River Of Suns

Think along the lines of some of PEV's favorite artists – guys like Trevor Hall and Andrew Whitman. The kind of artist that only knows how to create real music… the type of artist that will get in your head from note one… the real artist that can relax your day away or work your brain into a sweat. That's what we have here with River of Suns. And these guys have barely gotten started.

Members Padric Payton (a Topanga native) and Asa Anderson have known each other since second grade, making various kinds of music all the way through college. Now completing their trio with guitarist/keyboardist Connor Marks, River of Suns is garnering some well deserved attention, and they haven't even toured yet! Why are they so damn good? Because they know the philosophy behind a really good song: “A great song is about something you NEED to write about. Each song calls for its own story and own vibe and be subservient to that energy. You can't over think it, and also you have to be willing to try songs in completely new ways, whether rewriting complete verses, throwing out melodies, changing instruments. That's how we've grown into seasoned songwriters.”

The band has an EP that’s on the way that includes “Nothing’s On the Radio”, a tune to be featured on FUSE's "New Music Live" (it should also have my current favorite song “Gold Mines”). Asa says “The EP will sound like a major label release and features a wide spectrum of sonic textures; live horns, Hammondorgan, Fender Rhodes, guitars and strings. Six songs in length, fans can expect the record to make them feel something deep, real, and hopefully....funky.” Sounds awesome – I’m pumped for more. These guys are tremendous – we don’t compare bands to our favorite artists every day, so definitely check out River of Suns. There’s so much more for you to get into, so read on for the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: River of Suns

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

Asa Anderson (AA): Our sound is a tasty combination of alt-pop and soul with a roots foundation.  The music It's been described as a love child between Jeff Buckley and Jamiroquai...I like to think our musicianship and the time we spend on writing authentic, thoughtful lyrics is what sets us apart.

PEV: Now calling Los Angeles home, but stemming from areas such as Napa Valley and Topanga, California, what kind of music where the members of the band into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?

Padric Payton (PP): I was born in the 80s so I heard Sting, Paul Simon, Michael Jackson, Men at Work, and Bob Marley in my house.  The first concert I went was Reef at the Roxy in Hollywood.  It was Brit rock meets funk and I remember it was my first mosh pit.  I danced like a crazy person.

AA: It's funny, when you are a child you don't really have a choice; you end up listening to what your parents were listening to.  There was a time in the 80s when it was suddenly cool to dance to rap music; New Jack Swing....Bobby Brown, Guy, MC Hammer, Bel Biv DeVoe.  I also remember those iconic bass lines in West Coast Gangsta Rap being very influential.

PEV: Tell us your take on the music in Los Angeles now and what was it like trying to break into it?

AA: Everyone is saying it, but I think licensing for tv and film is the best way for an unknown artist to break.  The club scene in LA can be frustrating.  Not to be negative, but a band usually will have to deal with short sets, shady promoters, and competition from more established acts rolling through town.  In a recent Jane's Addiction interview, Perry Farrel talked about how the band looked forabandoned warehouses and alternate venues to create a "church-like" experience for their fans, and would usually go for hours.  I totally agree: you have to create your own scene these days, because gone are the days where people would cruise Sunset Boulevard hopping from club to club to check out bands.

PEV: With that, what can fans expect from a live River of Suns show?

PP: They can expect a tangible joy from us onstage and danceable grooves.  Because we are so well versed in different styles, I think it took us a bit longer to find a band sound.  We've pretty much honed in on the funky, romantic music with catchy melodies and passionate vocals.  People sway and make out at our shows and we've learned to embrace that.   

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

PP:  I'm about to have some fun!!!

AA: Don't f*@% it up!!!  

PEV: Having been friends since the age of seven and all been in other bands before how is playing with River of Suns different then those other works?

PP: River of Suns has a character in itself...its the most mature, authentic and passionate project I've been in

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

PP: The underlying inspiration is the grand mystery of life.  The unseen force behind things, the motivation behind peoples actions, the unseen social net behind society.  I'm interested in looking for those answers.  

AA: We have been writing in the car a lot lately.  We park by the ocean and I'll play the changes on the acoustic guitar.  It's very private, we don't have time constraints, and it gives us time to have a meaningful dialogue about the lyrics.

PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out do you ever look back at your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?

PP: Honestly, I feel that we still are in our earlier days.  Thinking back to when we were 20, we learned a whole new way of seeing the world but it's actually more about coming back to youthful excitement.  It's all about doing.  Countless rehearsals, countless gigs, you refine your abilities over time.  I think the last 5 years we refined our taste; that is, knowing when to leave space, knowing what a good melody sounds like and how a song makes you feel.  A great song is about something you NEED to write about.  Each song calls for its own story and own vibe and be subservient to that energy.  You can't over think it, and also you have to be willing to try songs in completely new ways, whether rewriting complete verses, throwing out melodies, changing instruments.  That's how we've grown into seasoned songwriters.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of River of Suns?

AA: Probably that this incarnation is only 8 months old!  We have gotten comments that when we play live, it seems like we have known each other our entire lives, but all that is is good band chemistry.  Also it would be surprising to know that we have never toured.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your lives when you knew that music was going to be a goal for you?

PP: Probably after our first year of college.  Asa and I had a manager with a high profile client who gave us the confidence to think of ourselves as legit artists.  It didn't work out and we finished college but getting that initial recognition was a huge motivator.

AA: I'd say after getting a few sync licenses under our belt a few years ago.  If major networks like NBC and Hallmark like our stuff enough to put it in television, then we are on the right track!

PEV: Tell us about your hit single "Nothing's On the Radio" which will be featured on FUSE's "New Music Live"  and your upcoming EP (available February 2011). What can fans expect from this?

AA: That song actually opened the flood gates for our current material, which I think is more fully integrated and realized.  The EP will sound like a major label release and features a wide spectrum of sonic textures; live horns, Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, guitars and strings.  6 songs in length, fans can expect the record to make them feel something deep, real, and hopefully... funky

PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?

AA: We haven't been on the road since our focus has been solely on the songs.  We look forward to a west coast/college tour this year, though.

PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

PP:  Western Europe.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?

PP:  The first few years there was encouragement but this last year has been in awe and shocked at how far we have come.  Playing in our hometown is the only thing we know, surprisingly.

PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

PP: Nature is a huge inspiration for our music, so I hike a lot in Topanga.  I like to see live music and play soccer as well.  In between that and work I don't have much time for much else.

 

PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?

PP: Sade.  We've been listening to her for 15 years.  She embodies sex, rhythm and vibe.  Her band has taste, style, restraint and lots of soul.  I also really enjoy the texture of her voice.

AA: I think if we were to make a record with anyone it would be Quincy Jones.  He's an artist's producer.  Listen to Thriller and tell me it's not genius on multiple levels!

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

PP: Carney.  Asa met Reeve and Zane at USC and we saw them play a few years back at Molly Malones...blown away.  They aren't very active right now because the frontman Reeve is doing Spiderman on Broadway, but their band is killer live.  Kinda like a dreamy Zeppelin feel.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think each of you would be your career?

PP: I'd be a surf bum in Hawaii.

AA: I'd be a music instructor.

PEV: So, what is next for River of Suns?

AA:  We just finished our EP and will be mastering in the coming weeks.  After we are done, we will be looking for management, a publishing deal, label and definitely touring.  We are ready.

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