Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers, I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating with your family and friends. I’m grateful to all those who spend the time reading my blog and the New Year will bring some exciting new changes as well as more regular posts. But for now, drink, be merry and have fun!
I was lucky enough to chat to Bristol based band Sonic Sunrise ahead of their Christmas gig on Thursday 21st December at The Fleece. Made up of Aaron, Tom, Matt and Joe, Sonic Sunrise are a regular face in the Bristol gigging circuit and I’ve been lucky enough to catch them a few times including in the summer when they supported Green Day tribute band Green Haze at the Exchange. In a break from rehearsing, I spoke to vocalist and frontman Aaron Potter.
So, Aaron, how did the band start?
It started as something to do for a musical secondary school talent show in 2009. There were only three band members at the time, and we enjoyed that first performance so much we thought we’d give it a go.
I’ve got to ask, where did the name Sonic Sunrise come from?
All I can remember is that it was Tom who came up with it. Whenever I ask him how he did though, he’s not sure. We’re all big gamers, so I suppose that’s where the “Sonic” connection could’ve come from, and as for the “Sunrise” part, everyone loves a bit of alliteration don’t they?
You call yourself cheesy indie rock. What do you mean by this? Are there any bands you would say you’re like?
Yeah so that may have changed a bit in recent years actually. I’m not sure if the “cheesy” description is appropriate anymore. The reasons that came about was due to our old keyboard player Jed who would jazz up songs with these really light and sometimes cringe-worthy major chord sequences. We loved him, and it made sense when we were first starting out as we were young and wrote so many soppy love songs. Now though, I’d say we focus on being indie/pop rock, nothing too heavy but also not too light. If there are any bands out there we’d compare ourselves to, I’d probably say someone like The Killers.
Bristol’s a great city with a thriving music scene. Do you find this a challenge due to competition with other bands or that it gives you more opportunities?
No not at all, being in Bristol is actually a blessing. Yes, there are a lot of other bands out there, but I wouldn’t say that there’s any competition. It was tough when first starting out, but these days we get on well with most of the owners of many of Bristol’s major music venues, and they’re pretty good about letting us play when they have a slot that suits us. In terms of other Bristol bands, some of them are unbelievably good to the point that we can’t understand how they’re not signed by a label. If anything, it pushes us to want to be better as a band. Gigging a lot lets us see what other people are doing and we get a real kick out of it.
Your gig next week is at The Fleece which is going through some issues at the moment with crippling business rates as well as a new development of flats nearby threatening its survival. How important are venues like this to you and local bands in general?
Incredibly important. We have a big link with The Fleece in that it was the first big major Bristol venue we played in that wasn’t a school hall. I think the current promoter there even went so far as to say that we’re probably the one local band who’s played there the most.
In terms of the issues going on, does it suck? Sure, but at the same time, it’s unsurprising sadly. We’ve become used to seeing venues have to deal with hardship and played many that are no longer here because of it. We have no doubt that The Fleece will pull through as they did before, they’re too important and respected not to.
All of you have full-time jobs and other commitments; how do you find the time for writing and rehearsing?
We don’t find as much time as we’d like, but we make it work. Writing is usually a process of one of us having an idea either for a riff, chorus, or hook, and then the rest of the band adding in their own layers and personality. It’s really collaborative and we think that’s really important.
What are your plans for 2018? Will you be playing more gigs and most importantly, when can we expect the Sonic Sunrise album?
Haha, it’s funny because we’ve released two EPs but never an album, but it’s something we’re always thinking about. 2018 will see plenty of gigs for sure, with hopefully one in Brighton which will be a first. In terms of the album itself, 2019 will be our 10 year anniversary, and though it may have taken us a while to get there, I can’t think of a better time to release the album. Watch this space.
Who would you say are the major influences of the band and where does the inspiration for your songs come from?
Inspiration can literally come from anything. 90% of the time I’d say it’s usually either from a past experience or something relating to relationships. It’s then the process of settling on what type of song would suit the subject, then the lyrics follow. Major influences would be Foo Fighters, Muse, The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers. And we have a Mancunian in the band so we’re obliged to say Oasis.
Do you all have different tastes and can this cause conflicts when say, your drummer wants some heavy stuff and others don’t?
Well, you’ve hit the nail on the head. We all have crossover in tastes as well as differences. It can lead to some heated debates about where to take a song a lot of the time, but we trust each other enough to at least experiment. If things aren’t getting anywhere, I’d say the onus falls on the original songwriter to make the right call.
The Power Ranger’s theme tune always goes down well. Why did you pick this and do you have any other ‘fun’ songs in your repertoire?
We love questions like this. So many times when we go to see bands personally – some even at a professional level – I’m so disappointed when they move from song to song during a set. A gig isn’t just about the music but the performance as a whole, and with that came our decision to interact with the crowd whenever possible.
The Power Rangers theme was one of the best ways of doing this surprisingly and was a nice way to show people that although we care about our music, we don’t like to take ourselves too seriously. We’re all children of the 90s and that song is so unexpected every time.
A few last words for anyone still undecided about seeing you?
Come and see us, we promise you won’t regret it!
With their combination of softer ballads and fun covers of Power Rangers theme and The Killer’s Mr Brightside, this is a band to watch out for. Catch them tomorrow with a host of other local bands at The Fleece from 7pm, not a night to be missed.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a Somerset girl at heart and love a good cider. Bristol has its own cider shop which offers tastings and I’d been meaning to do one for a while. The first available one was the festive tasting last week and I’m so glad we went.
The Bristol Cider Shop moved a year ago to Wapping Wharf where a range of restaurants, bars and shops all have their own cargo containers. It’s an unusual but effective idea that really works with Bristol’s unique and quirky feel. The Bristol Cider Shop prides itself on only offering cider that has been produced within 50 miles which gives it’s a nice local feel. They also only sell cider that is made with 100% pure juice. I was shocked to learn that the minimum apple juice required by UK law is only 35%. I also learnt (although it seems obvious now) that dry cider has no sugar in it at all as it has all been removed by the fermentation process.
We arrived a bit early so popped into the bar opposite for a drink and it started to snow which made this first Christmassy event even more festive. We were greeted by the manager Seb who gave us a warming mulled cider which was a treat after being out in the snow. A lovely spread of local bread, cheese, crisps, pork pies and apples were laid out for us. The rest of the drinks were given to us in the order as if we were hosting Christmas. These included a sparkling celebration cider, cider brandy, a cider matured in whisky barrels and ice cider. We also tried mead which was unexpectedly delicious. We had 10 in total and I’m not going to lie, I did feel it a bit at the end. We weren’t sure what to expect in terms of the portions but it was help yourself, as long as everyone got some.
The cider toasties we had were to die for. I will definitely be going back for some more. Using cheese washed in cider, this made the best toastie I’ve ever had. The shop has a fantastic range of ciders and the staff are more than happy to recommend one if you’re not sure what you want. Afterwards we went to the festive Ultimate Power club night (see my previous blog post to see what you’re missing out on.) So if you’re a real cider fan or aren’t sure what cider to have at Christmas, get down to the Bristol Cider shop. It’s the perfect place for cider lovers.
Photo by Joanna Nix on Unsplash
I’m very grateful for all those who are reading this post after such a long gap. Weddings and the aftermath can be stressful and take up a lot of your time (more on this in the New Year). I thought as it is the season to be jolly I’d write a festive blog post. As I write this it’s currently snowing outside which our new kittens are finding very interesting. Although due to living near the coast, the snow rarely sets which is a shame.
Christmas is a time for family and friends Well this is what we tell ourselves but nowadays it seems to be a time of buying food you don’t need and drinking too much. I am one of those who does get very excited about Christmas food, especially party food when you’re not even throwing a party! Really it’s just food you already know but it’s miniature and therefore you buy into the hype. I have seen some pigs in blanket in Yorkshire puddings that I can’t wait to try. The majority of the time you’re so stuffed after what is normally the biggest roast dinner of the year but you still try and cram in crisps, chocolate and Christmas pudding. Growing up we would always have croissants for breakfast which I absolutely loved but really you should just eat fruit in preparation for the onslaught that is to come. So what is your favourite festive food/drink? Is it warming mulled wine or a mince pie? Take my poll below to let me know what your favourite treat is.
I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year. It will be mine and my husband’s first Christmas together in our house. Since losing my Dad in December six years ago I think I make an unconscious effort to be as Christmassy as possible so that it’s a joyful time rather than a sad one. I love giving presents, that’s so much more important than receiving them. A few years ago I surprised my husband with a trip to see his favourite footballer play and I was so excited yet impatient as had booked it months in advance and just couldn’t wait until he found out. Luckily he was overjoyed (there was even a tear or two).
I like visiting as many Christmassy events as possible. This year, I went to Bath Market and Dunster by Candlelight. Unfortunately, they’re both over now but check them out next year. Bath Market is a traditional Christmas market full of local gifts and food (there’s so much cheese and I’m pretty sure I tried it all). It’s also great for the gin and ciders lovers amongst you. Set with the backdrop of Bath Abbey, it’s truly a magical place to be. Dunster is a beautifully kept medieval village and castle and for one weekend, it’s lit just by candles and has its own little market. I would recommend everyone to check these out next year.
Christmas music is also one of the first ways the festive season feels like it’s begun. Though I feel it’s a shame we don’t have many modern Christmas hits though many try. Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton’s hit though is great (big fan of country music over here).
The majority of my favourite Christmas hits come from the cassette (yes we’re going back to the 90s) that my Dad would play in the car. I have very fond memories of us driving in the sleet, sometimes snow and having Chris de Burgh’s A Spaceman Came Travelling on full blast. I was so surprised to discover that many don’t know this but I think it’s a classic.
My other favourites of course include Wham’s Last Christmas, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s The Power of Love and The Darkness’s Christmas Time.
So that’s just a few of my thoughts about Christmas and I hope you all have a wonderful time whatever you do. I will be posting a lot more regularly in the New Year, I promise. X
P.S. Don’t forget to take part in my Christmas food poll and follow me by clicking the links on the left if you enjoyed reading.