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7th November 2016

Interview: Sunset Sons

Deputy music editor Katie Shepherd speaks to Sunset Suns about their birth and the escapist nature of their music

Having just released a deluxe version of their brilliantly catchy debut album, Very Rarely Say Die, Sunset Sons are a band that have burst out of the French Alps and onto the scene with a flurry of rocky guitar riffs, celebratory lyrics and the kind of feel-good factor only really good live music can give you.

As their name and album artwork would suggest, the beach has always been an important element to this band, initially formed by vocalist, Rory Williams, guitarist Robin Windram, bassist Pete Harper and Jed Laidlaw on drums, to fund their surfing habit. “We come from all over the place,” Jed tells me as we are sat in a quiet room above the Academy, where the band would be later performing. “But we ended up in this little place in the south of France. I was there teaching surfing and I saw Rory play in my friend’s bar and straight after we got chatting. I’d been in bands before and always played drums, but I was kind of sick of the scene there. Rory was the first person that made me want to be in a band again.”

Starting off as a cover band, the foursome had found the perfect job: “All of a sudden we’d invented a job for ourselves that meant we could play at night time and just hang out on the beach all day, which was perfect. When it got to the end of summer, we were like ‘what do we do now?’ Well, actually we could just drive across France because there’s the same thing happening in the mountains, surfing just gets swapped for snow sports, so we went and played the band there.”

It was actually on a journey from one of these shows in the snowy mountains that the band came up with the title for their album. “There was a lot of late night driving, and this one particular night we had about an hour and a half drive all the way down the valleys, but it was in January when it shits it down with snow. So it was like 3 foot of snow, 4 o’clock in the morning and everyone was hammered apart from the driver and we got stuck in a snowdrift halfway up a mountain. Rory had been asleep but he woke up and was like ‘what’s going on?’ and I was like ‘Rory, I think today might actually be the day we all die.’ And half-drunk, half-asleep Rory just said ‘No, no, no. We very rarely say die.’ And then fell back asleep. I was like, “I’m pretty sure its never say die…” but it just stuck. We’ve always had this never say die attitude.”

Having been on tour for almost the entirety of their time as a band, they’ve experienced a lot of weird and crazy things over the years, most of which are definitely unpublishable — but very funny. “We take the music very seriously, but we don’t really take ourselves very seriously.”

This comes through completely in the album, which deals with sad topics at times yet manages to create something celebratory and genuinely fun out of it. It’s an album that makes you want to dance and is incredibly enjoyable to listen to, while also poignant; seeking escape from heavy themes doesn’t mean ignoring them. “There’s nothing wrong with liking escapism,” Jed says earnestly. “I think all the best records are about escapism.”

One track of the record that particularly stands out is ‘Lost Company’, which entirely embodies the power of taking a personal and sad topic and delivering it in a way that can create something truly positive out of it. “We wanted to write a song about that subject matter, but we wanted to make it a celebration. We wanted something that could be sad but uplifting. That was the aim.”

Very Rarely Say Die (Deluxe) is out now.

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