A Few Minutes With… Sunbloc on their debut record, “Wither World”
ALBANY – Releasing their debut EP, WITHER WORLD, on September 24th, Sunbloc has come into the fray of our local scene in a loud and visceral way. “Sunburn,” the intro track, starts the album with a tight drum roll. There are moments throughout the album that heavily remind this listener of punk aesthetics, mixed with alternative vibes. The simplicity of the lyrics throughout the record – at least on the tracks whose words are less buried in the mix – make the flow of the songs more easily digested. This is especially true in track two, “(All)right… Whatever,” whose lyric “It’s simple, I like it/It’s simple, I want it,” accurately sum up my thoughts toward the tune.
There were some cool vocal effects being used throughout this album, and definitely on the title track (track three), “Wither World.” To this listener, at times the vocals sound like they’re being fed through a distorted rotary speaker, such as a Leslie. Whatever effect it is, it really catches my ear. It’s after this track that I feel the album takes a sharp turn from punk, and new-wave textures, to more of grunge-y, alternative style.
This is clearly the case on track five, “Who Saves?” wherein the bass is heard to be pushed to an almost clipping sound; the sound where a speaker is being pushed to the point where it breaks up and distorts. Aside from the bass, the guitar is also pushed in a similar manner. On the closing track, “Sediment’s Kiss,” the guitar kicks off the tune with a captivating riff. That being said, it does tend to all blur together in this particular song, and this listener had a hard time deciphering what was going on musically as the track progressed.
All in all, I’d definitely describe this album as being “in your face.” The first half seems to be more connected to mid-to-late 1970’s type music, while the latter half rings of an early 1990’s sound. At times, I really wish the vocals were in the front more, as I often struggled to hear what was being sung. Despite this, the record seemingly moved along pretty fast – even if it is considered an EP – and finished before I knew it.
Over the weekend, I had a chance to chat with Sunbloc. Continue reading to catch our conversation, and follow the link at the end of the article to hear the album!
Lucas Garrett: Congratulations on your debut EP! How did this record come to exist?
Sunbloc: In the beginning of the pandemic our bassist and drummer, Keefer and Sean, decided to reimagine scrapped songs they created together in a previous incarnation of Sunbloc. Matt and Keefer knew each other from being in a past band called Spell Runner, so they remained close. Wanting to start a band similar to Lemonheads but slightly more noisy and aggressive Keefer reached out to Matt about it and they were on the same page immediately. Matt and Sean hit it off right away, yacking about their love for Brit Pop and vintage band tees. After demoing a bunch of material with bass, drums, and vocals only, we than did some Craigslist snooping. We came across Nic who plays guitar and it thankfully worked out. We demoed the songs a second time to find out what was working and what wasn’t. There was still something missing; that’s where Austin came into the picture. He was working at this coffee shop with Sean’s girlfriend, Raina, at the time we were writing songs. Sean would show them to Austin and he was really digging the jams. Raina convinced Austin to drag his little lunch box amp to jam and we clicked with him right away. Now that the lineup was cohesive and just the right amount of chaotic, we just kept consistent jams and finally got to the point of being ready to record. Austin reached out to his roommates Conor Grocki and Adris Raal to work their magic recording and mixing our new EP. They set us up in their beat lab, AKA their attic, and turned our tunes into gold. Conor sent it along to Scoops who mastered that shit into fuzz heaven. The outcome is our debut Wither World EP. Six songs to stare at the sun to.
LG: Who would you say some of your influences are when it came time to writing this record? There are a few distinct sounds on this album, for sure.
Sunbloc: When it comes to influences, the whole band looks to The Lemonheads; to us there’s nothing better. Matt calls upon Liam Gallagher, George Harrison and the whole Verve record, A Storm in Heaven. He’s also a hardcore kid at heart, paying respects to Pat Flynn, Brendan Yates, Choke Kelly and Davey Havok, providing a solid template of channeling the songs energy to stage as a lead vocalist. Keefer goes on to note, “Yeah the songs do jump around sound wise somewhat, I was listening to a lot of Narrowhead, Big Bite, XTC, and Wire. So, to me when I hear our songs it’ll hit me at times, ‘Oh I was definitely listening to 12th House Rock on repeat when I wrote this part.’ Austin pulls hard from Glenn Branca, Thurston Moore, D. Boon and John Cale, all illuminating his unique mix of rock and ambiance for Sunbloc. He calls upon Palm and Women as mentors for his guitar playing and musicality.
LG: It seemed to have a sharp shift in sound about halfway through the EP. Almost as if the EP existed in two different decades. Was it hard picking the order of songs when it came time to putting the finishing touches on the project?
Sunbloc: We all tend to agree that the track listing felt natural. Keefer reflects on this process by saying, “It can probably just be equated to the influences and what I was listening to during the song writing of each song. Funny enough, the first two songs of the EP are the oldest for us as a group so that probably has something to do with it, too.” The more we wrote together the more comfortable and hopefully better the songs come out so that may be why that seems like it’s two different sounds. It wasn’t too tricky picking the order of songs, the flow seems pretty good to us that way so we went with it. While Matt remarks on the lyrical content and says, “To me, I think the transition from light to dark on this record felt right. You start off with a high from Sunburn, a song written about a moment with friends on the west coast I wouldn’t trade for the world. To Sediment’s Kiss, howling lyrics about feeling yourself existentially breaking down and not knowing where to go, slipping through your friend’s hands. It just felt natural to end sour and embrace the notion of expressing your sadness to find the good.“
LG: What are your current plans to promote your debut release?
Sunbloc: Just spreading the word to underground music publications, like Nippertown, and pushing the tunes onto local radio stations; thanks Andy at WEXT. Matt put together a solid cassette tape layout, something you’ve really got to experience in person, that we’ve been distributing to local record shops. We also threw some on our Bandcamp so grab one there if you can’t make it to a show! Another thing is we’re all MAJOR seltzer freaks. We were able to get some blank 12 oz. cans of seltzer to slap our own Sunbloc Wither World labels on and sold them at our record release. We’re looking to make more and hopefully link up with a club around town and sell them. Main thing we want to do though is play more shows and write more slappers, which is already in the works!
LG: If there’s anything I may have missed as this interview comes to a close, please feel free to let our viewers know!
Sunbloc: As a band, we’ve seen Albany swing towards being on the up and up, slowly but surely. With this uptick we’re hoping it will get more people stoked to play music, start more bands and hit some shows. We’d like to thank Rachel over at NWR and The Byrdhouse, Dbro at the Fuze Box, Dan & Eric at Crisis Isolation and Austin at No Fun in Troy, for getting quality gigs to come through the Capital District. We encourage everyone to listen to: PRIZE, Wild Red, They’re Gutting a Body of Water, Sinking, Milly, Dazy, Senior Living, Pencildive, Valley Palace. As always, call and leave a voicemail at 518-714-BLOC to find out a list of upcoming gigs.
LG: Thanks for your time!