Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunwølf Interview

Sunwølf have been a long-time staple here at The Burning Beard, going back to their first album, Beyond the Sun, and holding steady through subsequent albums Midnight Moon and Beholden to Nothing and No One, the latter of which also had us interviewing the then-two-piece group.  With Sunwølf's new album set to arrive on the 18th of this month, we felt it would be a good time to get back in touch with the band and find out how things have changed since last we spoke.

The Burning Beard: It's been a while, so let me start by asking, how has the band been since we last heard from you?
Matthew Carrington: It has indeed been a while.  We’ve been doing fine, the line-up has changed (parted ways with old drummer Dominic and I’ve gained 2 new live members, Scott on guitar and Steve on drums).  I’ve also relocated from Leeds to North East Scotland.

TBB: How do you feel Beholden to Nothing and No One has settled into the Sunwølf body of work by this point?
MC: I’m really proud of Beholden, it was a huge step forward from the previous two albums in terms of songwriting.  I think the record had a ton more depth to it than its predecessors also.  It’s a record that I had wanted to write for a long time and I was pleased with the response it received.

TBB: As Sunwølf always change up their approach to music from album to album, tonally and instrumentally, how would you compare the upcoming album to your previous releases?
MC: The new album (Eve) is essentially a raw version of the band.  It’s a lot more exposed than Beholden and perhaps more simplified.  I named the album after my daughter, Eve, so it’s a very personal record to me.  I made a conscious effort to make this record a little more hopeful and brighter than the style on Beholden.  Besides, it’s impossible to write that sort of bleak material when you’re happy.  That’s not to say we’ve dramatically changed our sound, we’ve just added a dose of light optimism to the equation.


TBB: The cover art seems to combine elements from the artwork from your previous albums, is that something of a theme for Eve in general?
MC: We try to keep a narrative with our artwork.  My friend Sean Doherty has done all our record sleeves and has a pretty clear idea of where we’re at stylistically.  We changed it up a bit for the Beholden art but Sean has been working on new artwork for the Beholden 2xLP reissue which is happening soon.  The new artwork is more in keeping with our other records.

TBB: What was the general mood and mind-set in approaching the work for this new album?
MC: As mentioned earlier, I knew I wanted this record to be more melodic and positive than Beholden.  The record is named after my daughter Eve and I wanted to stay away from any negative connotation… instead creating hopeful, uplifting music to represent our precious child’s first venture into the world.  

TBB: Are there any particular tracks on Eve which you found notably difficult to wrestle into the form you wanted from them?
MC: I definitely found it hard to get a handle on some of the tracks on Eve, for sure.  Most of my gripes were concerned with the album’s production; I recorded all parts for the record so I had to be more objective than I’d previously been with other albums where I hadn’t produced.  “Gilded Heart” was the first song I recorded and mixed… but I just couldn’t get a mix I was happy with, so I conceded that I needed help.  Which is when I asked long-time SW producer Ross Halden to mix the album, to which he fortunately obliged.  Listening back, Ross really brought the record to life and I don’t think I would have done the material justice without his input.

TBB: On the other side of it, are there any that seemed to just come together with little trouble?
MC: To be honest, a lot of the material I write comes together very easily.  Although in fairness most of the Sunwølf songs just revolve around one repetitive riff and layered up guitars… not technical, but all the feels.

TBB: Eve is the first Sunwølf album to be recorded in your special-built studio, correct?  Could you tell us a bit about how the new environment influenced the album, and some details about the studio itself?
MC: Yes, I recorded the whole record in there.  The studio backs onto my garden and is pretty simple in construction.  We had an existing shell to work with, which was an old coal store I believe.  We replaced the roof and essentially did the ‘room in a room’ method complete with floating floor.  It’s well-insulated, meaning I can make a racket without disturbing my neighbours.
The studio is perfect for what I need… an isolated, quiet space with some monitors and a few guitars.  A lot of the material came along very quickly once the studio was installed… I had a bunch of material ready to refine that I had been working on periodically throughout the year.

TBB: How will Sunwølf be keeping itself busy around the time of Eve's release?
MC: To be honest I will be keeping things very low profile… my priority is my family right now but I look forward to playing the handful of shows that we have booked in for the rest of 2016.

TBB: Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers, or special thanks you'd like to give to anyone who helped in the shaping of the new album?
MC: I’d like to give a special mention to my father-in-law, John.  He put in a tremendous amount of work when we built the studio last summer and continues to be very supportive of the band.

TBB: Thanks very much for your time and the great music!
MC: Thanks for your time and interest guys!

~ Gabriel

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