Sun Drums – Interview

This Friday sees the acclaimed Sun Drums head up Everisland’s electro event Thirteen  at The Kazimier. We caught up with Tom Cowcher, Sam Twidale and Jacob Silkin to talk glockenspiels, R Kelly and jangly guitar music…

The Double Negative: Your first official gig was in 2009 as Bagheera. How has your music changed since then?

We started at a friend’s 21st birthday party with just four songs… it was really good, the most productive we’ve been as a band ever haha! People were impressed, and that was the start of it really. Next was an official gig at Static Gallery. At the start, our music was a lot more folk orientated, using guitars, live drums, a glockenspiel, and casio keyboards. Now it’s more grown up. We’ve collected more gadgetry now and we’re more proficient at using it all. We’ve learnt how to make things sound bigger and better. One of the turning points from going from Bagheera to Sundrums was seeing Moderat (Berlin based collaboration between  Apparat and Modeselektor) live – how electronic music and guitar music can gel and really work in one set. From then on our music became more beat orientated.

TDN: Our very own Jon Davies describes your self-titled EP as “record of the year… sumptuous…. Burial-esque…fused with Sufjan Stevens’ cinematic orchestration”. Did he hit the nail on the head?

Jon’s a good friend. Jacob paid him money (all laugh). He’s definitely picked out the parts that we’d all like to be in there. You know how you can’t always trust your friends to give you an honest opinion? Well you can with Jon – because he always gives us bad reviews haha! It’s a very nice compliment. He wouldn’t just tell you that you were good because he’s your friend. Sufjan Stevens is a massive influence, in particular for song writing.

TDN: How did you get involved with Everybodys Stalking (Manchester based label)?

We met Chris from Everybodys Stalking through our old manager. Chris has done A&R work for Atlantic Records, but this is his project, his baby, and he just got in touch. He let us do basically whatever we wanted; to take as long as we wanted, no pressure. We sorted out the artwork, because that’s what we wanted to do, we chose who mastered it, we decided we wanted it on vinyl, and it was going to be ridiculously long, and he facilitated it all. Really lovely guy. Our shortest track on the EP is five minutes long, you know… that could be a problem for some people, but it wasn’t for him. He’s been really encouraging all the way through. He understands what we want out of the band and shares the ideals we have about the industry. He does good things for good musicians. What he’s made happen is really, really cool.

TDN: Peter Guy recently put you in his ones to watch list for 2012, commenting, “we’re still waiting for those final pieces of the jigsaw to click firmly into place. Fingers crossed. We know they can do it.” What’s your response to this?

Bastard! Haha. All in good time! Our attitude has never been to rush into things, or to have a business plan or an image. It has been a natural evolution. The last few months have been difficult because we haven’t been in the same place (Jacob has been interning at London based African music label World Circuit). We will be starting to make new music again but it’s not a rush. There can be regrets later on – we want to be happy with the music we make, and that takes a long time. We’ve spoken with label people and managers who’ve been like, “well, we really like your sound, but before we can work with you we need 15 or 20 tracks”. That’s not the way we’ve gone about things. We are not just going to churn out moderate to average tracks for the sake of it. We are very grateful to be on his list and we’ll treasure our eventual GIT Awards, hahaha!

“Our attitude has never been to rush into things, or to have a business plan or an image”

TDN: What were you listening to around the time you wrote and recorded the EP?

Swim by Caribou… Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, James Blake, Nicolas Jaar… R Kelly! Quite an RnB influence on the beats. The Weekend and Drake – unbelievable albums. They brought RnB and Hip Hop to the greatest demographic, with sophistication and incredible production. Clams Casino – he writes enormous, atmospheric, bursting at the seams tracks. He’s doing something great for Hip Hop. Lyric wise it’s dark and personal and insecure, subverting all your RnB stereotypes. There’s too many!

TDN: We’ve checked out your Best of 2011 list (written by Jacob) and we loved it! Who are your ones to watch for 2012?

Clams Casino is going to be huge. Liverpool wise, Forest Swords is the most exciting artist to come out of Liverpool in decades. What’s happening now with Loved Ones and Outfit is great; they are two promising bands who don’t fit into the inherent Liverpool stereotype of guitar indie/lad/Matthew Street music. Capac, although no longer part of the city’s scene, are great and lovely guys. We Came Out Like Tigers (Tom mixed one of their self-titled tracks last year)… the brutal emotion shown live is second to none. They’re so politically fuelled but it’s so convincing, sincere, and emotive, it still sends shivers down my spine every time I see them. Outside of Liverpool, Azealia Banks is going to be huge. Labels like 100% Silk – every release in 2011 was excellent. Keysound are always good, Planet Mu…

TDN: What are you looking forward to most at the Thirteen event on Saturday? It sounds epic.

Its ace to see Everisland putting on a bold professional line up that we are really chuffed to be on. If we could choose two bands to play with it would be Loved Ones and Capac. Hive Collective do awesome stuff all round the city. We are looking forward to playing with friends, that’s what it’s all about!

TDN: How would you describe the scene in Liverpool for bands like Sun Drums? It seems to us like quite fertile ground at the moment.

I feel that we are part of the DIY scene, but it’s hard to define. We’ve felt quite distanced from the scene for the last year, not playing live a lot. We’ve not asserted ourselves as a band into the scene enough. We think it’s a bit of a shame that Liverpool’s lost bands like Capac to London, and especially because those people [as individuals] have a lot to add to the rest of the scene in Liverpool. Forest Swords has never been embraced as maybe he could’ve been. The whole outside perception of Liverpool Music outside the city is not a positive one – it’s hard to position yourself as a musician from Liverpool and you can see why people would want to reject that unfair stereotype. If people ask us if we are a ‘Liverpool Band’ I know they’re thinking of that jangly guitar thing. In a way, Liverpool’s kind of obsessed with and very proud of its history. It’s great to have heritage and Liverpool’s amazing because there is such a level of pride here, but in terms of having a progressive music scene it’s important to let go and not regurgitate what’s been done before. It’s boring.

There’s a great sense of community here, it’s the perfect size, and there’s stuff happening all the time. From 2011 its felt like there is a real connection between the music and arts scene – they seem to be working more closely together. You know, O2 Academy can f**k right off – no local band should be aspiring to play there. It’s not beneficial to the local scene. I’d much rather see a gig in The Kazimier any day. People shouldn’t be too upset with places like The Masque closing down… it’s going to mean that people are going to be looking even more to places like Wolstenholme, The Royal Standard, and Camp & Furnace.

The scene is definitely in a process of development. All it needs is a band to come through and destroy that stereotype. The non-Deltasonic, non-guitar based band to come through and show that the city has more to offer. Liverpool’s a fantastic city with the biggest arts community outside London, people don’t realise that.

TDN: What are your plans for 2012?

It might be really good to work with a producer, because they’re the ones who say ‘stop’ when you need it! We have a habit of overworking things, writing as we go along, and taking a long time. All part of the creative process for us. It’s difficult to let a track go… making tiny little decisions, it has to be meticulous in our eyes. Maybe to strip it back – to make one really bold sound instead of merging together 15 different sounds.

Sun Drums EP is released Feb 6th through Everybody’s Stalking

Everisland present Thirteen at The Kazimier Friday 13th January, £5 adv, 7pm-2am

Posted on 11/01/2012 by thedoublenegative