Two years ago three Brits and an Aussie met in Hossegor, a coastal town in the south west of France, through their common interests, surfing and making music. Shortly afterwards they formed a covers band and started touring the Alps, playing to winter vacationers.
Encouraged by their fans to write their own songs, Sunset Sons self-released their first EP last year, which was picked up by a major record company and led to the band’s nomination for the BBC’s prestigious Sound Of 2015 newcomer prize. Sunset Sons music is an amalgamation of powerful guitars, tight drums and summery melodies that might call Kings of Leon to mind. Or even The Stones and The Beatles, as the band jokingly suggests in our interview.
THE RED BULLETIN: How does your passion for surfing feed into your song writing?
JED: We get don’t really write about surfing. We’re not the Beach Boys, even though we all love [their legendary album] Pet Sounds.
PETE: When we first started writing, we made a deal to go to a rehearsal space every Friday for four hours. And we did. Even if the surf was pumping or the weather was good. In those first few weeks, we were always a lot more productive if we had been for a splash in the morning.
JED: I guess the main similarity between the two is you’re always evolving and learning. We’re definitely still learning how to write better songs. And I still can’t land an air reverse.
What’s the musical equivalent of an amazing wave?
RORY: It has to be an amazing crowd. You get a real buzz when you hear the crowd screaming and chanting – the bigger the better! We’ve had a few little tasters of big crowds at arenas and festivals.
JED: There have been some times on this last tour when the adrenaline has really been flowing. We supported Angus and Julia Stone on a couple of arena shows in France. Finishing a song and hearing thousands of people cheering is pretty crazy.
PETE: Those songs that give you goose bumps every time you hear them. I get it at the end of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” by David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars.
ROB: Anything with a stupid over-the-top guitar solo. Boom.
What’s the best time of the day for either surfing or making music?
JED: Personally, I always have the best surfs in the evening. I love it as it starts to get dark and the wind drops and the water glasses off. It’s usually less crowded too. Rock ‘n’ roll is not for the mornings, unless I haven’t been to bed.
Rob, do you own more guitars or surfboards?
ROB: Four surfboards, four guitars. Even stevens. Guitars are the things I struggle not to buy, there’s always a guitar I desperately want for some reason. Surfboards on the other hand, I just get attached to and feel comfortable with them and ride them until they’re knackered.
You played as a cover band in ski resorts for a while. What’s your favourite song to cover?
JED: We used to play loads of tunes that the other bands didn’t up in the hills. Our strength was drunken enthusiasm to their musical ability. I always loved closing the shows with Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”. It never failed to get the crowds going mental.
What’s the most memorable adventure in the band history so far?
JED: Last year, we played a show at the Quiksilver Boardriders in St Jean de Luz, the day our self-released debut EP Le Surfing came out. We had no idea how it was going to be received and before we went on, it was about 50 or 60 in the iTunes chart. As we were playing, it was going up and up. We knew this because our manager Steve was frantically giving us signals in-between songs. When he got down to just one hand and one finger, we knew we were at number 6. We were all blown away when we came off. Everyone was saying, ‘who’s buying it?’
If people check out Sunset Sons on last.fm, which bands in your opinion should pop up in the ‘Similar Artists’ sidebar?
ROB: We’d be happy being alongside all the greats: The Stones, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac. We reckon we’d lazily be matched with a few others though.
One remarkable thing about you guys is that when the major record companies called, you didn’t rush to London but instead told them to come to Val d’Isère where you resided at the time. How did that happen?
JED: We didn’t want to come to the UK until we were ready. Plus, we were having a load of fun up in the mountains. After the Le Surfing EP came out, the phone just didn’t stop ringing. We eventually booked a UK tour and some of the labels were mad keen to come and meet us before the shit fight started. It was cool that they got to see us in our natural environment and in the place where this all started. We got a few decent dinners out of it too. When we played our first UK gig (in Tynemouth), there were over 40 A&Rs from all the London-based labels. It was pretty mental.
Despite your recent success you still live in Hossegor on the French coast. Do you have any ambitions to move to London or any other big city?
PETE: We don’t think moving to London is ambitious. Getting some free time in Hossegor at the minute is ambitious! We just love it down there. The weather’s good, the waves are amazing, our friends are there. What’s not to love?
You named your first EP after the bar where you started the band. The current one is called The Fall Line. What does it refer to? It’s a term from the skiing world, isn’t it?
RORY: It is. It’s when you aim yourself down the mountain and gravity takes over. It’s the point when you start to accelerate uncontrollably, but in a good way! We just thought it summed up where we are at right now. It is also the name of a bar we used to play up in the mountains.