Who are you and where are you from?
We are Sunset Sons! We are from all over but we live in Hossegor in the SW of France.
How would you describe your sound?
I think sometimes labelling music can be lazy. But you know when a friend says “have you heard this band?” the first thing everyone will say is “what/who do they sound like?”. I think it’s always best to listen and make up your own mind. Music is subjective whichever way you listen to it … let’s just say that we play rock music and we’re not afraid of a big chorus.
Can you tell us a bit about the new album?
The album has been a year or so in the making but we’d written at least half the songs before that. We’ve done so much touring and travelling that it has been hard to find time to finish it. We started it in Nashville with producer Jacquire King [Modest Mouse, Kings of Leon, Tom Waits, Buddy Guy Nora Jones] who is an absolute legend, and now safe to say our good friend. We recorded a bunch of songs with him in Blackbird Studios, which was an amazing experience. There’s so much history there. Every day we’d spend our time getting all these great sounds using the best vintage instruments we’d ever seen or heard. Then we’d play live until we got ‘the’ take. It was a great way of working. After we returned from Nashville we were straight into touring and then it was festival season. We were writing new songs all the time and by the end of the summer we had a few new ones we really wanted to give the chance to be on the record. So we went back to the studio near home here in France and got them down with James Lewis who produced our first two EPs. We then chose the songs that worked together best from all the sessions. I think there’s a couple on there we recorded in Monnow Valley in Wales too. The album has travelled the world already. Just like us.
Your pre-sales for the album have gone through the roof, are you in any way nervous about the sense of expectation?
There’s a little pressure sure. But that’s a good thing. We’re proud of the record we have made. And Pete [bass] always says, ‘pressure makes diamonds’. Even if this diamond is already good to go.
What are your touring plans like?
Hectic, to say the least. But we love touring. This album was written live and we can’t wait to get out on the road and play it to people. This is our first proper album headline tour and it’s going to be great to play these songs to fans of the band who have connected with them in one way or another. We’re gonna play different songs in the set up too. Change it up. Keep everyone on their toes. Just have a blast really.
Have you got any tour stories you can tell us?
We do so much travelling and meet so many people that everyday something happens. We just finished a pretty huge tour supporting Imagine Dragons in Europe and the UK. We had such a great time with the guys and the crew and it was amazing to play to 15000 people every night. The last show of the 37-date tour was in Amsterdam and as is customary the bands like to play little tricks on each other. We decided it would be funny to move the guys dressing room signs so that they tried to all get in a cleaning cupboard down the hall. But, deciding this wasn’t enough, Rory [keys/vocals] thought he would dress up as a cheerleader and go parade on stage during their set. He ‘waltzed’ onstage in this tiny little costume and danced around in front of about 16000 people. We can’t believe he had the balls to do it really. He used to be such a shy lad.
What has been the most defining or galvanising thing that has happened to you as a band?
We’re a pretty tight bunch. Not just the band. Together with our management and the little crew we tour with, we’re a family. We wouldn’t have it any other way. I remember the day we released our first EP and we had a little show in a surf shop in St Jean de Luz. In the morning it had charted something like 60 in the iTunes chart and we were all pretty buzzing about that. Anyway during the show Steve [manager] kept checking the chart on his phone and was signalling us in-between songs. He was motioning with his fingers: 21, 17, 11, getting more animated and excited after each song. It levelled out at number 6 and we were all so confused. Just saying ‘who’s buying it?’ It was then we knew all the touring we had done had connected with people. And we were on our way.
What has been the biggest influence on your music?
We’re four individuals who make a pretty good noise when we play together. We all like different music and bring different musical ideas. When we first started writing, we used to go every Friday to this little dance studio near where we live in Hossegor. We’d work on ideas and try and get a song a week together. All I know is, we were always more productive if we’d have a surf in the morning. We write songs about our experiences.
We’ve learned a lot over the last couple of years. But one thing we could already do when we got signed was play live. We’d probably played a few hundred shows together by then. You hear about so many bands that get snapped up because they have one ‘hit’ tune and then the labels build a band around them and teach them how to play like performing monkeys. Obviously we are always learning, and this arena tour we have just done with Imagine Dragons has taught us loads about how to play the songs in larger rooms. Pete loves the bigger stages, he’s finally got space for those massive pelican wings of his. All I do know is that it’s my job to watch Rory and try and keep it all together. He’s a loose cannon up there sometimes, all the best frontmen are and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Generally speaking what’s the music scene like in Hossegor?
We are the music scene in Hossegor.
What is the worst piece of advice you were ever given?
I’m not sure about worst, but the best was my Dad telling me to try and relax every now and again and take it all in. He played in a band for 40 years so he knows the score. I remember playing at Boardmasters festival last year and the act above us on the bill cancelled. Someone’s blue Skittles hadn’t been removed from their private jet or something. Anyway, we ended up playing the main stage 3rd from top of the bill to I don’t know how many thousand people. But it was a huge crowd. I just remember thinking ‘Jed, don’t play too fast, and try and absorb some of this because you never know’.
As we’re getting into festival season, what would be your ideal festival line-up?
The best thing about festivals is getting to see other bands. We’re always touring so we don’t get to go to many gigs other than our own these days. I had a ‘moment’ at Glastonbury last year watching Spiritualised late at night. I loved them when I was a kid and nearly lost my shit when they played Come Together. I don’t know, we’d obviously love to just play with our favourite bands. I can’t answer for the boys but playing on a stage before an Oasis reunion gig on the Pyramid Stage would be good.
Sunset Sons play in Belfast’s Limelight 2 on March 28th and Dublin’s Academy on March 29th. The band will also be playing at Bundoran’s Sea Sessions (June 24th to 26th). Tickets are available from usual outlets.