The rocks and rolls of starting a band
We imagine that being in a band to be all sex, drugs, and booze. But for one young band member selling himself for sex was his stepping stone into the industry.
“In the bluntest possible wayRhys prostituted himself to a Scandinavian women for a hundred quid.”
James Cumner, 21, from the up and coming band, The Sulks, tells Westminster News Online of the rocks and rolls that come in getting a band off the ground.
“Her husband, now wants to kill him. He knew the road where he lived, luckily not the house, otherwise I fear he would be no more,” he says with an apprehensive look, “Rhys now lives in Brighton, so hopefully that is the last of that.”
“We are a band from Swindon, finding money is hard. We need to pay for a producer, recording studio, art work for the cover, and travel to gigs. What, or who, Rhys did helped fund most of the EP.”
The other half has come from a campaign set up on Pledge Music, where people donate by buying merchandise and the EP before it has been released.
“We got lucky with that, we reached our target and a little bit more, if we hadn’t reached our target we would have got nothing.”
Reaching their target has allowed them to branch out away from their hometown of Swindon, “I’ve moved to London, Rhys to Brighton, my brother lives round the corner from me and Matt is at uni in London, it has worked out quite well.”
But the move came at a cost. “I can’t think of anything harder or more ruthless than sacking your best mate.”
“He was the co-founder of the band. His final dreams rested with the band,” he says solemnly looking down at his pint, “It just wasn’t working out, we needed commitment, the hours, sacrifice, everything. He wasn’t prepare to do it.”
“I regret none of it. In this business you have to be ruthless,” he says with a determination eyes.
“In a band it’s trying to build,” he says sighing looking up at the ceiling for the right words, “You need a foundation, we replaced ours with another foundation. We are now moving forward.”
And so it has proved. In the last few months The Sulks have been working on their new EP with producer Gordon Raphael, who has worked with bands like Blur, Radiohead, The Libertines and The Strokes.
“Nothing can prepare you for the moment. To work with someone who played a key role in the resurrection of Rock n’ Roll, especially when he comes to you. It’s special.”
“Walking in as a speccy ginger kid from Swindon with this alien of a man drinking his coconut milk was strange. He closes the blinds, tells everyone to fuck off and works with you one and one.”
“He is very creative and patient. He tells you in this soft American accent to try this try that, puts you in a scenario and asks to pour your heart and soul into it. He is a true perfectionist.”
Before working with Gordon, James says of the big influence his dad had on his progression.
“Dad wanted to live his dream through my brother and I. One day, I faked being ill to avoid going to school, instead of watching TV, he told me to a learn a song on guitar before he got home.”
“He is an honest bastard, which you do and you don’t need. He will tell me which songs he does and doesn’t like, he was like a mentor and a massive influence on where I am now.”
Although it is another family member that James dedicates his musical aspirations to; “I only starting writing songs because my grandad died, his dying wish was for me was learn to play piano, drums, guitar, and be in a band.”
“I used it as therapy. I repressed a lot of things, songs allowed me to let it all out, which helps.”
Such therapy was required when at 14 he was told he wasn’t good enough.
“My music teachers, Mrs Sutcliffe and Mrs Brown, said that I would never make it in music. I couldn’t read music and they said it was practically impossible.”
“I cannot wait for the day I get to a big festival or on TV and can say up yours, it would give me great satisfaction I proved them wrong.”
Their new EP is set for release on 16 April with all their last EP being taken down on 1 April which James says will be a relief once it is out.
“It was almost impossible to get it done. Scheduling was the main challenge with my brother working full time, Rhys having no money and Matt’s Uni we couldn’t find a time we were all free.”
“The only time we really got was 9pm to midnight, after work. We were all knackered and where our studios were it was a two hour commute back.”
Despite the struggles, their determination has seen them travel to Paris were James recalls looking out of their hotel window at the Eiffel Tower, “The best part was we were drunk, I just thought wow, we got ourselves here, this is our reward.”
“But, for me, the best moment, so far, was playing a gig in Brighton at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar. We were supporting The Blinders and the gig had sold out. We went to rehearsal, no one was coming through the door, we were expecting five people. We came out, a full 120 people were there it was buzzing.”
“It was the biggest crowd we had played to. It pumped us up. it got to the drum solo of the first song and my brother absolutely nails it. After the gig five six people came up and said we were better than The Blinders.”
But for The Sulks, the real hard work begins now.
“We have a second EP already written, we just need to rehearse, and find the time. Hopefully the first EP gets us out there enough, so we won’t have to prostitute ourselves again.”
You can hear The Sulks new EP, ‘Silence Is Only The Start’ on Apple Music, ITunes and Spotify on 16 Pril, with their next London gig April 5, at the New Cross Inn.
Or check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thesulksband/?ref=br_tf