David Schuler of The Sunstreak
It’s pop, it’s rock, it’s The Sunstreak! The Sunstreak are about to burst into the mainstream with their major label debut on October 6th titled “Once Upon a Lie”. If their first single “Until I Met You” doesn’t make you a fan it will at least leave you singing it for a week or twelve, it’s an unrelentingly catchy tune about what else; meeting “the one”. That’s just the beginning though, the entire disc is a note by note blend of poppy hooks and utterly addictive choruses with beautiful blends of multi-part harmonies and relatable lyrics that will undoubtedly win over pop enthusiasts.
Describing their sound as not overly complicated but all their own the band (Tony Rebis on vocals, Jason Sarkis on bass, Jack Flynn on guitar, Gary Foster on drums and David Schuler on guitar/synth/vocals) are not taking anything for granted along the way. The band’s current line-up has been together since 2005 and have worked hard for everything they have including many a hot, smelly summer on the illustrious Warped Tour.
While they are thankful for the opportunity to release their music on a major label they aren’t giving up any of the responsibility that comes along with it. Their fan base (who affectionately call themselves The Streakers) will be the first to tell you that these down to earth pop-rockers always remember where they came from and who helped them climb the ladder to where they are now. It’s this kind of dedication to their fans and their music that should help vault The Sunstreak to the next level.
Guitarist David Schuler recently took some time to help us get to know the band and what they are all about.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | September 2009
So let’s start out with the basics for people who may be being introduced to you for the first time. The band started in Rochester, NY and you’ve been together since 2005. What else should we know about your history?
The band use to be called One Year Nothing and actually started about nine years ago. Jason and Tony started the band in high school. The line-up slowly transformed into what it is now and we’ve been together as the current line up since about 2005. The Sunstreak has been together for about three and a half years.
Up until now the band has really functioned doing everything on their own and really busting your butts to make things happen. With the album coming out in a few weeks what has changed for you guys in the grand scheme of things? Are you able to hand off some of the behind the scenes work that you were doing on your own in the past?
If we were to ever stop doing what we’ve always done it just wouldn’t work anymore. There’s even more work now for the band, everything is on the line with this album. We’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a very long time and we’ve been through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. We still act as if there is no label, we try to pretend that that’s not even there so we can stay on top of things and stay in touch with our fans and as active as possible. The minute an artist or a band just passes the ball to executives, the interpersonal relationship between the fans and their band gets lost so we try to stay on full time.
So one of the things that’s pretty cool about this band is that you were one of only a very few bands to get on the Billboard charts without having any distribution deal behind you. This really speaks to the bands work ethic, can you give us an idea of how the band worked to get your music out there on your own?
A vast majority of that can be credited to the Warped Tour. We’ve been doing Warped since 2002 every summer. In 2006 we sold 25K albums alone on Warped Tour, that’s what got us on to the charts. A lot of people still don’t know who we are because it was all done independently. It’s just a matter of being a workhorse. We didn’t give kids the chance to NOT meet us on Warped Tour. If you walked by our tent we grabbed you and asked you to take a listen to our music. For those 25K people that actually bought the album there were easily a hundred thousand who didn’t. For every yes you get about 20 nos.
So let’s talk about the new album. I always wonder why bands who are releasing their debut album on a major label choose the route of naming an album after one of the songs, what was the driving decision to go that way?
We never really have any underlying themes in our songs, they’re pretty straight forward. If you can make out what’s being said then you’re going to know what the song is about. We’re not a very complicated, intrinsic like brain force, we’re pop. We’re not trying to break the mold, we’re just trying to reshape it a bit. I think that the title track as a whole represents where we are going musically. It’s one of the more intense, heavier songs, and it’s drastically different than the single but I think it’s a showcase of what we can do all across the board when it comes to pop, big sounding musical parts while still being melodic.
So the band is credited as producing the album. Does that particular credit go to one of you in particular or was it a group effort and how involved were you?
I produce, mix, edit and engineer all of our music. We’re a band and because we do things on our own it’s definitely a very diplomatic process but at the end of the day when I joined the band part of the reason they asked me to join was because I was a writer and a producer. I’ve worked on records for The Backstreet Boys, Teddy Geiger and a band called The Hoodies. At first I think the band was feeling it out to see how things would go and we started the record a year ago and finished it up in March. We had originally just set out to make the album that we wanted to make and that album ended up being what a major label wanted to put and how we got signed.
So with that in mind, did the songs and their recordings remain the same or did you rework any of them after the label picked you up?
It’s the exact recording, the only thing that changed is we went from 18 tracks to 11 tracks but everything else is the original recordings.
The first single, Until I Met You shows off the bands versatility with the shared lead vocals. Was the band always built that way with the duality of different members singing lead?
There’s only a few songs that I don’t sing on. I use to be a singer and my old band started playing shows with The Sunstreak and that’s how we all met. We like to be really resourceful and use each member of the band to their fullest potential. The only reason that I do pop up in lead vocals every now and then is that my voice compliments Tonys. A lot of bands out there are doing similar things but I feel like we’ve honed in on something that’s really our own.
You recently just released the video for Until I Met You and you ended up shooting it in Rochester, NY where the band came from, what made you stick close to home for that?
Rochester is home for us. We live in a city that gets looked over, no one really knows where Rochester, NY is. It was important for us to have a lot of the city in the video because this city is our rock.
The concept is performance based mixed with some story line which pretty much follows along the story of the song, was the whole vision for the video yours?
We don’t try to wear the video director hat…
Why not, you do everything else Dave?
You know what’s funny, back in January we bought a video camera and we were going to make our own videos and then we got signed. So funny you should mention that! But yes, it was a group decision. Our management and label has a great team mentality, we’re all involved in all the decisions made and we’ve got a great marriage between band label and management.
So what building is that that you guys are on top of in the video? Would the people of Rochester recognize it if you told us or is it just non-descript? (Figured we should give Rochester a little shout out here.)
It’s just a parking garage in a neighborhood called High Falls, it was the best place to get a cool view of the sky line.
Soundwise I’ve seen you described as pop, I’ve seen you described as rock so do you consider yourself more pop or more rock?
For me - Rascal Flatts is pop. I think Saving Abel is pop. For us pop just means it’s a very relatable sound. It’s an abbreviation for popular and we’re not just in this to be popular but pop would be the fairest way to describe us. We all grew up listening to rock too though.
You mentioned that everything the band does is pretty much a team effort. How about the writing process, is that collaborative as well?
We all write individually and then we bring it to the table and go through our ideas. None of us are a moody, snobby artist types that are going to fight for our songs over another band members ideas though, we just pick the best ones.
So since we’re just getting to know you, can you maybe give us one word to sum up each band members personality?
Jason is definitely the most approachable. He’s great with talking to people.
Gary is definitely the comedian, he’s the one that runs around naked it all the time.
Jack is very metronomic ..hes very logical.
Tony is very easy going.
And you..you’re the enigma right?
Haha please don’t say that.
You’ve mentioned that you guys have spent a great deal of time on Warped Tour and every time we talk to bands that have been out on Warped they describe it as summer camp for musicians. What did you guys take away from that experience?
I would say it’s more like boot camp. There’s a few different ways you can do Warped Tour. The best way to do it obviously is on a bus and your band is established and fans are coming to specifically see you. It’s still really hot and dirty but that’s the five star Warped Tour. Then you hop down to three star Warped Tour where you’re on a bus but you’re sharing it with other bands and you have to share food. You’re playing decent stages and you have the respect of the tour. Then you can do it like we’ve done it, in a van with 12 people who shower maybe 3 or 4 times all summer and you can’t leave your tent from 7am until the end of the day to make the most of it and then drive ourselves to the next date.
I think you need to write the Warped Tour Survival Guide for Bands!
The smells alone would blow your mind.
So your fan base collectively call themselves The Streakers, which is clever…is there a story behind that?
A friend of ours actually came up with it while we were at a movie. I don’t know the whole story but the girl that came up with it got it tattooed across her toes and the rest is history.
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