With bleary-eyed stoner vision and colorful harmonies, SondorBlue‘s new EP You Will Find Love On
Ashley Ave is a couch-locked odyssey. The whole EP is fraught with anxiety both about the present and the future. It’s a detailed look at the life of four band members and the static adventures they’ve shared living together.
From getting baked on the loveseat to post-election uneasiness, the EP tackles everything with the same level of thoughtfulness. It’s earnest attempt to reckon with the myriad complexities of even the simplest lives. It’s also worth mentioning that all the songs are tremendously catchy. We gave lead singer and bassist Andrew Halley a call to discuss the band’s newest release, literature, The Police, and more in this All Things Go extended interview.
How did you start playing music? How did the band get together?
In fifth grade, I did the choir. I feel like as a kid, you’re either in the theater crowd or you’re an athlete, [at least] where I’m from. I’m from Hilton Head, South Carolina, as are all of us. It’s not as much of a melting pot as say, New York City where you’re exposed to all that. It’s kind of a bubble. People really push you to play sports, which is great because it was really instrumental in [helping me build] confidence.
What did you play growing up?
I was going to play baseball in college. That was my sport. John is a phenomenal baseball player. He plays rhythm guitar, keys, and vocals. Drew was a swimmer and Connor dabbled in lacrosse for a little, but he made the transition towards the choir crowd in high school. He wasn’t a dedicated athlete like John and I were. After my freshman year of high school, I was introduced to soul music. I loved Michael Jackson and Otis Redding. Stevie Wonder is one of my biggest inspirations. After that, I got into hip-hop and was listening to a lot of Kid Cudi. I got really into Frank Ocean later on. This is where my affinity for music comes from. My direction towards wanting to be an artist and full-time musician spawned in my early high school years. That’s where Connor comes into play.
I was 16 and Connor was 15 and we were just playing pickup basketball with my sister and we just happened by chance to meet him there with his brother. Then we got into the discussion of music. Connor was like “Yeah dude, check out this music video of me playing guitar.” He sent it my way after we met. Two or three days after, he came over and we wrote our first song together. We did that and then we just started busking at the beach for tips. Our first gig paid us with a gift card.
Did you guys study music in college?
Connor actually got a full ride for international business. John didn’t know what he was doing. I went to College of Charleston (which is where we all went) and I was on a partial scholarship for academics. I majored in English with a concentration in creative writing and a focus in poetry.
Since you’re on the road and playing with a lot of bands you wouldn’t know otherwise, who’re some more niche people that you’re into?
I have a few niche people. Have you heard of the Lemon Twigs? They’re really dope and I’ve been listening to them a lot. Oh, Daniel Cezar. I’ve been listening to Whitney. I listen to this band Quilt, they’re really cool. They’re kind of like psych-rock meets Talking Heads. I also like Portugal the Man but I guess they’re not that niche.
Let me ask you a question about Portugal the Man, mostly because I’ve never taken a deep dive into their music. People tell me they’re an acid band. Do I need to take LSD to appreciate them?
No, I don’t think you need to take LSD to enjoy Portugal, the Man.
Would their music be enhanced by LSD?
Yes. Very much so. Yes.
I’ll keep that in mind. Changing the subject, what do you feel the Ashley Ave EP is about?
It’s about our times living together at 125 Ashley Ave and figuring out what it means to be artists and what it means to create music from scratch together as human beings. The song I Hate Living Like This is about us but also the tensions around the election. It’s really our perception of this little world we created inside of our house.
I really identified with the title track, sitting around wishing you were doing something.
Yeah you know, you go through a deep depression and you’re like ‘wow I’m surrounded by all my friends’ but even amidst all this positive energy you still feel down for some reason. That’s what the second verse of Ashley Ave is talking about.
Since you studied it, let’s talk about literature. It clearly informs what you do. Who are your literary influences?
Right now, I’m reading Demian by Hermann Hesse. It’s very interesting. It’s pretty much a roman à clef. It’s about his life but he’s just using pseudonyms for all the characters. It talks about when you’re a kid there are two different realms. [One is] when you’re in that innocent, sheltered place, at home with your parents telling. Then, you go to the outside world and it’s a whole different experience.
But I love Bukowski. I also love the American romantics, so I love Walt Whitman and Thoreau. I wrote a long essay on Emerson in college. I guess those are some of my literary inspirations.
So, you’re a nerd then. That’s cool.
Yeah. I was a closeted nerd in high school though. My senior year I took AP lit and he was really cool and introduced me to a lot of really good literature. I was kind of going through my existential phase for the first time and simultaneously reading Samuel Coleridge and things like that. I [felt] like life was beautiful.
So, to bring it back to music, why did you decide to cover The Police? Is Walking on The Moon just a cool song? Is there some sort of emotional attachment to it?
Actually, my dad is from the Caribbean. Growing up, I listened to a lot of reggae and stuff like that. He loved The Police and would always play them. They definitely have a [place] in my heart. I also just think it’s a great song. It fits where we’re heading.
So you’ve had two EPs back to back, one this year and one in 2016. When should we expect an album?
We’re actually working on it right now. We’re going to start recording demos in December. We have a ton of half-baked ideas. It’s really just [a matter of] sitting down in a room and writing the songs. It’s a very collaborative process for us.
What can your fans expect stylistically?
We’ve been listening to a ton of soul music but at the same time a lot of psychedelic stuff. It’s gonna have those elements of Frank Ocean and soul music, but we’ve [also] been listening to a ton of Zeppelin. It’s gonna be really interesting.
What’s next for the band? I know you guys are getting started on an album but what’s your vision for the band in say, two years?
In two years, I’d love to be on tour, headlining maybe 500-800 cap rooms and selling them out in 10 or 12 markets. Or, touring with a band that’s selling out amphitheaters. I would love to see us sell 1,500 tickets in our hometown. That would be awesome.
Be sure to catch SondorBlue as they tour into the new year:
DEC 8 FRI
Hilton Head Island, SC
DEC 20 WED
The Evening Muse
DEC 31 SUN
Famously Hot New Year
JAN 19 FRI
JAN 20 SAT
Dog Tooth Bar & Grill
JAN 22 MON
New York, NY