Taken from The State Hornet (November 17, 2014)
Australian band brings sound to U.S. stages
by Daniel Magalit, State Hornet
Iggy Azalea is not the only Australian artist shining in the U.S.; The Sunpilots have been rocking American stages recently and have a three-month tour with 70 shows in 34 states.
The Sunpilots left Australia in 2010 and first made their way to Europe before coming to the U.S.
“Australia is a huge country with a small population,” said frontman Raj Siva-Rajah. “So if you’re an independent touring band like we are, you have to drive huge distances to hit every town, and you hit a ceiling after a while because you’ve played everywhere.”
The band decided to pack their belongings and cross the Indian Ocean where there are more venues to play and more fans to make.
For the past three years they have been touring Europe, playing shows and making just enough money for food and gas to get to the next gig.
After The Sunpilots ran out of the cash they saved from selling all their belongings, they began sleeping on the couches of some of their most dedicated fans.
“We are pretty connected to our fans,” said Siva-Rajah. “We hang out with them after shows, reply to everyone personally on Facebook and Twitter.”
With a decent fan base in America and offers to let the band ‘couch surf,’ The Sunpilots decided to try a new ‘venue,’ so to speak.
“If you’re an English-speaking band and you want to make international waves, you’ve got to hit the U.K. and the U.S. We’ve done the U.K. a few times and we thought it was time to hit [America] up,” said Siva-Rajah.
New York was the first stop on the band’s North American tour. They arrived Sept. 15 and have been on the road ever since.
Being on tour does not give the band many chances to go home and visit friends and family.
“It varies but for me it’s been once every two years and for others it’s been once a year. That’s probably the hardest things about living on the road in Europe and now the U.S.,” said guitarist Bob Spencer. “We’re a long way from family and friends, but musically these are the places where we need to be.”
Spencer shared his thoughts on touring and engaging with fans.
“Constantly being on the move, meeting new people and seeing new things helps distract you from the people you miss. We’ve also been “adopted” by a few families in different countries which has been amazing. It means we have a few places on the road where we really feel at home. That makes things a lot easier.”
Their new album “King of the Sugarcoated Tongues” is a concept album, meaning the eight songs tell a continuous story.
“The album is about the human need for security and the freedoms we trade in return,” said Siva-Rajah.
The band wanted to stress the fact that people should take responsibility for their actions and fix their own mistakes instead of expecting others to do it for them.
Being on the road and not knowing if they are going to make enough money to cover expenses is stressful on the band, to say the least.
“It’s really challenging,” said Siva-Rajah. “We’re always living on the breadline… and living out of suitcases all year isn’t easy.”
It may seem like, with all the stresses of traveling and playing shows, the band members would be at each other’s throats but the camaraderie remains strong.
“We’re more than friends, we’re brothers,” said drummer Kay Ketting. “The main thing we’re focusing on is creating and performing, but at the same time there’s room to goof around.
“We go through a lot of stressful situations together, especially on the road. Sometimes we want to kill each other, but at the end of the day we’ll have a drink together, laugh it off and look back on what we’ve achieved.”
The culture among the band is most apparent when they play music together and as these friends tour the world, they create memories that even singer-songwriter and fellow Australian Kylie Minogue would envy.
“We’ve been adopted by an amazing group of people in a small town in Germany. We stay with them whenever we tour Europe. Anything can happen there,” said Baktir, bass player. “There’s a lot of crazy parties, amazing traditional homemade food, late night jams etc. Once the owner of the local Schnapps company took us for a ride in his 1970s convertible Cadillac that had a pop-out shot dispenser in the trunk. They have a festival in the ruins of a 2000-year-old castle in the mountains above the town. We played there two years ago, it was epic. That’s still one of my best memories of Europe.”
The Sunpilots are very optimistic about their future and with such dedicated fans and almost 60,000 Twitter followers, success is just waiting to happen.
“Our goal is to make a comfortable living doing what we love, it’s not to be famous. Though that would be [expletive] great,” chuckled Siva-Rajah.
The band is already working on new material and a new tour.
“We’re recording a new album and returning to the U.S. for another tour,” said Spencer.
Spencer talked about why the band enjoys touring.
“While it’s been fun, it’s also been a lot of hard work. But as your contacts and fans in a place grow, the crowds at gigs grow and it’s a lot more enjoyable,” he said. “We’re thinking about relocating to the U.S., but we will return to Europe for at least the first half of the 2015.”
The Sunpilots’ latest album, “King of the Sugarcoated Tongues” is available as a free download at The Sunpilots official website.