Spotlight Interview With The Violet Sunsets
An album release from the Violet Sunsets brings an acoustic backed alternative rock style feel that serves for storytelling tracks and powerful instrumentation.
The songs on the Lost Letters to The Past album can get pretty personal and they can make you think. They can cause memories of your won to pop up in your head when you least expect it.
There is this southern rock or sort of Americana twang that sticks throughout the albums course, and it all seems like it could be in a scene of a film at any given time.
The tracks do have that cinematic tonality to them and that's due, in part because of that personal lyrical approach and the vocal melodies that know how to stay floating around in your head for days.
There are plenty of outstanding guitar hooks that really work well with the whole aesthetic of the band.
You get these amazing points of view and there are a lot of songs that are super relatable and portray stories of love and loss, confusion and some struggle with one's own emotions. It's all coming from real places, and this is part of why its powerful.
Bands like Pavement come to mind at times, and they boast this alternative sound that lurks just under the surface.
This was a courageous and lush record that has a ton to offer in the way of songs that make you feel and think.
With the release of this album, we wanted to have a chat with The Violet Sunsets about the record and where it actually came from.
RAG: Let's kick things off with the Lost Letters to The Past album. This record has a super genuine classic rock feel to it with an acoustic backbone and some great songwriting! Where did this album come from?
Before The Violet Sunsets, I was performing as a solo artist under my name, Evan Wynn. Put out two records, with the last one coming out in 2019. A few months later COVID hit and the world shut down, so I was really able to dive into some songwriting during quarantine. Wrote the songs Template and Company during this timeframe and essentially this marked the official start of the creation of the album. Don’t Let Me Down was actually a throwaway song that I wrote and recorded for the 2019 release, which is actually proving to be the biggest song on the Sunsets record. It's funny when you almost throw away songs that end up being the most popular when released.
The Violet Sunsets actually didn’t become a thing until 2021, so I was writing most of these songs intending to release them as a solo artist. Almost all of the songs aren’t even necessarily about things that I felt in the moment when writing them, but about other aspects of life that I struggled with at different times. This is why I decided to call it “Lost Letters to the Past”, as a lot of the songs were written for past feelings and struggles I had already overcome, but wanted to put them down on paper.
RAG: There are certainly some different styles on this release. Who can you say are your biggest musical influences?
My dad plays music and actually was in a band that toured around the United States, so I have a lot of influences stemming from him. Growing up I listened to everything ranging from The BeeGees to Gillian Welch, so there is a broad mix of artistry and music that we’ve incorporated into what we do. I don’t limit myself to one genre, as I believe good music is just good music. You can’t deny something that’s good.
I would say our biggest influences include Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Blind Melon, Jason Isbell, Phoebe Bridgers, Sun Kil Moon, Sturgill Simpson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Big Thief. We also have a lot of bluegrass roots, as every guitar solo is actually flatpicked and is conducted through an acoustic guitar. We used effects to make the guitar solos sound distorted for certain songs when in reality everything is all acoustic. The guitar solo for Template is an entirely flatpicked, acoustic solo.
I personally am a huge fan of Gillian and Dave Rawlings and Shannon Hoon, as everything they have put out I love and hold dear to me. I grew up listening to all of them and have studied Dave’s guitar style heavily. He is the biggest influence on my style of guitar playing. All of those bands we mentioned have great songwriting as well, so I try to blend and incorporate all methods into our own process.
RAG: When and how did this all start for you as a band?
Growing up, I used to live on a 60-acre farm that had a little shack we all called “The Sugar Shack”. The Sugar Shack had a full band set up inside and was our version of a garage, it allowed us to play music for fun. Well, when COVID and quarantine hit, I left Indianapolis and went to stay with my Dad and brother for a while, as things in the city were getting complicated and concerning in March of 2020. My brother, Nol Wynn, is only 18 months behind me in age and plays music too, so the sugar shack was always the first place we would link up and try to crank something out whenever I came home.
There was nothing to do during quarantine, so he and I would go over to the shack and try to cover songs or make something up. Since I was writing some music, I wanted to run it by him and have him try implementing some drums. We played Template and Company and thought it sounded great, so playing these songs live became a potential reality - we just needed a bassist. My girlfriend, Kat Miles, came down to my house with me during quarantine and had never touched a bass in her life. We threw her one and taught her some basic chords for the songs and had her fill in as a bassist. Little did we know, this was the informal start of The Violet Sunsets. We didn’t actually establish ourselves as a band until around a year later in 2021, I believe it was in March or April. We performed our first official “show” as The Violet Sunsets in 2021 at the Sugar Shack to friends and family because the farm (my childhood home) was being sold. We dropped our first album, Lost Letters to the Past, about a month after our first show. A picture of the Sugar Shack can be seen as the artwork for our next record Belvedere.
We only remained a three-piece until August or so, in which we had Blain Riley join us on keys.
RAG: What else really inspires or influences you all to write?
There are a lot of things that happen that people deem as meaningless, but for some reason, I like to try to find meaning in everything. It’s trying to make sense of things that don’t make sense.
Tragedy is by far one of the top elements that are incorporated into our music, along with the reflection process that comes after such events. There is a lot that comes with life and death, so it’s trying to make sense of these two heavy subjects that we generally enjoy writing about. We really strive to write songs that are heavy and deep, as that is how we perceive life. Bad things happen, but the first question that I ask myself is - why? Why do bad things happen? What was the purpose? Is there a purpose? What does it all mean? These concepts and questions are posed in a lot of our songs, as it really is a question that we are asking ourselves. It's coping with tragedy, which I believe we all can relate to.
RAG: Will we see any videos this year from you?
Yes, we release music videos all the time on our YouTube Channel. We recently just released two new videos for songs off of our next record, Belvedere. We post live performances and music videos on a pretty frequent basis.
RAG: Are you guys performing live right now?
We are currently gearing up to book more shows and play out and about. At this time we do not have any official dates lined out, but we will have those soon.
RAG: Who are you all listening to right now?
There are a lot of great bands out there, you just have to find them. Aside from our direct influences, been really digging Arlo McKinley, Tyler Childers, Lost Dog Street Band, Joshua Ray Walker, Pecos and the Rooftops, and Koe Wetzel. All of them are pretty country and folk-based, which is our favorite kind of music. I also love heavy metal bands like Slipknot, Bring Me The Horizon, and Avenged Sevenfold. I used to be a scene kid when I was 13, so a lot of that music has stuck with me later in life. We all really like anything and try to take note of different styles and genres. Listening to solely one genre is boring.
RAG: What are you all doing when you're not working on music?
We all work normal jobs and aren’t cool at all. We are pretty boring, but mainly we all work during the week and then hit up bars and hang out. We also really enjoy shows like Better Call Saul, Barry, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and Boardwalk Empire. Blain and Nol like to hit the gym on a frequent basis, Kat and I like to run. We really aren’t that interesting sadly, but we try to put out cool music.
RAG: What's next for you as a band?
We are looking to play more shows and get this next record out to you all this year. We are continuing to achieve some momentum, which is really cool. Hopefully we continue on this uptrend and get to play out into some other states besides just those that are around Indiana. We are continuing to work on new music, new shows, and new videos. It's hard to say where we will be in a year, but our goal is to continue growing and put out quality music.
RAG: This album feels like it was a big undertaking. What advice would you have for other up and coming bands out there?
Sky is the limit on what you want to do. You don’t have to have an extremely expensive music set up or software, Lost Letters to the Past was recorded on GarageBand with a $100 keyboard and a $125 Harmony acoustic guitar. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new sounds and ideas in your head, because that is what will make you unique. Don’t put yourself into a box and strive to sound like others, strive to sound like yourself. You`re only limited because you’re limiting yourself. Be weird, think outside of the box.
For songwriters, write about what feels natural to you. No one likes to hear someone trying to tackle a subject they don’t understand, or maybe even in the song state how much you don’t understand something but wish you did. It’s really about honesty and humility, as being honest is what people want to hear the most. You don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not. Write from the heart, tell a story, or about anything else you feel the need to put down on paper. Words are important and are among the few ways we get to express ourselves.
RAG: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Belvedere is releasing March 25th and Lost Letters to the Past is available now. We appreciate all of the support and look forward to continuing this journey together. Nothing would be possible without the support, so we really appreciate everything.