An oddly catchy name that, on the face of it, might deliver anything from Californian radio pop to nu metal. Turns out 71 Sunset belongs to a band of four mature gents who play a grunged up brand of alternative rock / hard rock, and have recently released a cracking debut album titled ‘Bitter Earth’ on the AAA label. David Hitchcock is the band’s guitarist, Elliot Pike is on bass, Dom Morris plays drums and Darrin Floyd handles lyrics and lead vocals – and provided the answers below.
To cut to the chase, we were all at the point of needing new musical challenges. Ads were placed and answered. Jams happened and we quickly became a permanent unit. The chemistry was there from the first time we played. I think we all knew at that moment how things would pan out.
It’s one of those things, the necessity of identity. It’s hard to avoid cliche sounding names for rock bands but we think we’ve managed to do just that, ha ha. The exact formula and process used to come up with it remain a closely guarded secret… like the colonel’s secret recipe in a way.
We’ve spent a huge chunk of time together over the last year and a half. With gigging, recording, videos and the day to day stuff there really hasn’t been a lot of time for anything else. We all have families, and the complexities that come with that, too.
We try and share the load across the board when it comes to the business end of things. Often it just comes down to who has the time to get it done first. Usually decisions are easy to make as everyone is pretty communicative. There are no egos or attitudes to get in the way either!
There has always been a dark element to my lyrical musings. I grew up reading Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, Anne Rice etc. I draw lot from their styles of writing while transforming toward the musical requirements. There is most definitely a lot of reality and honesty in the lyrics if you know where to look. I try and keep it on an ambiguous enough level that people can take what they want from it, but I think the emotions come across no matter who is listening.
A lot of things happened to us and our families during the writing and recording process, all of which influenced the lyrical content in one way or another. There were births, deaths, cancer battles, relationships dissolving and forming. Rain is a fairly introverted look at myself, struggling with the death of my father and trying to make sense of how someone so pivotal in my life was suddenly gone. In a way it’s me exploring my own self worth and reminding myself about what I can contribute and at the same time not to get too hung up on everything beyond my control.
It was taken from a line in Save Me Now, a reference to our planet being subverted through the exploitation of natural resources, in the name of profit.
Gene Harris is a long time friend of Elliot’s and his work was first bought to our attention a few years ago now. He basically came along to a jam session one night, and at the end he had a series of sketches of us that we were all super impressed by. When we recorded our previous 4-track EP it was a no brainer to get him to do the artwork for that. We were so happy with the results he was an automatic choice for the album. Cutting out a lot of intricate details – the album art is his interpretation of what he felt best represents us as a band, our music and our individual views on the world.
Ha ha yes, that was the early morning drive home from a show in Tauranga. We left at 3:30am and those pics were taken in the middle of nowhere about 4:30am or thereabouts. I don’t think anyone was actually asleep, more just delirious from lack of sleep and not wanting pics taken. Nothing like driving a fully laden van in the pouring rain, one bald front tyre, no WOF and overdue road user charges too… Thankfully not many cops around at that hour!
Before we hit the studio he’d already seen us play live a couple of times so it made the process quite easy. We basically didn’t want to sound like a polyester version of ourselves, if that makes sense. We wanted the end product to be as close as possible to what you could expect us to deliver live.
We are in discussions with the label and other parties at the moment as to what the future holds. There will obviously be more shows, and also talk of international touring. We’re halfway through writing for the second album and hope to begin tracking that sometime soon too.
We had a lot of fun working on the album and had the luxury of taking the time we needed to get things how we wanted them to sound. So for the most part there is nothing we’d change, or we’d really look like tossers, ha ha. Hard to pick just one favourite moment but I guess the piano outro which was just an impromptu twiddle by Dom at the end of recording a piece for another song. It seemed like such a good fit to close the album and that really embodies the spirit of us as a band and the process for creating the album. So much accidental and unintentional goodness can happen when you open yourself up to possibilities.