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Sunflower Bean

The Opposite of Flower Power

Mar 11, 2016 SXSW 2016 Party Photography by Crista Simiriglia Bookmark and Share

You don’t have to wear floral shirts and flares to record your guitars backwards, just ask Sunflower Bean‘s Jacob Faber. His band owe more stylistically to the black-clad cool of The Velvet Underground than Woodstock ‘69, they make some of the most arresting psychedelic rock of recent times, but Sunflower Bean don’t have time for revivalism. “We think of psychedelic rock as just creative rock music, really,” Faber says, “just trying to move things forward in any sort of way.” It shows. Their debut album, Human Ceremony, is one of the more inventive and worthwhile records to deal with reverb-laden nostalgia and hazy production in the last few years. It’s a record birthed from a time and place, not trapped in it.

“We all grew up playing in the Brooklyn music scene, we were like 14 or 15 and growing up around in the heyday when all the DIY venues were still open,” the Long Island-born drummer recalls fondly. It’s unsurprising that Sunflower Bean were born into a vibrant, “supportive community” rather than a crate of old records. Although well-versed in the likes of The Velvet Underground, Black Sabbath, and Neu!, Sunflower Bean are self-confessed “neo-psychedelic for the digital age.” The band began with Jacob, guitarist/singer Nick Kivlen, and a high school friend jamming “pretty heavy garage rock” before they recruited Julia Cumming to take over bass and vocals duties. “Julia really balanced it out,” says Faber, before spiritedly adding, “we still like to get heavy live, though.” It’s true. The band’s hazier moments are cut short during live shows, with the punchier side of things pushed to the forefront. It’s primitive, primal, and impossibly good fun.

There’s a change in atmosphere when I mention what would have been Lou Reed’s 74th birthday earlier this month. Throughout our interview, Faber talks readily and in good spirits, he oozes the same enthusiasm that his band depict in their riotous live shows in his speech. There’s a moment of silence before he uncharacteristically deadpans “we think about him a lot.” The wound is still raw. “He was a total bastard,” he half-jokes, “but he made some of the most amazing music in the world, and never compromised, ever. I don’t think we really like to say we have heroes, but he’s up there.” The passion in his voice is undeniable, few lives are as utterly immersed in music.

2016 looks set to be yet another hectic year for Sunflower Bean. “Our favourite thing to do is play shows,” he affirms as conversation brightens and turns to the band’s typically manic SXSW schedule, including a show at one of Under the Radar’s daytime parties. “It’s going to be exhausting, loud, and fun.”

Sunflower Bean are performing at Under the Radar‘s Wednesday SXSW day party next Wednesday at the Flamingo Cantina at 6th and Red River (515 E. 6th Street, Austin, TX 78701). The party is free and open to the public; head over to the Eventbrite page for our SXSW parties to RSVP. Sunflower Bean go on at 3:15 PM and the rest of the line-up features New York’s Caveman, England’s Yuck, England’s Fear of Men, Spain’s Hinds, Australia’s Hockey Dad, and England’s HÆLOS. The full set times are below, followed by the band’s tour dates.

Under the Radar SXSW Day Party at Flamingo Cantina, Wednesday, March 16:

5:00 PM: Caveman
4:05 PM: Yuck
3:15 PM: Sunflower Bean
2:25 PM: Fear of Men
1:35 PM: Hinds
12:45 PM: Hockey Dad
12:00 PM: HÆLOS

Sunflower Bean Tour Dates:

3/10/16 - Washington D.C. @ Black Cat *
3/11/16 - Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
3/12/16 - Atlanta, GA @ Aisle 5
3/16/16 - SXSW @ Secret Sounds Showcase at The Sidewinder - 1 PM
3/16/16 - SXSW @ Under the Radar Showcase at Flamingo Cantina - 3:15 PM
3/17/16 - SXSW @ KCSN at Austin Convention Center - 3 PM
3/17/16 - SXSW @ Levitation Festival at Hotel Vegas - 4:45 PM
3/17/16 - SXSW @ BBC Music Showcase at Stubb’s Outdoor - 9:25 PM
3/18/16 - SXSW @ Waterloo Records Showcase - 2 PM
3/18/16 - SXSW @ Urban Outfitters Back Lot Showcase - 4 PM
3/18/16 - SXSW @ High Road Touring Showcase at The Parish - 1 AM
3/19/16 - SXSW @ Burgerama at Hotel Vegas - 2:45 PM
3/19/16 - SXSW @ Hype Machine Stack Live at Hype Hotel - 8 PM
3/21/16 - Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
3/24/16 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
3/25/16 - La Jolla, CA @ Che Café
3/26/16 - Santa Cruz, CA @ The Crepe Place
3/27/16 - San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall
3/29/16 - Seattle, WA @ The Vera Project
3/30/16 - Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
3/31/16 - Portland, OR @ Analog Café Lounge
4/1/16 - Nampa, ID @ Flying M
4/2/16 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
4/3/16 - Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
4/5/16 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
4/6/16 - Madison, WI @ The Frequency
4/7/16 - Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop
4/8/16 - Columbus, OH @ Rumba Café
4/9/16 - Pittsburg, PA @ The Smiling Moose: Upstairs
4/14/16 - Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
4/15-16/16 - Winston-Salem, NC @ Phuzz Phest
4/20/16 - Stony Brook, NY @ Stony Brook University: University Café
5/5/16 - Brooklyn, NY @ The Grid
5/17/16 - Lancaster, PA @ Lizard Lounge
6/11/16 - Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
* w/ Mass Gothic
+ w/ Honduras


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