Summer is officially here and that makes it the perfect time to jam out to the Sunbathers’ brand new EP, The Pool Party. The Baltimore-based, indie pop-rock band incorporates electronic and ambient soundscapes with samples, heavy synths, hybrid drums, and varied vocal effects into the EP.
I got the chance to talk with Shohsei about where the name of the band came from, where the concept for The Pool Party came from, what it was like shooting their music video for their song “Urbody” and so much more! Keep reading to see what he had to say!
For those who might not have ever heard of you all, can you give us a brief history of the band and how it culminated into what it is now?
We started the band in the fall of 2013 in D.C. Sean (our singer) and Tim (guitarist) were friends from college and moved into a house in the city with Pete (guitarist), who they connected with through mutual friends from school. Tim and I had a chance meeting shortly after they moved into the house and we started playing music together regularly after that. It wasn’t long before we decided to make it official and start a band.
Where did the name ‘Sunbathers’ come from?
It’s the one name we could all agree on, but we thought at the time (and still like to think) that it has a bit of a classic quality to it and that it will hopefully age well.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey to listeners with their music. So if you had to describe the music you create without using genre names, how would you describe it?
Music you can dance to, reminisce to, lose yourself to, or make out to; separately or all at once. But that’s just me; Sean writes all of our lyrics.
Kind of going off of that, who are some of your musical influences as a band?
When we first started the band, we played a lot of covers while we were learning to write our own music. We played songs by bands and artists like The Strokes, Phoenix, Talking Heads, Daft Punk, Radiohead, and even Frank Ocean. I’d like to think we’ve managed to channel some of those influences into our sound.
Let’s talk about your new concept EP that’s getting ready to come out, The Pool Party. Where did the idea for this EP come from?
It’s the follow-up to our first EP, A Heat Wave, which we released in March. It’s the conceptual companion in the sense that the songs continue speaking to the theme of desire, whether one’s indulging in reciprocated feelings or tormented by the denial of their object of desire. The songs attempt to speak at the multifaceted nature of being consumed by that craving, one way or another.
The opening track on the EP is “Urbody.” What inspired that song and what was the songwriting process like?
The song actually uses a vocal sample from our song “Intimacy” from the A Heat Wave EP. It’s the first time we’ve sampled ourselves and the song choice couldn’t be more appropriate thematically. That definitely got us into more of an experimental writing process, musically speaking. Lyrically, the first line just came to Sean and he developed the narrative out of that sense of untamed, visceral longing.
In general, do you guys tend to write by yourselves, or do you like collaborating with other writers and artists in co-writes?
So far we’ve only written by ourselves. Personally, I like it being insular like that, but not having done collaborative writing, I suppose we can’t knock it. Obviously, we’ve definitely been receptive to input from our producer.
Was there any major changes to “Urbody” that happened once you guys got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
Sonically, for sure. We were hitting a bit of a wall writing the song in our traditional style of all of us being in one room, trying different ideas until we landed on something we all liked. With “Urbody”, a lot more of the writing happened in the studio than in our practice space. That process enabled some more experimentation, like heavier use of synths and incorporating hybrid drums.
You guys also shot a music video for “Urbody”. Where did the concept for that video come from?
We started by discussing the song’s themes of vulnerability and intimacy with the director, Billy Nawrocki. After some brainstorming, we were eventually drawn to the idea of a partnered dance performance that would represent the push, pull, and reflective behavior of those feelings. Billy had worked on two of our previous videos so was already very familiar with our aesthetic tastes, and he did a wonderful job with the lighting and editing. I particularly love how the video breaks the fourth wall at the end. Also, Camille and James did such an excellent job with the choreography and performance; their dancing truly elevates the song.
What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in your career over the next couple of years?
That’s a good question. With all of our releases this year, I think the next step will be to play out as much as possible and bring these songs to life on stage. We’re currently adding some new elements to our live show that we’re excited about and we can’t wait for people to hear the new songs. We played Firefly Music Festival last year, which was incredible and I think we’d all love to play another music festival.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
Oh man. I recently re-watched the Fellowship of the Ring and was just so enthralled by what a fantastic film that is. The story-telling, the acting, the pacing of the comic relief, Howard Shore’s score. I’ve seen it probably 7 or 8 times and it still manages to get me every time. I’m definitely going to watch the second and third films this week or next but it also got me wanting to re-read the books, which I haven’t picked up since I was a preteen. Tolkien was a true master and it’s time I revisit the actual books.