By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Comprised of former members of Against Me!, Whiskey & Co., J. Page and The Scaries, Gainesville, Fla. based punk outfit Sunshine State have released their sophomore 10-track effort entitled ‘The Mess,’ which follows up 2014’s ‘POUR’ (No Idea).
‘The Mess’ was recorded, mixed and mastered by Ryan Williams (Hot Water Music, Ship Thieves) at Black Bear Studios with additional recording by Derron Nuhfer. Given the COVID-19 outbreak, the band decided to give away ‘The Mess’ for free/pay what you want on Bandcamp and is also streaming it on Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play.
The quartet of Sunshine State – Kyle Fick, Mike Magarelli, Warren Oakes and Troy Perlman – officially stated that they hoped the costless record would “brighten someone’s day, week, month, year… or however long this craziness ends up lasting.” However, they promised any proceeds they happened to end up with would go directly to Warren, Troy and Kyle’s businesses to help them stay afloat.
The Music Bugle recently had the chance to talk with Magarelli about the new release, recent “Recover” music video and more.
Music Bugle – What kind of message do you think the music video for “Recover” conveys?
Mike Magarelli – I think it conveys that everyone should listen to more Replacements.
Music Bugle – What was the creative process of putting together your new album ‘The Mess’? What inspired the name?
Mike Magarelli – We usually start with shells of songs that each of us bring in individually, then we really put them through the ringer over multiple band practices for however long it takes for us to feel like they’re “right.” Then, we get together over a bunch of beers and whatnot and record home demos. After that, we generally sit on the songs for awhile, pick out the things that work and don’t work and start over…. wash, rinse, repeat, you know? I think we demo’d the songs for ‘The Mess’ two times before going to record the album. We’re happy how it turned out, but wish it would have been out sooner. The song “The Mess” really inspired the album title. It sort of tied all the other songs together from a lyrical standpoint and from a personal standpoint, it serves as a reminder that life is a mess, the world is a mess and we’re all messes in one way or another.
Music Bugle – You guys obviously have an abundance of experience in the music industry. Do you feel that gives you any sort of advantage when it comes to making music?
Mike Magarelli – Honestly, I think it gives us a bit of a disadvantage. None of us are “careerists” when it comes to music, so we find that we’re pretty lax when it comes to promoting ourselves and the things you traditionally have to do to get exposure we tend to find cheesy and not something we’re interested in taking part in. Hell, we even struggle with setting up merch and putting any effort into selling it. A lot of times, when someone is interested enough in wanting our record, I’ll just give it to them for free. We’re in a position where we’re not trying to make music our living, so we don’t have to constantly worry about money in respect to the band. We play music because we love it, but for no other reason, really.
Music Bugle – In what ways would you say the group has matured since the first album?
Mike Magarelli – I think as humans, we may have devolved! (Laughs) Ummm, I don’t know… this first record was kinda all over the place, stylistically, which is what we were going for at the time, but that songs on ‘The Mess’ just feel more cohesive, as a collection of work. When we did our first album, three of us were pretty good, longtime friends, but we had just met Kyle and so I think we were all kind of feeling each other out. At this point, we’re all great friends who I consider family and I think the interpersonal relationships that we have now helped us stay more focused on getting the songs right.
Music Bugle – How would you describe the impact the COVID-19 outbreak has has on the music industry and fans alike? Any advice for people feeling “cabin fever”?
Mike Magarelli – I mean, COVID-19 has really had an impact on every industry and person in the world. From the music industry perspective, the pandemic might actually be good for record sales or people discovering new music, given the amount of free time and boredom may people currently have, but from a touring bank perspective, it’s a disaster. I was doing a Zoom Happy Hour the other day and my friend George was talking about how concerned he was from a financial perspective, because his primary income comes from touring in his bands. He pointed out that touring musicians are likely going to be the last people returning to work. I mean, who wants to go out and get packed into some venue with 1,000 other people right now, or in the foreseeable future? I don’t. I hadn’t really thought about it in that way since I don’t make money from playing music, but from that perspective, it’s terrifying.
Music Bugle – What sparked the idea for the distinct artwork for ‘The Mess’?
Mike Magarelli – We thought it would be really cool to have continuity with the first record. There is a really talented artist from St. Augustine, Florida named Sean Mahan who often lends his work out to his friends/acquaintances bands. When we did our first record, Var at No Idea had us look through Sean’s art to see if we were interested in potentially using any of it and we were, so when the time came for album artwork, I found the cover painting on Sean’s website and asked him if he was willing to let us use it. We thought it fit the record perfectly. You can see more of his art at https://seanmahanart.com/.
Music Bugle – Did you have any material that didn’t make the cut on the new album?
Mike Magarelli – We didn’t necessarily have extra songs for Sunshine State. It’s been a busy couple years for some of us with having kids and running businesses and injuries; Warren had to have major surgery on his shoulder, etc., but during a hiatus, Kyle and I took some tunes we had that maybe didn’t belong in Sunshine State and we started working on a new band called Chimes, that’s really drastically different from anything we’ve ever done. It’s the first non-punkrock or metal band I’ve ever been in. It’s basically an unapologetic attempt to emulate/pay homage to The Cure, primarily ‘Disintegration’-era.
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder for a band to stand out these days?
Mike Magarelli – I think it’s just another medium. I’m not sure it helps or hurts, honestly. I think people probably get social media fatigue and with everything that’s out there, it makes it really hard for a band to stand out or get anyone’s attention, so kinda just like it’s always been playing in a band.
Music Bugle – What are your future plans, as far as the rest of 2020?
Mike Magarelli – As a band, I’m not sure we can really make future plans with the world being as unpredictable as it is. We’re booked to play The Fest in October, if that happens, but that’s about it…. well, that and voting in November, we’ll all definitely be doing that. Personally, I’m just trying to make it through 2020 without dying or losing my mind.
Music Bugle – What’s something you feel people should know about the band?
Mike Magarelli – I’m not sure how to answer this without sounding contrived, so I think you should know this about our band. Three of us own restaurants, two of us are dads, one of us had much more success playing music than any of us ever will, our band started from a ‘band roulette’ event, we truly love each other like family and enjoy each other’s company whether we’re at practice, in a van, on stage, or jumping off Warren’s roof into his pool after too many beers at 3 A.M..
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