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X Suns Review and Interview

X Suns (Pronounced "Ten Suns") is an instrumental "space rock" band from Seattle, WA. In their newest two song 7 inch X Suns flawlessly brings together the epic sound of post rock with the interwoven angular guitar licks of math rock and metal. Track 1 "Strawberry Mansion" starts with an atmospheric droning pattern setting the pace for an internal battle between picking and strumming riffs. We end up in an almost apocalyptic feeling with full horns blaring until the off sounding warble of a digression sleeps us into utter silence. Track 2 "Twelve Hours" is in some ways the opposite of its' predecessor. We get triumphant sounding warcries for guitar licks, we get hope. This song really makes you feel ALIVE! After a brief rest; interludes of simple yet epic solos and strumming riffs cycle until the eventual abrupt resolution. For only two songs there's much to consider here. In lieu of vocals or lyrics X SUNS offers us a journey, into a state of turbulence, clarity and awareness. I also encourage everyone to listen to X Suns earlier records, because you've been sleeping on this band for way too long! -M Chan Interview: TMRT: Welcome aboard gentlemen! How did each of you guys get started playing music? Trent (Drums): My parents bought me my first drum set when I was 11, and I've played pretty much every day since. My Dad is a multi-instrumentalist and he taught me some very helpful things, like Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." I also played percussion in jazz band during middle school. I mostly just tried playing along to Smashing Pumpkins and other stuff I was into at the time. Burke (Guitar): I got started playing music when I was 12 on a black fender strat and took acoustic lessons from a blues guitarist. I started playing bass and eventually drums shortly afterwards. I grew up fully influenced in my childhood by all the hair metal bands of the time and while it's painful to admit, I owe why I play guitar mostly to bands like BULLETBOYS or RATT, sometimes Iron Maiden or New Order. I was raised on 80’s MTV. Adam (Bass): I picked up the bass back in high school, a friend sold me a crummy one for $35 that had a hole in it. I started playing with other people immediately. When you're the worst person in the band, due to only playing for a couple weeks, there's a lot of motivation to improve quickly. Music had always fascinated me. I would always pick out bass lines to songs I heard. Skippy (Guitar): My Dad was a professional musician and I wanted to be just like him.. until I saw Iron Maiden on TV then I wanted to be just like Iron Maiden. TMRT: Haha! I can see Skippy is the joker of the band! What bands or musicians have influenced your sound the most and why? Trent (drums): Damon Che and ZACH HILL have been my biggest influences, but I can't deny John Bonham's influence on me either. I'm a huge fan of drummers who sound like nobody else and combine incredible power with precision. Burke (Guitar): In my very early teens I discovered punk and “real” metal. My biggest influences come from punk and hardcore which I find to be the most primal and real. A lot of the early DC bands as well as releases by SST Records were very influential. Growing up in Seattle in the early 90's when our music scene was in full bloom with local legends like (the) Melvins, Tad & Accused. Punk & hardcore are the roots of influence and source of ethics to everything I do musically. Progressive rock and free jazz constantly inspires me to become a better musician and push against traditional song structures. Adam (Bass): I didn't set out to copy someone else's sound. I learned on my own and the sound developed from there by playing with others. Playing bass in a rock band is about bridging the gap between the guitars and drums. It's the glue that holds the song together, or the foundation that it's built upon. Bass is different than other instruments in that you don't play to emulate a sound, you play it to fill the void with what's needed. Skippy (Guitar): Alex Lifeson, John Reese and Ian Williams TMRT: Very well put Adam! Where do you guys look for inspiration in songwriting? Trent: The easiest and most obvious answer would be life. There are plenty of emotions to draw from past & current experiences. There's a lot of really fucked up things happening all over the world constanty, and I think my way of coping with that feeling of hopelessness, is to try to make music that people will enjoy, and to have special experiences together that brings a sense of connectivity and oneness. Burke: Songwriting is an eclectic process, but many bands that inspire X Suns songs in my mind are Slint, Polvo, Mogwai, June of 44, Fugazi, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Don Caballero, Pinback & Thelonius Monk. We have so many influences. We look for one good part that we can write a song around. For instrumental music it's easier for us to play freeform and find parts we like to form a song around. Adam: I look to my bandmates for inspiration and creativity. Someone will have an excellent idea and we'll all expand on that. It evolves on it's own naturally. We'll play a brand new song, and it will never sound the same the next time we play it. It has to evolve over time and get refined. Skippy: Movie Soundtracks and noises my dog makes. TMRT: Skippy your dog must be a shredder! Who are your current and all time favorite bands? Trent: Don Caballero, Hella, Harkonen, Cinemechanica, Deftones, Battles, Mogwai, JUNIUS, Botch, & Converge Burke: Total cop out, but I can never answer this one. There are too many in many genres, like the old saying goes, “comparison is the thief of joy” Adam: my all time favorite band is Hot Water Music. I have loved HWM Ever since I 1st heard them years ago and I still love their raw energy just as much today! Also, seeing the Flaming Lips or Ween live are some of my favorite musical memories. Skippy: Iron Maiden, Jesus Lizard, RUSH and Don Caballero. Currently I'm totally into And So I Watch You From Afar TMRT: That's great! I saw ASIWYFA not long ago and they put on an amazing performance! Tell us about your gear and set up for live performances. Trent: I play a 70s Fibes Drums Crystalite kit (24/14/18), with a 14x8 stainless steel snare that I made, 24" vintage Zildjian Company ride, 22" vintage paiste ride, 20" dream bliss crash, 14" paiste signature hi-hats, and a speed cobra kick pedal with a Trick dominator beater. Burke: I am playing a Dunable Guitars Yeti through a Rivera KR7 w/ Rivera 4/12 vintage 30 cab. These amps do beautiful cleans with high gain very well. Dunable guitars and pickups are very impressive and I immediately fell in love with the Yeti guitar. I play a bunch of effects buffered through a pedal board, some of my favorites in the mix from Mr. Black, Red Panda, Stymon, EarthQuaker Devices, Boss, Empress and TC Electronics. Adam: Fender American Deluxe Precision bass into a Fender Bassman 300 Pro through a beat up Ampeg SVT-810AV. Also, recently been messing with a Big Muff Pi fuzz pedal for bass. Skippy: > Les Paul Standard > Tubescreamer > Pitchshifter > OCD > TC Nova Delay > TC Nova Reverb > Rivera Knucklehead II > Hiwatt 4X12 Cabinet TMRT: That's quite the list! Tell me; What are you trying to covey through your music? Trent: I'd say that shit is fucked up, and we're all in this together. Burke: Through the songs, I'm trying to convey a mood & open up space for the imagination to hear things that are not there, like additional sound or vocals that do not exist. Since our music is instrumental, it's my hope that the music will conjure images and visual aspects and that it will evoke things like climbing a mountain, exploring galaxies or floating across oceans. These are similar thoughts I try to immerse myself in while playing the songs. Adam: Not really trying to convey anything specifically. Not sure why we play collectively, but personally, I do it for myself. It's a selfish thing, an escape, to do something that I love with my good friends. We write music that we would probably listen to on our own, but it's different when you play it. We'll play an 8 min long song and it will feel like no time has passed, just because we have so much fun doing it. There's no deliberate message. Just happiness. Skippy: I hope that people listening are first of all entertained and 2nd that they connect with something in the music that makes them feel. TMRT: Burke I really feel that, and I would say goal acheived with me at least! I easily get a decent amount of mental imagery when listening to X Suns as I describe in my review! Where would you most like to play a concert at and what other bands would you like to play with? Trent: I would really love to tour Europe someday, and my ultimate dream is to play festivals in the UK. I'd love to play with Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, or Russian Circles. Last year we got to play with Battles, And So I Watch You From Afar, and Pelican which were all quite amazing experiences. Burke: Any place where people are connecting with the music, enjoying themselves and the bands on the bill are having a fun night with good comradery within the band is unbeatable. Hopefully a new city every night! Ever notice when people talk of their favorite bands, they will say their fondest memory is a small intimate show? Bigger is not always better, we love to get the opportunity to play with bands and artists that we listen to and inspire us. It’s an endorphin rush to play live and feed off the crowds' energy. It’s a privilege and a thrill to play and share music for people. I'm very thankful for anyone who listens to X Suns! Adam: While it's always amazing to play with bigger bands, I don't have a dream show that I've been hoping for. There are places that I'd like to play that I haven't had the chance to yet, like the Showbox Market in Seattle, WA, or the Gorge in George, WA. It's always great to play with our friends' bands that we already know and love, but it's refreshing to meet new bands or play with those that are passing through on tour. Skippy: I'd love to play a show with Drive Like Jehu and I have always wanted to play at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. TMRT: It's been great getting to know the band. I'd like to thank you all for your time spent giving us some insight into your project.

-M Chan

The Math Rock Times

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