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Sunndrug talks starting anew in the 2016 music scene

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Bands break up but that doesn’t mean that the musicians are finished making music. Just like any creative outlet, a band can be played out (figuratively and literally) and moving on is generally more difficult for the fans than it is for the players themselves.

Sunndrug is made up of the same such musicians. Drawing from previous members of Norma Jean, Spitfire and Mae, the group has taken more than a few steps away from the hardcore genre into new, unchartered musical territories. Jimmy Reeves, Chris Raines, Junior Favela, Clint Kesler and Matt Beck, released their first album as Sunndrug called Exit Wounds.

I spoke to Raines about what it’s like starting a fire from old ashes in the contemporary music industry.

You’re first record Exit Wounds came out on Halloween, what’s the most important part of releasing a debut album for a band?

A debut record is so important for any band. In today’s world people won’t give you much time before they decide if they want to continue listening or move on to the next new band. I feel like you really need to hit people immediately because a first impression is everything. We really put it all into the music. We spent almost two years writing the album and canned almost an entire album before we found our sound. Obviously a ton went into writing the record but also a lot of thought goes into picking the right first single, the right imagery, etc.  

How did the recording of the Exit Wounds go?

Our recording process went great. The project started out as something Jimmy [Reeves] and I have been wanting to do together for a long time. When we started writing the album Jimmy lived in Brooklyn, NY and I live in Virginia Beach, VA so there was a lot of traveling and phone calls with visions, ideas, and songs. Once Jimmy moved back home to VA. Beach the writing really took off. We recorded most of the record in Jimmy’s studio space in Norfolk, VA. It was a very different but productive recording experience for us both. I have never written music outside of a small room with a full band hashing it out. This time was a lot of sitting in front of a computer creating one song at a time. A lot of my drum parts were actually written on a keyboard or simply tapping on the desk. Once most of the writing was done Jeremy Griffith came to Virginia and recorded the drums. Jeremy is an amazing engineer and producer and had done both of those duties on the last Norma Jean record I was a part of called “Meridional”. Once drums were completed we headed to Jeremy’s studio in Florida to do the final mixes.  

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How would you describe your sound? And how did you find it?

It is always so tough to describe your own sound. Just this past weekend at a show in Winston Salem, NC someone came up to me and said, “Man, you guys were great, you sound so much like Quicksand”. Although I took that as a huge compliment, I disagree with him one hundred percent [laughs] So with that being said, I don’t know that I can describe our sound. I know our vision was to take influences from our present and past and to make sure we created something aggressive and dark. I think we found it though all these years of writing music, touring, and friendship. Jimmy and I almost never disagree when it comes to ideas leading to composition or art for Sunndrug. It really is a great partnership and that has absolutely helped lead to how we found our sound.  

Being former members of notable bands like Norma Jean, Spitfire an Mae, how do you feel about using your former band’s stature in furthering your new musical project?

It has its pros and cons. It definitely helps to already have a fan base built that wants to know what we are up to musically, but also can hurt being thrown into a scene or genre that we don’t necessarily fit into. There are many Norma Jean and Spitfire fans that will enjoy what Sunndrug is doing, but also a number of fans that will be turned off since it doesn’t sound like those bands.  

How has working with Mind Over Matters Records affected the release? Why did you choose to go with a label for your first album?

Working with Mind Over Matter has been nothing short of amazing.  Austin and everyone at the label have been such a huge help to us. MOM Records has a really great way of doing business and have adapted to the landscape of today’s music industry in a great way. Their vision is all about putting out great music and making super quality physical releases for affordable prices.

What was the scene like for you guys growing up in Virginia Beach?

The scene in the Virginia Beach area growing up was great! We still have so many friends in the area or from the area that we have played with and stayed close with after all these years. We were heavily influenced by a number of bands from this area.  

What was the first song/artist that really made you fall in love with music?

I don’t know if I can name just one. I have vivid memories of hearing certain artist/bands for the first time, but can’t pick out one that made me the music lover I am today. I remember being very young and borrowing my older sisters 45’s, which lead to a lot of INXS, Def Leppard, Guns N Roses and other 80s bands. I absolutely remember falling in love with Metallica’s …And Justice For All and Tourniquet’s Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance. Once the 90s hit I was absolutely changed by Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden. Those bands taught me how to play drums and how I wanted music to sound. Once I became more embedded in the hardcore scene bands like Dead Guy, Coalesce and Dillinger Escape Plan became everything!  

What sort of reaction do you hope your music will create?

My first hope is that everyone will love it of course. I think more importantly that people will be able to relate to it and that it will leave a mark on the listener.  

Where do you hope to be a year from now?

Opening for Nine Inch Nails on a World Tour, of course!  A year from now with a lot of shows and a record under our belts I’m sure we will be deep into creating and planning for a new release.  

Grab yourself a copy of Exit Wounds here and have your mind melted by Sunndrug.