Interview: Saltwater Sun celebrate the release of “Habit On My Mind”

Saltwater SunSummer is in full swing and you know what that means: sun-kissed skin, hazy days at the beach, and of course, that love interest you can’t get your mind off of. Last year, we had Alvvays with “Archie, Marry Me” as a nostalgic, indie pop summer anthem. This year, I’d like to think that “Habit On My Mind”, the new single from Saltwater Sun, will be the song of the summer.

In March, DrunkenWerewolf introduced its readers to the five-piece UK rock band and showered their infectious single with love. Recently, I caught up with lead vocalist, Jen Stearne, to discuss Saltwater Sun’s origins, their infectious sound, and their promising future! You can read the interview below.

Hi Jen, could you introduce yourself and the rest of Saltwater Sun to DrunkenWerewolf's readers, and tell us a little bit about what you each of you do within the band?

Hello! My name is Jen and I am the lead singer in the band. When I first joined, I sang backing vocals and played keyboard, but we soon realised I was terrible at doing both simultaneously. Rather than fire me for being incompetent, the boys gave me a promotion (I don't get it either). I write the vocal melodies and lyrics. Dan is one of our guitarists (the boys tend to swap rhythm and lead depending on the track) and he is really the “main ideas” man. He starts with a guitar part and we all pile in after. He used to sing lead but guitar is his passion so we kindly let him do that. Joel is our other guitarist, and as a sound engineer by day, he is meticulous and the technician of the group. He knows how everything works and is the best tool in our arsenal when it comes to recording. Benny is our drummer and percussionist - I'd say the most technically proficient one in the band. He is also the most chilled person alive so he keeps the rest of us hot-heads calm. Rob is our bassist, he brings all the groove to our tracks and his parts are actually irreplaceable. I don't understand how his brain works. We had a practice without him recently because he had car trouble and it was totally awful. Don't tell him though.

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Where was everyone in their life when Saltwater Sun formed?

The boys had already been playing together under a different name prior to me joining, but were a little trapped in the jamming phase, which is why I think they asked me to join.

We've known each other forever so they know that I sing, so asked me along to mess up their routine. All of us except Benny have been in touring bands previously, so writing songs and playing shows is second nature to us. That being said, before the boys approached me to come sing with them, I had kind of given up on music after previous disappointments and what I perceived as “pressure to be an adult.” Ironically, I've since realized I was just being a big sulky baby who'd given up doing what I love for no good reason, so that time was a waste.

We've known each other as friends for a long time and individually we've all realized that making music is it for us. Now we've put two and two together to form this band and it's the most organic thing. We're a family.

I just wanted to congratulate you guys on your single, "Habit On My Mind", and the traction that it has been gaining on the internet. Would you say this song is a preview of what is to come from future releases?

That's very kind of you, thanks!

We're a band with a split personality when it comes to writing. On the other hand, we have a few songs like “Habit”, which is one of those tracks that kind of sprung from a jam session and was finished in about 5 seconds and everyone is was just like, "Cool, that's done." I think that instant quality comes across when listening to it. We've got a few in a similar vein, but then we have this other side with more musically intricate tracks, the genesis of which is much more of a process and those tracks tend to feel more wavy and a little out there. People have yet to see that weirder side of us. Those songs will keep people on their toes I think. You have been warned.

Musically and non-musically, where do you draw your inspiration from?

Musically, Real Estate are a particular favourite of idea man Dan’s. I think Benny's drumming and percussion is inspired by world music in places. Tame Impala and Pond are collective band favourites so they are also pretty influential. Foals, The War on Drugs, Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Black Sabbath all play a part too. We all grew up listening to heavier stuff, so there's definitely touches of that in there. For me, personally, one of my biggest inspirations is Chino Moreno from Deftones because his use of melody is just unreal and when it's juxtaposed with that scream he does on pitch, it's like witchcraft. I'm in awe of Joanna Newsom, not only for her music and that voice but because I think she's one of best lyricists of our generation, a poet. Honourable mention goes to Matt Berninger from The National because that drawl is so instantly recognisable and he is just too cool.

Non-musically, we all want to be outside as much as possible and can't sit still, so the great outdoors plays a huge part for us. We're into the 70s, we're 90s spawn and we have a DIY mentality. I think all of these things help shape our sound.

What albums/artists have you been digging lately? Anyone in the London music scene we should keep our eyes and ears peeled for?

We're all loving Gengahr's debut album, A Dream Outside. They're London-based. The album is so current and fresh sounding, but for me, it also has this dreamy 90s nostalgia. It reminds me of being little and recording the Manic Street Preachers off the radio to cassette. Also, I believe they are named after a Pokemon. What more can you ask for from life? We've been listening to them for a while because their stuff was produced by James Bragg, who has mixed some tracks for us and he made them sound hazy and magical so we're planning to go into the studio with him soon. It's really cool to hear how Gengahr have progressed from last year to this debut album.

Multiple love for Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Multi-Love in this band. We love UMO and this is Ruban's best yet, in my opinion, although this divides the band. Dan loves the second one most but he's wrong! The production on Multi-Love sounds as if they've dismantled all these vintage instruments and recording equipment and rebuilt it with new parts and the songs sound fuzzy and old but also wouldn't sound out of place blaring out in a club; it's a triumph. The Maccabees’ and Tame Impala's latest singles are sounding awesome so we're all excitedly poised for their new albums out in July.

Recently, you signed to Hand in Hive. How did you come into contact with the independent label and what encouraged you to sign with them?

Tristan [Wilson], one of the three creators of Hand in Hive, is an old friend of the band. Funnily enough, he used to sing with a couple of the boys many moons ago, so effectively I am now him! He told us he was starting a management label with two other guys and each person was bringing an artist or band to the table and he asked us to be his. That was really flattering for us, because the three Hand in Hive guys are well-respected in their current roles, so the fact Tristan wanted to put us forward, reflects directly on him. Starting out, he has to make a good impression, particularly in light of the high caliber of the other acts, and he chose us for that. Out of everyone. We are properly in all this together, equally invested this band, which suits our mentality to the ground. He's been our manager ever since.

What can we expect from Saltwater Sun over the next couple of months?

We've just wrapped up recording some demos ready to record in the studio. Single two is on track to drop at the tail end of summer. We're playing a show at the Sebright Arms, London in August, so we're working on finessing the live show and making it something special, as well as writing, which is constant. We're just excited to get as much of our music out there as possible.

Find out more about Saltwater Sun here.

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