HEAR sits down with Sundy Best
By Mark Petty
This week, HEAR Magazine spoke with Kris Bentley of Sundy Best about the band’s music, what success means, and Kris’s father’s high school classmate.
HEAR Magazine: Congratulations on being number 11 on the Billboard Country Chart. That’s got to be such a thrill for you.
Kris Bentley: Yeah. I told someone the other day, I don’t think many people brag about being number 11 at anything (laughs). But in our case it’s pretty cool.
HM: Tell us about some of your musical influences.
KB: Yeah, I mean we’re kind of old school. You know, we grew up listening to the ’70’s classic rock. Our parents were always listening to Bob Seger, Tom Petty, The Eagles, The Allman Brothers. I remember learning to play the drums along to a Grand Funk Railroad album. Savoy Brown album… J. Geils Band. That’s when we fell in love with music. That’s what we were listening to. Thats the kind of music we still listen to today, and what influences us and inspires us. Of course we listen to other stuff, too. But we’re really into music that was relevant 30 years ago and will be relevant 30 years from today. Good music has no expiration date.
HM: Watching your videos, I saw you sitting on a box and slapping it with your hands. I learned later that that box is called a cajon. Tell us about how using that instrument came about.
KB: When we were starting out playing, we were playing a lot of restaurant patio and bar gigs. We were trying to do the whole drum set thing…and then Nick was playing electric guitar… Sound wise it was just really empty. There was too much going on. So, I’d seen a cajon on Youtube and went out and bought one. And I’d never played it (before) or anything. But I figured, having played the drums, I could figure it out. We just started jamming around acoustically. And the gigs we were doing, we were playing four hours. We’d do half acoustic and the last half I’d get out the kit and play. Playing in those small venues…restaurants… You know, there’s no volume knob on a drum set. And we were actually getting better response from what we were doing acoustically, just the two of us on the cajon and guitar. So, it kind of happened organically. I taught myself how to play and it’s kind of been our thing since 2010.
HM: Your These Days looks really terrific. Where was that shot?
KB: Yeah, man. That was a fun one. That was shot out in California, the Mojave Desert. Red Rock Canyon State Park.
HM: I see it’s getting quite a bit of airplay on CMT.
KB: That’s pretty cool. Stuff like that never gets old.
HM: What was it like to step out onto the stage of The Grand Old Opry for the first time?
KB: It was just really surreal, you know. It’s something that we both grew up with. Listened to it on the radio. Our parents and grandparents listened to it. You’d get it on TV from time to time. There’s just so much history there. Especially at The Ryman Auditorium, which is where we made our debut. It was really an unexpected invitation when we – when they asked us to come play. We’ve only been doing this for a short number of years, so to get that invitation this early on in our career was a huge surprise. It was just an experience that we, you know, we took it in as much as we could. It’s just one of those things that you carry with you for the rest of your life.
HM: You’ve played there a number of times now.
KB: Yeah. We’ve actually played the Opry twice now since the first time. We’re going back for our 4th time in a couple of weeks, April 11. I told someone the other day that I think after we play this 4th time, we’ll have our tenure. They won’t be able to get rid of us!
HM: You guys spend a lot of time on the road. How’s the tour going?
KB: Good. We’re actually currently driving through Georgia, on the way to Auburn, Alabama. We’ve got a show there. Then Destin, Florida tomorrow, Birmingham on Friday, Tennessee on Saturday. And then we get a day at home and turn around and we’re coming up north so… It’s good, though. It’s what we’ve always wanted to do, and we never look at it as work. It’s fun for us.
HM: We’re looking forward to seeing you in Ann Arbor. Have you ever been?
KB: I’ve actually got a lot of ties in Ann Arbor and Chelsea. My dad went to Chelsea High School and he’s from Chelsea. And I’ve got family… My great-uncle still lives right there in Chelsea. And I came up to Ann Arbor just to hang out, I guess it’s been a year or so ago. I love it up there. My dad actually graduated high school with Jeff Daniels.
HM: Small world, you know?
KB: Small world.
HM: Would you describe your music as country music?
KB: If The Eagles came out today, they would be country music. So, I think that’s just the easiest genre for it. Country Rock. There’s a lot of different influences as you can tell.
HM: What does “success” mean to you?
KB: You know… I think it can mean different things throughout your career. When we got our first gig playing in Lexington at an actual live music venue. We got a house gig at a place called Redmon’s, that was very successful just because we hadn’t done anything up until then. I think, ultimately, it’s just being able to do what we love and live comfortably, you know? Obviously it’d be pretty cool to play arenas and all that kind of stuff at some point, but that won’t determine if we’re successful or not. Stuff like that’s just icing on the cake. We’re just trying to make music that people can relate to and affect people, because, I mean, it’s been such a big part of our lives. Just to have that opportunity to do that for other people is really special.
Sundy Best will be appearing at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, March 26. Check out the show preview here.
For more information please visit Sundy Best’s official website: http://www.sundybest.net/home/