From the Event Guide…July 2008.
A Sunny Day in Glasgow
By Aoife Barry
They may sound like a British band from the early 1990s, but A Sunny Day In Glasgow, -despite their sun-drenched melodies and C86-era sound, are actually from Philadelphia in the USA. Beginning as a bedroom band formed by Ben Daniels and his twin sisters Robin and Laura, the trio reached the attention of college audiences in the US before being pursued by record labels. The album‘Scribble Mural Comic Journal’ was released on Brooklyn label Mis Ojos Discos in 2007 to widespread acclaim. For fans of My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus and Mary Chain and the Cocteau Twins, A Sunny Day in Glasgow create beautiful, mellifluous tracks soaked in blissful noise. Aoife Barry spoke to Ben Daniels about the band.
Hi Ben – you’re playing in Dublin this month – are you looking forward to
Hello. Yes, very much. None of us have ever been to Ireland. We are very excited.
Do you find a considerable difference between playing gigs in America/Canada
We’ve only played 2 shows in Europe so far, in London and Glasgow, and we’ve never played in Canada. I don’t know there was much difference though. We’ll see how it goes this time. Live, we are much more of a “rock” band, and people are generally a little surprised by that no matter where we play.
Do you enjoy touring?
I do, very much. It’s generally both physically and mentally exhausting, but I think it’s really good for you overall. We did a big tour across America last year and in addition to the normal shows we would play at clubs or spaces or whatever, in most cities we also stopped in the local college radio station to play and I love radio stations. Full of awesome records and people who are really enthusiastic about music in general. It’s good to get to meet people like that.
What has been your favourite or most memorable gig of the past year?
We’ve played a bunch of really great shows in the past year actually…um… oh yeah, we recently got to play with M83 in this huge old church in Philadelphia and that was pretty incredible. Kind of like a dream venue to play in and to see M83 in.
Your sound is very reminiscent of artists like My Bloody Valentine, Ride, etc. Were shoegazing bands a big influence on your sound?
I would not say that “shoegazing” bands were a big influence on us. Outside of MBV, the Cocteau Twins, and maybe Jesus and Mary Chain, I think the whole genre is terribly boring. I do like the bands I just listed, but I never listened to them too much so I don’t consider them really influential. I don’t know, other people are probably better at pulling out your influences anyway.
Do you think that with the reformation of My Bloody Valentine, this a good
time for ‘shoegazer’-sounding bands? That we might see a resurgence of the
I think we should all hope this does not happen. But if it does, I don’t know, I don’t think it would last long. Reunions are always about nostalgia, which is just a dead end. Nostalgia usually fades away pretty quickly.
What are the origins of the band name?
Well, the band started as a project with me and a friend of mine, Ever. A few years ago we both moved to the UK for different reasons – I went to London and he went to Glasgow. He kind of went crazy from the weather up there and the name was his idea. He left the project before it really became a band and I was just too lazy to bother changing it. I don’t mind it, but I kind of wish I had changed it at this point. But I have been to Glasgow a few times and it does rain there a lot, so I kind of understand where he was coming from.
What’s the creative process like for the band – is there one main songwriter/composer or is it a more collaborative effort?
The songs generally originate with me. I record all the music and then come up with some general melody ideas. Then I would get together with Robin and Lauren and work out the melodies and harmonies. They almost always changed once we got together. I’m not sure how it’s going to happen for the next record though. I mean, I’ve still got the music but I’d really like for Robin to come up with more of the melody ideas. We’ve also added a friend of mine, Josh, on drums. He plays a million different instruments and knows a lot about synths and that stuff, so I am hoping he can get involved a good deal moving forward as well.
It seems that 2007 was the year that things really came together for the
band – can you tell me how things clicked into place?
Actually, I would say it was 2006 that really clicked for us, but we were probably still much more obscure then than we are now (relatively speaking). We weren’t even a band in 2006 but we had been recording songs and when we finished four of them we threw them on a cd-r and mailed it to a few college radio stations in America. We didn’t really expect much of anything to happen but it wound up charting #1 on a bunch of stations and people started to write to us to ask us how they could buy the CD. Then a bunch of blogs starting writing about us and labels started writing to us. Before we had even played a single show I was having strange conversations with very large record labels who were asking to talk to our lawyer or manager (we of course had neither). It was very bizarre and in the end I stopped writing people back or answering the phone so we could just finish the record that came out in 2007. But 2007 was great because our record came out, we actually finally officially formed a band that would play shows, we toured, etc… It was a very exciting time.
Have you been pleased with the reaction to the record and EP you released
last year? Does critical acclaim mean a lot to the band?
Sure, it’s nice when people like the stuff you make. I mean, I would make music anyway, but it’s kind of exciting knowing that there are some people who are actually interested in hearing what you are doing. I don’t really care at all about “critical acclaim”, but it definitely means a lot to me that people would take the time to check us out.
What do you think about the label ‘tweegazers’?
I think all labels are really bad things that limit the experience of the listener. ‘Tweegazers’ is just as witless and pointless as anything.
Can you tell me about the vinyl remixes of ‘Scribble…’ and how these came
This label from Austin, TX, Ruined Potential, got in touch with our label over a year ago saying he wanted to put out a vinyl version of ‘SMCJ’. We were of course very excited. (And it’s taken forever for it to happen, but it looks like we’ll have it before we head over to Europe!). Ruined Potential wanted us to add bonus tracks so that people might get the record and they could make their money back. This will be a 2xLP on 180g vinyl, so it’s a super expensive project. Steph from Mis Ojos (our label) knew Ulrich Schnauss through a friend and she asked him to do one and around the time we were talking about all of this, Asobi Seksu just wrote to us out of the blue to say they liked our stuff (which was wonderful! I am a huge fan of theirs) and so I sent them an “Um, hey, wanna do a remix?” email. They had never done a remix before but it is PHENOMENAL (I think).
Finally, what do you have planned for the remainder of 2008?
After the shows in Europe we’re going start to work in earnest on the next record. I’ve been writing and recording demos for months now, but we’ll all hopefully start working on them together and start recording them this Fall. Maybe an odd show here or there.