The Revolution is in your mind Interview with Native Sun (USA)
It seems that ‘in a society where artistic expression seems constricted to a state of staleness, social hierarchy, and politics… it seems more crucial than ever to fight back with the alternative’
‘The Native Sun is the spirit that rises every day and connects us all as human beings. Whether you live in New York, Monterrey, or Sydney the same sun guides us through day and night’.
This is where four alternative, and authentic guys based out of New York City, collectively known as ‘Native Sun’ fill such a void.
Ostentatious and immediate, like New York, itself their music is an ambience of anarchy, evocative of their life experiences. It is obvious that there is a real passion from them to get shit done here, and represent something earnest!
I like Fat White Family, Parquet Courts, artists that are unafraid to speak up and have a confrontation with society’.
A band of Immigrants, front man Danny Gomez, born in Columbia first met lead guitarist Jake Pflum while growing up in Florida.
After years without contact they reconnected by chance on a random evening in the city, rekindling their friendship over their mutual obsession for The Rolling Stones, Dylan and The Velvet Underground.
‘As someone who calls more than one place home, it’s a reminder that we are all really from the same place, we just need to choose to recognize and act on it.’
They immediately forced their best friend Alexis Castro to play drums (who had only just recently began teaching himself how to play). Bassist Mo Martinez uprooted to the city from Monterrey, Mexico.
As they see it, Native Sun feel that modern music lacks sincerity and honesty, as well as, liberation and the exploration of multiple identities. “Music’s goal should be to showcase all these different worlds while ultimately possessing a sense of humanity universally throughout it – all art should,” says Gomez.
‘I have to write music, there’s something inside that is constantly pushing me over the edge to do it or else I’d be fucked.’
I was truly bummed to have just recently got word with them, as they released their mad fly EP, ‘Songs born from love and hate’ in November of last year, which truly connected my heart, mind and soul.
However, it feels great to disclose a band to readers so closely after the loss of the legendary, Mark E Smith, whom share a similar pioneering spirit, and ethos.
Danny Gomez (vocals, guitar)
Jake Pflum (guitar, vocals)
Mo Martinez (bass, vocals)
Alexis Castro (drums)
How was the band birthed?
DG: In a society where artistic expression seems constricted to a state of staleness, social hierarchy, and politics…it seems more crucial than ever to fight back with the alternative. 10 months ago I had a collection of songs that had a certain charm disguised as filth in them; I like to think the songs I write carry a certain ghost that hooks you. I slowly began showing them to the rest of the guys as I began recording demos and the tracks resonated with them. Now, here we are.
JP: This band was born out of necessity.
AC: For me, out of a willingness to take a risk and try to become part of something bigger than myself for once.
The name ‘Native Sun’ is cool. Any hidden connotations?
DG: I remember first coming up with the phrase after a heavy bender of “Morrison Hotel” one summer a couple of years ago. It stuck with me, represented something pure and untouched by the crueler side of the world. Also, I wanted to pay a sort of homage to James Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son” which had impacted me heavily around the time and our message as a band…we share the same birthday you know?
JP: The Native Sun is the spirit that rises every day and connects us all as human beings. Whether you live in New York, Monterrey, or Sydney the same sun guides us through day and night. Do you wake up each morning and choose to see that?
AC: I know we all have our own interpretations, but for me it speaks to the idea of where my home is. As someone who calls more than one place home, it’s a reminder that we are all really from the same place, we just need to choose to recognize and act on it.
‘The revolution is in your mind’ is a wicked lyrical line, is that a reference to cocaine, or significantly more otherworldly?
DG: It’s a dangerous line. I could see why you would think that…but not on this one. It’s interesting though to purposely throw things at people encouraging them to perceive it in whatever way they want. To be more specific for this line I wanted something that sounded hypnotic when repeated over and over; a mantra. I was listening to Gil Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” when I thought of the line, it feels relevant to the times – repeat it, THINK.
JP: It is significantly more otherworldly.
AC: I think Gil Scott Heron might have done cocaine, so in a way? Sure.
Why do you choose to express yourself through ‘rock and roll’?
DG: I don’t break it down to anything but music. I have to write music, there’s something inside that is constantly pushing me over the edge to do it or else I’d be fucked. It’s a sort of personality balancing act you could say? Whatever we make will be us on the tombstone regardless it be rock n roll or bossanova. JP: Rock and roll is a free spirit. Johnny Cash has been called rock and roll. The Beatles have been called rock and roll. It’s the freest form of expression. MM: I think rock n roll has been the only way that’s existed for me. It has been my safe space since i’m aware of creativity and feelings. It’s the only way i know.
AC: Echoing what these guys are saying, it’s just what makes sense. I don’t know what I’m doing a lot of the time, but I know it feels right.
How do you relate to human kind?
DG: Still trying to figure it out…by trying.
JP: I try to relate to humankind by understanding that my problems are not everyone’s problems. I also look for ways that connect me to other people, not trying to identify how we’re not the same or why this person is different than me.
What are you guys risking, when you express, ‘you are risking it all for family who are not here!?’
DG: Our band is basically consisted of all immigrants. So for us we’re doing something completely foreign to anything that any in our families have tried to for generations; it’s unclear waters. There’s a real passion to get shit done here, represent something earnest.
I think that there is a fresh wave now of guitar bands. I mean if you check out cult citizen man or when I was hanging around Brooklyn, mad fly stuff was happening every night. Why is this myth still being perpetuated about a lack of talent?
DG: Landfill indie. The songs don’t say anything about my life. I like Fat White Family, Parquet Courts, artists that are unafraid to speak up and have a confrontation with society.
JP: I think the ‘lack of talent’ conversation should be redirected a little bit towards a ‘lack of sincerity.’ Music just needs to be honest again.
AC: Most the time when I see bands (specifically rock bands) that come play New York, it feels like they’re more concerned about looking or acting the part than they are about giving the audience something to enjoy and remember them for. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of bands out today that are super talented and making amazing music, but the stuff that rises to the top tends to lean more towards what I’m describing, so I guess that’s where that notion comes from.
In what ways are bands lacking sincerity and trying too hard, with it not being about the song writing?
DG: There’s a certain formula that people try to prescribe to and you can smell it on them; there’s no pain in the songs. Out with the bourgeois rock.
JP: It’s pretty much just that, the music not being about the songwriting and instead being about an image or marketability, or an extremely focused genre or aesthetic. If you’re in a band, writing songs, regardless of your genre, those songs should come absolutely first. Those songs should be the top 5 most important things about you and your work. Not the outfits, not who you know, and certainly nothing to do with you and your social media brand. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a lot easier to have an Instagram account and then start a band than it is to have a band and then start an Instagram account. That app sucks. MM: Fucking models, man.
AC: I think the way we exist as a band is really natural and not contrived, which is probably why we see right thru other bands who are clearly putting on acts. We’re not trying to be something we’re not. I don’t switch into a fuckin flower print shirt and wrap a headband around my hair right before we go on stage and take it all off right after, for example. We’re our own people outside of making music, and it all converges in a way that makes perfect sense when we’re together. Sometimes you can just see bands trying to fit every member into this box or that box for maximum marketability and appeal, and it’s just really fuckin lame.
I’ve read in your interviews about your encyclopedic knowledge of ‘classic’ artists, such as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Your band sound more alternative 90’s played with a raw, punk musicianship. How do you write songs, I mean you talk about writing from the perspective of others and then writing songs reflecting your personal lives … Please, tell me more!
DG: Yeah I mean those are the artists I listen to and admire. I’m not them so shit is going to come out differently when I sit down and write a song, I embrace that. I’m trying to allude to a certain attitude and philosophy towards music – trying to do something meaningful and delving oneself completely into it. Also, there’s about 40 songs of ours still to see the light and we don’t repeat ourselves so they point to all these different influences. Wait and see.
Tell me some of the things that you ‘love’ and ‘hate’
DG: Love: Rodriguez’s “Cold Fact”, Marlboro 27s; Hate: ignorance
JP: I love when people talk about the things they love more than they talk about the things that they hate. MM: I love what Jake said, I also love honesty and interesting individuals.
AC: I love doing whatever I feel like doing and I hate doing the things others expect me to do. Basically I’m 13.
Do you think bands need to have cool hair, good looks, and attitude?
DG: Next question.
JP: Absolutely, wholeheartedly, 100% no. MM: Hah, of course not.
Would you be making this art if you were anywhere, does NY hold any significant inspiration?
DG: If your art is not directly impacted by your surroundings and environment in some sense you’re doing something disingenuous. I think it’s vital to consume oneself within it and see what comes out the other side. You can hear the sounds of the city in the song’s lyrical imagery, feedback, or rhythm. I left home at 18 obsessed with Lou Reed to come here and find it, it’s always going to be there in the songs.
JP: New York holds a very significant inspiration. It’s an overwhelming feeling to walk by were CBGB once was an think of how Joey Ramone or Patti Smith once stood there. Standing in that same spot,
there’s the harrowing feeling that CBGB isn’t there anymore and there’s a fashion store in its place. The shadow of capitalist America is an inspiration of its own. That duality is everywhere in the city.
MM: NY definitely holds a significant and huge inspiration for me. All my life i’ve read about my favorite artists going to NY and how it was the greatest place in the world. All the writers and musicians that I love were in love with the city. There’s just something weird and experimental about NY. It’s the hardest city on earth, but also the sweetest one.
AC: This project couldn’t have come together anywhere else, and I don’t know if I would’ve started playing music if I never met these guys, so probably not.
What is the best part about being in a band and young?
DG: To fight for something you believe in and not be afraid to.
JP: Tough to say since I can’t speak from an older perspective, but I imagine the fact that I can throw myself around on stage standing two feet in front of a really, really loud guitar amp and can still hear the next day is probably the answer.
MM: Being able to do loud rock n roll with the most talented people i know is a gift. Being in a band and being young is basically all i live for. It feels like a dream and this is just getting started.
AC: Getting to see people who have never heard our name be genuinely hyped to watch us play is one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever experienced. Sounds corny, but it feels reassuring to know you’re not just being gassed up by some insular NYC music scene and can actually speak and appeal to people outside of it. Makes me excited to see where that can go.
Ambitions for the rest of the year?
Native Sun: Put out our second EP, start recording the next, infest your hometown.