Based in Salt Lake City, No Sun are a 90s-alt-rock-fuelled shoegaze band who have just released their debut album via The Native Sound.
I recently caught up with guitarist and vocalist Ben to talk about their new record and what it's taken to get to this point. No Sun had previously released an EP back in 2015 titled 'Warm', which acted as a three-track introduction to the band for most listeners. 'If Only', however, takes the band to the next level, especially when it comes to songwriting.
According to Ben, it's been a natural progression since then, and the album was elevated due to the band becoming more comfortable not only with songwriting but with each other:
"I think it’s a result of being together for a longer amount of time. Personally, I had only been in the band for a few months before we recorded the EP so I didn’t necessarily feel like it was my place to pitch ideas or suggest changes. I think we’re a lot more comfortable with each other musically and personally than ever before and that shows in the recording. The EP was recorded in a very short amount of time so with If Only, we spent more time experimenting with sounds to make things sound more refined."
Although, the actual journey between releasing 'Warm' and 'If Only' hasn't exactly been smooth the entire time:
"[The album] actually came to fruition as we were shopping the EP to labels. We sent [the EP] to Mayfly Records and they responded that they loved it, but were booked up for a while as far as releases were concerned and that they were interested in releasing a full length for us. Unfortunately, Mayfly ended up having some personal issues and had to shut down the label so there was a good two weeks where we were freaking out about not knowing what was happening with the album."
"The Native Sound, thankfully, came to the rescue and everything has been smooth sailing ever since."
Ben also went on to elaborate on just how smooth going it has been since the band teamed up with the new label:
"The Native Sound has treated us beautifully. It’s awesome to have the guidance of Julio because he has helped us a ton as far as PR is concerned, continued to plug us all the time on social media and made himself personally available for any questions we have about the release. It’s so important to have a personable and communicative relationship between a band and label. We’ve been totally blown away by working with him and we consider ourselves so lucky to be part of The Native Sound."
So, their first choice might have been Mayfly Records, but it's safe to say the band have absolutely no reason to be regretful about the route they decided to take instead. Talking about how lucky they are to be involved with The Native Sound's roster, Ben spoke about No Sun's history with bands like Miserable, Drowse and Sheer, all bands who have previously worked with the label (the latter of which actually released one of Close to Home's favourite tracks of 2015, 'Uneasy'):
"We are all huge fans of Miserable and everything that Kristina touches is solid gold. We got an opportunity to play with them back in September and they were absolutely incredible. Uncontrollable was one of my five favorite releases last year. Both Sheer and Grave School are awesome. I love Drowse, too.
Thom from Planning for Burial is a good friend and the one time that I was able to catch him live was one of the best shows I’d ever seen in my whole life. He used three amps, but the PA went out so he just screamed over everything, old-school screamo style. All the lights were off and the only illumination came up from his pedalboard. So cool. Love it."
"Julio has cultivated such a strong roster of artists for his label and I’m so humbled and grateful to be among friends and powerful performers."
Moving back to the album, If Only puts No Sun's modern take on 90s alternative and shoegaze at the forefront, so it was interesting to discover that the influences behind the record actually span a much wider spectrum of genres, sometimes even with a single song:
"Swervedriver definitely informed the main riff of Lunar Dream and the palm muted bridge part is inspired by Alice in Chains with a My Bloody Valentine bend thrown in there too. The last part of Honey Chain with the blast beat drums comes from seeing No Joy live where they blasted a part of a song that wasn’t blasted on the record and that caught us off-guard so we tried that. There’s probably some Deafheaven in there too."
"On 'Ichigo Iche', we play a riff 16 times in a row to create, hopefully, a sort of disorienting trance if you play it loud enough. When I was suggesting that, I was thinking about when My Bloody Valentine plays You Made Me Realize live. They do the noise bridge seemingly forever to cause sensory deprivation which leads to auditory hallucinations. Now, I don’t think we went off that far the deep end, but I wanted it to feel hazy and dreamy in that way. Also, I wasn’t thinking about it at the time, but it reminds me of Queens of the Stone Age’s 'Walkin’ on the Sidewalks' from their self-titled record. That makes sense because it’s one of my favorite albums of all time and was very influential in my development as a musician."
As for the future, it doesn't seem like you're going to have to wait long for even more new music. Though, UK and European fans might have a bit of a wait ahead of them before managing to catch the band live:
"We recorded a cover that should be out sometime soon after the release of If Only. We should be announcing our 28-day full-US tour shortly. We currently don’t have plans to tour the UK/EU, but that is something that we’ve always wanted to do, so we will see what the future holds."
The Last Album You Listened To:
"The last record I listened to in full was A Love Supreme by John Coltrane. It’s something that I listen to when I’m feeling down that never fails to liven me back up. It’s a masterpiece and has influenced much of my knowledge of music and sometimes leads from this record show up in my guitar playing as well."