June, a new young band from Chicago, is coming to El Paso this Sunday. Following their 2004 EP, they have a full-length debut CD produced by Brian McTernan (Thrice, Hot Water Music) coming out on Victory Records later this summer.
They're coming to a town near you to sleep on your floor, according to their web site, www.junerock.com (if you have a floor you wish to offer, I suggest you take it up with them at the show). Their site features a lot of nice photos (but no babes). They also have a separate site for their blog, www.weliveinavan.com.
We interviewed their drummer, Mark Sutor, by phone.
Tim Brennan: Vocals, Guitar
Mark Palacz: Guitar
AJ Brown: Bass, Backing Vocals
Mark Sutor: Drums
EPMS: What year were you born?
Mark Sutor: 1984. All of us were born in 1984.
EPMS: Describe your music:
Mark Sutor: I'd say, it's a mix of pop-rock. Maybe with some punk, too.
EPMS: Where did the original name of the band, 'Driving Like June,' come from?
Mark Sutor: We just needed a name for our first show, and our guitarist, Mark, came up with that out of nowhere. We stuck with it. It was on the spur of moment, like, "How 'bout this?"
EPMS: Tell us about changing the name to 'June':
Mark Sutor: Well, with 'Driving Like June,' we'd started to grow popular in the Midwest, to get a fan base, and we found out about a band called 'Drive Like Jehu,' like at the time, it had been eight years since they had broken up, but they were really known in the emo/indie scene. Promoters were weirded out by the similarity. We didn't want to lose our fan base entirely, so we left it as 'June.'
Mark Sutor: The range for me is from Jimmy Eats World to Foo Fighters. There are a lot of bands we enjoy; Tim likes 70s rock, AJ is into hardcore. Our influences really vary, but it all comes together to make something we really enjoy. There are too many to list.
EPMS: What were your musical goals for the album you are releasing soon?
Mark Sutor: We just got done recording, it'll be out August 23. Our latest (one that is already out), which is not really a whole album, something we put out on smartpunk, 'The June EP,' just to put out something we felt strong about in every form... We can look back at every song (on our upcoming CD) and feel we definitely accomplished what we wanted. We wanted ten to thirteen songs, we got eleven done, songs we really feel good about. A bit diverse, we just write what we enjoy.
EPMS: What's your favorite tune from the album?
Mark Sutor: Um, I haven't got past that. I probably like 'Patrick' the most. We open our set with it. It starts off really strong, it has strong drums in the beginning, It's fun to play live.
EPMS: Who produced it?
Mark Sutor: Brian McTernan produced it. We got done with it on May 9, and it was all done about a week ago.
EPMS: Between the EP and the new one, what is different?
Mark Sutor: We wrote and did the EP about 1-1/2 years ago, the way we wrote it was a little wandering, it wasn't structured. We feel it didn't mesh like it could have, but we still loved it. The new CD is rock, it has a straight-forward feel, but still with the EP's weirdness. It's rocking, that's only way I can explain it. We didn't really think about it.
EPMS: Is your label, Victory Records, very supportive?
Mark Sutor: Yes, everything has gone amazingly well with our label so far.
EPMS: Have you ever been to El Paso?
Mark Sutor: No, we have not. We were supposed to last August, but our van and New Mexico don't match. Every time we go to New Mexico it breaks down.
EPMS: Have you ever been to El Paso, Illinois?
Mark Sutor: No, we haven't been there, either. We've almost been everywhere else in Illinois, though.
EPMS: Does the band like Mexican food?
Mark Sutor: Yes, we love Mexican food. We're actually very happy to be sponsored by Chipotle.
EPMS: Chipotle, what's that, besides a chili?
Mark Sutor: It's the name of a restaurant all around the country. Don't you have them in El Paso?
EPMS: Well, we mostly have authentic Mexican food, being right on the border. We do have Taco Bell, though, which is by itself a local topic of discussion.
How is Chicago as a music town?
Mark Sutor: It's amazing, every single genre of music is thriving, any kind of show you'd want is there, it's one of the best places in the country for a thriving music scene.
EPMS: Do you live in Chicago itself?
Mark Sutor: Half of us live in Chicago, half of us are from Schaumburg and Niles.
EPMS: How does Chicago weather affect your gigs there?
Mark Sutor: It affects it a lot. One day we were home, like at the end of April, it was seventy one day, thirty-five the next. It messes with your body. You're used to one thing, it's warm one day, the next day you have to wear two sweaters to get by. It's more amusing and irritating.
EPMS: Can you bring me some snow from Chicago?
Mark Sutor: If we still have some, it's probably 70 there today, so tomorrow I'm sure it'll snow.
EPMS: Where are you right now?
Mark Sutor: Ames, Iowa. We just played Des Moines last night.
EPMS: What do you like about traveling away from Chicago?
Mark Sutor: I like that's it's very different everywhere we go. It's nice to be home, but it is great to see the country, being able to tell my family all the places I've been. The difference in people and scenery, everything is amazing.
EPMS: Who is the most interesting person you've met on tour?
Mark Sutor: Probably a couple of people in Montana that were awesome people, who really enjoyed our show, and took us to different parts of Montana, they took us cliff-diving...
EPMS: Cliff-diving in Montana?
Mark Sutor: Yep.
EPMS: How many tours have you done?
Mark Sutor: We're on our fourth.
EPMS: What day jobs do y'all have?
Mark Sutor: No, we don't have day jobs, touring is 100%, year-round. We used to, we worked at Starbucks, pizza delivery, I used to be an assistant at Sylvan Learning Center. Once the band kicked in, we decided to go 100%... practice, writing, it's all about the live show, night-in, night-out.
EPMS: Does AJ still have his mohawk?
Mark Sutor: Yes, he does. It's still fairly new. People are trying to get used to it, it should be in full-force by the time we get to El Paso.
EPMS: What size of crowds are you seeing on your tour?
Mark Sutor: This tour has been great recently, about 200 people a night. It really varies, in some towns we do really well. It's kind of why we tour non-stop. For this tour, we get around 200, and we've had a couple of awesome shows, where we've had four or five hundred.
EPMS: How crowded is your van?
Mark Sutor: It's not crowded. It's a fifteen-passenger van, we only have five dudes, so four can be on benches while one drives, at all times. I think, once we think about hiring a tour manager, it will be a bit more crowded.
EPMS: Are you still booking your own tours?
Mark Sutor: We did that in August and September of last year, up til January. We had nobody to do that for us. Now Josh Lacey of Lucky Artist Booking is handling that.
EPMS: How many miles on your van before you started?
Mark Sutor: We just got a pretty new van this month, Between May 9 and today, we probably put five or six thousand miles on it. Some months we put ten thousand miles in a month, it depends on how the tour is routed.
We talk with the booking agent, he'll ask if we're up to the drive. If possible, we leave right after the show, and drive all night.
EPMS: Why do you want to hire a tour manager?
Mark Sutor: Just to have someone to help with the business stuff throughout the day, someone there to help move things along, make sure we get to places on time. Hiring a manager will have the intention of helping make things a lot easier.
We have every intention of taking as few days off as we can, between shows.
Mark Sutor: Junerock.com is our official site, you can find our bio, see contact info, actual news, what's going on, tour info and stuff. The other site is more journal entries. We wanted to be as personal as we could be. I feel bad that we don't update it as much as we can.. We provide detailed description of what we're doing.. We had kept it up throughout the studio time. We thought it worked well with our band.
EPMS: On www.weliveinavan.com, I read, "We got really hungry two days ago and all we had was Bisquick, Milk, Oats, Cinnamon and Sugar." Does someone have a new career for them after music?
Mark Sutor: No. definitely not, if you're referring to us as being weird cooks, that wasn't too enjoyable.
EPMS: Who came up with downloadable wallpaper for your site?
Mark Sutor: I think, we worked with a guy named Evan from www.thepalebird.com, he came up with idea. We thought it was a really good idea.
EPMS: What are the future plans of June?
Mark Sutor: To take this as far as we possibly can, release plenty of CDs, to tour, be successful. We want this to provide us security... What better job is there than writing songs, playing shows every day?
EPMS:Thanks a lot, that's all.
Mark Sutor: OK, well, thank you,
June will appear at Lucky Devils on June 5 with This Day and Age, Closure to Emily, and The Heartbreak Conspiracy. According to the bio on their site, "... some of the boys' liquor licenses are newly acquired, they are happy to report that none have become full-time alcoholics yet."
Hey, El Paso, let's get to work on these boys!
- Charles Hurley