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Catching a Sonic Ride with Sundiver

Where has all the great music gone? That new stuff that grabs you by the scruff of the neck and hurls your feverish head into your ‘phones, hits play and then comforts and reassures you that all is not lost. It’s out there somewhere….

It’s something special when you find new bands to listen to. Bands that engage you from start to finish, but more often than not you’ll hit a point when nothing quenches your sonic thirst. Maybe you chase a few false starts that lead you into an album of fillers or you get trapped in the hype fuelled circus that just doesn’t stand up to what you hear.

For me the dry spell came to an end with a chance meeting in a bar. It was with someone who, like me, had a passion for music and this chance meeting changed things for the better.

After a long chat about bands we liked and tastes we had in common, new band names I’d not come across started to fill the air. With this chance meeting I was introduced to the audio expanse of Sundiver. My sonic quest was over.

Sundiver was formed by guitarist John Agee and bassist Bobby Bayer (whom both handle vocal duties) after their respective bands parted ways. After penning a handful of songs they were joined by drummer Nick Organ and second guitarist, keyboard player and synth wizard Joe Wells.

What each of these guys bring to the band in terms of influence is epically stimulating. Their continuing evolution of sound is drawn from bands as diverse as Manchester’s Amplifier and Oceansize, Oxford’s Swervedriver to Danish band Mew. They also tip their hats to My Bloody Valentine and David Gilmore.

But above all of these, it’s fair to say that one of the Sundiver’s founding influence is the Nineties post-hardcore outfit Shiner; a band that also hails from Sundiver’s home town of Kansas City, Missouri.

After a productive initial song writing stint, the band recorded the progressive Vicious EP, a sci-fi inspired five song sonic outing. With the opener ‘Space Dollars’, the band are quick in setting their musical stride. Their sound evolves as each track grows in grandeur and momentum, through five pulsating, layered soundscapes, eventually coming to a climax with the helpful guidance of ‘Afterlife Advice’.

The EP cover art was developed by graphic designer Tyler Galloway and Bobby.  By mapping the band’s music into pathways from its earthly root source, they sent it on a twisting journey out into space to form constellations of song.

Tyler was really methodical. He wanted a lot of band influence on the art work and listened to what we wanted to do’, said Bobby on the artistic collaboration between Tyler and the band.

The Vicious EP is no singularity – it is a foundation stone from which the band are currently expanding outwards, in sound, depth and volume.

The material that we play in our live set right now is all new, it feels like a new band. We are moving on musically’ says John on the evolution of the sound.

The new songs are in the same of writing style. It’s a little bigger and a little heavier but getting louder, especially in our live shows’, adds Bobby.

With 12 new songs under development the band aims to get in the studio soon and produce their first long player – a record that the band feels will eclipse the solid, Vicious EP. ‘A new recording will be in the works very soon’ John reassures me.

In the meantime the band are getting ready to play some shows with Massachusetts instrumental set up Caspian and Californian duo El Ten Eleven. ‘We are very excited to be playing these shows’, John enthuses.

Music is there to hook you in and help you escape, disappear and take you on a journey. For me Sundiver do all of the above and in the short time they have been together writing and producing their music, their future looks very bright indeed. One other aspect that makes Sundiver a great band is something that isn’t necessarily tied into the music or their art direction; it is that they are regular friendly guys and have a lot of time for others.

I’m sure the follow up to the ‘Vicious’ EP will blur the world around you and take you off away into the stars and as it hits you with the energy of an exploding supernova, gold is formed.

Find the band here:

Photography by: Alex Bonham-Carter

‘Vicious’ EP artwork design by: Tyler Galloway.

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