Sunshine Brothers Inc. talk musical process, upcoming performances and new music

UMass student band to perform at Iron Horse in Northampton

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Sunshine Brothers Inc. talk musical process, upcoming performances and new music

(Courtesy of Sunshine Brothers Inc. Facebook Page)

(Courtesy of Sunshine Brothers Inc. Facebook Page)

(Courtesy of Sunshine Brothers Inc. Facebook Page)

(Courtesy of Sunshine Brothers Inc. Facebook Page)

By Lauren Crociati, Assistant Arts Editor

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Lounging in a row of chairs while picking from a basket of Blue Wall’s chicken tenders and fries are the members of Sunshine Brothers Inc.: John DiSabito, Niall McCarthy, Charles Vadala III and Jake Weissman. The band, who define their music as “East Coast surf synth sunshine pop,” a fitting description for their breezy tunes and beachy vibes, consists of four University of Massachusetts students who have risen to the top of the university’s music scene. With new music, set to be released alongside a debut video Friday, Sept. 28, and a performance at Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall the following day, the Sunshine Brothers are set to impress.

As students with demanding majors and college commitments, the band notes their biggest struggle is balancing time between class and music. With different schedules, the Sunshine Brothers note the difficulty in finding time to be a musical group. However, since the band is driven by passion, it’s more than just a hobby to each member and they have no plans to let their drive fade.

“It’s a labor of love,” said DiSabito, a senior communication major.

Weissman, a senior political science major and lead vocalist, claimed that it’s easiest to place their music in the “Indie” category, but the group created their own definition for their sound, one that can instantly transport anyone to a tropical oasis or party on the beach.

“The surf part is mainly in the guitar playing,” Weissman explained. “We listen to a lot of surf-guitar stuff, I really like Dick Dale and a lot of ‘60s surf and reverby stuff.”

“Our live performance definitely goes along with our name,” DiSabito said. “Even the recorded music encapsulates good-feels and uplifting music.”

Although the band works in tandem to create their music, each member acknowledges unique inspirations for their individual instrumental contributions.

“I think it’s pretty cool that we all have diverse influences as individuals,” Vadala, senior communication major and keyboardist, noted. “I like the R&B stuff, like Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys.”

“As far as bass playing goes, I feel like I take a lot of inspiration from the Chili Peppers,” said McCarthy, junior physics major and bassist. “I really like heavy riff stuff, sort of like Led Zeppelin.”

Other members attributed their inspiration to architects of classic rock, such as the Beach Boys and The Beatles’ Ringo Starr.

The Sunshine Brothers’ lyrics can be credited to Weissman, whom fellow band members proudly indicated as a self-taught musician. Weissman detailed that two songs, “Space Dance” and “Loverman,” which can be found on the band’s first EP, “The Sunshine Tape,” released in 2017, were recorded in his room, while others were produced in professional studios and with the help of friends. DiSabito added that the texture of a song changes once individual members put their own spin on the song through their individual instruments and stylistic ideas.

“The fact that Jake is self-taught and internet-taught allows him to write songs that are very unique, and his playing is very unique,” said Vadala. “It makes it fun for me to always hear the ideas he comes up with.”

Weissman said he learned most of his guitar skills through online formats, a common practice of modern-day music education.

“I feel weird saying I’m self-taught; self-taught now is different from what it was 50 years ago, sort of,” Weissman added. “Through tabs on the internet, which is not reading music but it’s a form of reading music, it’s a lot less of a script. It tells you where to put your fingers through numbers, there’s no real timing, so you have to sort of had heard the song and be able to look at it and play it.”

Weissman also credited watching YouTube videos in his process of learning guitar, proof of the internet’s power in creating talent if one simply seeks finding it within themselves. DiSabito learned how to play drums in a similar format.

“Jake writes the songs, and then we all put our flavor on it, and it’s really a group dynamic when we play live and record it,” said DiSabito.

“To Make You Feel” is one of the band’s most popular songs, currently holding the second-most listened to track on Spotify, after their newest release from May titled “In Your Dreams.” Its high energy and uplifting structure have developed “To Make You Feel” into one of the Sunshine Brothers Inc.’s classics and notably a crowd favorite.

“To Make You Feel was one of the first songs we really nailed down about two years ago,” DiSabito said. “Not only the recording, but our performance of it to where it’s almost a signature song we always play.”

The band is passionate about their next release, a song and music video set for this Friday, and claim that the track is one of their favorites to perform live.

“It’s called ‘So Bad to Me,’ it’s going to be our second single off of our new project, which will probably be out before 2019,” said Weissman. “We’re also releasing a music video for it on the same day, Friday the 28th, that’ll be available everywhere. On the following day we’ll be having a release party at the Iron Horse in Northampton. This is definitely the most exciting release we’ve ever had, we’ve had a lot of success, especially from the internet, after our last release in the past five months. Our anticipatory audience is higher than it ever was, which is exciting. I’m pumped about it.”

After the release and Iron Horse show, the band has planned quite a busy month of October. Fans can witness the University talents perform at Hadley’s annual beer and music festival, Oktoberfest, and at High Horse Brewing and Cushman’s Market & Cafe in Amherst.

In terms of the future of Sunshine Brothers Inc. and whether the members are eager to continue with their musical endeavors after college, the group is strong in saying they’ll never have any inclination to stop doing what they love.

“It sucks to imagine not doing it,” Weissman said. The other three members chuckle in strong agreeance, making transparent the absolute dedication and passion of each individual in their musical path.

Lauren Crociati can be reached at [email protected]