Interview With Sonus

What was the beginning pint for your music career? How did it all start?

I had played in a few other projects of friends here and there and I just felt frustrated and unable to express myself musically in the way that I wanted. After a particularly frustrating session one day, I decided I was going to do my own thing. So in a week I wrote an album’s worth of music demos in the garage band app (nothing too hard for me, I have hundreds of hours of phone recorded jams in my riff vault). All of a sudden, Covid hit and the entire world locked down. Suddenly I had all the time in the world on my hands, well, you can hear what I did with it!

Was there any bumps on the road? What kind of challenges did you have to deal with?

Starting a music project in the midst of covid quarantine with no job, no income, relying only on my savings, my willpower and sheer stubbornness, and without the ability to play shows or any idea how to market anything online was a great big bump! So big it knocked me into a headlong dive right into the midst of the underground heavy rock scene and somehow I surfaced in the top ten of February’s Doom Charts and heaps of praise with my second album, “Usurper of the Universe.” What a wild journey man, it all sort of blends together now that I’m out of my quarantine cocoon, but it’s like I was in a fugue state the entire time and finally started to come back down. 

What was the most fulfilling and satisfying moment so far?

It’s all been highlights and milestones; every step of this journey has far exceeded my expectations. Getting good reviews and international radio play with my first album when I thought no more than 30 people would ever hear it was a head trip, and then all that happened with the second album, getting voted in to #8 by the fine people at the Doom Charts this past February was like a fever dream. The fact that I managed to get a full band of great people and great musicians together, sounding damn good and playing shows within the year- and then seeing the reaction of people to these songs live has been fucking incredible. But the thing that makes it all so cool is that I was one dude in my bedroom who just wanted to bring his ideas to fruition… and then all this cool stuff grew from me finally deciding to do that. I’m in awe, and so grateful to each and every person who has enjoyed the music and joined me along the way.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

Epic, heavy, groovy, trippy, raw; I tend to oscillate between wanting to write huge proggy, spacey epics of sci-fi and fantasy, and down and dirty, simple rock n’roll and I believe I’ve managed to succeed at both and somehow keep it all sounding consistent.

What is your creative process like?

Seemingly out of nowhere, as if I’m channeling radio stations from other dimension, I’ll get riffs, melodies, lyrics, sometimes (as in the case of “Tanelorn,” the Michael Moorcock inspired epic closing track of the “Usurper of the Universe” album) nearly complete entire compositions just blasting into my brain. I love when this happens, yet sometimes I’m not quick enough to get the ideas down and it drifts away forever, or morphs into something slightly different. Other times, ideas and sections just come from jamming and channeling into a groove. I’m very lucky in that I have a mind that’s naturally inclined towards improvisation, and many of my songs and solos come from spur of the moment jams. Usually lyrics, if they’re not just lines that come to me and I jot down, will come from the vibe or atmosphere of the song and what it provokes me to imagine or think about.

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

Better streaming royalties for artists would go a long, long way towards making music a viable option for creatives to pursue. Of course, certain corporation’s profit margins wouldn’t be so absurdly high, and we couldn’t have that, could we? No, no, I suppose best to have the people creating art (or, cynically, “content”) for your platform struggle. Also, break down the monopoly of Ticketmaster, those price-gouging bastards. Their hidden fees should be criminalized and what they are doing is putting people off of seeing live music/events as the natural reaction to getting swindled out of your money is abject outrage. $35 charge to buy the tickets online from a source that has the monopoly on online ticket sales?! Disgusting. Also, respect, knowledge and appreciation of rock in the American media. Have you seen the latest Grammy nominations? How about the supposed “Rock” hall of fame’s nominations? At least Judas Priest finally got in, but there’s a rant for another time.

If you were asked to give a piece of advice to upcoming bands, what would that be?

Don’t go in with any expectations, be humble, only do it if you absolutely must create the music you hear in your head. Be loyal to your friends, and who those really are will show themselves. Believe in yourself, not that you’ll get some sort of big pot of gold at the end, but that you are capable of creating your art, and make sure that’s the chief reason you’re doing this, as all else will fall by the wayside, and it will be a struggle at times.

What has been the best performance of your career so far?

Headlining/closing the show at the Golden Bull in Oakland with Slow Phase and TV. Static was fucking incredible, a great performance from all, and our first time closing a show (and playing in Oakland). We were down a man as our rhythm guitarist had to go on a training retreat for his job, so I had to step back into the singing and playing role again after many months of not practicing the rhythm parts; much to my relief it went great! Still prefer not to have to sing and play rhythm (and leads of course) though, it’s just a bit much to keep track of sometimes.

If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing now?

I have a degree in Anthropology, and before Covid, I traveled the world working on Archaeological digs. That being said, repeated heat-related illnesses have made that a difficult thing to pursue in a sunny state in a warming world. I may have pursued a master’s or Doctorate, if for no other reason than not knowing what else I really wanted to do (in this reality where I continually denied that what I really want to do is make music and travel around). 

What is new with the band at the moment? What are you currently working on and would like to share with the world? 

We are currently looking to book more shows in California or the west coast of the US at this stage, though we hope to build up enough of a following overseas to be able to tour Europe and the UK one day; I know we have a few fans around the world, and I miss traveling around Europe (as me and our drummer Colin Jaramillo frequently did as friends and Archaeologists together).

To that end though, we are starting to get to work on the third album, which I’m excited to finally be able to record with a full band! I’d also love to revisit the first album and re-record, remix/remaster those songs as I feel they aren’t quite up to what I heard in my head, and being that it was my first home-recorded album, that’s to be expected, I suppose. It is an awful lot to learn. From their, we’ll be looking around at labels, so if you’re a label A&R person reading this, don’t be shy! And if you’re a booker, contact us at sonus.rocks and let’s Rock!

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