By Tyler Fox
If you have been following the site since our original launch, you may recall we had an interview with Northern New York hardcore band Collisions in Grey and Red close to a year ago. Well, a lot has happened in the past year for both Turnabout Media and Collisions. We changed our site, updated our look, and even changed our name (from Turnabout Media to Turnabout). Funny enough, just about all of those things changed for our friends as well. Now going by the name Sunflo’er, the band has a new record out, signed with a record label, put out their first music video, and had a slight lineup change (all of these things discussed later). Lucky for me, drummer Ethan Shantie was willing to chat again and discuss these changes.
Sunflo’er is still producing punching hardcore and running the band out of their old haunted-house looking mini-mansion in the northern most reaches of middle-of-nowhere New York (I am convinced that has something to do with the haunting music they produce). But don’t let that fool you. These dudes are the goofiest and some of the most fun loving guys I’ve ever met. Check out the new album, 1963, out through Magnetic Eye Records and be sure to like their Facebook for any upcoming shows and to see the plethora of bad pop-culture references they have to share.
We spoke about 10 months ago, and things have happened. So let’s start with the obvious, why did you guys change your name?
Yeah dude, you’re not wrong. A lot of things have happened in the last ten months, even the last two or three months. We’ve been asked by a lot of people why we chose to change our name and have heard as many reasons why we did it. To be honest, “Collisions in Grey and Red” is a name that none of us ever really loved. When we started the band in the summer of 2010, we needed a name, and so we just stole one we had used for an old improv-grind band that two of us had been in while we were in High School together. I feel like it was a place holder and after a few years it seemed too late to change it. When we started sending the full length around to different record labels it was something that was nagging at the back of my mind – did we really all want to be followed by a name we didn’t like? Especially one that was hard for people to remember? Mike from Magnetic Eye Records got back to us immediately after receiving the album, saying that he wanted to put it out but didn’t love the name, basically confirming our fears. So we considered shortening the name to just Collisions, only to find out another band from the UK already went by that. By then there was no obligation whatsoever to change the name, but we wanted something new. I came up with “Sunflower,” as in SUN-FLOW-ER, but knew that we’d just be called by the name of the plant, so I dropped the W for an apostrophe and that’s what we went with. It’s the only name we all agreed we liked.
You guys recently signed on with Magnetic Eye Records. Why did you decide to go with them? What has changed for you since you became part of the label?
We decided to go with Magnetic Eye Records because of the speed at which they responded to us and also because of owner Mike Vitali’s enthusiasm for the music. We had been following his roster for a while and even have a friend (Arae) whose full length was just released through MER. They wasted no time at all getting involved with us. Within a week of sending the thing out, we got an e-mail saying they were interested. The deal they offered us was excellent; we couldn’t turn it down. As far as what has changed since signing, honestly there has been a huge boost in confidence for all of us. Being able to have that sense of legitimacy is validating, especially on a label that has already put out records by so many inspiring and eclectic artists. Although we knew our music was good, this would be a way to ensure that more people than just kids from our hometown and the surrounding community heard it. We’re not always able to get out on the road because of our independent schedules, so the label will get it to the right ears.
Last time we talked the band had just recorded the debut album “1963,” which came out last week. What took so long after recording to get the album out?
I’m not sure that it actually took that long to come out. We recorded it in July of 2014 with Topon Das (Fuck the Facts) at Apartment 2 in Ottawa, and the rest of the summer was spent awaiting the mixing and mastering. True, we did take our sweet ass time in getting the album sent out in the mail, but we didn’t want to just send it to whoever. That would be a waste of time and money. We looked into labels that we thought would be a good fit for us and then sent accordingly. Once Mike got back to us and we inked the deal, we had to commission art, and then from there MER had to set their production schedule. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year, just because we’ve been so busy making sure that this is gonna come out the right way.
You just recorded and released a music video for “Deer Clock”. Is this the first time you did a music video? What went into the process on the band’s end for preparing the video?
Yeah, this is our first official video. Our bass player, Jim, had made one a while ago for a song off of our EP, “Mary, Mary.” However, we didn’t do a whole lot of promotion for that particular set of songs because we were in this weird limbo period. We had just lost our vocalist and we weren’t sure what the future of the band would be. For “Deer Clock,” we had our friend Brittany Bonaparte, who runs Photo by Bones, film us, our friends, and a bunch of strangers giving their worst smile. We didn’t want to do the typical band thing and play along to our song in some dark room with strobe lights. That works for some people, but that’s not our aesthetic and not what we really like to watch. All we did was brainstorm what would be the least fitting accompaniment to the song, which has some dark imagery, and someone’s cheesy high school smile is what we came up with. Plus we all have food fetishes, so we threw that in there, too.
The band has been pushing the album pretty heavy for a while. What have you guys found to be the most effective way to promote? How has the label helped with promoting the album?
Social media has been helpful in helping to reach places we might not otherwise have a following. We strive to get like-minded people interested in the music and then encourage them to show a friend. It’s more or less that process which introduced us to all our favorite underground bands. The most important thing of course is ensuring that what we’re writing is notable enough to pass around. Our friends have been very good to us, in that regard. Luckily, we’re all very proud of “1963” and can justify its worth as something you and your friends should thrash out to on any given night. The cool thing about having the label is the legitimacy I mentioned earlier. Unsigned bands do gain a following, no doubt, but having a label to back you will make people pay attention especially if they’ve never heard of you before.
Any plans for a tour, string of shows, or release show coming soon?
We’re planning a weeklong tour in the fall in support of the album. Aside from weekend tours, that’s about all we can offer. The band is not the only thing we’re involved in, by far. Carter and Jim are still in college at varying levels. I work full time as a radio host and also spend time writing. Carter and I have also recently started a publishing house. The band is certainly a priority, but life gets in the way of playing shows constantly, so we want the music to stand for us until we’re tapped for a VH1 Reality Show.
What is in the works for Sunflo’er? (new songs, albums, shows, other videos….)
Honestly, we have no idea what’s going to happen at this point. A new album – definitely. Singles or splits? We can only hope for that. We’re not about to say no to any opportunity that comes our way. The other guitarist who recorded on “1963” has recently decided to part ways with the band, so we’ll be filling his spot as soon as possible. One of the most positive experiences we’ve ever had was recording with Topon in Ottawa, and we hope that for each subsequent recording we can go back. Right now we’re just focused on people hearing the album. We’re proud of what has come out of five years of playing together and think that we and the album can be part of a new wave of aggressive punk.
A big thanks goes out to Ethan Shantie and the Sunflo’er guys. For more info make sure you follow them on Facebook.
The photos in this piece are courtesy of Photo By Bones.