The members of the Bastard Suns are perched on fragile chairs that seem like they'd be more at home in an ice cream parlor than in a bar. It's late December, so some canned Christmas music plays in the background and duct tape keeps garlands affixed to various surfaces.
This is the scene at Jack Rabbits, a bar and live-music venue in Jacksonville, Fla., only about an hour before the Bastard Suns are about to take the stage. They seem remarkably relaxed and don't seem to notice the bizarre surroundings. Then again, the Bastard Suns are a little bizarre themselves.
Their genre alone is unique: punk rock infused with reggae and the occasional nod to Irish drinking music. And the reason for such an eclectic sound?
“We’re real ADD,” jokes JT, the group's pink-haired drummer. The other members agree, but also say their diverse tastes in music made them want to incorporate as many different sounds as they could. Their music didn't start out like this, though. The group didn't even go electric until two years ago, when they released their first album, Blood, Sweat & Beers
. (All the members agree that no one should rush out and buy it, claiming that they’ve come a long way.)
It's evident that they have. The group has already left the hometown Atlanta scene to tour across the Southeast and has released a second album, Dropping Expectations
, a collaborative effort with the group No Fuego. The Suns jumped at the opportunity, as they are all interested in “uniting the scene,” as guitarist Wes Driscoll says. They all adamantly agree that the music scene is too cutthroat these days. In their opinion, bands should work together and make sharing music their number-one goal.
The group credits its success to the close bonds between its members. These guys were friends years before they began performing together and it's obvious that their bond is still strong. Members float in and out of the conversation, talking about crazy nights, sharing embarrassing stories about each other, analyzing the success of JT's pick-up line of the week (which range from screaming “I'm in a band!” out the van window to speaking in formal Shakespearean English) and reminiscing about life on the road.
Driscoll tries to capture the craziness that is taking a van from city to city with a group of his best friends. “It's a lot of sarcastic comments,” he says. “It's like the movie 'Superbad.'”
“It’s kind of smelly,” interjects Clayton Hiers, the band's lead vocalist.
Although all the members insist that keeping life fun is one of their goals for the future, they're seriously committed to making it as far as they can in the music industry. They're trying to move out of Atlanta as much as they can to promote their music.
But they're excited about the progress made thus far, having sold 100 copies of their new CD just a few months after its release.
“We've gone cardboard!” JT says, laughing.
- Contact Ani Vrabel