Phoenix-based indie folk and punk quartet Sundressed are a small handful of close friends that make music together, plain and simple. But even though they are a rather new band, Sundressed have already turned a lot of ears their way…ears that have since remained faithful and attentive, which is as much as any group of artists can hope for. This all began with Sundressed’s self-titled EP in 2012. Since then, they have played a bunch of shows, released their debut full-length Whiskey with Milk and did a four-song split with Days of Light Gravity. Not bad for a band that has only been together for short time.
Word of this band and their sound traveled all the way across the country to find me in Pennsylvania, shortly after which I managed to track down a few of their songs and give them a few thorough listens. The recommendation had been right on; this was definitely a band I could get into. So I contacted Sundressed to find out more about them, hoping to do a feature on them. And here we are.
Led by singer-songwriter Trevor Hedges, Sundressed write and play a combination of indie folk, jangly pop, and punk. If it seems like there are a lot of ingredients stewing in this pot, it’s because there are. But once one discovers the eclectic musical background of the members, it comes as no surprise. That is to say, one thing that makes Sundressed such a strong band, in addition to a band with such impressive chemistry, is that they are more than just capable musicians and songsmiths to one another; they are friends, and they are clearly having a good time doing what they do. That is not to say that it has been altogether fun and ease for this band. There have been some personal demons confronted, heart-things exorcized, and struggles overcome, all of which has been poured into their songs and solidified into something artistically enduring and essentially beautiful.
Also, unlike a lot of other bands out there, one can hear Sundressed’s influences deeply embedded in their songs, yet not so much that they come across as blatant rip-offs of them. Bright Eyes, The Pixies, and Neutral Milk Hotel are only scratching the surface, as the members go on to list a good many others like Rocky Votolato, Bob Dylan, Max Bemis (Say Anything), Tigers Jaw, and The Front Bottoms.
Other than Trevor, current members of Sundressed include Ryan Osterman on lead guitar and backing vocals, Evan Kees on bass, and Garret Tretta on drums. We can only hope that this is a lasting lineup of friends and artists.
Recently I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Sundressed. What follows is that interview in its entirety.
How did Sundressed start?
Trevor: Sundressed started as as an acoustic project actually of songs i had written over the past few years, we got asked to play a wild house show, so we had some friends fill in on drums and bass. After that, we were really stoked on hearing these songs so big and knew we had to find Evan and Garrett and eventually Ryan. Once I bought an electric guitar there was no going back!
How did Sundressed get picked as the band name?
Trevor: I was originally inspired by the song "Sundress" by Ben Kweller. No crazy intellectual thought process really, It just seems to fit our music.
I know you say there was no specific sound you were aiming for when Sundressed first started playing as a band, but since then have noticed your sound evolving at all, you know, between the self-titled EP and the split with Days of Light Gravity?
Trevor: Yeah definitely, I think what made the difference was our first record was all songs I had written acoustic and then later added the band. All the new stuff we are writing is coming from all four of us which has really been amazing. We all come from different backgrounds musically and I have learned so much from these guys.
Phoenix has a pretty strong music scene, with bands like Andrew Jackson Jihad, Partners in 818, Authority Zero, Haunted Cologne, Rumspringer, Porches, Treasure Mammal, and so on. What has your local experience been as a band beside your nationwide touring experience?
Trevor: Our local scene is growing at a crazy rate, for instance I'm only aware of 4 of those bands you listed, and I would add quite a few more. Rubber Brother Records has brought a great community sense to our little scene and the local shows are crazy, but I find out about a new band every day! We played at least a show a week our first two years as a band and are now starting to branch out of state more, but I'll be forever grateful for Tempe/Phoenix. Anyone reading this, check out rubber brother records and this list of bands! Owl & Penny, Playboy Manbaby, Instructions, Northern Hustle, The Thin Bloods, Petty Things, and so many more!
On a similar note, what have been some of your most memorable tour/gig moments to date?
Trevor: I'd have to say our trip to sxsw as a whole was insane, We only had one small showcase but just being in austin for the whole week amidst the chaos was incredible. Also our last record release show, and playing phoenix date of The Frontbottoms/Weatherbox tour was pretty rad.
What does your songwriting process consist of?
Trevor: Usually myself or Ryan comes up with a shell of a song. If it’s me, any guitar is subject to change. Then we bring it to practice, and if it’s a song that’s gonna work, we know within the first ten minutes. We mostly communicate with our instruments.
Which album did you enjoying writing and executing the most? And why?
Trevor: Our first full length "Whiskey with Milk" was a big one for me because I had held onto those songs for a long time and they kinda document what it was like for me getting sober. Those songs were a big part of me getting sober in the first place, and it’s nice to look back and know I got through what I did.
You started out as quintet and are now listed as a quartet. What was the lineup change?
Trevor: We had Michael Boyle on Keys, which was awesome, but he ended up moving to LA. He will still be involved in any capacity he can.
Anything of note coming up in Sundressed’s near future…shows, releases, etc?
Trevor: We are currently demoing a new EP, which will hopefully be our first vinyl release and intend on having it out early May and touring in the summer. East Coast is a goal of ours, since so much rad music is coming out of there. Locally, we have a few rad shows coming up. We get to play with You Blew It! and we also get to play with The Hotelier.