Due to the huge number of bands playing at Bloodstock this year, and the fact that our two roving reporters will actually want to watch some of them, we’re doing a little round of pre-festival interviews this year. We’re focussing on the bands playing the Jagermeister and Hobgoblin New Blood Stages so they get a chance to convince you to go and watch them. Remember, these guys and gals are the future of our musical world!
Sumer, when they’re not replying to random emailed interview questions, are in contention for the Team Rock Prog Awards. You can vote for them here if you so wish (and you should!).
Simple things first – where are you guys from?
Alton, Midhurst, Haslemere and London, a little spread out but all within an hour or 2 of each other at most.
How did you meet?
Well, Jim (guitarist) and Ian (guitarist/vox) were in a band called Sinuism, and myself (Toby – drummer) Taria (bassist) and Tim (guitar/vox) where in another band called Maiea. The 2 bands used to play a lot of gigs together and became mates because of that. When Maiea split; myself, Tim and Taria began jamming again and wrote a track that kicked off something new for us, although the track is yet to see light of day. Shortly after that Jim joined, Taria took a hiatus briefly to travel, and it was around this point we wrote the first 4 or 5 tracks before we gave up auditioning singers… we decided to get Ian down for a jam and since then both he and Tim have picked up as our front men, despite neither of them having sung in bands before.
How long have you been playing together as a band?
We have been together for about 5 years now.
Where does the name of the band come from?
Well, when we started there was more political tilt to the lyrics (“The Animal You Are” and “End Of Sense” are political protest songs essentially) and Sumer was chosen as a name because it was the birthplace of the earliest written language, we aligned that to the birthplace of the written lie as something that continues to haunt us all in the form of propaganda.
But the name’s meaning has evolved with the subject matter we take on and I suppose now its becoming a statement on the malignment of the human spirit through the worst aspects of our egos. It also conjures up associations to something ancient within us all… and that… is free to be interpreted as you wish! A lot of what we write about falls into can be assigned to a line of questioning between the friction of Id and Ego; and the role that has in modern humanity – our connections with each other, whether its political, between groups or personal. The battle between the cruellest animalistic urge and a basic humanity.
What are your influences – individually or as a band?
Musically we have many influences ranging from Lamb of God, Meshuggah, through to Soundgarden, Jeff Buckley and the minimalist composer Arvo Part. Apart from that the biggest influence is hearing someone express themselves through music without making any concession for anyone else, so that can be any genre from pop, classical to heavy or doom metal!
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
I think the fact that we aren’t trying to be any one thing, we sound the way we do because that’s the easiest way for us to express ourselves. The key to our music is contrast and dynamic, we all love heavy music but it has so much more impact if you can have ‘the calm before the storm’ or vice versa. Each dynamic extreme gives the other more meaning in a musical sense if you can use them to contrast one against the other. Having 3 guitarists and 2 vocalists enables us a greater degree of flexibility in regards to composition, and also enables us to reach further into the extremes of ‘heavy’ and ‘soft’.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Loud, with delicate moments of respite and lots of sweat! We’ve played too many to count but recent shows at UK Tech Fest and supporting Amplifier in Camden’s Jazz Café are definite highlights.
When/how did you find out you’d been selected to play at Bloodstock?
When we entered the Battle for Bloodstock 2 years ago, we reached the final but didn’t win it. Despite this Simon Hall promised he’d give us a slot for 2015 and he was good to his word. He has been incredibly supportive of Sumer from the get so we are really appreciative of that.
What sort of setlist can we expect?
Well I’m sure we will be playing a heavier set list, apart from that we are all super excited, so you can expect to see 4 guys and 1 girl giving their all to every note and beat, with huge bloody grins of their faces!
Which main stage band do you most hope you’re not clashing with so you can see them play?
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Opeth play so I’m hoping to sneak a peak at their set this year!
What are you working on at the moment?
Our top priority at the moment is finishing our upcoming music video which should hopefully be out in a few months! Aside from that we are always working on new material and ideas for album #2 which we’ve just begun demoing for.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done on tour?
I don’t want to get anyone arrested… Let’s just say that ‘rock and roll’ isn’t completely dead.
What advice would you give to a young band just starting out today?
Embrace the music scene, be humble and always support your peers (even if you don’t like their music). Never be in it for the money, find your reward in the music itself. Avoid backing tracks. Write what you want to hear, not what you think other people want to hear.
If you could be part of any 3-band line-up (as support or headlining) who else would you have on the bill?
Wow, that’s a tough one! Pearl Jam would headline (preferably Pearl Jam from the 90s), Meshuggah would support them and we’d have to open. Also in between the bands everyone would go into a big hall where Arvo Part would perform some of his choral works. I’d be the happiest man alive.
Sumer play the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage on the Saturday.