Last week I had the pleasure of catching up with Jed from band Sunset Sons, ahead of their huge European tour in support of Imagine Dragons. With their debut album set for release early next it’s safe to say the guys are on the up, and will be a band to look out for in the coming months. We chatted about personal favourites and where they’ve come from – plus everywhere they’re going.
Hey man, how are you?
Good man, just catching a flight home so I’m at the airport now just waiting for that.
Okay cool, so you’ve got the European tour coming up with Imagine Dragons; how excited are you for that?
Pretty excited actually! We’ve just been in the studio finishing our album, which we’ve been doing in little bits over the summer because we’ve had loads of festivals. We did a show up in Newcastle a few days ago, which was the first time we’d done a show in ages, other than that we’re itching to get out there!
Imagine Dragons are seen as a huge arena band from the States, whereas you’ve come from a background of playing smaller, more intimate venues in what isn’t even your native country – Do you think that the experience will help you as a band?
I’d like to think it would help us! We’re gonna get to play in front of an absolute shit load of people. So as long as we keep our shit together and play the songs right it can’t do us any harm! It’s really exciting, and it’s a no brainer really. We get massive exposure to loads of people who are going to have a nice night out and we get to warm them up, so it’s going to be really good.
So will most of these larger venues be new to you?
Yeah, apart from Glastonbury and all that we’ve mainly just played academy-sized venues. We have played a couple of support shows with Angus and Julia Stone in France including the Zenith in Paris so that’s the only one that we’re going back to, but everything else is new. We’re playing two nights at the O2, we’ve never even done one before!
Is that the one that you’re looking forward to the most then? Or is there any other specific one that you’re really excited for?
I’m looking forward to going to Stockholm and a few other places in Europe that I’ve never been. But because I’m from Newcastle, and we’re playing Newcastle Area, so I’m really excited about that – I’ve already got my Toon top on order!
It’s a huge tour, what essentials will you have to get you through it?
The main thing is a really good set of headphones.
What will be playing on them then?
I’ve got a few things that I’m into at the moment. I’ve been listening to the most recent Beck record a lot. Courtney Barnett is someone I really like. And then if I get bored I just put Springsteen on and listen to Darkness on the Edge of Town over and over again!
So what are the craziest things you’ve got up to on tour? Or do you have any really good stories?
[pauses to think]… We nearly died a few times in the Alps.
That’s pretty crazy!
Yeah! There’s been a few times where we were stuck on the side of the mountain because of a snow drift, and nearly got shunted off of the edge of the mountain’s edge at like 5am. It was always pretty hairy. We actually also did a 50-50 boardslide once with a van, I’m absolutely amazed that we got through it!
So I guess a European tour will pale in comparison?!
Yeah exactly! Everything’s pretty easy these days. Don’t have to worry about 6 foot of snow!
You guys started off in the south of France, how did three Brits and an Aussie come together there?
It’s actually pretty simple… I was travelling, because I was teaching surfing. I’d been all over Europe for a couple of years, just moving around. I met a guy who opened a bar in Hossegor, so I just went one night to go and see him and that night Rory was doing a gig. I’d been in a band before and wanted to do it again, so I met Rory and we got on really well. We made a plan that night, got on the piss, and just thought we should make a band and that was it! The rest of the boys were just hanging out around there, it just came together and we didn’t really hang about with it – we had the band together in about 2 weeks!
The most recent single you’ve released was ‘She Wants’, are you happy with how it was received?
Yeah it was great. It was the first time that we’d been in the UK when one of our singles came out. It was nice just hearing us on the radio, which never gets boring! I read a few nice things that people said about it too. We did about 20 festivals this summer, including one in Valencia where we were on at like 3 in the morning. I just remember at the start, when Rory did the into for She Wants everyone was singing it, and I was just thinking, “This is a bit weird.” There were however many thousand people there in the middle of the night just all singing ‘She Wants’ and I was thinking, “How did we get to here already?!”.
So On The Road is coming out soon, can you give us any info about what the single’s like and what to expect?
It’s gonna be out in the next couple of weeks, at least that’s when you should start hearing it on the radio. It’s really upbeat, it’s always the favourite from our most recent shows and we always finish the set with it. It feels like the right time to release it because it was a highlight all summer. The weather is getting bad so we need a little reminder of the summer and how good it was!
Where does the band find its inspiration for song writing, and which bands influence you?
We all like different stuff, which I think is pretty good. I like old school Americana, Pete likes pretty heavy rock stuff, Rob just loves Oasis and other Britpop and then Rory likes all sorts. But we’ve all agreed that we really like melody in songwriting. We generally sit down and jam with our ideas, and if we all like it after 20 minutes then we keep working on it. It generally just comes together.
All of those different interests are what produce that individual sound?
Yeah. We never really set out looking for a certain sound, we just played stuff and it developed over the first 6 months together. Now we know whether something’s us or isn’t us.
So to people who haven’t heard your music before, how would you describe that sound to them?
I get asked this all the time and I still don’t know what to say! I’d say we’re just a rock and roll band that isn’t afraid of a big chorus. We’re not scared of a big chorus and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Looking back at 2015 already, it’s been quite the year for you guys, does that feel good?
Yeah man, we’ve had a good start, and we just wanna keep on trucking. We’re all really excited for the album; we’ve been recording it for a year now. It’s pretty much finished, give or take a few sprinklings here and there. It’s done, and we’ve been listening to it the past few days and it sounds banging. We just wanna get that out. At the minute it’s great, because people know all the songs that are out on the radio, but we just wanna record out so they know all of them. So we’ll get the record out in March and then tour after that so that everyone gets to see us play them!
Yeah, off the back of that there’s clearly going to be a headline tour. So who would be your dream support acts? One realistic and one outrageous…
You never wanna put someone on before who’s gonna blow you off do you? There’s a really good band kicking about at the minute actually, from Manchester called Man Made that did a couple of shows with us over the summer. So I’d have them come and support us, as the realistic one. And for the outrageous one I think I’d have Springsteen, but he’d only be allowed an acoustic guitar!
It’s clear to see from your social media that you got to visit some awesome places over the summer, but where was the best?
The best thing we’ve done as a band was when we played Glastonbury. We were like 2nd or 3rd on, on the John Peele stage and I didn’t know if there’d be anyone there. We walked on and you couldn’t see the back of the tent. And then half way through the third song I looked over and Michael Eavis clapping and smiling, and just thought, “Right, this is really weird.” But that was definitely the best.
Do you still get time for much surfing in amongst your busy schedules?
You know what? We do! I am the airport about to head home for a few days. We’ve got a couple of gigs to do, friends to see, but I’ll be in the water this time tomorrow – can’t complain!
Finally, it’s what got you where you are now, so will you go back and do a set of ski season concerts?
We’re actually just talking about doing a couple of shows this winter, and it’s always good just to go up and see all your mates. It’s an excuse for a jolly! So never say never.
Sunset Sons open for Imagine Dragons on their European Tour, hitting London’s O2 on November 4th. ‘On The Road’ is out now.