Suns of Stone: Ottawa's Edgier, Old-school Rock Band
2014 is already proving to be the year of Suns of Stone, Ottawa’s rising rock band with a comparative edge that echoes the classic anthems of the 70s with southern/blues influences in a more contemporary sound. Recently signing a European distribution deal through Bad Reputation for their self-titled album, the band is also set to debut a new music video for ‘Talk to Me’ (view the teaser here) sometime this month and will be hitting the studio to work on a new full-length album. Suns of Stone have already made their mark on the Capital and continue to push forward with rave reviews coming from across Canada, South America and Europe. Compared to big names like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Black Crowes, the band strives to create pure and simple rock songs with a message that resonates with everyone.
Spread across a couch at the Black Sheep Inn after an electrifying performance and heavy applause, the three of the four members of Suns of Stone spoke candidly to OLM about what it’s like to be a band in Ottawa.
(Suns of Stone is: Alan Charlton, vocals, Andrew Erlandson, bass, Alex Scott, drums and Jimmy King, guitar)
OLM: Why do you guys play music?
Alex: Performing, specifically, the rush of playing in front of people, especially during a good show, there’s really no feeling like it.
Andrew: I would describe it as fun as shit. It’s probably the best thing you can do with your free time. People always like to see what other people in their hometown are doing. Ottawa’s always been very warm to receive us, which is nice. It’s not really why we do it, but you can tell that people actually enjoy what you do as a musician, you feed off that. It’s definitely why we keep doing it.
Alan: Why you play music is like why do you want to do anything? I mean, why play a sport, it’s the same type of idea. When you play, you get your own satisfaction out of doing it, the whole scene is great – seeing new bands and being a part of that.
Andrew: I think it’s a good thing, the whole difference is fantastic. Bands from Montreal with the same influences as we would have in Ottawa will develop with a different sound, it promotes diversity and culture in Canada. It’s fantastic. Bands you hear on the East Coast are very different from Alberta, B.C., up north even and same with the different parts in the States. Where you’re from plays a huge role in what you end up becoming as a musician. I’m not trying to say an equivalent band or band in the same genre in Toronto is better because they’re from Toronto, but they’re different because of that reason and it’s good. We like to play Toronto, Montreal soon, hopefully, because we end up running into these bands that are like us, it’s good to meet like-minded people.
Alex: Ottawa is up and coming, the scene is better. I don’t think you’re going see much of people leaving Ottawa anymore. The scene is growing, the support is coming up higher than it’s ever been. I work within it and I see it all the time. It’s now a whole lot of people, not just music but the whole arts scene in general. It’s awesome to see it happening and I don’t think you’re going to see bands leave the city as much as you used to.
Alan: Ottawa is behind just because of the fact that Montreal and Toronto are bigger and they’ve had more of a scene and have been invested for a longer time. It’s harder for an Ottawa band to get instant recognition that a Toronto or Montreal band would. I think it’s slowly starting to change but I still do think a band that’s from Toronto or Montreal, they do instantly still get more credit than a band from Ottawa.
OLM: What are the types of challenges you’ve faced as a band?
Alex: Um ya, the weather. Winter shows are a big challenge.
Andrew: Just being in a band and organizing people to be at the same place at the same time to do the same thing. It’s almost impossible in some cases.
Alex: Everyone has a different schedule, no one does the same thing and no one lives beside each other like we used to. It was easy when you lived in your parents’ place, but now you have to go to a jam space and rent the space, make sure you have the gear, etc. So getting the band together before you even hit a note is a challenge in itself.
Alan: The challenge is always having to be on top of things all the time. You have to drive it constantly or else you won’t get anywhere.
OLM: What’s the message you want to get across with your music?
Alex: I think the music speaks for itself. What we’re trying to do is bring back the basics, like the original reason you listened to a rock band was because it was fun, before you know that they were political or religious or anything. The first thing that happened was you heard them and you liked them. For me, when I’m playing drums live or just jamming on my own, one of the essential goals is to make something that I enjoy and then make it enjoyable for the listener. Some of our songs do have meanings and every one could be interpreted differently, but that’s part of what we do. It doesn’t have to be just one message.
Andrew: Our most basic message is just to have a great time because we have a great time with what we do and we hope that people who come to see us live at least share in the experience.
Alan: Part of it just making music for yourself but I still like having a good crowd interaction. If I was just playing something and no one gave a shit about it, I don’t think I’d be as happy.
Suns of Stone will be playing at Rainbow Bistro on February 7th. For more information, visit www.sunsofstone.com.