Tuesday 18 February 2020

Backstage with Solemn Sun

Cheltenham based rock band, Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun, has had a complete rebrand, with a new name, fresh sound and big plans. Ahead of its new EP release, SoGlos caught up with frontman Jim to discuss fandoms, local gigs, and worldwide ambitions.

Lockey, tell our readers about yourself and the band Solemn Sun.

My name is Jim Lockey and I sing in the band and play guitar. We’re a hip hop-influenced alternative rock band based in Cheltenham and there are four of us altogether. With me is Chris Capewell on guitar and vocals; Phil Randall with the bass; and Simon Cripps using samples and playing the drums.

You used to be called Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun, why the change?

The Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun project had run its course and we weren’t overly excited about pursuing it further. We wanted to start again, and on our own terms. We wanted to take our band back from what it had grown into. That’s what Solemn Sun is to us, not a restart, but an entirely new beginning.

While you’ve reinvented the band, you’ve kept the name Solemn Sun. This is quite an unusual name, what does it mean?

It can mean anything you want it to. One idea is that the sun’s solemnity comes from watching over the world in its current state. The sun is the lifeblood of everything on Earth and its gravity and ceremony are unparalleled. For us, it is all of these things and a representation of what we create together.

Very interesting, and how long has Solemn Sun been established?

Well, we’ve been working on it since December 2013, but we didn’t officially come out to the public until July so it’s still early days for us. Our first EP will be released on Monday 13 October 2014.

Tell us a little bit about your sound then, can fans expect some familiarity, or have you changed your music style too?

We’ve definitely got a new style; our sound is now the polar opposite of what it was. The heart is still in the songs, but the projects are incomparable!

To which other bands would you compare your new sound to then?

We’re influenced by ambitious bands, such as Brand New, The Neighbourhood and The Manchester Orchestra, and we’ve had some flattering references to some heavier bands too, like Glassjaw and Deftones – but I’d say that’s more to do with texture than sound.

And are your existing fans supportive about these changes?

Our fans’ reactions have been consistently positive so far. Many of the people around before are still with us now and we’re picking up new interest too as we move forward, so it’s certainly successful in that sense.

Obviously there are some who are against the idea of our fresh start, as there always will be. We wish them well, but we have our focus now and the old band won’t be coming back.

You’ve clearly got a wide fan base to support you, what type of people would we find at one of your gigs?

Discernible music fans with a taste for something new.

While we’re on the subject of gigs, where would you most like to play in Gloucestershire?

As a new band, we haven’t played yet in the area, but we’d be excited to be welcomed to the 2000trees Festival next year. It’s the highlight of the local scene each year and draws in music fans from all over the country.

I think somewhere unconventional would be best too. Like in the Old Fire Station in Cheltenham or a rundown warehouse in Gloucester. Something we could make our own. Somewhere we could give the audience a bit of escapism for the night.

The Old Fire Station would be a great setting for a show! What’s the best local gig you’ve been to?

Locally, we’re big fans of Crooks, Kitten and Bear, Andy Oliveri and Champion… it’s difficult to pick one show in particular. I think the best shows in Cheltenham are when it’s all local bands, but they treat it as more than just another night playing in their local. They make an event out of it and give something to it, something that makes people stand up and notice.

If you could support anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

If it was a question of anyone, dead or alive, Michael Jackson would top the list without a doubt! In terms of a more recent artist, it would probably be Rocky. Not only are we huge fans of his music, but the energy he has and the way he commands his audience is unlike any other rapper I’ve seen.

And do you have any big claims to fame?

Well… we all look a lot like the guys from Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun.

Can you recommend one album to our readers that you don’t think they’ll have discovered yet?

Simple Math by Manchester Orchestra.

What would you say is the band’s number one ambition?

To play Fenway Park or the Superbowl halftime show.

Aiming high! Sounds fantastic. What advice would you give to other local bands or artists trying to make it in the music industry?

If you want to pursue being in a band as a career you need to tour away from your hometown. No label in the universe will come to Gloucestershire to find you. You need to be out there everywhere making a name.

Also, don’t try to be anything you’re not, people see through fallacy, the best fans are the ones that believe in what you say.

Very sage advice, but while you’re still in Gloucestershire, where can local fans see you perform in the next month or two?

We’re touring the UK in November. The nearest show is at Birmingham Sunflower Lounge on the 11th.

And any big plans in the pipeline over the next 12 months?

Yes! We have two singles and the EP release; headline tours in the UK; and support tours in Europe and U.S scheduled for the next year.

For more information see twitter.com/solemnsun or keep up to date with their latest news at facebook.com/s0lemnsun.

By Alice Lloyd

© SoGlos
Tuesday 26 August 2014

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