Sunset Riot

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Sunset Riot


The three hour drive across familiar terrain from Sydney to Canberra doesn’t stress Rio after their recent 35-date trek across the United States. While some Australian bands wait ages to jump across the pond and tour the States, Rio thought it was a vital step for Sunset Riot.

“We’re completely independent, and we thought to ourselves, let’s just do this. We’re a live band, first and foremost. The fact of the matter is that Australia has only 20 million people, and we want to make a living doing this. So we had to take it worldwide and see if we could do it. We left Australia with 18 shows booked and ended up just through word of mouth booking another 17 shows. We ended up doing 35 shows in 70 days, with over 18,000 kilometres on the van. From LA, through Texas and Florida, up to New York and back to LA again. It was an amazing experience with a very grassroots approach to promotion. With no label or management either.”

Rio continues, indicating that the trip may even impact the band’s future as well. “As far as what it’s done for us, it did us a lot of good in Australia, surprisingly. A lot of people just look at us and say, ‘Oh, they’re just another band.’ But now that we’ve been over there, I think some people might be more inclined to check us out. And we’ve got people in the States asking us to come back too.”

As fortuitous a tour as it was, Sunset Riot was also exposed to the uphill climb they must endure if they’d like to succeed full-time and long term with the band. Though their two EP’s, 2010’s self-titled effort and 2009’s Take A Bite are packed with the kind of sexed-up hard rock that the band is becoming known for, a chance meeting at the legendary Viper Room in Los Angeles gave them an idea of what needs to be done for the band to stay relevant.

“We played a show with Hotel Diablo, this ‘super group’, composed of members of Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P and they’re all ’80s glam band members. We just started talking to them about how difficult it still is to make a living as a musician. And if they’re telling us this, you get an idea about how tough it really is. You have to really want to succeed and be willing to put in the hard yards by going out on the road constantly. Because there are that many bands out there. You might play a lot of dingy places, but you’ve still got to put on a good show, otherwise people won’t be coming back.”

Putting on a good show is something that Sunset Riot pride themselves upon. When asked about their approach, Rio notes that when playing live, you’ve got to take a personal approach.

“When you’re playing to a crowd of your fans, they’re singing along to the songs, and it’s really not that hard. You can play around with them and have some fun. But when you play in front of a new crowd every single night, you have to lock the audience and make a mental decision to convince every single person in the audience that you came from wherever you came from just to put on this show, just for them. If you can do that, then hopefully they’ll go away and they’ll tell their friends. With a wireless mic, I can get into the crowd, I can stand on a table, I can stand behind people and have them look back and feel almost as if they’re onstage. We like to create a circus-like atmosphere.”

While their live show is what Sunset Riot have been making a name for themselves upon, they’ll soon be releasing their debut full-length. What this will do for the band’s career, time will only tell. For now however, they’ve mastered the studio formula as well: get a producer with a proven track record and keep things simple.

“We’ve been working with Mark Opitz, a producer who’s got an amazing discography. INXS, KISS, Bob Dyland, and the list goes on. We write as we tour, so we try to stay a step ahead. But what’s on this newest record is of the some vein as the stuff from our last two EPs. There’s a ballad though; one of our slowest songs to date. It’s a nice change-up. But the rest of the record is still quite sleazy.”