Right after releasing their new nostalgic but rockin’ single “Home,” we had the pleasure of talking with Unlucky Sonny. We asked all about the band’s beginnings, their lives during these less than ideal conditions for the music scene, and a glimpse into the creative process of Unlucky Sonny.
What’s the band’s origin story? How did this all begin?
Brayden: Back in 2017ish, I was fresh out of college. I had grown accustomed to playing drums in other bands, but I was seriously looking for an opportunity to front my own band again. In the years prior, I had both fronted and served as the primary songwriter for a ska band. That project was a TON of fun, but in the back of my head, I always knew that I had more to say when it came to expressing myself lyrically and musically. After what might be best described as a “songwriter’s identity crisis” and loads of tearing my hair out with bedroom production/experimentation, I began to write songs that I felt were the most genuine reflection of who I was and what I wanted to say. That’s when Unlucky Sonny began. Cut to a couple of years later, I was lucky enough to convince some of the best musicians (and best friends) that I know to play and become INVESTED in the music and its success. We played our first show altogether at the Hi-Hat in February 2019 and have been at work ever since!
What makes Unlucky Sonny different from other indie bands in the LA area?
Brayden: Damn, this is a great question. This band has me, Dave, Sophie, and Ben in it. No other band in Los Angeles, or anywhere else in the world, can claim the lineup that we have. Okay, yes I understand that answer is kinda a copout, but I can’t stress enough how great the band chemistry is. We all just really love to play music with each other and we’ll do whatever it takes to do it more. We also all come from different musical backgrounds and have a pretty wide spectrum of tastes which inform the way we play. I think what results is a pretty cool combination of sounds.
Sophie: I personally feel like what makes or breaks a band is a strong vocalist, and Brayden is such a great frontman and vocalist. He’s got a nice full voice compared to other indie rock bands I’ve seen or heard in LA. We’re all huge dorks too. Everyone in an indie rock band is cool but honestly, we’re too dorky to be cool. I can’t wait for us to play an actual live show cause I feel that visually we have a lot of energy. We care and it looks like it. I feel like the whole spirit of rock n roll is DGAF but I don’t think that’s our brand.
Ben: We’re community-based. We like to bring everyone in and do amazing things with people. I feel like there’s virtually no ego within our group as we like to be inclusive. Sometimes it can be hard to break into the scene in LA due to people thinking you’re not cool enough. I don’t think we’re down with that. I think we search for honesty when doing music, and that makes everything feel more relaxed, welcome, and homey.
Where does your inspiration for making music come from? Do any specific songs or bands put you in an ideal headspace to create?
Brayden: Inspiration comes from all over the place. I think all people have their own unique perspective of the world around them. The fun comes from describing these things in a way that lets other people in on that unique perspective but also feels relatable to them. Many of my songs lyrically come from a place of nostalgia and reflection–themes that continue to inspire me as I continue to grow. Musically though, I feel like each band member pulls different elements from their respective influences. I think some artists that make me wanna stop whatever I’m doing and make music include (but are not limited to) Jay Som, Dr. Dog, Sondre Lerche, Said The Whale, David Bowie, and Vetiver. However, one of my favorite songs that I always come back to because the melody is my favorite ever is “Desafinado,” most notably performed by Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz.
Sophie: When I come up with parts for our songs, I draw TONS of inspiration from the background harmonies of The Beatles and ELO. I’m super inspired by The Cardigans’ first album First Band on The Moon for cute keyboard sounds. Mike Viola’s use of synth on American Egypt is super inspiring too. Honestly, Mike Viola in general is a huge inspiration for me. I’m also super into the sweet, simplistic lyrics of jazz standards in general–my favorite writers being Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael. When COVID didn’t exist, I sang for jazz casuals and weddings, so I’m super inspired by Motown, jazz, 60’s pop, and rock cause that’s what I know best. I’ve got an old soul when it comes to music.
David: I’m influenced by bands like Death Cab, White Denim, Modest Mouse, Tool, Fleet Foxes, The Dear Hunter, Steely Dan, and Sufjan Stevens, to name a few. Some of my favorite drummers are Jeff Porcaro, Aaron Sterling, Steve Jordan, Carter McLean, and Keith Carlock.
Ben: I take inspiration from really small, seemingly-unnoticeable things. It may sound silly, but for instance, the way that sunlight seeps through the kitchen window and rests on a fruit bowl on the table draws something from within me. Music of course is inspiring as well, and I try to take recommendations from all the homies. Having friends whose taste spans across different genres especially helps with creating a better perspective.
How have you been holding up through quarantine as a band? What are practices like? Is everything online or safely done in person?
Brayden: We’ve been doing about as good as we can hope! Most of the work that we’ve done together during quarantine has been remotely online. We’ve done many production sessions over Zoom with the help of nifty programs like Loopback, which lets you send your DAW audio in high-quality over Zoom. Even though it’s not as good as collaborating together in the same room, it’s absolutely the next best thing!
David: Well, the band hasn’t been super busy which is a pretty significant bummer for me. I’ve been gigging for a few years doing a lot of stuff that pays but doesn’t feed me in any way, so I was very excited when I found myself in a group of people who I genuinely love. We seem to gel really well as a band too so that never hurts. I really connect and relate with the music Brayden writes and I’m honored I get to be a part of something with such awesome musicians and more importantly great people. It just so happened over quarantine that Brayden, Ben, and I actually started a burger pop-up in Pasadena (yes, I am taking this opportunity to shamelessly plug our company). So it seems like we found a way to create even while the music industry is temporarily dead.
Sophie: The pandemic has been really hard for me, just like everyone else. I teach voice and piano lessons at Citrus College and a private music studio, and switching everything to online has been tough. I’m VERY big on wearing masks and avoiding gatherings so my cup has been feeling half empty due to lack of a social life. I find so much joy in Zoom hangs and Zoom recording sessions with the boys. It makes me feel a little less lonely. Putting out this single has honestly given me something to look forward to. We haven’t practiced yet together, we’re sort of waiting for the cases to drop and vaccinations to happen so we don’t contribute to spreading this virus. We’re all pretty empathetic people and understand our social responsibility to keep our community safe. This virus is here to remind us that it’s not always about us–we’re not always the main characters in life. Sometimes you have to look at the big picture.
Ben: I’ve had a sort of re-aligning of myself recently and I think it’s coming out for the better. I’m not all the way there yet, but quarantine has led me to actually un-earth some issues that needed attention. As far as the band goes, we try to do our best digitally, but nothing can ever replace the real feeling of jamming in the same room.
Tell us a little about your most recent single, “Home.”
Brayden: I wrote “Home” in an effort to put to words some of the feelings I have about the idea of home as a concept. As I get older, I’m learning that home is more than just a physical place that you can go. This song in particular is about having a couple of different physical places that you might think you’d consider being your home, but wondering why none of them particularly make you feel settled or at ease. Ironically (or perhaps more appropriately), this song was recorded almost entirely remotely, from each of our separate homes. The only thing we went into the studio to record was the drums.
What is in store for the future of Unlucky Sonny?
Brayden: This is the first single we are releasing as a full band! We plan to follow this release up with more music VERY soon…so stay tuned. Once live shows become a thing again, you can bet we’ll be out there playing as much as we can! We hope to catch you there.
Sophie: I will literally play ANY gig once this pandemic is over…so definitely looking forward to actually singing to a crowd (there’s no better feeling). My goal is to tour before I turn 30, so I’m hoping we get the opportunity to tour sometime in the next two years. I also hope that I get to make the switch over to guitar from keys! I’ve been taking lessons during this pandemic and Brayden’s been showing me how to play our songs.
David: I think going forward I would like to explore a platonic, polyamorous life partnership with Brayden and Ben. Another goal for me is to somehow trick Brayden into legally giving me 50% writer’s credit on everything he writes so maybe I can actually make some money someday.
Ben: We all want to tour super bad. I think there’s a desire in us to show everyone who we are and not have any fear in the meantime. I think the core Unlucky Sonny’s members are based on friendship and support, so I think we’re just gonna release all of our ideas into the universe because we know that regardless of how it’s received, we’ll be happy and supportive of each other when we do it. Keeping it FUN cause we don’t enjoy anything more.
Listen to “Home” below and follow Unlucky Sonny on Instagram here.