Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life are pleased to bring you an interview with heavy prog band, Sunrunner.
1. How did you get started as a band?
It started when Frank Navarro, Andy Moulton and I rented a place together to study music at the University Of Maine at Augusta. I just wanted to learn some music theory and broaden my horizon with music writing. I was already playing guitar for fifteen years or so. It seemed like the right thing to do. Andy was studying jazz guitar. And Frank played both bass and guitar.
We jammed a lot in those days. By 2008 we decided we should be a band. But the three of us had completely different ideas of what to play. Andy wanted to play jazz, Frank writes his own weird experimental folk and rock, and I was always into metal. It was an odd combination. But we made it work.
Later in 2008, we met Dave Joy who sang, (and later would play bass). We made a demo between 2008 and 2009. Came up with the name Sunrunner and started playing our first gigs.
2. How would you describe your sound?
Sunrunner has been described as “heavy prog”. I think it means that we play heavy metal and there is quite a bit of progressive rock going on. But we don’t play prog metal. There is a difference. Prog metal is very virtuoso and polished and perfect. Our “progressive” side is more in the arena of pushing the limits of genre boundaries. We still use odd time signatures and do some weird stuff. But it is essentially classic heavy metal at this point. In the early days, we experimented a lot. Too much for my tastes. We we’re very “proggy”. The last few albums, I wanted to bring back my roots and write more traditional heavy metal.
Our production is also a major factor. We want to sound live and raw. I love the sound of Motorhead and Tank and the old NWOBHM. It seems we are more of a working class prog metal band. Less polished and less virtuoso. I wanted to kind of hide the proggy element. Some songs are in 7/8 or whatever. But I wanted to make it sound like it was normal and common time. Be real subtle with that stuff.
What we like to do as well is add acoustics and other instrumentation. Sometimes flute, cello, bouzouki and percussion. But not too much. Just a little. We want to keep the music rockin’ and not be too artsy like we did in the early days.
3. What bands/artists would you say have influenced your style of music?
The holy trinity of Black Sabbath, Rush and Iron Maiden are my top favorites. And is also a common influence for all of us. But other than that, we have very different inspirations musically. For me, it’s mostly seventies and eighties metal. Helloween, Rage, Candlemass, Thin Lizzy, Rainbow, Uriah Heep, Metallica, Tank, Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Slayer, The Scorpions, Pink Floyd and many more. I also love world music from Scandinavian folk to Peruvian pan pipes, gypsy jazz and even some old country. And also the romantic era classical.
4. Has the rise of YouTube & music streaming helped or hindered you as a band?
Yes and no. Yes for obvious reasons. Anyone can listen to anything anytime. Kind of awesome. Unheard, unsigned bands can put their music up for everyone to hear.
The flip side to that is there is a million times more competition for one. Also, people don’t buy records anymore, so it is difficult to make money. Record labels want to see that you have hundreds of thousands of views before they even talk to you. But how do you get that many reviews when you have no help from a record label? It’s all about views nowadays, which I have mixed feelings about.
I miss going to the record store, flipping through c.d.s and vinyl, then maybe taking a gamble on something because it had a cool album cover. I got into my most favorite bands this way. If you pay for a c.d. or record, you are going to make time to sit down and listen to it, read the lyrics, stare at the art and get lost in the music. Sometimes you get a dud and you wasted some money. But most of the time I would find something good out of each record or c.d. I bought. I still to this day go to the record store and buy stuff. That’s just me though. I like having a tangible object to hold and look at while I listen.
I wonder if kids today ever get to experience that. It would be hard to do if you are used to just clicking a button and hearing anything anytime you want. So to me, as long as record stores and the internet can coexist together and people have a choice, it is all good. But if Youtube totally takes over and shuts down the last of the last record stores, that would be a sad day for me.
5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not making music?
Oh boy. Lot’s of things. I love spending time with my family. I like to grow vegetables and make as many things by hand as possible. I make my own beer, maple syrup, and all kinds of things from what me and my wife grow. I like to fish and hunt (although I’m not a very good hunter…yet). So homesteading is always on my mind. I want to get better at being self-sufficient.
I love primitive skills. How to live or even just camp in the woods with as little as possible. This brings adventure back to life, believe me.
I’m fascinated by anything that is astronomy. I like to read (if there is ever time), watch hockey, and put back some beers or wine with my friends and family.
I can’t forget masonry. I have a stone masonry business which takes up most of my time. I have been doing it for almost as long as I have been playing guitar! But I do enjoy it. And it also gives me the freedom to work on music whenever I need to, since I am the boss and employee!
6. What are your future plans musically? Tours?
To make more and more and more music. We already have many ideas for the next record. As far as touring, we need to find a new tour promoter. We are working on that so we can get back on the road!