Music Q&A:
Sunstack Jones

A little bit psych, a little bit country, the Liverpool band’s third album, released later this month, has been mastered by The Verve guitarist Nick McCabe

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What informs your music and songwriting?
Everything. Or everything that’s important: love, life, the world and all its horror and beauty. Living where we do informs the music hugely: the shifts in weather, the urban mixed with the countryside, the sea, the stars, the sun – all that hippy stuff. But you soak it all up, and we try and recreate some of that beauty in song form. Or at least that’s how we see it.

How have you evolved as a band over the years?
We definitely have evolved, but our vision has remained the same from the start – to create a kind of otherworldly pop. That’s pretty evident from the prevalence of the “like a summer breeze” type tags that we’ve had in the press, and not unfairly so. However, under all the ethereal beauty of the music, a lot of the lyrics have a darker undercurrent, and that’s something that people have often overlooked. When we first started, it really wasn’t the intention to be a “band”. We were really just doing it for ourselves, but then it sounded a lot better than we’d anticipated. We played in a variety of guises in the early days but, for the last few years, we’ve become a proper unit and it’s really paying off. So now we are a band, and that’s reflected in the new songs we’re doing. They sound like a band with a mission.

What’s been the hardest part making this album?
Waiting and building up anticipation, which has been a bit like making a kid wait to open their Christmas presents until Boxing Day. The LP was finished over a year ago but, as we were so pleased with it, we thought rather than just put it out ourselves like we’d done with everything else, people had to hear this record. It was a record that screamed to us people would love it. So we got in contact with Deltasonic, and then Nick McCabe came on board to master the album and now we’re at where we’re at, which is hopefully stratospheric. Or at least the top deck of the bus.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Well, the LP – self titled – is out on Deltasonic on 29 June. Aside from that though, we’ve been writing, recording, gigging and having a laugh. We’ve never been a band to rest on our laurels, or sit back after we’ve released something and think “let’s have a break”, so usually by the time an album is coming out we’ve already written the next one. Having said that, in previous years, we were fairly slack on the gig front. But that’s what having toddlers on the scene will do for you.

What’s on your rider?
Fruit, water, Guinness and malt loaf. We’re too wild.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
Chris gave one of our demos to Lou Reed when he was on holiday in New York. By the time he’d got home Lou had died. Is that surreal? Or just ominous? We’ve just done some recording with Si Jones, and to see one of your heroes nodding their heads to your tunes and telling you they’re amazing is kind of an out-of-body experience level of weirdness. That you just take in your stride and act cool. Whilst passing out in your mind.

What song do you wish you’d written?
Ooof, that’s hard! Jimmy Mack by Martha and The Vandellas. Pure joy. Failing that, White Christmas sold 50 million, so that could be a contender.

What’s your worst lyric?
That we’ve done? There was a lyric that we had off our first LP that went “I’m all for getting lost”, but all that Lorcan heard was “I’m hoping for hair loss”. He still hears it now. He’s not hoping for hair loss though.

What’s your best festival memory?
We played at Smithdown Festival in Liverpool in May, and it was absolutely rammed. When we got on stage, there were rows and rows of people stood there, all getting into it. That was a bit of a magic moment really. People were getting lost in it, which is kind of the dream when you start a band. The same happened at the Great Escape – burning hot sun and seaside outside, and a dark venue with the curtains drawn. It was an early afternoon show, and they were turning people away as it was at capacity. All to listen to a load of hairy curly tops from Liverpool.

How does playing a festival differ from playing your own gig?
It’s a chance to convert people. Everyone’s usually on it, and they’re all there to have a good time and just get involved, so usually they’re open to anything, so you can bring people into the fold. Unless you forget to announce who you are. Which we often do. Did we forget to mention we’re called Sunstack Jones?

Sunstack Jones play Middlewich FAB Festival, 16 June; Jacaranda record store, Liverpool, tbc; and Source Collective, Carlisle, 29 June

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