AT THE SUN - Spring 2019

A temperature check of British rock shows that the scene is currently in a very healthy position indeed. 2019 has already seen some fine albums being released: Gin Annie’s 100% Proof, Last In Line’s II and the self-titled debut from Matt Mitchell & The Coldhearts to name but a few. But there is definitely a standout release that massively deserves your attention. Leave Before The Light is the debut album from London-based rockers AT THE SUN. Released on the 8th March, the band - comprising of Harry Dale (vocals), Kieron Heavens (guitar), Alex Matthews (bass), Chet Jogia (guitar), Craig Steen (drums) – have created an absolute masterpiece.  12 tracks of solid rock each fully deserving of being single. We have stellar rhythm guitars with riffs so chunky you want to eat them and the most gorgeous emotive lead harmonies. Yes there are moments of flash but never at the expense of the song. Vocally this is absolutely stunning! Harry provides the most exciting and vibrant delivery. Leave Before The Light is far from a rushed affair. It would take a year for the band to complete the record, with time being taken to nurture and shape every song to ensure they are the very best they can be. And taking this approach has paid off – wonderfully. Leave Before The Light is faultless. With social media already blowing up with praise, we catch up with AT THE SUN founder Kieron to soak up the excitement and find out how it all came together. 

First of all let’s find out more about AT THE SUN as a band. How did you come together?


We’ve been in existence for a couple of years. It all started way back when I came out of another band. I’d been writing a lot in the background and had a lot of demo material and it got to a stage where I knew that the next band needed to be something that was a contender – something that consisted of the best quality musicians that were out there. We’re not a bunch of school friends who have been together for 15 years. There was a lot of time spent working with different people to get the right line up and the right musicians. The great thing is that we all bonded so quickly and became kind of great friends and now we have the best of both worlds really: a strong line up and a good groups of friends as well which is fantastic. We came together in late 2016 and we did a couple of demos just to get the feel for the material and then in 2017 we knew we didn’t want to chance releasing an album. We could have done something straight away but we knew we wanted to go a different route. We kind of wanted to go out on the road and cut our teeth as live band first, kind of cut these tracks live and, if anything, develop them and see people’s reaction to them. So that happened – we toured up and down the UK, did some shows and then we felt ready. We released an EP to just sort of test the water and we got great feedback to it and then at the beginning of 2018 we felt ready, that we’d cut our teeth and were ready to record these songs.


So you’ve just released your debut album Leave Before The Light and unsurprisingly it’s already receiving an incredible response. What thoughts are going through your mind at this really exciting time?


We released the album on Friday 8th March and the only way to describe it is that it’s a bit like Christmas Eve! We love the music we do and we know at gigs it goes down well. Once you release the album, you put so much into it, all you can do is just hope that people feel what you feel when you were recording it and that the joy of listening to it equals the same as the joy of making it. I’ve been absolutely blown away by the response. It’s lovely to have the press come in and say so many great things about it as well but for us it’s about the fans out there, them listening to it and telling us what they think because they have the best opinions on it. The thoughts now are really gearing up towards the tour. We have a tour coming up in April, so it’s kind of non-stop really. Now the album’s out we are looking to keep that momentum going and make sure as many people hear it as possible, and then get out on the road and do what we love: getting out and playing the songs for the fans who have heard the record and hopefully showing them that there is another experience on top of that.


I would like to take a moment to focus on the album title. Leave Before The Light isn’t named after any particular track but the lyric is used in the track Breathe. That’s quite an unusual approach. Where did the title come from?


We were throwing around some ideas. We toyed with the idea of calling it AT THE SUN or one of the song names but we felt – and you can see it from the album art – we like to do things maybe a little bit differently just to add some more kind of flavour. So Leave Before The Light, a lot of themes in the album are kind of about dealing with things and getting through them and sometimes being able to get away from things and escape. So for us it was a fitting title to fit with the core themes of the album, escapism, and dealing with things – leaving before the light when you know you have to.


Now you’ve just mentioned the artwork and the album is delivered with the most incredible artwork. It’s so refreshing to see a band invest in the visuals of how a record should be presented. We have a phoenix with an eye on its wing keeping track of the time which is set around 4.50 – and I’m guessing that’s am. Talk me through the concept.


We are quite old-school when it come to music. I know we’re living in an age of streaming and 3 ½ minute pop songs – which is amazing, it’s a great world out there that gives people instant access and all that – but for us we still believe that an album is a piece of art in its entirety. So little things like inside the booklet of the album, all the words are hand written by the band which we’ve taken and used and digitally put on there. The track listing on the back is written by our lead singer, Harry. The artwork is all hand drawn. Unfortunately none of us are quite at that level of artwork but we got a fantastic artist who hand drew the entire cover as well. So everything apart from the photos are all hand done for the entire album. We just felt it was really important to invest that time in it, to create the very best piece of art.


Let’s delve a bit deeper into the music. AT THE SUN have nailed what it means to create solid rock and all 12 tracks are all worthy of being a single . The guitars bring the perfect balance of chunky rhythms, emotive harmonies and flashy lead lines, but never at the expense of the song. Vocally this record is priceless – youthful, powerful and vibrant. I can already get a picture of what it would mean to be at a live show as the tracks demand that the audience sing along, for example "Do you wanna be free" from the track Renegade. The fact that the album was recorded in separate sessions over a year, allowing each individual track the opportunity to grow organically, was an interesting approach but it’s absolutely paid off. Was this a conscious approach and what was your vision for Leave Before The Light?


Starting with the vision for it, we come from a very diverse background of music, some you’ll hopefully hear on the record. You mentioned about the ‘chunky riffs marrying well with the lead marrying well with the vocals’, and that’s the kind of magic we had when we were all together and writing songs. A lot of time I love riffs and slightly heavier riffs, whereas Chet the lead guitarist loves his riffs but loves what I describe as the silky smooth kind of leads. Harry’s a big kind of soul and blues fan and that really shines through. The kind of vision was to take all those elements and deliver them within a kind of accessible rock framework for people because we want everyone to enjoy this. I know it’s a big ask and there have been people who haven’t enjoyed the songs and that’s completely fine but we want something that everyone can enjoy and that everyone can listen to and pull bits out of it, whether you love riffs or whether you love great vocals or whether you love Craig’s amazing rhythmic drumming – the little flashes he does on there. And key to it all I’ll kind of give it those inflections here and there where you’ll suddenly hear just something to make you go ‘ooh!’… a nice effect on a vocal or a little guitar lick or a tiny solo bit that leads out of something, just to give that additional sparkle to it I guess is the point. I could talk for hours about comparing it to painting and building up layers. In terms of the different sessions, it didn’t start out as a conscious thought. When you are a ‘starting out band’ you kind of get in and do something. A lot of bands go in and write and then record and that’s amazing, but we had the absolute luxury of having these songs, holding them, playing them and getting the feedback from crowds on them. Renegade for example changed. The first time we played it live it was a different song with different lyrics, different melodies, slightly different parts. We changed it and crafted it based on what we felt about it over time. The key thing about the different sessions of recording was that it gave time for the songs to develop and for them to become the best that they can be. The other great thing is that it’s not just 6 weeks in the life of AT THE SUN. This album is really a year and a half – 2 years even – in the life of AT THE SUN, from the first songs we’ve written to the last songs we’ve written and all in between.


April sees you going out on an 8-date UK tour. What can people expect from an AT THE SUN?


A traditional AT THE SUN show has been kind of where we like to see people’s heads moving, we like to see people involved and engaged, that’s kind of our key thing and we like to get out and talk, hang out and have a beer with the fans. We like to make it more of ‘a night with’ more than just ‘a band on stage’ kind of event. But with the tour we’re taking up a level again. We’re locked a way in a studio just trying to craft the best show we can. It’s key for us to look at all aspects of it from the moment people step into the room, what it feels like for them and building it up to when we get on stage and we can just have an amazing connection. You mention singalong parts and things like that, and that’s a crucial part of our show. We love harmonies, we love singalongs and the classic 70s vibe with the vocals and the interaction. So if people have the album and they come to the show, high advice: get yourself listening to the lyrics because you will be called upon! (Laughs!) Not individually but there will be parts and chants and we do want people to join us and become – not to sound too cheesey – to all come together and have a great night of rock ‘n’ roll. Key for us, for any of our shows, is that we want people to leave that room feeling better than when they walked in. I know it sounds simple but you put a smile on someone’s face and you’ve done what it means for me to be a musician. 


We have a new album and a UK tour. What else is in the AT THE SUN calendar for 2019?


We’ve got some festivals coming up: a couple that are on the website and a couple that I can’t announce yet (it has since been announced that AT THE SUN are performing at Planet Rockstock at Trecco Bay In December – Ed). We’ve got Camden Rocks coming up in London. We played that last year – a fantastic event and they were very kind to us. It’s a bigger venue and to hit it again is amazing. We had such a good turnout last time and that surprised us. You never know how good you are doing until you see all your t shirts out in the crowd. We are heading down to Bournemouth for a festival called Love Rocks, a music and beer festival that has just got an amazing line up. A lot of our peers and a lot of bands that we love are playing so that’s going to be fantastic. We have Hard Rock Hell in November which is another chance to get out there with a lot of our good friends in bands. But we don’t stand still, that’s one of our things. We get a bit bored if we’re not thinking about the next thing so we are going to be looking towards the end of the year how we can get to other places because on this tour Scotland isn’t on there and I don’t think we get further north than Manchester which is a real shame because we’d love to. So looking towards the end of year it’s about how we can get out there and get to see our fans further north. A big part of it is going to be writing again. We’ll come back off your, we’ve agreed a week to kind of relax and not think about music but then it’s straight back into writing for the second album, getting new flavours and taking on feedback from this album, looking at it and thinking what other cool things can we do to take it to the next level.

As our conversation draws to a close, we reflect on what an incredible album Leave Before The Light actually is. It’s remarkable that a band as talented and as hungry as AT THE SUN were able to restrain themselves from recording an album that timing-wise may have been too soon and that they gave themselves time and patience to allow each of the 12 tracks to evolve over a 12 month period. This strategy has certainly paid off and their debut album is something they can be incredibly proud of.


Leave Before The Light is available now. Find out more at www.atthesun.com.


In the meantime check out the video for the AT THE SUNS’s album opener, Only a Fool below.