Alabama?! Ah yes, a hotbed of shoegaze bliss that spews out bands that are just waiting to escape the shadow of (insert name of famous band from Alabama here). Hailing from Mobile, The Sunshine Factory could just have easily been living in Kevin Shield’s basement for the past two decades. A whirling dervish of fuzz and energy, they use perfect vocal melodies to soothe you, while boring a hole in your skull with their wall of noise. Sania talked to the three-piece of Ian Taylor: vocals, guitar, Matthew Hendrich: drums, and Sally Robertson: bass and vocals.
TDOA: How did you guys end up together as a band?
IT: The short answer is we were probably the only likeminded musicians in Mobile, Alabama who wanted to play this kind of hybrid shoegaze psych pop music. Maybe Kismet, providence and luck combined, not sure. We just feel very happy that we are together and believe it or not we do bring it up from time to time, like” how did we…get together? here?” it seems really improbable particularly to anyone who is from here.
TDOA: Is it true that Eastern Orthodox chant music is one of the underlying inspirations for the music? If so, in what way?
IT: Yes, it’s true! Robert and I are both Eastern Orthodox and Robert has been chanting for a long time. The Inspiration is similar to the way southern gospel music was influential in a lot of early rock music. It’s just the sound I grew up with. As a child it was the first music I learned to sing, besides Bowie and New Order of course. On a more conscious level it has a very dreamy mystical feel to it which is very shoegaze like.
TDOA: So the new album Sugar officially coming out in December was originally supposed to be an EP that grew into a full length LP?
IT: Yeah, it was. We had an additional six songs ready to go and the timing was right for us to put out another album. You know with finances a consideration we wanted to go with a full album. It all fit together amazingly well and we’re very happy with it.
TDOA: How is Sugar different to you guys from the previous album Vintage Revolution?
IT: When we recorded Vintage Revolution, I was performing as a one man band. It was just Robert doing the lyrics and me composing all the music with some help here and there with “What do you think about this or that?”. A lot of the composition on Vintage revolution was with the live show in mind. It definitely had an effect on the song composition and instrumentation.
With the band all together for sugar we were able to write with that in mind. It is definitely heading more in the direction of the Sunshine Factory’s “ideal” sound so to speak. To be honest it is all part of a process you know.
TDOA: The tracks off Vintage Revolution can be downloaded for free or name your own price off the band’s website, what was behind the decision of making it available that way?
IT: These days there doesn’t seem to be a template that is across the board true so to speak, so we were definitely trying to just make our music available, to get as many people listening as possible. It is kind of our belief that there is one group of people that want to pay for music, one group that would like to if you make it easy for them and one group that won’t pay for it no matter what you do!
TDOA: What are you guys listening to lately?
IT: Serena Maneesh, Aprodites Child, Broadcast and The Focus Group, this great group from L.A. , Dunes. Autolux and Lily’s. Sally is really into Secret Colours. Matt likes Old Crow Medicine show and circasurvive.
TDOA: The band is based out of Mobile Alabama, what is the music scene like there? Do you guys have a following there, or does most of the following come from cities you’ve toured?
IT: The music scene here is very tough. Everything is standard fare. No real alternative scene. We have gleaned a flock of very loyal fans from the nooks and crannies in hidden bayou’s and so forth. They are so happy to have a band that plays music that is from a genre they love. They express utter disbelief that they are hearing that sound here. In that since it is great they aren’t jaded like you sometimes find in bigger markets. We do have nice turnouts in New Orleans, Atlanta, NY and so forth so it is a little of both. To add we do seem to have a very diverse group of online followers from Europe, Japan, China, South America and a lot of other interesting places.
TDOA: Your live shows are really well put together and fit the music perfectly, I really love the projectors. Typically, what is the energy like at your shows? What responses have you gotten from the crowd?
IT: The energy is intense. The shows are loud, with lots of strobes, video, projectors and lights it’s pretty intense! People tend to stand very still and absorb the show. Typically they just stand with their arms crossed and don’t move at all until it’s over.
TODA: What are some favorite distortion pedals used for your wall of sound?
IT: I have a Keeley-modded tube screamer, an English muffin, and a Marshall guvnor plus. I end up using the tube screamer the most. It sounds the best driving the amp.
TDOA: What’s next on the agenda for the band?
IT: Touring. We are touring Florida in January and February. Then a southwest tour. Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama. After that we are going to NYC to play a few showcases. A very full spring.
To learn more about the band and pick up their new album, visit their website: http://thesunshinefactorymusic.com