On Tuesday, Toronto-based folk-rock band Sun-K released their debut album Northern Lies (Read the review ). I also had the chance to sit down with Kristian Montaro, the lead singer of Sun-K, to ask him a few questions about the band and their tour.
So, where does the name Sun-K come from?
Kristian: “It comes from a few different sources; such as being a play on the name of the jazz singer Sun Ra. It also is influenced by the nickname my fiancée Bailey has for me, calling me her Sunny K. It was used a few times at practice and shows, and it stuck around.”
What are your major musical influences?
K: “1964-1972. Yeah, pretty much anything from that time period, including looking back into the origin of blues, jazz with Louis Armstrong, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy. Also a lot of the Greenwich Village sound; Dave Van Ronk, Bob Dylan, Everly Brothers. I have always been a fan of Neil Young, and with him, as well as the other artists, when I’m writing and composing, I will think ‘How would (Blank) sing this?’ or ‘How would (Blank) play the guitar for this song?’. Just thinking that can bring another sound or feel to the song, which you can hear in some of the songs on the record.”
How did you guys meet?
K: “I first met Stuart Retallack (Keyboard/horns/vocals) in 2008 while at McGill University, while he was performing in the band Clap Trap. Hung out until the end of university in 2010, then lost touch. While living out in Oakville, I met Kevin Michael Butler (guitar/vocals/fiddle) at the Moonshine Café, and performed with him for a bit, then again lost touch. I then moved to Toronto in 2012, and actually met back up with Stuart, where we had a residency at the Magpie. A pretty insane one; every Saturday afternoon, performing for 3 1/2 hours. Around this time, I met Bailey and fell in love. I went to her work, The Emmet Ray, and guess who’s working there? Kevin! So we all started jamming together, figuring out some songs that I had written and covers. I also aided in producing some tracks for Kevin. But even though we had the residency at the Magpie, we didn’t have bass or a rhythm section. We met JuHang Sin (bass) while performing at the Magpie and he was first hesitant to join, but after seeing us at The Cameron House, he agreed and also got us in touch with Aaron Bravener (drums/vocals), who is also from the East Coast like Ju. Aaron jumped right on board and here we are.”
What does the next year look like for Sun-K?
K: “Well, we have the tour that’s already kicked off. We are heading out east in the next two weeks, then back here, and then out west for a while. We are also hoping to do a few festivals this summer, like CMW, NXNE, and TURF in September, a good way of ending the summer. We have written some new songs, which we perform live here and there, so how the album goes, we might be back in the studio soon or in the fall, which is awesome. We’ve released “NYC Blues” as a single, and we are gonna be shooting a music video for it in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for that.”
Last night, Sun-K performed their debut album to a packed Dakota Tavern, with the support of Raven Shields and Jerry Leger & The Situation. Raven brought her folk-rock to start off the night, setting the upbeat feel that Sun-K bring to every show. Jerry Leger, with his country rock, brought stuff down and set laid-back mood for everyone in the bar. The crowd was made up of friends and fans (or the common blend of both) of the guys of Sun-K, and both openers were very happy to perform, stating that they were fans of the band and each other for a while.
Sun-K came out to roars and cheers and didn’t disappoint in delivering a high-energy show. The entire bar was transfixed by Kristian’s voice and guitar skills, while Aaron kept everyone dancing with his expert drumming. Onstage banter between Kristian, Kevin and Stuart, while including the audience, kept things light-hearted. Stuart’s horn-playing and Kevin’s fiddle in the encore brought a different feel than usually found in band performances. Ju, who is usually very exuberant off stage, is all business while performing, focusing on delivering killer riffs on the bass.
Definitely a great way to officially kicking off a Canada-wide tour for a debut album. Great job guys!