So every now and then you come across a band and a song that goes way beyond that initial first listen...you know, those songs that inexplicably resonate with you and you find yourself listening over and over again.
That's where the track 'Sing' by the band, Sounds Under Radio, comes into play in this music loving girl's life.
The song has become quickly become one of my all time favourites - right up there with U2's 'All I Want', 'Sing' by Travis, 'Naveed' by Our Lady Peace and The Verve's 'Bittersweet Symphony'.
I've featured them a few times on the Bsides....basically my mission is to get everyone to love this band as much as I do and convince the band to do a tour north of the border so I can go see them live. Completely self-serving I know....but I digress.
So I'm just a little excited that Sounds Under Radio are set to release their sophomore album, Where My Communist Heart Meet My Capitalist Mind tomorrow [May 3rd]. I've heard the album and it's brilliant. If you love that Brit pop vibe - you'll be all over it too.
Needless to say I'm slightly crushing on Sounds Under Radio lead singer, Lang Freeman. Just a little. It's the boy's voice - what can I say? I heart him I do.
So with that crush confession out of the way - I had a chance to go on one on one with Lang Freeman and ask him about the band name, social media and the UK music scene. [Part II of the interview will run tomorrow]
Sounds Under Radio - where did the band name come from?
Creating a band name is terribly difficult. I’m a firm believer in the fact that all band names are ridiculous and completely uncool until the moment that a band makes the name cool through their artistic accomplishments. I was watching a documentary on the Foo Fighters the other night and Dave Grohl was discussing how terrible of a band name Foo Fighters is… and if you think about it, by itself, it is quite a terrible name… but in the context of what that band has created and done, it’s amazing and perfectly fitting for them.
ANYWAYS… for us, the name Sounds Under Radio was derived from a wanting to emote the message of the band through our name and through our title. In a sense we wanted to contextualize our band through our name. Our goals were (and still are really) to write music with intelligent and slightly subversive hooks… things you could imagine being heard blasting through your car radio speakers and getting stuck in your head, yet creating those things to impacted you on a deeper and more creative level than just what the surface provides.
There is a definite UK music vibe to your music - I automatically thought Verve, U2, Coldplay and Travis...which begs the question for boys who are Austin-based do you listen to a lot of music from across the pond?
We are music lovers and music consumers just as much as we are music creators… so we ingest and digest as much music as we can. And yes yes, absolutely… we do adore a great many bands from the UK and Europe. When we first started Sounds Under Radio we found a music center of influences within the 4 of us that began with the Beatles and Led Zeppelin and then it kind of went on out from there… in the modern era, The Verve, Coldplay, Travis, Elbow, Muse, Radiohead, Athlete and countless others are on constant rotation amongst the four of us.
For us it’s about the craft of songwriting… we love and respect well crafted songs, and there are some bands from the UK that just have that nailed. And that’s not to say that there aren’t American bands with the same talents and qualities… because there absolutely are (I mean Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie is the modern master of songwriting in my humble opinion) but I think the UK styling really resonated with us when writing and crafting the songs for this new record.
Collectively as a band if you had to list bands/artists that influenced your overall sound - what would they be? (A SUR Top 5 list)
Oh, wow… a Top 5 list is almost unfair! We could probably do a top 20 list for each decade if we wanted to! But regardless… if Top 5 is the guideline and the game, I’ll play along…
And that is in no particular order and right off the top of my head… those 5 bands and artists had a deep impact on every member of our band independently at some point in our musical upbringings, and those personal imprints created the foundation and core for who we are as creative individuals today.
As I was going through some press I came across a review that said that you come across as a band that is "unafraid of sincerity, of being completely sincere" [CD Universe]. So in a moment of self assessment - do you feel that you wear your hearts on your sleeve when you write your music and perform?
Truth, honesty and sincerity through the songwriting… even if it hurts… that’s sort of core artistic philosophy of this band. So ya, I think to fully execute what we are trying to do… we have to wear our hearts on our sleeves with every note and every lyric we pen, and with every ounce of sweat the hits a stage floor.
When writing this new record I found myself more often than not sitting alone on the floor of a dimly lit room with pen and paper in hand looking directly in to a mirror. Now, this wasn’t some sort of egoist exercise… but actually a real attempt to get past all of my own self imposed boundaries, fears, insecurities and most importantly… filters. It was way easier for me to internally filter things, lie to myself or just not be completely truthful in what I was saying by just sitting down in front of a piano or with a guitar fleshing out a song to no audience… but in front of a mirror, I was my own audience, I was my own critic, and I found it way more difficult to lie to myself if I was staring myself in the face. I couldn’t get away from the truth in that context, I couldn’t get away from the brutal realities (even if they were terribly painful) that were staring right back at me.
It's no secret that you guys were courted by the majors and landed a record deal...but walked away from it after things got complicated. For bands the big record / development deal is the thing you work for...yet you chose to go back to the independent route to release your material and have gotten that 'buzz band' title without the major label PR machine.
Any advice to the bands out there working towards that 'landing a record deal'?
For us, a record deal was never the end goal and I feel like that’s where a great many new bands and new artists have their first major hiccups… our primary goals were always (and continue to be);
a) to create something of artistic substance and,
b) to share those creations with as many people as humanly possible.
A record deal or development deal should be considered an avenue or a conduit to the reach the end goal-- people and fans. I feel like a lot of young artists unfortunately don’t realize that. This notion of ‘making it’ is not defined by having a major corporation behind you… it’s defined by the people you creatively impact and the fans you reach. We signed our first record deal not because that deal in and of itself was a goal we wanted to accomplish… we signed that deal because after evaluating all of the possible roads in front of us, we felt that THAT path was the best choice for us to reach the most people possible. Now, for our particular situation… that ended up unfortunately not being the case, but because of the way we viewed our priorities we were able to move forward, pick up and pursue our true goals down a different path.
How important is the impact of social media for independent bands - using YouTube, MySpace, FB and Twitter to build that fan base and promoting your music?
Social media, new media… whatever you want to call it, is an unbelievable tool for any artist (signed or independent) to communicate with people, build a fan base and promote your music. It’s actually your most useful, most important and must functional tool to interface with an audience. The internet revolutionized our modes of communication… you can argue whether that’s been for the better or for the worse, but it’s undeniable that the surge of the online world created a paradigm shift in the way we talk, the way we communicated and the way information travels. There is this sort of globalization of information too that’s made the world a whole lot smaller… for example, we have big pockets of fans in India, and South America… and we know this by communication and interactions we’ve had and see over the web… a number of years ago it would have taken us touring and performing in those places, having physical CD’s available for sale in record stores in those places, having the info about the band available and promoted in those places for fans to even begin popping up… but now, with how viral things are, and how global of an uploaded society we have become, those things can happen by a few mouse clicks. It’s a really amazing and quite empowering thing for artists.