When did you know that you wanted to be a musician?
Iíve always played music. My dad is a musician so I grew up around music. Itís always been a part of me. When Iím not playing music, I donít really feel like myself. I donít know if there was ever a conscious decision to be a musician. It was just always there for me.
What instrument does your dad play? And do you actually have a family band?
My dad plays bass guitar. Heís a really great bass guitar player. He plays guitar as well. He also sings.
We did when I was younger. My brother plays drums and he also plays the bagpipes and crazy stuff like that. We used to play a lot together when we were younger and were all in the same house.
How did your dad being a musician influence you?
When I was younger, my dad was a disc jockey at an independent oldies station in Texas. You could hear it from an hour in any direction. It wasnít a big station or anything. I used to go with him all the time and listen to music. I was always surrounded by music. With my dad, it was a lot of oldies. I think that had a big part in my taste. Sometimes it gets a little bit out there. I think that added to my character, but still holding on to the real trueness of a good pop song at the same time. A lot of Ď60s bands could get really weird but still write a good song. That really influenced me.
Who are some of your favorites from that era?
Of course The Beach Boys and The Beatles. I really like The Zombies. Theyíre really great. And then of course a little bit later on I started liking The Carpenters. I really like their songs. Just classic oldies pop stuff.
Itís been two years since the last Sunbears! release. What was going on between that release and now?
We did some sparse touring on the east coast and the Midwest. Then I did a lot of writing at home. We were also working and other normal stuff.
You also signed to New Granada Records. How did that come about?
New Granada Records is run by a friend of mine, Keith Ulrey. Heís a staple presence in Florida independent music. Heís run record stores, heís run his label for a long time. A lot of people who play music in the southeast know Keith. Keith is also a musician. Heís a really great guy. Heís put on a lot of shows with us. When I first met Keith, we really hit it off and saw eye to eye. We have the same sense of humor and enthusiasm for life. We played a few shows for him and became friends and then he said he wanted to put out the new Sunbears! records. We put it on the backburner and recorded the album in New York and did everything independently. After it was finished, we talked and it worked out.
What was recording in New York like?
Recording in New York was really great. We usually record at my house or I had a small studio in a loft downtown. In Jacksonville we weíre always driving by the same stuff so New York was a great change of scenery. A big part of what Iíve done as a musician has always been in Jacksonville. It was good to have a change of scenery and be in the city. We were in a sort of legendary studio. A good friend of mine who co-produced the record with us, Jeremy Griffith, had a residency in the studio. It used to be called Sorcererís Sound. Everybody has recorded there from The Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan to Miles Davis to Jeff Buckley to Norah Jones. All these legends have recorded there. It was really inspiring to be in that room. Now itís called Singing Serpent Studios and has a new owner. Everything in there is still the same though. It was very inspiring to be there. I loved it.
I read that the title of the album, You Will Live Forever, comes from the idea that the internet immortalizes things. How did that idea play into the making of the record?
Itís kind of a two-part quote. The original idea is the ripple effect of your actions as a human throughout eternity. Think of yourself as a pebble dropping into a pond and the ripple effect that would happen. Some people might say thatís karma or whatever. I think that if youíre a good person, youíll affect someoneís life in a positive way. And then the other side of it is about the internet. Itís a bit of a side idea. Mark Zuckerburg says that nothing on Facebook will ever be deleted. Itíll be there forever. Thatís kind of unbelievable. This is the first generation that will really be immortalized in that way. I think people are immortalized by the ripple effect and their actions, but then thereís the whole idea of leaving a digital imprint for the rest of the world to see. Itís a crazy thought.
The EP is also a bit dancier than the album. Was that a conscious change or did it happen on its own?
It happened on its own. I think that You Will Live Forever is a little more free-spirited. The songs were what they were. We didnít really have an album title until about half of the songs were written. Dream Happy Dreams, from the very beginning before any songs were written, had the title. We just wanted to make a fun record. Thatís what we aimed for. This record came out of a more honest place of where I was and not a goal I was shooting for. This record is more about where I am and what Iím thinking about. This is the existentialist shit going through my brain while Iím lying in bed. Thatís where this record came from. Itís totally a different way of going about a record.
You tweeted a few days ago about working on the artwork for the vinyl release of You Will Live Forever. Will the vinyl have different artwork?
Itís essentially the same artwork. Things are just moved around a bit because the packaging is different. Weíre doing a limited version of the vinyl though thatís going to be multi-colored. Thatíll be limited to 500. The artwork itself is pretty much the same.
What are your plans for touring?
Weíre going out for three weeks after the release. Our first show is in Virginia. Itís going to be east coast shows. Then weíre going to take a month off and go out again starting in mid-January. Thatíll be the whole country. Releasing in late November is an awkward time to release a record because no one wants to tour through the holidays. People are usually on a bit of a lockdown and students are going through finals. There are definitely plans to do some heavy touring after the release.
We were originally shooting to release the album at the beginning of November, which wouldíve made a little more sense. Itíll still be fine. Weíll tour for those three weeks and then head back out and itíll be good. It just felt like January was too far away to release the record, especially since we finished recording it in March. Itíll all work out great.
After listening to the album, I wouldíve never guessed that Sunbears! is a duo. Whatís it like performing these songs live with only two musicians?
In the past thereís been a lot of electronic elements. It was very intentional since we were a duo. I wanted to be very intentional about what we had on playback. I wanted to do stuff that you couldnít necessarily perform. I wanted it to be kind of studio magic that we had to use tracks and loops for to get that sound. If we were going to have something coming off a laptop, I wanted it to be something that I couldnít play live.
Now, weíre a little more band-ish. Thereís a lot less electronic elements. I still wanted to be very intentional with what we put on a laptop or track though. Itís a little more stripped down live, but guitars are more distorted and drums are louder and stuff like that. The vocals have more echoes. Itís a little crazier. As far as the laptop goes, weíll have a bass track and tubular bell gongs and stuff like that. I didnít want to press play and just stand next to the laptop. I wanted it to be very performance based. Jared and I are playing our asses off. Itís loud and fun and a little bit crazy.
You recently toured with Yo Gabba Gabba! -- how would you describe the experience?
We had done a tour with Mates Of State, who have worked with Yo Gabba Gabba! a lot. Jason said we should talk to Ben from Yo Gabba Gabba! and try to work something out. Ben e-mailed us after the tour and said they were interested in having us do some music for the show. We recorded ďImagination AdventureĒ for the show and we ended up on the southeast dates of the Thereís A Party In My City tour. It was a blast. Even more amazing to me was that everyone who works on the television show is on the tour too. This is their full time thing. Theyíre recording the television show but theyíre willing to dance their asses off in silly costumes. In some cities we were doing two shows back to back. The guy thatís in the Brobee hat would take his Brobee hat off and he was completely covered in sweat. Then theyíd do it again. It was really inspiring. They do it because they love kids and want to educate them in cool and fun ways. Itís their passion. Overall, it was really inspiring to see how it all works.
Youíre also getting married this weekend. Which is scarier: the release of You Will Live Forever or getting married?