A little while has passed since the EP launch of Falmouth’s huge dark-psych rock band Sunbruise, everyone has had a while to digest their music, and pass judgement on their monumental live shows, but I was lucky enough to catch up with them just as this was all fresh in their minds, and still surely a whirlwind experience.
Except when I turned up to meet them, they were all the most relaxed people you could ever meet. You would think they had just come from a weekend away, not just released one of Falmouth’s best rock EPs of the year.
Lead singer Rachel Anstis is minorly upset by the quality of the café’s garlic bread. Drummer Zachariah O’Loughlin seems to want to crack on and engage in the questions. Guitarists Ian Siversten and Joe Gubby are twiddling their thumbs, sipping on coffee, happy to wait while I fumble with my notebook. Bassist Rich Walker is unfortunately absent.
I started with their musical origins.
“I had a real prog metal phase when I was like 12” claims Zach “I started drumming when I was 10, and I learned every single Dream Theater song. So I learned to be a cocky prick.”
He’s not a cocky prick, I can tell you he’s one of the best drummers in Falmouth and, refreshingly, incredibly humble.
Going around the room, the tastes in music of the band are so eclectic. From Joe’s love of the Pixies to Rachel’s folk origins, to Ian’s heavy metal phase (which he tries to play down, but the rest of the band informed me he’s actually a decent punk-inspired metal singer) the variety is immense.
So where does this leave the Sunbruise sound?
“Well Rich is the darkest side of Sunbruise,” Ian adds in.
“Yeah, he writes all the darkest riffs” Rachel adds “And I guess that’s where it starts.”
That seems a pretty fair start to break down their music. The bass riffs are intense, and dark, and often of modal influence, this creates quite an atmosphere in their music. Their songs started coming together, as a gradual process,
“We kind of brought in some demos”
“I remember getting the “Eyes Are Forbidden” demo…”
How does the music get written?
“That’s a GOOD question,” Zach says “I don’t think any of us know…”
“Yeah, sometimes one of us just comes in with an idea, and it mostly changes completely throughout the process…” Ian adds.
“I don’t think we ever really write with all of us in the room, it’s quite a changing process…” Joe chips in.
“Sometimes we do, but sometimes it’s like, like with “Pretty Joshua” it’s just like ‘this is the song’, I guess…” Zach helps out.
“But I think it’s such a weird genre, because we all have so many different styles, like one of us will bring in a part of a song or even like a full song and as soon as someone else starts playing something over it, it just becomes completely different,” Rachel summarises and helps me get to an answer…sort of.
“If we had a single different member, it would completely change the sound.”
None of them are too sure, but what’s clear is the magnitude of the music they make. All three tracks have a huge concoction of rock influences, executed with supreme instrumental skill from all departments, with a huge stadium-like reverb flowing through the veins of their sound.
Were the songs constantly changing until you made the record?
“I think it was always going to be those three songs,” Zach begins, “And they were always changing in the sense that we kept having new ideas but eventually we just kept doing the same over and over again, and then that became the songs.”
“We’ve definitely changed them a lot, particularly playing them live yeah, since the demos, definitely,” Rachel adds. “We also had that weird like sampling pad for ‘Eyes of Forbidden?’ That was weird, so we just changed it to noise.”
Oof. Any excuse to bring out the noise. Maybe what Rachel describes as “synthy weird shit” will make a return to Sunbruise’s sound in the future?
Rachel randomly blows a raspberry at me whilst I’m taking notes…
I ask Zach about the production for the record, as he was in charge of all of that work.
“It was pretty simple, (for the guitars) what you hear out the amp is what you get. But obviously, I slapped some sauce on it. Particularly on Rachel’s vocal. There was never enough reverb.”
Everyone laughs, but it’s quite clear on the record that the use of reverb on the record is huge, and brilliantly executed. I do believe there is a reverb war going on in the band though, so I press as to see who likes it more.
“Rach.” Says Zach.
“I think Ian loves it,” Rachel says above the rest.
“Yeah,” Ian mumbles, kind of half sniggering to himself.
“And Zach,” Rachel goes back.
“I’m more of a delay guy,” Zach argues.
I might have really stumbled onto a sensitive Sunbruise subject (Joe remained quiet so I think it’s probably him.)
“I think we need reverb as a band like it’s our thing.” Rachel concludes.
The discussion settles down and everyone agrees. The immense reverb is clearly a monumental element of their sound, and it works so damn well.
I asked about lyrical content, and in particular who Joshua was, and why he was so pretty. They all laugh, and Rachel takes the mantle on this question.
“Ok, so this one is about our friend Josh (I shan’t disclose a surname), and he’s gonna hate this,” the rest of the band laughs, as do I (I know Josh, he will hate this) “We were trying to write this song anyway, and we were in one of the practice rooms, and umm, he was like “do you mind if I sit in on your practice?” And the whole time he was just being fucking annoying.”
The band agrees, sorry Josh, but I guess you were that annoying.
“The lyrics are just so much better when you think about,” Zach laughs.
“Pretty Joshua, why are you here, I don’t want you here,” complains Rachel, in the rhythm of the song. “It’s basically just saying fuck off.”
It’s meant in good taste, I promise.
“He didn’t like it to start with, but now I catch his eye in the crowd, and I know he loves it.”
But despite Pretty Joshua having some lyrics of disapproval, there’s nothing disapproving of the delivery of the lyrics. Rachel’s voice drifts and swerves through the songs, with a phenomenal range of notes almost serenading the music itself. It’s often quite haunting, often disjointed, but nothing short of superb.
I rap up my lengthy, thoroughly enjoyable chat with Sunbruise, asking some pretty standard questions.
“What happens next?”
“Awh, well, if we say it, we have to do it,” Zach starts, “We want to do a new single, with a video, and we want to do like, a nasty track.”
Nasty track? I press.
“I dunno, I think, in my opinion, thanks to Rich and the boys, it’s really dark,” he continues.
“I think it’s one of our heaviest,” says Ian. The band are fully in agreement.
So, to conclude for the readers: head to Spotify, or iTunes, or your service of choice, and get some Sunbruise down you. Then head to the social media links at the bottom of the page, and find where you can see them live next.
What I conclude personally from the chat, is these guys are easily one of the most approachable, brilliant bands I’ve had the pleasure to interview. They seem enthused incredibly by this project, and we’ll be seeing them on line-ups around Falmouth and beyond for a long while yet.
They’re armed with deep dark riffs, terrifying tricks, haunting vocals and yes, an awful lot of reverb.
And they’re only just getting started.
‘Sunbruise EP’ on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0bOaCvpKo4HMXmiyXJLa90