By: Dennis M. Kelly
DK: Hey it is Dennis from Chicago Music Guide.
DG: How’s it going?
DK: Awesome over here, thanks! And you?
DG: Things are well; things are well, just getting back from work and doing some random cleaning.
DK: Yeah, yeah, always trying to do the impossible in a short amount of time, eh? LOL
DG: Exactly. Sorry if I sound a little hoarse, I am recovering from some sickness, so I might sound terrible here.
DK: Well you’d better get your voice back in order before your January 13th show, eh?
DG: LOL… yeah, this last week I had a very dry cough for a couple weeks and usually it’s a few days where I get through it, but this dry cough just lingered and this week I thought I was improving, but still not there yet.
DK: Well, we can reschedule if need be.
DG: No, no. I am fine, thank you.
DK: OK then, just let me know if you need to stop. With that said, we have a lot of catching up to do here since our last interview with you in 2006 and this can potentially be a re-introduction for some people or a complete introduction for those who still aren’t aware of Sudden Dark yet. The band started in 2000, but there might be some good history to discuss and then lead up to where the band is at today.
DG: Well, prior to me meeting Jeff (one of the guitar players), the band consisted of the Carlson brothers Eric and Bryan Carlson, Bob Baker (the bass player), Jeff Clayton (the official guitar player). For a majority of their High School time playing music, that was the main core group. I know there were a couple people prior to Bryan getting on the drums and Jeff coming along, but that is sort of history that I am not as familiar with. But they (ages 15, 16, 17) played music throughout High School in their basement, Metallica covers, Korn, you name it, they used to just jam around and created their own music as well and eventually they went through a couple of singers and formed a band called Blindsided and they played a couple shows with that singer and reached a point where they were looking to do something that was more melodic and less heavy and screamy and at the point they started pursuing looking for a singer and I had happened to stumble upon a girl through my cousin and she and I hit it off and are really good friends and she was like “Oh you’ve gotta meet my one friend Jeff, it sounds like you guys have a lot of similar interests musically” so probably in the Spring of 2000 I started to hang out with Jeff a bit with a group of people and we just really clicked, hung out a few times, jammed around on acoustics and then eventually it was like “Hey, did you want to try out for my band? It’s a little bit heavy, but we’re looking to go more melodic”. So I went and tried it and the first song we all did together went really awesome and we were very excited. It’s been a long relationship over these 12 years with me leaving at one point, then getting invited back in, then me getting kicked out and coming back in. But we’ve always just sort of been able to write music with each other that has been difficult for them without me there, well; I shouldn’t say writing music but just finding the write vocalist. So, it’s just always worked, but like any relationship, it is challenging but when you’re in a relationship with 5 people, there’s times where there is arguing and what-not and sometimes it reaches a point where you need to take a break, reconfigure and then come back and go at it again after you process everything that you’re trying to go through and trying to accomplish.
A little bit of history with the recent me rejoining the group. In January of 2011 I think it was, my guitar player, Jeff and I, the gentleman who I first started to write with before joining Sudden Dark, we rekindled our friendship and ended up working on a little side project which we started off acoustic on and drafted up a few songs and we were pretty excited and happy about it and it sort of led into talking about me coming and working with the band again and seeing where we were at with our lives and if working together again would be possible. So, that happened and it led to me working with the band and sort of put Jeff and my side project on the back-burner which we still talk about working on and trying to polish them up a bit and recording a 3 song EP just to have it for archive sake. But a few of the songs we just sort of jammed and they felt pretty darn good and we’ve played them for a few people; it’s pretty exciting! I do hope to bring a couple songs over into Sudden Dark to see if we can work on it that way. But, it was the acoustic thing that inevitably led to me getting back involved in the band.
DK: So, you had a show at the Elbo Room recently, was that the first show you’ve done since the reformation or were there other shows?
DG: No, no other shows. The last show we played before this one was also at the Elbo Room in 2008, so it was very fitting that we came there four years later. That was our official show back.
DK: So how did it feel getting back in the swing of it all?
DG: It was interesting, a bit different every time you take a break and come back at it you’re a little bit more seasoned and experienced and everything went great. The performance went great, and the turnout better than we expected, I was figuring like 60 – 80 people but our head count was at 103. So, it was exciting to see the turnout and enthusiasm from the fans, friends and family who haven’t heard us in a long time or haven’t heard us at all. It was awesome; we’re definitely excited to be back out!
DK: Yeah, I think the band did a great job of saturating the area with your presence back in 2005-2007 and I think there’s still a lot of interest there. So it is great to see they haven’t forgotten the band and showed their support!
DK: What logistics and dynamics have changed in the band from how things were previously (practice locations, schedules, etc)?
DG: Yeah, there have been a few changes. We’ve moved to a practice place in Naperville from Carol Stream so new location, nicer practice spot. We used to practice about 2 to 3 times a week and has been cut down to once a week and we remain in contact via email and drop box working on things outside of practice since we don’t have as much time together practicing. So, it is forcing to rethink a lot of things in regards to accomplishing tasks namely songwriting and has definitely opened some doors for us to try to accomplish more as individuals in terms of writing parts, throwing it up in the cloud and having someone listen to, I do that a lot where they’ll put music parts up online, I’ll listen to it and I’ll start writing some melodies or lyrics to it. It’s amazing how within that 4 year span from our last show how much technology has developed that we weren’t embracing then because either it was new or non-existent and now have a whole bunch of new tools that we can use to write music having less time, actually one on one with each other and the practice space. So, that’s been one thing for the practice space and then the writing, we have approached writing a little bit different and been able to become more productive throughout, so, we’re very happy about that.
DK: Does the band consider alternate versions of songs?
DG: We haven’t talked about it too much. I’ve played around with remixing songs and have tried to reconstruct Moon Rise electronically a few times and there are a few scatterings, not necessarily associated with Sudden Dark, but on my portfolio page and youtube page, a promotional video for the Elbo Room show that we played in November. So, remixing or slightly altering songs and releasing them, we haven’t really done as a whole, but I’ve experimented around with it a bit and I’ve presented it to the band, but haven’t found too much positive feedback at this point, but I’m still developing my own producing skills and what-not. So, who knows, maybe that will change.
DK: My approach to music is to consider it (itself) as a free flowing element that can be expressed any way you like. I personally don’t understand why people continue to view music as something that has to be contained in one form and it stays that way except when performed live. There are so many different emotions and expressions that can be accentuated to enhance the overall feelings and moods surrounding the subject matter and so much potential (in my opinion) goes untapped. Not to mention, if more artists explored different versions of songs, they may reach broader audiences with the alternate versions, but, of course, that it how I feel about it anyway.
DG: Now that you’ve talked about it more, we did have an intro and outro to “All is One”, just random intro/outro pieces for songs that we would play occasionally live, besides that one alternate version of songs… because I’ve always huge been a fan of acoustic versions of songs. We’ve had a few practices that we’ve recorded and a few of the tracks turned out pretty good but we’ve never really pursued doing much with it.
DK: Has there been more music produced in the band in the past 6-12 months?
DG: It’s probably a little bit more than we’ve produced in the past, given our limited time together, but there’s so much material that we’ve never recorded and released. It’s something we’ve talked about recently now that we’re playing shows; we want to get something documented and out there. We have some shows that were recorded live that there were some decent takes that we’re going to discuss and see if there is one particular song that we feel is worthy of putting up on a Soundcloud or something like that to just try to expose people to the other music we have besides the 3 song EP we released in 2005 because there is just so much more material and a lot of these songs that a lot of the people here at the live shows they love but we don’t have it out there yet. We have to raise money and get into a recording studio which isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do all the time depending on your scheduling…
DK: How about a Kickstarted campaign?
DG: Yeah, I’ve thought about that and I’ve donated to bands Kickstarter campaigns myself so we haven’t explored that yet, but I think it is something that we should discuss.
DK: I know there are other fund raising sites out there besides Kickstarter, but it seems to be the more popular one anyway.
DG: One of our goals is instead of trying to do an album or EP, let’s do one song at a time, let’s just get something recorded and let’s just release it out there for people.
DK: Have you thought about putting your own studio together? Is it even feasible?
DG: We have enough gear to be our own studio minus a few things we could add to our rack unit but it’s just not necessarily getting the quality or energy we’re looking for out of a recording. I don’t know what it’s going to need to take; we’re going to need to bring somebody in who just does that so we can focus on recording and performing not multitasking, etc, but we’ve gotten some great recordings, don’t get me wrong from our practice space that I feel are demo-worthy but after going into a real studio and doing that, it just wouldn’t be able to reach that caliber of quality.
DK: Or there’s always the possibility of recording a live performance album.
DG: We do have a couple live albums that we haven’t released. But MTV was doing a series and a friend of ours, Erik Grant, the engineer who recorded and personally produced our last EP he was working for Band Camp which was sort of like a School of Rock for people interested in music, like a day camp and MTV was there filming for a reality kind of show, I don’t remember the name because I don’t watch much TV, but they filmed us setting up our gear, our whole show and talked to us too. I don’t know if it was ever officially released because they didn’t know the release date at the time, but Eric gave us a copy of the performance on disc and which sounds really good. We’ll have to see…
DK: Speaking of live shows, let’s talk about your two shows that are coming up here, you’ve got the River Roundhouse in St. Charles on Jan 13th and the Ultra Lounge on February 9th. What can people expect to see there?
DG: Well, the River Roundhouse is an all ages show which is pretty nice because it will be nice to see how we’re received with a younger crowd. I am hoping we’ll play at least 1 new song; we played a couple new songs at our last gig, but I’m hoping we’ll play yet another new song and of course, we’ll do our best to make everyone happy as well.
DK: Have you looked into putting some live shows online, performing online, I mean?
DG: We haven’t talked about it, but the show we played at the Elbo Room was filmed by gigity.tv they have cameras set up at a few venues Double Door, Elbo Room, so I know it is archived on there. I haven’t watched too much of it, but it is fun to know people can see it out there.
DK: What is the best way for people to stay in touch with you and the band?
DG: Facebook is probably the best way right now.
DK: On that note, we will look forward to January 13th in St. Charles and February 9th in Chicago! Thank you very much for your time, especially considering how you’ve struggled through it with your voice, I sincerely appreciate it!!
DG: My pleasure, Dennis and I appreciate you dealing with my coughing through it…lol
DK: Absolutely no problem at all. Take care, get better and thanks again!
DG: Thanks! You too!
Jeff Clayton – Guitar,
David Goffron – Vocals,
Eric Carlson – Guitar,
Bob Baker – Bass,
Bryan Carlson – Drums