The first time I heard Wake The Sun play their song “Wicked Souls,” I was hooked. The old-school bluesy rock vibes that flow out of them just connected with me on so many levels. And, while loving their songs, I somehow didn’t realize that, up until today, they only had three other songs on Spotify.
Then, their newest single “What’s My Name” popped up in my feed and brought with it the promise of their first full-length album, Through The Night.
After hearing the guys talk about what the record is based on, how it’s been years in the making, and just about the brotherhood of being in a band with each other, I’m even more excited about its release.
Check out the video above, the new album out today, and I’ll let the guys speak for themselves about the rest.
First thing’s first, who are you guys and what do you do in the band?
Dillon Mealey: I sing and play rhythm guitar in Wake The Sun.
Jeff Alvarado: I play bass guitar.
Tommy Perrotta: I play lead guitar and sing harmonies.
Marco Gill: I play drums.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it yet?
Dillon: Rock music in the traditional sense with underlying blues, soul, and Americana influences. Two guitars, drums, and bass, the old-school kind. The music is dynamic… delicate when necessary, and other times bludgeoning and bombastic. We’re not trying to be anything other than ourselves and the music we like to listen to and play.
Jeff: I would describe our music as rock and roll with influences drawn from blues, soul, psychedelic.
Tommy: We’re a straight rock band with a lot of that old school bluesy and soulful vibe.
Marco: I would describe our music simply as alternative rock, but to get onto the finer details, it’s certainly hard-hitting blues-influenced American rock.
It’s usually easier for me to explain it to people based on bands they already know though, so I mostly compare us to bands like Kings of Leon, Alabama Shakes, and Gary Clark Jr., with a little bit of Led Zeppelin thrown in for good measure.
What do you want listeners to walk away with after seeing you live?
Dillon: To walk away with the same buzzing energy I do every time I walk off stage after playing with this band. We lay it all out on the stage and I’d hope that at least some of that translates to that same body-numbing fuzz I feel after every show (big or small).
And if that is the case, I would also hope that they go check us out on all of our online mediums, which they can find right on our website, at www.wakethesun.com.
Jeff: I would definitely want them to leave with the same energy I walk away with. I’m pretty passionate about our music, as I’m sure the others guys in the band feel that way too. So to have people walk away and having connected to them always feels great.
Tommy: I’d hope an audience would connect with our energy. Sending out a vibe during our set is certainly a priority. Since our music spans a lot of different sub-genres, I feel the live set can take people on a bit of a journey dynamically.
Marco: After a Wake The Sun show, I’d want any listener to walk away knowing that the band they just saw played their hearts out and left everything on stage in their performance. I would want people to know that rock isn’t dead, and that it’s still alive, and, well, and I’m so happy when people ask, “When are you guys coming back?”
Your first full-length record, Through The Night is coming out on June 15th, what can you tell us about it?
Dillon: I gotta say, it’s about time!
This is a compilation of tracks that has evolved over two to three road-tested and labor-intensive years. Being the primary songwriter, it’s emotional to go back a listen to the songs in succession and relive the emotions and sentiments I had when writing them.
The album has a sweet mix of highs and lows, starting off with the lead track “Squeezebox,” which drives and wails with big drums and clanging guitars, followed soon after by the drawn and anthemic “40 Days,” which embodies a lot of the imagery and verve of being on the open road, traveling cross country and the tribulations that follow.
These two tracks sort of elucidate the vibe of the album… diverse but cohesive in that they manifest the perceptions of traveling in a van, for seven weeks on end, through the night.
Jeff: Through The Night is to me is a collection of memories captured from being on tour. The collection of songs has a way of capturing the energy of different experiences we have had being on the road. For example, “What’s My Name” with the southern rock feel and a little electric slide, to “Pink Neon” vibing on the West Coast/California feel. These songs we have been working on for so long I am very happy to finally be releasing them this week.
Tommy: I feel that every song paints a different picture of the cities and experiences we’ve shared through traveling the country. So our drive “Through the Night” from city to city is the soundtrack of these journeys both physically and emotionally.
We have slower jams and ballads, we have a southern stomp, some pop-driven modern rock, and some old school, gritty blues-rock. All different ideas and music to fit the gamut of emotion and energy we all feel from our lowest lows to our highest highs. It’s an eclectic group of songs, but they tie together our sound and experience as a band.
Marco: There’s a lot of heart and soul that was put into this record. But the most important thing I could tell you about it is that we made it to document what it’s like being on the road playing music; and that it can get lonely sometimes, being far from home and your significant other, driving through the night to get to the next show, and not knowing many people that could come help you if you get into some trouble along the way.
On the road, it’s certainly a bonding experience to be cramped up in a van for a few weeks with your friends. This record is one that’s a long time coming for the band, so I’m so excited to finally put it out and get back to working on the next one!
What’s everybody’s favorite song on the new record?
Dillon: I think my favorite track is “Squeezebox.” It’s got energy and ardor I really dig and it’s really fun to play live.
Jeff: My favorite song on the album has to be “Squeezebox.” High energy the whole way through, the bass parts are a lot of fun to play. This song, to me, is also one that I feel identifies our sound best.
Tommy: My favorite track has to be “Squeezebox.” It has so much of that psychedelic vibe. Personally, I love the raw guitar parts that I play and those vocal harmonies that really pop.
Marco: I sometimes go back and forth, but I think “40 Days” is my favorite. To me, it has a lot of the soul and essence that makes the mood of the album in general and balances out the more heavy-hitting tracks. Lyrically, it captures so much of what it was like for this band to be out on the road, so that definitely plays a part in why it means a lot for the record as well. I also just love playing a pretty straightforward groove, and I get to do that on this one, so I’m happy any time we play it live.
Who would you say your biggest influence musically would be?
Dillon: It’s really hard for me to pick just one “biggest influence” as there are so many. If I had to narrow it down, I’d say Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, and Otis Redding had a big influence over me as a kid and have always stayed with me as a songwriter and vocalist today.
Jeff: Some of the people I look up to as bass players have to be Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), Tim Commerford (Rage Against The Machine), and Joe Satriani (Deep Purple).
Tommy: Personally, my biggest influences on my guitar work ebb and flow like the tides, but of late, I’m really honing in on Jeff Beck. His guitar work is so expressive and raw.
Marco: I listen, like all of us do, to a lot of music, so I couldn’t begin to list everything I like. But in terms of influences in this band, I’d say the biggest ones would be Steve Clifford (drummer for Circa Survive), Ronnie Vanucci (drummer for The Killers), and George Daniel (drummer for The 1975).
Just in terms of being a drummer in a band, these guys are definitely big influences in my playing. Circa Survive is an incredible band, and their drum parts are so intricately arranged by Clifford while still smashing you in the face when you hear him.
The Killers are legendary now of course, and Vanucci on drums brings the perfect blend of vintage-sounding gear to a modern rock soundscape, and his hard-hitting but perfect grooves lay such a stable foundation for the rest of the band.
In The 1975 (my favorite band currently), Daniel produces as well as lays down drums for the band, and he brings a lot of contemporary R&B/hip-hop/gospel elements into his playing and production. There’s a lot of his influence in the song “Pink Neon” off the new record.
Since Wake The Sun kicked off, what are you most proud of as a group?
Dillon: I’d say I’m most proud of the guys sticking with it and continuing to do what we all love. This is a tough industry and we’ve had our share of disappointments. But the resolve of these guys and their ability to bounce back is truly awesome.
If we can get through some of the struggles we’ve gotten through in the past, I think the sky is the limit for Wake The Sun.
Jeff: One of the things I’m most proud of is finally releasing this record. It has been in the works for a long time, road tested, finally ready to be released. It’s great to have something to show people on what you have been working on for so long.
And I’m looking forward to getting back into the studio and recording more new songs we have already started working on.
Tommy: I’m proudest of the touring we’ve done. It’s anything but glamorous driving through the country packed up into a van. It’s difficult, but it’s been an amazing opportunity and a real bonding experience that makes this band tighter both as musicians and a brotherhood.
Marco: As I was the latest addition to the band, they had already accomplished a lot before I had even begun to play with them. But since I’ve joined, I’m most proud of making this record with them.
After more than two years of being a part of Wake The Sun and not having much to actually show for it, I can finally show the record to people and share what we’ve been up to. I’m actually even more excited for the next one so when that comes out, I’ll be even more proud!
Gear-wise, what does everyone play?
Dillon: I mostly play a ’60s reissue Fender Strat, through a Fender hot rod Deville 4X10 (the thing is a heavy beast).
Sometimes I’ll switch it up and play a Nashville Tele for certain songs as well. I have a small assortment of pedals I use, Small Stone, Aquapuss, and Echoplex to name a few.
Jeff: I play a Fender Jazz Bass American. I have a 4×10 Ampeg with an SVT7 pro amp head. I use a couple different EQ pedals to zero down on my sound, also have an OCD.
Tommy: Gear for me is a minimalistic approach. I play a homemade custom Strat, with Custom Antiquity Seymour Duncan pickups. I run through Blues series Fender amps to stack some grit and rely mostly on analog delay and searing overdrive from my Klon clone by Piedmont electronics. The obligatory wah and Phase are often a nice addition.
Marco: I could talk for days about my gear, so I’ll keep it brief. I play a Mapex Saturn Birch/Walnut kit, with a 22″ kick, 12″ rack tom, and a 16″ floor tom. I switch out snares a lot, but right now I’m using a 14″ x 6.5″ SJC metal snare that was actually a gift from SJC to George Daniel himself, but he didn’t want it. I also play Evans drumheads.
For cymbals, I play Sabians, with a pair of 16″ HHX stage/studio crashes as hi-hats, a 21″ HHX Legacy ride with rivets as my main crash, a 22″ HHX Legacy heavy ride as my main ride, and a 22″ HHX Manhattan Jazz ride with rivets as my secondary crash. I also use DW hardware and Roland electronics for backing tracks and triggers.
What’s your favorite venue to see music at and to play music at?
Dillon: I’ve just recently been introduced to Brooklyn Steel, the venue is awesome, and the acts they’ve been booking are top notch. It’s not too big, and not too small for me.
As far as favorite venues played (shameless plug incoming), we haven’t played it yet, but I’m excited to play Bowery Ballroom on July 6th.
Jeff: Some of the best shows I have been to were at Irving Plaza in Manhattan. I’ve seen some of my favorite bands play there, such as Rival Sons and Circa Survive. I would love to be able to play that stage someday.
The stage I’ve enjoyed playing the most to date is Gramercy Theatre in NYC.
Tommy: My favorite venues to play have been New York City classics like The Bitter End, The Bowery Electric, and Gramercy Theatre.
Marco: As I’m the only member living in NYC, I get to be around so many music venues all the time, so I don’t know if I could really pick a favorite. I’ve loved getting to see so many of my favorite bands play (the currently closed) Webster Hall, but also PlayStation Theater, as well as the new Brooklyn venue Elsewhere, and the relatively-new Brooklyn Steel.
As a band, we’ve been able to play Gramercy Theatre, and we have a show coming up in July at Bowery Ballroom, and those two rooms are a pleasure to play in. There’s a bunch of larger and smaller venues that I frequent as well, but those are definitely some of my favorites.
Where do you find new music?
Dillon: I mostly find new music through word-of-mouth from my friends, and I admittedly use Spotify to no end, so I am always finding new cool bands through playlists.
Jeff: Everywhere. I’m constantly finding new music through Spotify, word-of-mouth, whether it’s from a bandmate or any other of friends. A lot of my friends are musicians so I’m constantly talking to them about new music.
Tommy: The short answer is, from the other guys in Wake The Sun. Usually perusing through curated playlists on Spotify and other similar music apps that provide music based on tastemakers.
Marco: I’m totally addicted to Spotify, so I’ll just check for new releases there, as well as my Discover Weekly playlists that are basically curated for me to check out music that’s similar to what I listen to already.
I also love to ask my friends what they’re listening to, because I’ve heard some of my favorite music just from a recommendation. I’m also on social media a lot so I’ll see things pop up on the different feeds that I’ll check out. I also really love to check out bands/artists that are playing on the big late night shows, and I’ve come across some incredible artists just from their quick TV spot.
Catch their record release party on June 15th at Finley’s of Green Street in Huntington or at Bowery Ballroom on July 6th!