Brooklyn’s celebration of musical excellence and diversity hasn’t let up the last few years, as it continues to deliver some of the most exciting bands of the past decade and many The Wandering Lamb favourites including Beach Fossils, Grizzly Bear, Parquet Courts, The Antlers, Ratatat, Chairlift, TV on The Radio, The Drums and now Sunflower Bean. It has been an incredible 2 years for this young three-piece band and The Wandering Lamb had the pleasure to chat with Julia Cumming who at the time of conversation was literally in the car with her band traveling, continuing their relentless but nourishing tour of the U.S and Europe.
The early February release of their highly awaited debut album Human Ceremony, on the eclectic Fat Possum label (Youth Lagoon, Modest Mouse, Andrew Bird, The Black Keys) marked the start of a lot excitement among us taste makers. The album affirmed this excitement with it diversity, maturity and disregard for musical genre or fashionable style, created by 3 friends, Nick Kivlen (guitar and vocals), Jacob Faber (drums) and Julia Cumming (guitar and vocals) who have the combined age that is still younger than Keith Richards.
Sunflower Bean are no overnight success, they spent most of 2014 touring around the States in lead up to their studio debut, “we played over 50 shows all together in that year” said Julia, seeming a little distracted during conversation, focusing her attention on the cost of tolls and some driving navigation (we assumed Julia wasn’t driving at the time we were chatting.)
The band more recently had the privilege of being asked to join the double bill UK tour of The Vaccines and Palma Violet, “an awesome opportunity and experience” said Julia, “We got to play these mad venues, like arenas”. Although when asked about playing a support slot and the crowd reactions, Julia made reference that is always hard to play in front of a crowd that are not familiar with you, but “the crowds really seemed to like it”.
What makes Human Ceremony such a success is the diversity of musical style and production “we all just came together on this album” said Julia when describing how the album formed its structure, “we brought each song together as a group and independently, we let it grow organically”. The band worked with friend and influential producer Matt Molnar, who helped the band create their dynamic sound “Matt brought in some key elements of harmonies and classic rock”.
On a quick pass around of the phone The Wandering Lamb had a quick chat with Nick Kivlen to talk touring schedules and new material “we just doing so much touring at the moment but we have written 2 songs but the focus really is touring the album.” Nick exuded a smile in his voice when we talked about the reaction they are having to the album and touring it with their headline shows.
With the band all now living in Brooklyn, although no longer living together in the same house, TWL were fascinated to learn why Brooklyn continues to deliver some of the most influential and memorable indie bands, and with Sunflower Bean calling Brooklyn home for now (Julia is a native Brooklynites), Julia had her own rather obvious explanation that made complete sense. “The thing about New York, is there is this whole idea of living the dream, people go there to find their dream. Manhattan offers the opportunity. Brooklyn still has great venues, it used to be cheap here but it’s getting expensive but you can still see some free shows.”
Before leaving the band to focus on their driving, we quickly asked Julia and Nick what new music they were listening to at the moment that they could share with us and they both agreed on Sheer Mag, hot new rock band from Philadelphia and Cat Le Bon the amazing Welsh singer/songwriter who now lives in LA.
Whether the band will tour Australia any time soon, well there is nothing in the diary according to Julia “but we would love to come over if we are invited” she said, to which TWL quickly responded with a quest to be the instigator, promised they will see if they can speak to the right people. There is no doubt we will see this band tour our shores soon.
The band have just released their latest music video for ‘Easier Said’, a striking visual that was filmed in upstate New York. Human Ceremony is out now through Fat Possum Records