Andy Tabeling, Wuog staffer and gonzo journalist of sorts, sat down with A Sunny Day in Glasgow and chatted about life on the road, making a record when your members live on different continents, and Phil Collins.
A Sunny Day in Glasgow made their triumphant return to Athens, Georgia last Wednesday for a show at the Caledonia Lounge. The Philadelphia based collective whose members now live across the globe in Pennsylvania, New York and Australia were promoting their newest album Sea When Absent which has received lots of critical acclaim and is one of WUOG’s favorite albums of the year.
Despite having been on the road for 9 hours and having just arrived in Athens, the band was in pretty delightful spirits when they arrived at the Grit. “We’ve been looking forward to this,” said Jen Goma as we arrived. The band had previously toured Athens before and the Grit was a favorite food stop with them, with one of the members claiming it was the best meal they had eaten on tour so far. We initially discussed the method of funding Sea When Absent, as the band had used Kickstarter for their record. Sunny Day had gotten quite creative with the rewards for the different donations for the bands record, which perhaps most notably included the band recording a “Song Poem” in which the donor wrote words and music the band would then play and record. Ben Daniels, the group’s sole remaining original member of the group, compared the recording of the song poem as a “cover”. Fans can look forward to Sunny Day in Glasgow releasing this legendary song poem as a B-side for an upcoming 7-inch record.
We moved on to discussion about the tour, which the band was very positive about as “the shows had been really good” according to Daniels. Live, it’s almost impossible to completely replicate the studio sound of Sea When Absent, so it makes sense the band didn’t approach the live show with this in mind. “If I wanted to hear the exact album, I’d just stay home and listen to the record,” said Annie Frederickson in response to replicating the album live. This spiraled into a discussion about bands playing records all the way through in recent live performances, with Daniels describing going to see Kraftwerk in his current home of Australia with the expectation of hearing complete albums and a similar experience with The Cure. The consensus with the band was that they’d rather be surprised with what they hear. At this point we also have our first mention of Phil Collins. There are rumors of Sunny Day playing a Genesis cover on this tour, with the band refusing to tell me what song only that “It’s not the cool Peter Gabriel Genesis”.
The band then described the two and a half year ordeal that was making the album. This was the first time the band had worked with an external producer (Jeff Zeigler, who also recently contributed to the new War on Drugs record). The producer gave the band a sense of ritual going into the studio and recording. Scheduling became the primary battle in the making of the album, as the members were rarely together at the same time. However, tracking and recording was very quick when the band was in the studio and Daniels mixed the album himself. When we were discussing producers they once again mentioned Phil Collins as their most desired producer. Perhaps if they cover Genesis Phil will notice?
Live, the band is as powerful as they are on records. The guitars are particularly emphasized, although the band’s lush textures were also represented. But the one aspect that set the show apart was the dazzling vocals of Goma and Frederickson. Their interlocking vocal parts showed the singing prowess of both of them, particularly during Goma’s powerful shout during the chorus of “In Love With Useless” and Frederickson’s dreamy, hopeful refrain “I belong to you, you belong to me” which has particular impact because of the brief moment of calm that happens behind it. While there was no Genesis cover tonight the band gave Sea When Absent a lot of love, playing many songs listeners would have heard over WUOG’s airwaves over the past few months. No one I knew left unsatisfied and many were dazzled with the band’s expansive and powerful sound. Hopefully they return to the Classic City (and the Grit) very soon.