The Red Sun Band
On Their Past, Present & Future…
March 2010
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman

On the recommendation of Juanita from Howling Bells, I was overjoyed to discover The Red Sun Band. Who likewise, call Sydney, Australia, home and who write ravishing subterranean music which could be described as dreamy and red velvet-lined, with an overflowing well of fuzzy feedback. Or, as thunderous distortion, rinsed with razor-edged guitars and breathy / honey-dripping vocals.

Active since 2003, with 2 full-length albums to their name, Peapod (2004) and The Shiralee (2008). Part of their bio reads: “Comprised of sisters, Sarah Kelly (guitar / lead vocals) and Lizzie Kelly (keyboards / tambourine / backing vocals), the band performs and records as a three-piece, with the addition of a male drummer / backing vocalist, John Matthews. The band are inspired by acts such as Mazzy Star and Cat Power, which is evident in both their production-ethic and the treatment of the lead vocals. Not unlike bands such as The Dandy Warhols, early My Bloody Valentine or The Doors, The Red Sun Band employ keyboard bass, rather than electric bass.”

So if this is the type of musical voodoo that moves you, what’s not to love? I got in touch with lead singer and songwriter, Sarah – who has also just started The Jewel And The Falcon with Patrick Matthews (Youth Group, The Vines) – to find out more about this scorching-hot band from Oz…

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

1.Your songs have a real mystique to them, but are you interested in rock ‘n’ roll mythology and the mystical / indefinable qualities that music can have?
“As far as I can tell, the story is often as important as the music. The bands that you get most obsessed with always have incredible stories, often sad stories, like Cat Power and her mad mother Myra Lee, or John Lennon and the mother who abandoned him. Bands that have an excellent story surrounding them are fascinating, I love hearing about the early days of Magic Dirt, an Australian grunge band, who were ridiculously anti-commercial, and would play for forty minutes and all the songs would meld into each other into some kind of deafening sludge, while the crowd threw beer cans at them. Bands that play together because they love it before anyone notices them. That sort of stuff. And why are dead musicians so fascinating?”

2.What for you, have been some of the landmark songs in the history of popular music?

“Fade Into You by Mazzy Star.”

3.Is there a particular band or artist, whose career path and musical output / consistency, you greatly admire?
“I can't think of an answer to this one. I guess there's always a dodgy record, or a song on an ad that ruins it.”

4.Do you think the best bands are a product of their environment / feel living in Australia has had a big impact on the music that you make?

“There are those bands that have that parochial thing about them. Like The Smiths or The Triffids or You Am I or The Strokes. But a lot of musicians live in their own little imaginary worlds that are more influenced by the music they listen to and the books they read than the landscape surrounding them. Toby Martin from Youth Group reviewed our second album, The Shiralee, and he said you can hear the desert and huge wide-open spaces in it. I guess the central concept of that record was based around the idea of a swagman and his relationship to his swag (burden, but also comfort as it's his bed) so it makes sense that you can hear space. Not that I live anywhere near the desert.”

5.Some songwriters believe that they can communicate better through songs, than they can in real life. Do you also feel like this, and how often do you write?

“Emotions come out better in song. I think that is a given. That's why we need them. I tend to write only when I'm excruciated by a feeling or a situation and thankfully that has been happening less and less!”

6.Is it difficult letting your songs go, and if by magic you were able to hear your own songs with fresh ears, do you think that you’d appreciate the nuances in your music?
“Releasing a record is a wonderful feeling. I don't feel troubled by it. Of course you hope people don't say horrible things, but on the whole it's great to get it out there! As for hearing my songs as if I never had before… you know there is a band in Australia called Rocket Science and the singer fell over at a show and hit his head (he's enormously tall, he hit his head real hard) and he lost his memory. His family played him his own music in the hospital and he was like, “This is really cool, who is it?” Ha ha, I hope I would feel like that.”

7.One of the most outstanding aspects of your music, is your sultry voice – but which vocalists do you find inspiring?

“Why, thank you. I like Cat Power, Hope Sandoval, PJ Harvey. I think the lady from Black Mountain is pretty awesome.”

8.What’s the story behind your name, The Red Sun Band, and with such a visual name, is artwork important to you?

“Naming a band is hard. When the band started, it was just me and John, the original drummer. One day we got sick of trying to decide on a name so we got stoned, sat down at the kitchen table, wrote down 50 names, and then crossed em out 'til we had one left, theredsunband. We do all our own artwork.”

9.If you had to go shopping for someone and buy a record, a book and a film – what would they be and why?
“Passover by the Black Angels, Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger, and either The Royal Tenenbaums or Harold And Maud.”

10.Do you collect musical gear, and if so, what are some of your most treasured instruments and effects pedals?
“I like distortion pedals. I have a beautiful black one with a blue light called Rich Drive that a fellow in the Central Coast of NSW handmade. I am very attached to my amp. It's a WASP, an old 70s metal guitar amp made in New Zealand.”

11.If you could be photographed for any magazine and be on the front cover, which one would it be?

“The Economist.”

12.When playing live, do you feel a synergy between the band and the audience – and to date, what’s the smallest gig and the biggest gig that you’ve played?
“Sometimes, when you're lucky, there is a synergy between the band and the audience. That is good shit when it happens. The second half of that question has perplexed me. I don't know.”

13.From personal experience, what is the one thing that everybody should try at least once in their lifetime?

“Magners Cider.”

14.Having been in The Music Industry for several years, career-wise, what would now give you the most satisfaction?
“Selling some records, ha ha. Um, seriously, making another album.”

15.Lastly, chips or cream buns?

“Hot chips!”

A very special thanks to Sarah for all of her time and help.

“The Sun Is Always Setting”

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?