NEW YORK ROCKERS Wake The Sun have been impressing audiences with their blues-infused brand of rock and roll, which directly challenges the perpetuated myth that rock is dead.
The band, which focuses on vocal power and classic-sounding guitar riffs, is coming to The Jinx on Mon., June 24 for a good old fashioned rock show, and we spoke to guitarist and vocalist Dillon Mealey ahead of the gig.
I’m curious, given the frustrating stigma about rock music that exists so often in the mainstream - what compelled you to want to start a band like this?
Mealey: I’d been in a couple different bands prior to this. It’s always sort of been in the rock genre. I actually started out in a band that was more dance rock, and it just felt way too forced and not genuine. So I started writing music that spoke to me and was true to myself.
It also is a drawing of influences from when I was a young kid. My mom always used to have Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, and Otis Redding and stuff like that on the radio, so I sort of always go back to that vibe when writing music.
How did you all meet?
Our bassist and myself actually went to college together, so we’ve been playing music together for well over 12 years. Our guitarist, Tommy, was recommended through a mutual contact. It’s funny - he used to be really into hair metal, so he came into the band with that influence at first. We had to kind of dial that back, because it’s not really what we’re going for [laughs].
Our drummer we actually found on a musician website. Our old drummer was moving to L.A. and it was going to be tough to make everything work. So we found him online, he auditioned, and killed it.
Now that you’ve been doing this for a few years, how has pursuing the touring life shaped you guys and impacted the way the band works? It can be a challenging lifestyle, but it can also make a band better.
Touring definitely has influenced us greatly. Our latest album is called Through the Night, and that's sort of a self reflection of being on the road for a long time. It can be really tough, but it can also be really rewarding.
At one point on our first tour, one of us left the van unlocked and all of our merch and money was stolen. That was a pretty big blow, but you have to be able to roll with the punches and get back up. Otherwise, you can get knocked down pretty easily.
So I’d say touring has aided in our resiliency. The music industry is definitely not a friendly place at times, and you have to be able to learn how to adapt.
Are you always thinking about the next project? What does the cycle typically look like for you guys at this point?
Recently I’ve had a flooding of ideas. I’m the main songwriter, and usually songs come in waves. It’ll be, like, three or four songs at a time and almost like lyrical vomit. Recently I’ve been having a bout of that, which is cool because we’re getting ready to get back in the studio and record more stuff.
It depends on circumstance - there’ll be times when I’ll lay in bed about to go to sleep and all of the sudden think, “Oh! That’s a good idea.” I’ll jump out of bed and grab my guitar and record it. My fiancee loves that [laughs].
Is it typically lyrics first, then?
Mealey: It definitely depends on the song. Generally it’ll be the riff or music. I’ll have the idea for guitar, bass, and drums and then fit in the lyrics like a puzzle. Other times, I’ll really want to focus on a certain message or convey a certain thing - then lyrics will come first.