During a recent phone chat with Sun June vocalist and bandleader Laura Colwell, in advance of the group’s November 8th show at Johnny Brenda’s, the frontwoman makes a point to confirm with me that they’ll be able to get cheesesteaks nearby, at which point she tells me she’s actually tentatively planning to bring one onstage… This will be the self-described “regret pop” band from Austin’s first stop at Fishtown’s “mini rock n’ roll ballroom.” The last time we saw and spoke with the group (who are buddies with PHILTHY phriends and fellow Austin natives Why Bonnie) was last February, when they headlined The Lounge at World Café Live. Curious if the band changes their approach to live performances, depending on the setting they’re playing (for instance, a listening room, compared to a barroom or ballroom), Colwell tells me, “That’s a great question. I don’t know if we’re that advanced yet [laughs].”
Sun June’s current dates have them double-headlining with Runnner (Noah Weinman), who Colwell tells me they’ve known for a while now: “We’ve gotten to know him and his music just by being labelmates on Run For Cover. He did a cover of one of our songs [‘Colors’] a few years ago that I sang on.” And although the two acts are friends and collaborators, Laura tells me that she appreciates that the bill is boasting two somewhat different sounds: “We offer different elements of music. Although on the Venn diagram, there’s some crossover. But I think it’s nice to have that nuance.” Runnner is touring behind his third full-length, Like Dying Stars, We’re Reaching Out, which dropped in February, and Sun June is touring in support of their own third full-length, Bad Dream Jaguar, which hit shelves just last week.
Bad Dream Jaguar saw the band approach writing and recording in a new way, with Colwell’s partner (musical and otherwise) and Sun June guitarist Stephen Salisbury leaving Texas for North Carolina in 2020. With around 1,300 miles between them, Colwell and Salisbury found themselves writing songs (often about their newly long-distance relationship) each on their own, before Colwell headed to North Carolina in 2022. The album was recorded throughout about half a dozen sessions and various studios, but the bulk of it came together back in Texas at Dandy Sounds, the studio of longtime collaborator Dan Duszynski. “We’ve had great experiences working with different engineers and producers, but Dan Duszynski has been working with us since our first demos in 2015, when we were JEFF, before we were even Sun June.”
“There was a lot of difference [between 2021’s sophomore LP, Somewhere, and Bad Dream Jaguar], but it anchored us,” Laura tells me of the process of writing and recording the latest album. But she also tells me that she feels as though Sun June have brought all of their past experiences to the new record in a very productive way: “Everything we do, we just try to elevate where we come from and apply new tools… We had the confidence of expanding our palates.” And Bad Dream Jaguar has already been receiving critical praise. “That first interview we did, with Paste [which documents Colwell and Salisbury’s experience making the album], really hit my heart holes,” says Colwell. However, she also tells me that non-professionals have been giving the band inspiring feedback, as well: “We’ve gotten really great reactions from friends and family, who you want to have good reactions to your art [laughs].”
“I think every single spot we’re about to hit on this tour is a city that we love,” Laura says of Sun June’s upcoming shows. And, in terms of what can be expected of their set next Wednesday, she jokes, “Get ready for the entire album, because we’re definitely doing that [laughs].” In addition to new songs, Colwell also tells me that the band will look a bit different from the last time they were in town: “It will be the full band, with Alexis Marsh, who plays on the album. It will be a new, six-piece live arrangement.” She even tells me that they may be experimenting with some visual elements: “I’m still trying to wrap my head around DIY production elements that can fit club settings.”
There’s already a second leg of Sun June’s tour scheduled for January, that they’re just as enthusiastic about. “We’re doing a whole run with Slaughter Beach, Dog in January, on the West Coast, which we’re really excited about,” says Laura, before going on to say that they have quite high hopes for 2024 in general, which may include a trek through Britain, where the band first played the songs of Bad Dream Jaguar for live audiences this May, during their first-ever full-band tour of the UK: “There are a lot of doors that are hopefully going to open for us in 2024, in terms of touring and festivals, and maybe making it across the pond again.”
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