We’re big fans of Brooklyn-based indie band Sooner, and we got the absolute pleasure of chatting with John, Federica, Tom, and Andrew again following the release of their EP,Stranger. It’s a wonderful six song vacation that makes us want to put it on every playlist we have. Prepare to kick back and get to know your new favorite band.
How did you come up with your band name?
Tom: We knew we wanted a short, one-word name. From there, it was just a process of picking a word that had a good feel. Sooner was the only one that everyone was okay with, and it took quite a while. I think we’ve grown into it after feeling initially apprehensive though, I personally think it somewhat abstractly evokes longing or anticipation for something, which is in line with our emotional palette. It has nothing to do with Oklahoma, in case anyone is wondering.
Andrew:I had no part in the band name since I joined after it was established. But Sooner did stand out for me while I was searching for a band to play with. I dig it.
What is each of your roles in the band?
John: I usually work on riffs and structure at home and then present the idea; from there, Tom (drums) and Andrew (bass) and I workshop it at practice. They come up with parts and we work on arrangement and dynamics. When we feel pretty good, Fede shows up with some amazing melodies and lyrics that take it to a whole new place.
Federica: I am the singer and I usually add the voice and lyrics once the instrumental part of the song is done. John is the “mind” of the band: guitar nerd, he writes the songs, takes care of most social media and booking. Tom is our sweet drummer, walking encyclopedia and practice space boss. Andrew is our “new entry” bass player. We’re so lucky that we found him!
Tom: I’m the drummer, and our rehearsal space is in my basement. We recorded our last EP there, which was a joy for me as I could hang out in a bathrobe watching cat videos in my living room while John tracked overdubs.
Andrew: We all work together really well. John usually comes up with the ideas and rough sketches for the songs. From there Tom and I join him to workshop the ideas until it sounds like a complete thought/song. From there, we send Federica our sketches and she writes over top of them and really brings it all together.
How would you best describe your sound?
Federica: Dream pop/alt-rock/ “soft” post-punk
Tom:Dream pop with some shoegaze and jangle pop elements. We also borrow a lot from post-rock, John and I actually first met playing in a post-rock band in our freshman year of college. I always liked that style and sometimes think we sound like if a post-rock band had a singer.
What do you hope listeners feel when they hear your music?
John:Some type of reflective, hopeful, sadness, like a feeling when you’re down but can recognize some moment of beauty and appreciate it.
Andrew: I hope listeners feel the raw emotion that goes into every song we write. We have a lot of sketches that don’t make the cut, so generally, the best of our material is surfaced and eventually recorded. We have to feel something when listening to a sketch for it to make it as a finished song.
What was the recording process like for your latest EP?
John: We borrowed a bunch of gear from my friend and set it up in our practice space, very crudely trying to isolate instruments with couch cushions and shit, and then recorded into GarageBand. We did a few live tracking sessions, and then Fede laid down the vocals. Then I tried to mix it in Logic but barely know what I’m doing, so I’d work on it for a month, decide I hate all the tracks, and then stop for a few more months before picking it up again.
What can we expect from seeing you perform live?
John:Guitar, bass, and drums try to be really tight and focused, but Fede is an incredible performer. It seems to really unlock something in her we don’t experience in normal daily interaction; it’s super cool and inspiring
Federica: An overall energetic gig with a few “dreamy” pauses
Tom:Lots of energy, hopefully. We take practicing for live shows fairly seriously as our songs are not all straightforward. There’s not a lot of room for error. A lot of people hear the word shoegaze and immediately think of just washed out lazy droning, but our best moments are tight and intricate.
Andrew: We are all super great at what we do and really give it our all at each gig. I’d think the audience can sense that. So I’d say you can expect a very raw and emotional performance from us. We also don’t play live a ton on purpose so it doesn’t ever start to feel status quo.
What is next for the band? Do you have an ultimate dream?
John:We’re recording two tracks next weekend, but really just want to keep putting out more material that reaches a wider audience and playing live at least once a month. Would love to have a full LP this year.
Lastly, a fun one. What would you say is the best bar in Brooklyn?
John:I like The Narrows for a drink, but I think Alphaville is the best place to drink and see a show.
Federica:I don’t like bars lol
Tom: Love Alphaville!! We had our best early shows there and it’s become kind of a home base for us. You can’t beat their nugz, which you will find me tearing through a pile of before any show there. Also, Superpower has the best bartenders in Brooklyn.
Andrew: Brooklyn has infinite great bars. For me, a good bar is quiet, unpretentious, and within a few blocks of my apartment. Recently, George & Jacks (Berry and N 9th) or Moonlight Mile (Franklin and India) have been my go-tos.