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Anthemic Aussie Rock In Edelweiss Land - The Sunpilots
The next 12 months will see The Sunpilots bring their anthemic Aussie prog-rock to audiences throughout GSA countries
By Anthony Kammerhofer, GATEWAYmusic
(more articles from this author)
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The next 12 months will see The Sunpilots' Raj, Bob, Justin and Andy bring home their anthemic Aussie prog-rock to audiences throughout GSA countries and beyond. They first called on Popkomm 2010 in Berlin.

We heard you were relocating to the GSA territory. So, what are you going to do here, what's the plan, and what are The Sunpilots all about?

Raj Siva-Rajah We're The Sunpilots from Sydney, Australia. I guess we're not relocating, but we're here for 12 months of touring, so, as of Sunday, September 12, 2010, we'll be here for at least 12 months and we already have a lot of shows booked around GSA, some in Austria, and some in Switzerland and Germany. The main reason is that we have achieved some great things in Australia, but Australia is almost the size of Europe, except with a population of 25 million people. That's very spread out, the market's very small and when most Australian acts get to a certain point, they either have to go to Europe or the US, really, just because we need a bigger market to be sustainable. And since 3 of us have EU passports, Europe's the obvious choice.

We’d ike to know about The Sunpilots‘ genre. Describe your sound.

Raj Siva-Rajah Well, the new stuff is, I guess, a bit prog-rock. We like to describe it as "Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd meets Muse and Incubus", with a little bit of a heavy twist. The new album, King Of The Sugarcoated Tongues, will be out in spring, but we'll be selling it at shows just for fans. It's a concept album actually, so it has 8 tracks and there‘s a story flowing through it all, so that's kind of what it is. You can see from the clubs we're playing at in GSA that in Australia, we're established, we're doing festivals - but here, we're starting again. We’re playing small clubs – that way we can fill them up and it's always better to play to a small packed room than a big place that's empty. And we're also playing with local bands, it's just the grassroots; the album itself will be officially released in spring. So, our plan is, basically between now and spring, to tour very heavily all around Europe. We’ll probably do more touring in the GSA area because it's local for us, but we also have things coming up in Italy, Denmark and Poland. It's about building a grassroots fanbase and getting some buzz through word-of-mouth happening. We've attended Popkomm and have some good connections with some distributors, some labels, some promoters, and we'll be attending MIDEM as well. So, by the time spring comes around, we'll have a grassroots fanbase established and all the partners we need to release the record and promote it in all the territories, and then we'll do a large tour in the spring and summer.

Who were theose one or two crucial people there who helped you to make the first grand leap into the GSA market?

Bob Spencer We just decided we wanted to come here and then sort out people.

Raj Siva-Rajah I mean, the label we run is our own label, so, we're doing everything through that at the moment. It is 100% indie.

How are you reaching people? Is it more about working online or offline or both? What kind of mix are you using for each territory? What’s working and what’s not?

Raj Siva-Rajah So far it's been almost exclusively online through MySpace, Facebook, connecting people from our Facebook into MySpace and growing it that way, posters, etc. We have found that traditional press outside of the online stuff just seems to be a little bit less effective on a smaller budget. So, what we're doing initially is online almost exclusively, word-of-mouth, and also the grassroots stuff. We're playing with local bands, so we can tap into their fanbase, because that's what our budgets allow at the moment, but for the spring/summer 2011 tour, we’ll maybe invest a little more. We know someone who can promote us through the more traditional media, radio and TV, as well as online. It's more the underground/indie approach we're taking until the album is ready to be released.

Have you been using your own online street teams back in Australia?

Raj Siva-Rajah Yes, people who liked the stuff and spread it online, definitely.

Justin Kool It was part of the intended release because we just got a lot of positive feedback about the album and us as a European band. That was part of the incentive to come over here because people wanted to hear us and wanted to hear us live.

Raj Siva-Rajah You know, the Austrians and Germans were saying lovely stuff on MySpace and "when are you coming over, when are you coming over?" And that's great, you know, you've got people already saying "when you are finally coming over, we'll see you there".

How did you pick your home base in the GSA?

Bob Spencer We picked Berlin, Germany. The rent in Berlin is very cheap, and so is the food. So, as a place to live, while you're touring around Europe, using Berlin as a basis makes a lot of sense. So, that's a cheap city in Europe to live in, but, also the location is good to get to a lot of the places we're playing and I know a few people who have lived here, anyway.

So, you're describing Berlin as THE hub.

Raj Siva-Rajah Well, it seems to be. You walk down the street in Berlin and you meet 10 artists as you walk into a shop. It's young and has lots of culture and lots of people from overseas; artists come and live there. It seems to be a pretty cool environment to be in. Out of all the places I've been in Europe, it seems to be the hub for young artists.

What do you foresee the Sunpilots doing five years from now?

Raj Siva-Rajah Well, the reason why we are touring heavily in Europe is that we want to be self-sustaining musicians. I think that fame and fortune is a mystique; if we can get to a point where we play to a thousand people in Düsseldorf, a thousand people in Copenhagen, and we do two of those shows a week, then we're going to live very, very comfortably. We're not going to be famous, but we'd be really comfortable, have a great income, and have a decent apartment to live in. We’d have a professional-level income and our jobs would be "musicians", which is what we want to do. Our business objective is to build that up.

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