Alt trio Sunlust - who hail from Toronto, Canada - have recently released the fabulous 'Geek Confessions' album full of tremendous 90s grunge / alt-rock songs and vibes. Steph, Stef and Dan answered some questions for BBMATB on the album, making videos and the Toronto music scene (amongst other things). Check it out below :-
Sunlust are Stephanie Woulfe (Guitar / Vocals), Stefano Signorile (Bass) and Daniel Wiktor (Drums).
'Geek Confessions' is up on all the major digital sites and the Sunlust Bandcamp page (www.sunlust.bandcamp.com), along with singles 'Action Figure', 'Magnum Opus' and 'Orange'.
Hi Guys, thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. First off, for those readers who might not be familiar with Sunlust, could you give a short history of the band? Steph - I moved to the city of Toronto in 2017 from a very small town in Ontario, looking to pursue music. I had all these home-recorded demos that I wanted to play and properly record with bandmates. I met Dan through a Kijiji ad, of which I was immediately drawn to because of the similar influences he listed, and we really clicked. After we played together a few times, Dan recruited his friend Stefano to play bass, who, rumour has it, picked up the bass specifically to be in the band. We spent the next couple of years getting our stage legs by playing shows around the city. In late 2019 we started recording what was going to be a 5-track EP, and eventually it became the 10-song album that we released this year. And who would you say were the big influences on Sunlust as a band and on your sound? Steph - I think some obvious ones come to mind like Nirvana and Hole and the 90s alternative scene - those were the bands that really ignited the passion in me to be a musician and who inspired me to start writing songs in the first place. I really do enjoy a wide range of artists though, so I would hope listeners can hear some subtle nods to some other bands and genres, too, maybe some that I don’t even realize are present. The great thing about influences are sometimes they affect your musicianship subconsciously without you even realizing that particular artist or song or sound had that influence on you. The new album 'Geek Confessions' came out recently - do you have a sense of how it's doing out in the 'big wide world'? Dan - Ya, we’ve had the album released for about a week now and we’re very happy with how it's being enjoyed. We’re grateful for the international support that has come forth from publications and radio stations - It's quite a thrill to see so many places playing the songs and expressing their support for them. We’ve been played and written about in places such as Brazil, France, Germany, Australia, Italy, Poland, US, and the UK. It's humbling to see a variety of the songs being appreciated and we’re hopeful that it’ll sustain as the time goes on. Where did you record the album; somewhere you've recorded before? Stef - Here, there and everywhere! We started recording with Lorne Hounsell at The Piston Bar in the Bloor & Ossington area of Toronto. The folks at The Piston have been very good to us and allowed us to record drums for a day as we really like how drums sound in their room. We ended up recording all of the drums for Side A that day. A little while later, Lorne took us to Pineship Sound (formerly Ill Eagle Studio) on the east end of the city to record the rest of Side A. We recorded Side B at Cadence House, a studio owned and operated by Daniel’s brother, Jack. We’ve had a lot of good times with Jack at Cadence in the past, so when he offered to record Side B, it was a no-brainer. Who came up with the 'Geek Confessions' album title - and is there any particular reason why the album has that title? And are there any recurring themes / narratives that appear in the songs on the album? Steph - “Geek Confessions' is actually taken from the title of a song that didn’t make the album, ‘Outright Loser Geek Confessions’. I guess it was just my tongue-in-cheek way of making fun of myself for writing these little adolescent outpours of the heart. When I really thought about the thematic connection between all the songs on the album, they are very much my little loser, alone-in-my-bedroom, unrequited love confessions, so the title was very fitting for the album. Plus, it sounded unique and interesting, so it made the cut. What are your favourite tracks on the album and why? Steph - I really love how 'Magnum Opus' turned out from a production standpoint. It wasn’t in my top songs to play with the band until we made some edits to it during the recording process, and now I feel it’s one of the hardest hitting songs on the album. 'Whippets' was the same thing - there’s some little guitar lines we added in there that really make the song for me. I also love 'Pearl Brain'; right from the get-go, that mix was sounding mega beefy. Stef - First one is 'Action Figure' - hearing what it has transformed into, from Steph’s first demo of it until now, is truly spectacular. The other one that comes to mind is 'Magnum Opus' - I really like the stomp beat that is in much of the song, which is not how we played it until we started recording it. Special shout-out to 'Whippets', as I wasn’t crazy for the song before we recorded it, but I absolutely love the way it turned out. Dan - I appreciate 'Existor' - the tone it sets from top to bottom really brings out the dynamics of our band. I'm fond of the way that one rolls along and how the energy inclines til the end. 'Goodbye' and 'Sad Sap' are also wonderful songs - the flow and emotion on those tracks are always interesting to hear and play.
Were there any numbers that you had written that had to be left off the album? And have you any new songs that you're excited to 'get out there'?
Steph - I have quite a back catalogue of demos and tunes that I had made before moving to the city. A few of those particular songs we play regularly in our setlists and rehearsals, but they didn’t make the album cut because we felt they weren’t quite at that level of readiness. We’re currently working on tweaking and recording those songs on our own so we can release them as a little EP at some point in the near future. Those songs have been with us for a long time, so we are excited to get them recorded how they deserve to be heard and get them out there.
You've made a couple of videos for singles off the album; is making videos something you enjoy?
Dan - Filming and editing music videos has definitely been fun - we’ve been fortunate enough to make a couple studio videos that were interesting to develop and light. I directed and edited 'Orange' and that one was cool given that we silhouetted the whole video. 'Action Figure'’s video was envisioned as a sibling of 'Orange' - if you do jump to our youtube, check out 'Orange' first to set the tone to the 3 videos that we have out. There’s also some other fun videos kickin on the channel too..
Stef - Making those videos was a blast. We spent all day jumping around and eating shawarma. On a personal level, I used to enjoy making videos in the past, but it isn’t something I really do in my free time anymore.
Steph - I definitely enjoyed being in the music videos we made for 'Orange' and 'Action Figure' at Sterling Studio. It was a fun and laid back environment, and it was exciting to watch it all come together. I made the video for 'Magnum Opus' at home by doing some basic editing of footage, and that was really fun too. I enjoy doing that sort of thing; motion graphics and video editing is definitely an interest of mine.
Apart from obviously not being able to play live, has COVID provided any other specific challenges to the band? Would the album perhaps have been different in any way if the pandemic hadn't struck?
Stef - Just not being able to play together period has been a big challenge. There was about 6 weeks in the summer - a time in which COVID cases were ridiculously low - when we gathered a few times a week to rehearse or record. Other than that, we’ve only played a handful of times since. In terms of the album, it would have been very different if the pandemic hadn’t struck. For instance, we had initially planned to release Side A as an EP on June 6, 2020, with a release show planned for that date as well. So there wouldn’t have even been a LP as both sides would have been released as their own EP.
You've put some 'top of the heap' and 'at home and acoustic' videos up on the Sunlust Youtube channel during COVID - is this something you'll carry on with once live gigs return and we have some sort of semblance of normality? And do you think the way bands reach out to their audience has perhaps changed forever now following the pandemic?
Steph - I think we’ll keep up with those endeavours here and there once live gigs come back. It’s a nice way to connect with people online and share our musical interests, rather than just always saying “hey listen to our music,” so hopefully we can keep up with it at least once in a while. I really love playing covers, so I do enjoy the opportunity to play covers for the 'At-Home' and 'Acoustic' series. I’d like to think the way bands connect to their audience has changed in a good way; musicians have had to be a lot more crafty in creating content, since we can’t be posting about shows. We have had to think of other things we can talk about and do to engage our audience, and I don’t think this is a bad thing. I think having to shift our thinking in that way keeps things interesting and engaging for fans, even once live shows come back.
Do you feel there is a strong music scene in Toronto and surrounding area currently? Are there any particular bands from the area you'd recommend to readers?
Steph - The Toronto music scene is definitely pretty rocking, which I think is something we’ve come to realize more and more as time goes on. Maybe it doesn’t seem as vibrant from the outside at the moment, but as a band right in the scene, we can see how much awesome music is coming out of the city and Ontario. We’ve made some great friends and are really excited to get back out and support each other at live shows when we can do that again. Check out Artificial Alien, Roach, and PUP - some of my favourites at the moment.
Stef - There’s too many good bands out there, it’s insane. Some personal favourites are The Stay at Home Dads, Sofiacide, and Singapore. Yes, it’s a coincidence they all begin with the letter S.
Dan - I really appreciate the music and variety that is coming out of the local scene. There are many bands to check out - I say this with confidence because we’ve put together a playlist to show our appreciation for the music that's around us and the list became endless. If you’re interested in checking out some Ontario bands and artists - check out our Spotify playlist ‘Ontario Sounds’ - you won't be disappointed.
And finally, what plans for Sunlust for 2021 and beyond?
Steph - Hopefully play a show! Seems like a simple dream, but I really miss having beers with friends at a greasy venue on a Thursday night somewhere deep in the city.
Dan - I’ll second that!
Stef - “Party time, excellent!”