May 22 was a pivotal day for the members of Sunhawk. Just two years after forming the band, the three Claremont grads of 2005 waited backstage at Club 9ONE9 while the audience chanted their name.
“I did think for a brief second: ‘This is insane,’” said Matt Longpre, sipping a beer on a muggy Thursday afternoon. “That’s the kind of stuff you go home and dream about.”
Sitting beside him in the pub, bandmate Ben Robertson added: “It feels like we’ve lived these rockstar dream moments already.”
After this drink, they’re off to finish shooting a music video that Longpre is editing.The two share lead vocals, bass and guitar duties, while Longpre takes on the keys solo. Despite their collaborative approach (they even share instruments), there’s a clear division between Robertson and Longpre and the third member of Sunhawk. They don’t hesitate to call out bandmate Keenan Murray for being a little too good on the drums.
“A great example of Keenan’s genius is that me and Matty will sometimes be sweating out vocal tracks for hours…whereas Keenan will go into the studio and lay down a track and he’s done in 45 minutes,” Robertson said. “That’s why we love him and hate him. It’s frustrating because he can just go off and be done for the day, while we’re there sweating it out, trying to get our parts down to his drum track that he did flawlessly.”
By day, Robertson works with children and Longpre is a graphic designer. Most of their other hours are spent on the band, song writing, practising and self-producing their electro-pop tunes. But the effort’s worth it. For example, Robertson says Longpre was clearly not a keyboard player, yet he has become one by learning individual parts one at a time until they find the sound they’re looking for. “He’s not dumbing it down at all,” Robertson said “He’s doing some crazy (stuff) up there.”
This is all a part of what they call working smart, not just hard. Instead of topping a string of successful shows since their 2009 debut at Lucky Bar with a potentially expensive tour, Sunhawk has focused its energy on recording an EP (“And So it Was,” now available on iTunes), building an online presence and landing a few key performance dates.
“I saw that they were willing to put in the effort and the talent was there,” said David Bain, founder of production company Surge Ahead.
Bain booked Sunhawk as an opening act in their early days and isn’t surprised by their success.
“They have a business sense. These days it’s not enough just to play in a band, you have to be professional and these guys are professional.”
Rock of the Woods:
Sunhawk plays the Bamberton music festival with Plants and Animals, Chad Vangaalen, Himalayan Bear and more from Aug. 26-27. Early bird tickets (including camping) are $99. More info at: rockofthewoods.com.
Rifflandia Festival 2011:
Sunhawk also takes the stage at Royal Athletic Park on Sept. 24 during Rifflandia (which features a very long lineup, including Broken Social Scene, Cold War Kids and City and Colour). The festival runs Sept. 22-25 at the park and various venues around town. For full ticket info and schedules, visit 2011.rifflandia.com.
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