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An interview with The Sunshine Underground PDF Print E-mail
Written by Connor Mullins   
21 03 2013

ImageSince they fused indie-rock with dance in the form of debut release Raise The Alarm, The Sunshine Underground have embarked on a promising career with slots at Glastonbury and a headline role at T In The Park Future Tent.

Ahead of their upcoming North East gigs, Connor Mullins caught up with The Sunshine Underground singer-guitarist Craig Wellington to discuss plans for a 3rd album, what it's like playing in the region, and advice to bands starting out in the music industry.

Firstly, let's talk about your relationship with the North East, you've got some gigs in Sunderland and Stockton coming up, are you looking forward to coming back and playing here?

 That's right yeah. We haven't played in Sunderland for a while, I think the last time we played in Sunderland was back on our second album tour, which is going back about three years now. It's exciting to be coming back up. We played a gig in Newcastle last year, actually, which was great. We always enjoy playing up the North East, there's always a good crowd.

They're two quite different shows actually, the Stockton Calling one is more of a full band, live thing which is gonna be good because we're playing our new stuff and it's quite good for the electronic experience.

The one at Sunderland is much more stripped back, we're gonna go through more of our more popular songs, so it'll be more of an acoustic show. It's kind of interesting actually; it'll be two different sides to the band. We don't tend to do much acoustic on tour, so it'll be nice to get the opportunity.

The debut album Raise The Alarm was well received when it was released. Often the challenge for artists when they release a great first album is how they follow it up. Did you find that difficult?

Yeah, definitely. I think it's quite a difficult thing to get a whole album out, you go through loads of different processes and be really creative and then nothing might happen for a while, so I think it's a bit of a rollercoaster.

We've been all over the place (recording 2nd album.) We like to mix it up a bit. We tend to do a lot of writing from home, and in the studio, but when that get's a bit boring, usually we do just go to the middle of nowhere."

Quite recently we went to a cottage in Norfolk, which was our drummer's family's holiday home. We stayed there for a good few weeks. There's no TV, no Internet reception, no distractions really. We were properly isolated. Sometimes it's just good to get out of the city.

We're coming towards the end of making the 3rd album now, which has been equally as difficult to follow it up (2nd album) because it's quite a change in direction. We've always had an urge for a ‘dancey' side to it; the album is properly embracing the electronic/dance side, so we want to show we can do that properly.

We've got ourselves quite excited that we've got towards the end. I think the hard part is over. We're coming towards the start of making a new record that's sort of a little bit mashed up. It's quite exciting.

We're gonna be putting some new music out soon. We've basically finished writing it, we've just got to sort out the other stuff; how it comes out, when it comes out etc. We've got a good 12-13 songs that are finished. I think it's not too far away, it's all coming on well.

You've made festival appearances in the UK and abroad, what do you prefer: the big occasions or the more intimate academy venues?

I think they're both completely different actually. It's quite fun playing a big festival; they're quite prolific and it certainly feels like a big thing. Playing the smaller, more intimate gigs, you feel the crowd reaction and you know the people there pretty much know your stuff.

You went on tour last year road testing new material, how did that go?

It was great yeah, it's always quite interesting to see how it goes down. Our live sets have always been energetic, I think we played four or five new tracks and you just see what happens, you can't really just play stuff that they already know. But it's good to be able to road test the new material; it's pretty exciting to see the crowd reaction.

The dance/electronic sound is a big part of the band, how are you managing to incorporate that live and get the sound right to put on a big show?

Yeah, it's different. We've got an extra percussion track. Our Bass player turned into a keyboard player for a few tracks. There's a lot of swapping around of instruments going on, rather than everyone having a set role. There's quite a big sound on the new record, a lot going on.

How does the new material differ from previous stuff?

There's not so much guitar; it's a lot more programmed, more dance. It still sounds like us, you've still got my voice over it, and it's still very much our style of song writing. We've experimented more with the beats, but you kind of have to really.

We touched on dance on the first album, not so much the second, so I think this is the album people would've maybe expected us to make for the second. It's a lot more in your face and high energy.

I think we've always wanted to go in the dance direction. When we first started out we were just four lads with guitars. We've became good at production and doing the more dance side of music which has enabled us to make more complicated stuff than before.

Do you think the music scene has changed since you started, and what advice would you give to young guitar bands starting out?

Yeah, quite a lot, I guess. It's difficult because record companies don't take so many risks with signing artists that aren't in the mainstream as they used to.

I think you need to find ways to engage with fans and make the music you want to make, do what you naturally do, and not what you think you should do.

You can still make a living out of the music industry if you're passionate about it and you stick at it. It's a lot of hard work, it's not as easy as making a record, going on tour, and earning money; it doesn't really work like that. But if you're really into it, stick it out. All the best artists come through.

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