You’ve been hearing a lot from Brooklyn trio Sunflower Bean for a little while now. They recently released their debut full length album Human Ceremony. Last month I had the opportunity to sit down with the band for a chat and to oversee a live studio session including performances of songs from the album at Kawari Sound in Wyncote, PA. Sunflower Bean is Julia Cumming on bass and vocals, Jacob Faber on drums, Nick Kivlen on guitar and vocals
JL: Congratulations on the album! I heard a bunch of the shows on this tour have been sold out.
JC: Thanks! Yeah, yeah, in a lot of the cities that we’ve been to before, we’ve had a really nice turn out after the album. It’s our first time really headlining the United States, so every show that’s been sold out has been a really awesome surprise for us.
JL: It seems like things are really starting to happen for your band, but tell us about how you got your start.
NK: When I was in 11th grade, I was gigging in a band called Turnip King and our drummer was headed off to college because he was two years older than us. Jacob started filling in for him and when I was in 12th grade, I started writing some of my own songs and playing them with Jacob, and we really clicked.
JC: And then I saw Nick and Jacob play as Sunflower Bean two times before I joined the band. We were all kind of friends through the music scene, because I was in another band from when I was 13. They asked me to be the bass player and maybe singer depending on how things went.
JL: I should mention that when you said 11th and 12th grade, that wasn’t all that long ago because you’re all pretty young.
JC: Yeah, I just turned 20. I’m the youngest one.
JL: And I assume that college was back-burnered by the band.
NK: Me and Jacob actually did a year.
JC: And I just went straight into Rock ‘N Roll University!
JL: Being “all ages people,” how important is it for you to play all ages shows?
NK: Super important!
JF: A lot of the towns and cities have different laws concerning it so sometimes it’s impossible unless you want to play at 3 in the afternoon. It’s hard with that, but I think we try to do it as much as possible because I think teenagers are the ones who need it the most. They’re the ones who are really affected by the music.
NK: Even though it’s less money for us to make, it’s still worth it because our demographic I feel like is mostly 14 to 20 year olds and then 50 to 60 years old.
JL: I noticed that at your show. I’m always happy when I’m not the oldest person at a show, which I was not. Could it be that you appeal to such a wide range of age groups because you’re influenced by a wide variety of music. I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many comparisons made to so many bands that are all over the map, such as Elastica, Blondie, House of Love, Felt, a John Hughes soundtrack and even Stone Temple Pilots.
JC: I don’t know. I think that Sunflower Bean is really collaborative. We’re three musicians with a lot of different influences and hopefully try to bring them together to create something that’s new or original and hopefully doesn’t sound too nostalgic. We wouldn’t want to sound like a cover band or pick one time or one decade and just do that. So I think maybe that’s the reason that people hear a lot of different things in it and that’s cool.
If you didn’t catch Sunflower Bean at one of their 12 SXSW shows last month, they’re currently on tour throughout the U.S. with dates stretching into the summer. You can also hear them live on our latest SubModern Session below. Find out more at FatPossum.com and check out the new video for “Easier Said” here.
~ By Josh T. Landow