Very few bands embody the creative spirit of the city of Richmond as much as the pop-rock three-piece known as SUNDIALS. Since their inception in 2010, SUNDIALS have been making a huge name for themselves in the DIY indie punk scene as one of the need-to-know bands in the genre. Inspired by bands such as THE LEMONHEADS and ALKALINE TRIO, the band, which consists of guitarist/vocalist Harris Mendell , bassist/vocalist Carl Athey, and drummer Cory Chubb, have been filling basements, clubs, and garages from coast to coast on their own terms. Now signed to Topshelf Records, the band is on the verge of releasing a new EP titled Kick and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. We spoke with Athey regarding the band’s move to Topshelf Records and their soon to be released EP, memorable moments of their summer tour, as well as their passion for DIY.

You guys recently recorded your new EP Kick at Noisy Little Critter in West Chester, PA with producer Mike Bardzik, who you also worked with on your last studio LP, When I Couldn’t Breathe, which is set to be released on Topshelf Records. Why did you decide to go with Topshelf Records for this release?

We had met Kevin [Duquette] at one of our shows in Boston a couple months back — probably last winter now. We were doing a couple shows with LEMURIA on that tour, and he came out to our show. We met and we got along, and until we did stuff with Asian Man Records, we had never released more than one record with a record label. We had done five 7” and an LP. We put out a bunch of stuff, and we always kind of hopped around. We always like to mix things up, and Kevin seemed into it. So here we are.

Can you tell us about how the recording process went?

It’s a six song EP. It’s about 18 minutes of music. We wanted to get working on a new release since it had been a while since our last full-length, and since then we put out a collection LP that had a few unreleased songs on it. But it had been a while since we had done anything really substantial new, and we didn’t want to wait to get a full-length together. So we decided to do this EP. Ya know, something a little more than a 7″, a little more than two or three songs. We wanted it to feel more substantial even if it’s not quite a full-length record. As far as the recording process, we worked with Mike before so we knew his studio pretty well. We knew a lot of the gear we were working with. We got in there and we stayed with him most of the time that we were there, which was like what we did back when we recorded When I Couldn’t Breathe. We stayed in his house, woke up in the morning and went in the studio and got our days underway. It was pretty much the same thing this time around.

Have you guys set a release date for it yet?

The official release date is November 4. We were hoping it would be out a little bit earlier, but the mixing and mastering process kind of took us a little while longer this time around. November 4th it should be ready to go. Hopefully we will have copies with us at FEST in Gainesville at the end of October.

Awesome! Are you doing a CD release show for it?

What we’re currently planning on doing, I believe, is a three-show weekend where we’ll probably do New York, Philadelphia, and Richmond.

Out of the six songs on the EP, is there any song in particular you are most looking forward to playing live?

I don’t know. I like them all a lot. We’ve been playing two of them on this tour, and they’re going pretty well. I like the way they fit into our set. I like the way they sound. They have a lot of energy, but still sounds like us. They fit in well with our older songs while still being something new to give to people. But we wrote the longest song we have ever written, and I’m looking forward to playing that live for sure. It’s called “Eugene”.

I read on Property of Zack that while in Seattle on your current tour, you guys happened to come upon Kurt Cobain’s house. Can you tell me more about that experience?

We went swimming with THE SIDEKICKS and DOWSING, who we are on tour with, and this band THE EXQUISITES who did an LP on Asian Man Records last year. They played our show [and] took us to Lake Washington afterwards. We all went swimming, and it was the middle of the night — beautiful night, clear skies, stuff like that. We swam for maybe 45 minutes, got our stuff together and got in the bus to get ready to go, and we drove just a little bit — like half a block. THE SIDEKICKS stopped and told us, “Get out. This is Kurt Cobain’s house right here.” So it was maybe 50 yards from where we were swimming was the house itself. So we got out and had a moment around the memorial bench and got back in the bus and away we went.

I also read from that Property of Zack “road update” about the school bus you converted into a tour bus. Whose idea was that?

It belongs to Mikey from DOWSING. His dad worked for a school district in the St. Louis area, and they had a bunch of buses that they were getting rid of, like an old fleet. He managed to get a hold of one, and it’s what they have been touring in for a while, I think.

Are all of the bands on the tour riding in the bus?

No, THE SIDEKICKS have their own van, but SUNDIALS and DOWSING are in it together.


I noticed that you guys seem to play a lot of DIY venues. Is that important to your band when booking tours?

Yeah, it definitely is. We all grew up on punk rock, and DIY, and all ages. I think it’s in general kinda the best way to make music because it gives you the most control over your own art. The more you are doing on yourself, the less you have to worry about other people trying to manipulate what you are doing, and whenever we can we definitely like to play all-ages shows — at the very least 18 and up. We don’t really like doing 21 and up for our gigs if we can avoid them. It gives everyone an opportunity to be involved, ya know.

Being one of the more successful DIY bands from Virginia, do you have any advice to aspiring musicians?

Other than if you can do it yourself to do that, not really. Have fun. You shouldn’t be playing music if you are not having fun doing it or if that’s not your primary motivation for doing it.

After this tour, what is next on the agenda for SUNDIALS?

We’re gonna get the EP out this fall, and we are starting to write for a new full length after that.

Do you have any idea on when the full length might be out?

No clue.

For more updates on SUNDIALS, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Tumblr, and listen to their music on Bandcamp.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Falls Church, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with friends.

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