Our very own Sullen Ray has just come back to the States from a European tour with Tarah Who?. From logistical considerations and musical inspiration, we had a chance to pick his ear about the whole experience, and we talk about the future of Sullen Ray as well.
His last single was “Dive”, released on the Villaintine’s 2014 compilation. Listen here!
I know originally you were planning to just do a U.S. tour. How did you and Tarah Who? decide to go International instead? Whose idea was it?
Yeah, Tarah Who? and I had planned an early spring tour from San Diego to Seattle! But the opportunity for us to go to Europe came up when Tarah was in contact with friends in Paris. Since Tarah is from Paris, she was a huge part in making that happen. She knew the places that were scheduled for us to play and obviously the area, so we jumped on board a plane and went for it!
It was literally all decided within a week. We emailed the venues we were already scheduled to play here in the US, told them what was going on, and all of them were very excited for us, and said, “No problem!”
Have you been to Europe before the tour? If so, have you played shows there before?
I had not ever been to Europe before, I always dreamed of going, so I took the opportunity!
I’m not particular when it comes to guitars! I don’t care if I have to use a pink Hello Kitty guitar. I was always taught that it’s not the guitar, it’s the player!
How did bringing gear and/or organizing to rent or borrow gear work? I know you play with a lot of pedals and own a lot of gear. What were your must-have pieces of equipment that made it across the pond?
I didn’t bring anything equipment-wise. I quickly learned that in Europe all the venues are backlined! It’s not like here in the US. Usually backlined means that you show up and there’s a crappy drumset and amps that look like they’ve been dropped off a 3 story building.
But in Europe it’s all top of the line equipment with choices: Orange amps, Fenders, Ampeg. You basically choose what you want to use. They do this because there is no room what so ever for bands to bring their own gear. Most venues are down in a basement! It’s actually a very “help the musician out” culture, unlike here, where it’s fend for yourself or die!
Pedal-wise Tarah had a basement full of pedals, and we put together a couple of pedal boards for both of us, and I just used any guitar that was available. I’m not particular when it comes to guitars! I don’t care if I have to use a pink Hello Kitty guitar. I was always taught that it’s not the guitar, it’s the player!
I know you played with various musicians from over there rather than bringing your entire U.S. lineup. How did you all prepare to play leading up to the tour?
I sent the demos of my music over the World Wide Web to the musicians who were going to play for me! They picked it up quickly and basically the first practice was just to hear us all playing together, them knowing the songs was never an issue… They knew it!
But hearing my music with a whole new feel and intent made me really step back and say “that’s what I want!” instead of always feeling like “ok, this is sort of what I’m going for.”