Interview

Q&A: Sun Club On Coming Up In Baltimore, And Their Next Album

Sun Club is a Baltimore quartet that plays a hard-to-define brand of art-rock that’s bright and furious at the same time. There’s sort of an aggression in all the weird angles and intensity of their music, but it’s a weird joyous aggression. The band’s made up of brothers Shane and Devin McCord, Mikey Powers, and Kory Johnson — old friends who grew up together playing music as kids and teenagers in the suburbs between Baltimore and Annapolis. Today, the McCords and Powers share a house in Baltimore and are part of a new generation of idiosyncratic Baltimore music following in the wake of the generation that gave us Wye Oak, Beach House, Future Islands, and Dan Deacon. After a shimmering and ferocious set at the Toyota Music Den at Firefly yesterday, we caught up with Sun Club to talk about their lives in the Baltimore scene, and what they have planned next.

STEREOGUM: Your debut album, The Dongo Durango, came out in October. What have you guys been up to since?

SHANE McCORD: We recorded it the year before, the October prior, and now….we’re writing a shit ton of music. We hope to record our next album this summer, maybe the fall.

MIKEY POWERS: I’m thinking September.

SHANE McCORD: That’s what we’ve been doing. We have this practice space two blocks from our house that’s fucking sick.

STEREOGUM: Is the new material similar to the debut so far?

SHANE McCORD: No…we had the EP and a 7-inch before that, and that was all a cohesive thing. The 7-inch, the EP, and the album were all leading into each other.

POWERS: It was basically everything we had released recorded as this one thing and put out.

SHANE McCORD: Now we’re all like, sweet. We’re all in our twenties, and there’s so much shit that’s been in the few years — I’m so fucking ready to apply it. We have been, we’ve been practicing a lot, but really moving forward to the music we’re into currently, rather than the music we were into five years ago, you know?

CREDIT: Ryan Muir

STEREOGUM: What are you guys into currently?

SHANE McCORD: You wanna go around? Let’s do this. Two bands each. I’ll do three. Really into Devo, love Devo. This band called Palais Schaumburg, they’re from Germany, one of the best bands I’ve ever heard. Joe Meek’s I Hear A New World album? That album’s so good.

DEVIN McCORD: Margaret Glaspy, I’ve been listening to her record a lot. We’re on the same label. I was hanging out with her last night, she’s a Sun Club fan, too. There’s this other band Brainzfreeze that we played with in New York, they’re super cool.

KORY JOHNSON: Tom Waits 2000 till now, for some reason. It’s all the stuff that he released as really dark musicals. I think? But they’re recorded in his style and they’re all really like dark. I’ve recently discovered Timber Timbre. Always listen to them every day at lunch.

POWERS: I’ve always been doing a lot of Björk. Honestly, I don’t mean to speak for all of us, but a lot of the local bands in Baltimore, that’s always been [an influence].

STEREOGUM: There’s been that whole generation of art-rock bands, of one type or another, out of Baltimore in the last ten years. But that’s kind of the older generation now, and I’m curious what it’s like for bands your age coming up in Baltimore now.

SHANE McCORD: From my perspective, I was just outside, I wasn’t really involved in that world of Beach House, Dan Deacon, Future Islands. That’s like the 2007 breakout zone, all those buds. They were all really connected and everything, and now they’re all mid-30s. It’s getting to the point where they’re not really involved in the music scene anymore. They have been weaning off of that. There’s this new era, but that [old one], from my perspective, it seemed everyone was very together and doing shit together. It’s not like it’s not a community now, I just feel like there are smaller communities within it all. You kind of know everyone, but there’s a bunch of different groups of people rather than one big group of people.

POWERS: Yeah, but you can still see multiple bands who are involved in different scenes at one show.

SHANE McCORD: It’s really cool, because a big focus now is keeping every show very diverse. Not all guys, not all white shows either. I think back in the day that wasn’t thought about as much. It’s much more inclusive [today], and musically, like :31ON, who is like, R&B amazingness –

POWERS: By the way, :31ON, you could say his name as one of those new influences.

SHANE McCORD: It’s cool, because our music and his music are nothing alike, but he’s one of our buddies, and we’ve played in New York with him. I like Baltimore, because you can do the shows together without it having to sound all like a rock show, or a rap show. There’s a lot of forward-thinking music, as always. A lot of shit that’s never going to get popular, but I feel very thankful to be a part of it/get to watch it. If I were to move to a different city…I’ve been thinking about it like, damn, Baltimore has so much to offer musically.

CREDIT: Todd Seelie

STEREOGUM: Your songs are all fairly weird compositionally — like songs breaking down and falling apart on purpose. I was wondering what your writing process is like for that kind of stuff.

SHANE McCORD: The way we’ve been writing music since the later songs on the album would be, someone writes a part or something, and we kind of write on top of that and connect parts.

STEREOGUM: Are you guys going to be playing some new material on the road this year?

SHANE McCORD: We’re playing two or three songs from the album, then new stuff. We just became a four-piece, man. The album’s a five-piece. We had to re-work the album songs to work with a four-piece. But yeah everything else is new. It’s been fun. We’re about halfway [with the album], but we have so many ideas that we just need to practice and write. It’s been going quickly, so hopefully soon. I’m very motivated on my music game right now. I have a new saxophone, maybe that’ll make it on the album.

POWERS: Do you remember that band System Of A Down? I remember watching an interview about them a long time ago before we started touring and stuff. A long time ago. They were like, “So how do you pick what songs are on the album?” And he was like, “We write about 30 songs.””

SHANE McCORD: Why do bands do that!? Not only did the Districts write that many songs, for the album they recorded 20 songs. And then they’re going to pick the songs they like most after they’re recorded. I can’t put my focus on doing shit that might not make it, you know?

STEREOGUM: You could just release a Sun Club double album.

POWERS: We were talking about it, yeah!

SHANE McCORD: You know that song “Genius Of Love” by Tom Tom Club? I kinda want to do a full album that’s just that.