Nerve Entertainment EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Sunset Sons’ Rory Williams

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On the 14th October 2016 I received a phone call from Rory Williams, lead singer of Sunset Sons to chat about the band’s upcoming tour and how life has been treating him. Calling from a cafe near his mate’s house up in Newcastle, where he is rehearsing for the 24-stop tour around Europe; we talked about the album, surfing and of course this clown situation!

How’s tour prep going? Are you excited for the British leg of the tour?

Hell yeah! We basically have a company called Night Lights who are our production company and they are sorting all of the lights, sound and stage set ups, that sort of stuff and they are letting us use their warehouse for preproduction. The crew have already set up all the lights and sound so now we are just tuning everything. We tried a new song yesterday to just change a few things up. Obviously it is the same album tour, but we are just trying a few new things you know; because you get some people that enjoyed the last tour and they are coming along so you want to make sure they have something different. On the whole you always want to make it better so we are working on that today and tomorrow and then we start the tour.

Did you enjoy playing the festivals this summer? I saw your Reading Festival performance and thought it was amazing.

Banging. Did you really? Because it didn’t show up on the BBC, I guess that’s because we were early on and we haven’t hit the bigtime yet. That was the highlight of the year, Reading and Leeds will be hard to beat, there were so many people. I think for Reading we were told the band before didn’t have any people so that’s what we kind of expected; it was early and stuff so even though we were in the Radio 1 Tent we didn’t expect a crowd really early. So when we walked on stage, it went off and we were like holy s$!t, this is going to be a special show. I was crapping it, I didn’t know what to expect you know, so when we were backstage thinking, ‘we are worth being here we’re here for a reason we haven’t just blagged it’. Well we do blag things but it’s all good, I still always get the nerves. In some of the interviews where I talk about my nerves I say even though I hate it at the time, as I approach what’s going on its horrible but without it I wouldn’t want to just cruise up and be Mr Cool you know? I’ve got to put a good game face on but I enjoy being scared, it makes things worthwhile.

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How do you as a band get ready before a live show? Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Well we’ll all have a little huddle before go on stage, maybe a little drink as well. I do a few bits and pieces nothing crazy, but you kind of get into about an hour before a show. We’ll all start to go into our routines, I normally go get dressed earlier to sort of warm up my clothes, get comfortable and stuff and then start playing tunes. Quite often I’ll have a little quiet moment, especially with some of the bigger shows that we did this year. I needed it I was like ‘okay here we go’ and then yeah you never know what you’re going to expect. As long as I know I can play the songs I don’t really plan anything else apart from that.

Hell yeah we are on the Guitar Hero soundtrack!

Who is your inspiration? Are there any bands you guys particularly look up to?

Well I would definitely say there are the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but we all have our individual style. A one of mine would be Oasis, that’s the band that got me into playing music without a doubt. But then the music I grew up with was Motown. There is a great album with a wicked collection called Motown Gold which has all the best of Motown over the years and stuff from when I was a kid. Stuff like The Ronettes’ Be my Baby and people like Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. It was kind of the really simple things they did that always had such an impact. I love the old school stuff that’s got to be a main part of the inspiration. I know that is completely different to Oasis, but even then they have that kind of soulful feel, like when Liam sings you can hear it in his voice. I have to admit I am a proud hip-hop fan. I love my Boogie and I love my Tupac. I just don’t think you get the same now days, like your Kendrick Lamars and A$AP Rocky. I think they are doing great things but If you think back to people like Tupac, obviously some of his stuff is quite explicit but he is a poet, with some of his music you listen to the lyrics it literally changes. Nowadays, bands that influence me would be Catfish and the Bottlemen, I love what those boys are doing. I got to watch them at a festival this year and I was just really impressed; they had wicked riffs and their chorus’ are simple, I mean nothing is simple to come up with these songs but the simplicity of the songs kept the impact they have and I was really impressed with that. Cage the Elephant; I’m still going; I think you’re going to have to stop me! Cage the Elephant I do think are underrated, if you listen to their albums and you listen to them live, they are like a proper band. You know, they are what if you’re in a band, I’d aspire to. I watch their frontman’s stuff and I think ‘this is epic’. There’s a lot of excitement on stage, a lot of energy, the songs are really well written. They’ve definitely got the old school vibe even though many people wouldn’t compare it, I definitely think they have a Rolling Stones sort of writing ethic. The guitarist and the lead singer are brothers and I’ve always thought there is something quite cool about that. I’d say Kings of Leon as well, especially those early records. I think one of the first songs I learnt from them was The Bucket and I thought ‘this is fucking cool’. Yeah I could go on all day, there are so many different genres that I’m into, but I think that’s a good selection of people to give you an idea.

Who is the best surfer in the band?

It’s hard to say. So it’s between Pete and Jed. But they’ve got different styles, like Pete has got a really like cruising style, he’s got more of a hippy vibe on a board; which he is going to hate me saying. Then Jed just attacks the wave a bit more, sort of you know more aggressive cutbacks. That’s a hard one, I honestly couldn’t say. I have to say though my favourite person to go surfing with out of the boys is definitely Rob. He might have a bit more fear nowadays, but when I first met him he had no fear. He’d go out on days that were scarcely too big for him, but he’d be out the back and paddle scarily like monsters. He still does it actually from time to time, you have a few scares and it sort of sets you back a bit but we were lucky this summer we got in the water quite a bit, especially in September. Yeah we were fortunate to get back home for a bit.

Where is your favourite place to go surfing?

South West of France it would have to be. Yeah I’ve spent a lot of summers there, a few winters, a lot of summers. It is beautiful, the coastline goes on forever, honestly goes on forever. I haven’t surfed in too many places; like I’ve done the north east coast of Scotland and Cornwall a few places in the UK and Australia. Australia was good actually, I’d like to go back, that where I learnt to surf. It would be interesting to see what my ability is now compared to back then.

Best story from this touring so far?

Well the last ever gig we did with Imagine Dragons, they pranked us a little bit. They came on stage which I don’t think I have told you, I am petrified of clowns. This whole clown epidemic that’s going on around the UK is shitting me up. I’m in Newcastle right now and I’ll say is there are clown’s around. Yeah it’s the same in Bournemouth, I heard that there was a clown on Richmond Hill. No way, that’s crazy. I think that it is in Cheshire that I think there is a Batman that’s all armoured up and chasing them around. As ridiculous as it sounds I am so happy when I heard that. This whole clown thing is fucking ridiculous, I hate it, it’s just not on. Someone is going to get a serious slap if I see one well I don’t know I might run. I don’t know, I don’t know how I’d react if I’d see one. Anyway yeah the Imagine Dragons boys came on stage with clown masks. Urn they didn’t realise that I was scared, the boys saw them coming on and were like ‘oh s$!t that is not a good call’ and they came behind me and I was too busy concentrating at the time on the keys to worry about it too much so it wasn’t until after I freaked out that they were in fucking clown masks. So to get them back the plan was for all of us to do it, but I dressed up as a cheerleader with the pompoms the whole lot and went on stage to surprise Dan and the boys; which I kind of regret but I don’t regret. It was funny but there is lots of footage of it. I think it was one of the biggest shows in front of eighteen and a half thousand people. That is a lot of people to be in front of dressed like a cheerleader aha yeah.

Which band should we be watching out for this year?

Good question. Louis Berry without a doubt, he is doing good. Rocky Nti, we did a couple of shows with them, they’re good boys, good music. There is also a pretty cool band that I saw at Isle of Wight [festival] called Findlay played on the Jack Daniels stage, it’s a great stage just thought they should be on a bigger stage because they owned it. This girl was so cool. I haven’t seen her since, I’ve been meaning to catch her gig but we’ve been so busy and stuff. So definitely those three for sure.

If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?

Liam Gallagher. I love to do a song with Liam Gallagher, Noel always gets all the credit. If you are looking for an incredible song writer you need to look at the Liam songs. I don’t know if you’re an Oasis fan but on the last record they did they have a song called ‘I am outta time’ and it is beautiful. When Liam writes its very close to John Lennon and The Beatles, which is right up my street. I’d love to write a song with him, but he’s not going to write a song with me. He will do, give it a year and he’ll know who you are. Okay cool, we’ll talk in a year and we’ll see if I’m writing with him. Okay one year, 365 days.

Deal, I mean you guys are on the Guitar Hero soundtrack, he should know. What’s it like having your song on such a massive game?

Hell yeah we are on the Guitar Hero soundtrack! I haven’t played that yet, I’ve played Guitar Hero but I haven’t played our song. I need to get on that. I always forget that and then someone pops up saying ‘I beat you on difficult’ or whatever.It’s awesome. One of the boys was like ‘what’s that?’ and I was like ‘What do you mean what is that?’. I am a big gamer, when I grew up I wasn’t chasing girls I was playing video games with my mates. When I found out that we were on that game, yeah I was pretty happy. Next we need to get on FIFA, that would be the winner for me. That was one of the things we wanted last year, get on FIFA and get in the Queen Vic. My mum loves Eastenders, so growing up it was Eastenders every day. And even on a Sunday, when we’d watched it though the week my mum would watch the omnibus. So when we got told we were played in the Queen Vic, I was over the moon.

What song are you most looking forward to playing when you get on stage?

We’ve got a new song and we are doing a cover as well, oh and we’ve also got another new one which I need to learn the lyrics for that. So we’re going to test that out, we played that yesterday and even though it was a big scrappy and pulled together in our eyes it sounded epic. So the new song that we’ve got is called VROL, which stands for Vague Reference Of Love. It’s cool, it’s going to be the new single, I don’t know if im allowed to say that but it should be up by the time you post this. (Yes – VROL was released today go check it out below!) It’s exciting, its really exciting.

What was the inspiration for album ‘Very rarely say die?’

I mean the record took a year to make. We stopped and started so when we actually got time in the studio, we were doing all the gigs, tours, festivals. It’s so hard you know, we were creating a little baby then, our baby record and we are doing something that we are very passionate about and we believed in the band. So we were creating music about old records, but if anyone wants to hear our music that’s what they are going to hear first, they’re going to see what the record is like. Of course I love bits and pieces but I don’t think it’s perfect, it’s nowhere near perfect, whatsoever. But I am proud of it, we to the best of our ability got that record out. Then I guess I learnt things you know? I picked up on song writing stuff and how I wanted to go and perform that. I think for the second record, we are all very excited because we have learnt a lot just by listening to other records that have come out this year, the reactions, the album tour thinking ‘you know what maybe we should have done that’ or ‘lets write a song like this’. You learn, because no one has the recipe, no one knows what’s going to be a hit. We don’t really hunt for that, you can either search for what a top ten hit is or you can do what we do which is just play what we’ve said and it’s all very personal to us. Finding what works to the best of our ability you know. There are songs that we really connect to, and we want to have songs that people appreciate. I aim for the record to be better and bigger than the first one.

One of your songs featured in the credits of Netflix show bloodline. What’s your favourite Netflix show?

Yeah Watch Your Back, I don’t even know if you can get that tune anymore. We tried to rerecord it but it just didn’t work, it didn’t fit on the album but we thought it was more of a live song. So the one I am watching now, its an American high school documentary about this place in Tennessee, I can’t remember what its called… But Breaking Bad is probably the best show I’ve ever seen on TV and Stranger Things is up there. Stranger Things killed it, it was so good. It killed it didn’t it? I saw some of the adverts, then someone recommended it, but it was only eight episodes but I thought I’d watch it anyway. I think I watched it in like two days. I just had to get through it. It was so nostalgic, I was reminded of the first time I had ever watched ET. I remember my sisters telling me that I have to watch ET. I think ET was the first film, my sisters are a lot older than me, so they didn’t want me to watch a cartoon they wanted me to watch what they classed as a really good film, which was that or the Goonies. So I watched ET, and I cried. They asked why I was crying, but I was so young at the time I said ‘I don’t know why I’m crying’. But yeah it is a total eighties hit.

What is your favourite track to cover?

TV on the Radio by Wolf Like Me.

…would you cover this track in the live lounge?

Live Lounge we want to do something really good for it. At the end of the day, I think with Live Lounges, you want something that you want to play but you also want it to be relevant. If we decided to play TV on the Radio, no one would know what it was, so it would be nice to do something like what Kings of Leon did where they covered Robyn’s song. They really made it apparent how beautiful that song is. So, it would be cool to do something like that. Taking a tune like, I’m trying to think actually, I’d like to do a Sia song. I love her voice and I love her melodies anyway, I’d just love it really. Or take something really cheesy and pop-ish and try and make it cool.

Does this amount of thought mean there might be a Live Lounge in the future?

Not that we are aware of, but the plan is to do a Live Lounge. I’d love that. We are a live band that play well live, that’s not being cocky, but I’m just pointing out a fact. You know, we like playing live. I think we got pretty close, and then some DJ left which is unfortunate, so they went through a bit of a change around.

It would be great to get you guys back on Radio 1 as it was Zane Lowe who put you on his new tracks.

Exactly, I’ll always remember where I was when we first got ‘She Wants’ played on Radio 1. That was a good moment. I was in France, I was at my friends’ place, I was downstairs in like his little office. I was in there with his girlfriend, who is my friend as well and we were just sat there listening and then he announced it. I remember getting a proper shiver down my spine, thinking holy s$!t, he’s talking about us. It was really cool, really cool.

Can you please play Disco Bands on the 30th October at O2 Academy in Bournemouth?

So if it makes you feel better, last night we were talking about this song. A lot of people request for it. Now, it obviously doesn’t get the love that we need to give it, so I think it’s going to be pretty much on the cards. It seems to get a lot of love so I think we are going to give it a bit more love that it usually gets. I think we might have only played it twice on the last tour. But yeah if people shout out for it, we’ll play it.

Check out Sunset Sons on the 30th October at the O2 Academy in Bournemouth!sunsetsons2