What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My dad got me into music. He was the drummer of the band Seth from the seventies out of Boston. They played original music that was a mix of Sabbath, Zeppelin, Rush. Heavier stuff at the time, but also strong roots in classic rock. So I have been listening to music since I was in my mothers womb! At a young age, I would record my dad's Sabbath and Rush vinyl onto cassette and listen with my walkman on my way to and from elementary and middle school. After the ‘One’ video came out, I got really into Metallica. When I was twelve or so, sometime around 1990 or 1991 I started venturing deeper into the world of heavy metal. I would pick out cassettes based on the artwork. It started with ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2’ by Helloween, ‘Ancient Dreams’ by Candlemass and ‘Forbidden Evil’ by Forbidden. Then I dived right into metal and started playing guitar. It was all over after that!
I would be doing the same thing today if I hadn’t gotten into music. I would do stone work for a living, mess around with primitive skills. I like to brew my own beer, make maple syrup and whatever else I can do on my land. So I guess I would advance more on those fronts without the music. I would probably be a better hunter and fisherman. I would have bigger gardens and be more self-sufficient. I would make my own wine.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Pretty much work on primitive skills, hunting and fishing and gardening. Sitting with nature is a huge influence. I like to have a coffee or a drink and sit with my acoustic and write stuff.
I also like to watch astronomy documentaries and Boston Bruins hockey. I write a lot of riffs watching those two things.
But mostly I am working. I own my own stone masonry company. It definitely influences the music. I think that's why we have a primitive sound. The stone work might subconsciously keep the music more working class sounding. Because if it wasn’t for that, I think we would delve down a more polished road of prog metal. We all actually have our own construction type companies. Ted has a welding company, Dave has a painting company and Frank also does stone masonry like myself. We are a very blue collar band! I think it is reflected in the music. So yeah, working class prog. A bit rough around the edges, a bit loose. Not the typical perfect sounding band that gets into prog.
How long has your band been around?
2007 to 2009 was kind of a birthing phase. Mostly just jammed and messed around during this time. I think we finished the demo, had Dave join and coined the name ‘Sunrunner’ in 2009. So I use 2009 as the official year. So it’s been thirteen years!
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are based out of New England. I’m from the Boston area originally, but moved up north to the state of Maine. This is where Dave Joy is from. Both Ted and Frank are from Connecticut. But Frank also lives in Maine now. Maine is a proud state. It is nicknamed “Vacationland”. This refers to the ample amount of Nature here. From hills, forests, fields and small mountains to rivers, streams and a thousand miles of coast line. This is the place where people from all over come to fish and hunt or camp and hike and be closer with nature. Via in the woods or the ocean. The forests are a mix of southern deciduous and northern coniferous trees. It’s a transition area in that aspect. We also have all four seasons in all their glory. Anyway, the landscapes and weather here have absolutely inspired many many Sunrunner songs.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Well, it’s not that interesting of a story! Back when Frank and I were roommates, we found a lost female Siberian Husky dog in the street. Now we are hundreds of miles from anywhere in a very woodsy town. Anyway, we brought her home with us since she had a tag. We didn’t have cell phones yet. It was 2008 or 2009. We got home and called the owners. They were happy but couldn’t come pick up the dog until the next day. So we had the dog for a full day. We had fun with her. But we kept forgetting her name when we would call to her. It was like Sunshine or Sundog or Sunspots. We were yelling different names to her. At some point Frank yelled “Sunrunner”. And at that time, I might have been slightly buzzed from a few beers and a little weed. I thought to myself, that would be a cool name. I dwelled on it for a moment and said to Frank “dude, let’s call the band Sunrunner! And that was it!
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Since we are still under a hundred shows, I would say they are all quite memorable. I guess to me, the more exotic the country, the more interesting. But also even playing at home is memorable because this is where you play for friends and family. So far, every place, every show is important and memorable.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I personally don’t have a favorite venue. We mostly play small clubs. They all pose their challenges and also have their uniqueness. Places I want to play is everywhere we have fans. Even if there are just a few. I want to do world tours someday and always play a new city or country.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I could list my favorite bands here. That would be great. From Candlemass to Helloween, Rage, Iron Maiden. Jeez, I dunno. But maybe a good bill would be Sunrunner opening for a huge band like Foo Fighters or something, just to reach a wide and different audience.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Work hard! Not just with music. Find a good line of work that you are passionate about that you could eventually run that sort of business. Then do just that. Start a business. There is no more money in music. At least no middle class money. There are the mega superstars, and then there are the rest of us who make enough money from a gig for gas, tolls and beer. So start your business young. Make some money. Then you will have the funds and the freedom to take off whatever time you need to support your band. Also, more importantly, find the right woman!!! A non supportive love life is the end of your musical endeavors!
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
That is pretty much the advice I would give. Don’t live in a dreamland of being a rock star. Work hard at both music and a career.. Be like an entrepreneur. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Have two baskets! At least. You need time and money to be in a band. Being in a band does not get you either of those! You have to get your money and freedom in another department and put that towards your band.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Each album seems to have one very extra extra special song to me. So in chronological order they are
1. ‘Iron Hawk’ because it was the first time we spent together really working out all these melodies. Especially the last couple minutes of the song.
2. ‘Gaiascope’ because it was the first time I wrote lyrics by delving deep down into myself.
3. ‘Race To Olympus’. This was an online single we did, it is a cover song my dads band wrote
4. ‘The Horizon Speaks’ because it was an emotional song for me
5. ‘The Scout’ because it was the first song I thought would make a good single or video. It made a good video.
6. ‘Where Is My Home’ because I think we achieved our goal of getting a good seventies hard rock anthem with a catchy chorus. Very proud of it.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Favorite to play are ‘The Temple’, ‘Dragonship’, ‘The Siege’, ‘Star Messenger’, ‘The Scout’, ‘Gaiascope’, ‘Inner Vision’, ‘Technology’s Luster’, ‘Race To Olympus’
Most requested are ‘Iron Hawk’, ‘Technology’s Luster’ and ‘The Scout’
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Lately, I start the writing process, but I try not to finish it 100%. I write a riff or two, a verse, a bridge, maybe a chorus. Sometimes it is just a melodic section. Whatever it is, It is usually 25% to 75% complete. When I feel I have reached a wall, I stop. Then i present it to Ted who helps me arrange the song better and helps connect the dots. For a drummer, he is extremely well versed in theory and harmony and all that. So he really helps finish the song. We then make demos and show to Dave. He comes up with some cool bass lines that I would never have thought of. I also sit with the demos and then try to write some vocal melodies. Once i have some of those, the song gets its finishing touch of lyrics.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Learn about the woods. There is still magic and adventure out there. It might not be as glorious as bringing a magic ring to Mordor, or as inspiring as becoming one with the force, or even as fantastical as the Yellow Brick Road. But learning the ways of the woods will bring magic and adventure into your life. Whether it is just learning primitive skills like building a hut or shelter to camp in, learning which trees make medicine, tea or are great for building materials, hunting and tracking animals, fishing. All of that information that we seem to have forgotten will bring the ancient world back to you. It’s how we lived for thousands of years, no matter what part of the world we lived in. And it totally balances out the technology we have, which is also awesome. And if you have kids, help them to learn. It will turn them into warriors.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Oh God Yes! It’s like family. Writing songs, arranging them. “Hey that F chord should have a D in the bass”. “No, the bass should stay of F”! Stuff like that. Also religion, politics….we all have different view points. Which is great because we can all learn from each other. And we learn how to listen. Especially with something like politics. We have different stances, but we don’t want to kill each other over it. We don’t unfriend each other and talk shit. It’s actually refreshing to be with a group of friends who have different ideas. The world is so one sided right now. Which makes it impossible to listen to each other. What a shame. People that fight about politics should get tossed into a rock band with members who have different opinions. You will quickly realize that there are more points of view out there, so it doesn’t matter. But what matters most is understanding each other so we can get on with it and rock!
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Take over the world is plan number 1. But first, in the near future, we are working on our first video for ‘Sacred Arts of Navigation’. We have an E.P. coming out soon too. It will contain some unreleased material and a cover song. And at the moment, we are looking for a new booking agent to get our next tour going. Hope to see you on the road!