Hossegor. Everyone is so much more relaxed. We might gather a few ideas during sound check and stuff when we are touring but it all comes good back in the Shire. We all have loved ones we miss when we are on tour. Music is important to us, but I think the love for another human is stronger than anything else.

Of all the songs you have written which brings you closest to the style you have always aspired to create?

We’re all really proud of Lost Company. It’s a very personal song and the subject is dear to all of us. It’s also just a huge celebration.

Who is Katie in Medicine?

I’d like to think everyone has a ‘Katie’. Someone you can run to when you need them.

‘Very Rarely Say Die’ is out now.


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