Discovery: Eternal Summers

Published April 5, 2012

ABOVE: ETERNAL SUMMERS. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN HAMELMAN.

A dirty, lo-fi influenced power- and noise-pop trend currently dominates the indie music scene—think bands like Cults, Dum Dum Girls and Guards. But a stand-out is Eternal Summers.

Founded by two members of the Magic Twig musician collective in Virginia, vocalist and guitar player Nicole Yun and drummer (and occasional singer) Daniel Cundiff, Eternal Summers did not set out to form a band. “It all came together very nonchalantly,” Yun says, chatting with Interview. But form a band they did and with a new production team, a new album coming out this summer, and a new band member, Eternal Summers is feeling more cohesive than ever. We had a three-way call with Nicole and Daniel to discuss childhood pet-traumas, the Smashing Pumpkins and gradually moving from analog to digital recording.

AGE: 29 (Nicole Yun), 31 (Daniel Cundiff).[Nicole:] The guy who runs our label told us to just say we’re 25, “You guys look like you’re 25.” But people can do math, if I say “In high-school, when this album came out” they’re going to realize. [laughs] He’s a character, we love him.

HOMETOWN: Roanoke, VA.

LOCATION AT TIME OF INTERVIEW: Yun: I’m at a shopping center in Roanoake, Virginia next to a middle-aged ladies shoe store. [laughs] ] I just walked out of a salon, my hair is, like, blue, but it’s cool.

Cundiff: At the moment I’m in a car with my friend going 25 miles an hour in a suburb of Roanoke Virginia

DAY JOBS: Yun: I work at a natural foods store, an organic hippy-dippy place.

Cundiff: I work with children with autism at a middle school. I was a substitute teacher for a while because that was the only thing I could do and be in the band

BEGINNINGS: Yun: I found out that there was this group of musicians in Roanoke that had their own studio and were sharing equipment. They had a really great community; it was very incestuous [but] I was really impressed because they were just living music and they were always making up new bands within [the same] eight or nine people.  Daniel was in quite a few of those bands. Eternal Summers just started out a some songs I had written. I wanted to do a couple of shows and I got in touch with Daniel and was like “Do you have [this other guy] Sam’s number, I hear he’s a drummer and I want to ask him if he’ll play some shows with me.” And Daniel was like, “No, let me play drums. I’ve never played drums in a band before.” I was like, “Yeah, that sounds fun. I’m not that great at guitar any way.”

ACCIDENTALLY BECOMING A BAND: Yun: When we started it was “Let’s just see how it goes. No promises. This is not a band, just an experiment.” It was really from show to show where we’d be like, “Do you want to play another show together?” Surprisingly we were both really into it. The first time I felt like we were really a band was after our second show-a really bad bar show-that’s when I though, I think we’re a band, but I don’t want to say anything and scare him away. It was sort of like a weird dating relationship, I think he’s my musical boyfriend, but I don’t want to say.

Cundiff: I think we we’re both like, “Woah, this is so much easier than what we’ve done before.” Not because we weren’t putting in the work, but communication wise. We have the desire and the drive; once we decided to play some shows, we were like “Boom! Let’s do it.” I think we still have the same intensity of making Eternal Summers be the best band it can be!” [laughs]

CHANNELING TEENAGE ANGST: Yun: One of our really good friends, she’s just really good at describing things, she wrote me this text, “I like your album. I feel like a lot of teenage girls with a lot of problems are going to relate.” [laughs] I really saw that as one of the best compliments ever because I know that as a teenage, that’s when I was the most receptive to interesting music. How did I channel my teen angst? Smashing Pumpkins, I would just come home after school and look at the liner notes to different albums that they did and just brood on my bed and write really angsty poetry. It was really cliché, but it’s part of life.Cundiff: We’re big fans of Smashing Pumpkins. I definitely listen to them while making the record and before and after. They’re a good band.

CHILDHOOD PETS: Cundiff: My family had a pet cow, it’s name was Blackie. It was solid black, not very creative. It got mauled by wild dogs and died. It’s very tragic. It’s kind of abandoned it, so my dad brought it home as a pet and we had to feed it until it got old enough to function on it’s own. Once it did, we put it back on the farm and these wild dogs came and killed a few of the cows. There’s more to the story, but I swore to secrecy never to tell it. I was very young, five or six. Me, my brother and my dad witnessed it, but I can’t talk about it anymore.

ENTERING THE MODERN AGE: Yun: All of our albums have been recorded in the same space. It is an analogue, reel to reel set-up, so there is kind of an older sound to it. With our newest album, coming out in the summer, we recorded all the instruments as we usually do at our space, but then we had a couple of guys in New York mix it—these two gentleman, the lead guitarist of the band Ravonettes, and another guy, Alonso, whose background is really strong in hip-hop, he worked with P. Diddy for many years. I think I was still a little bit starstruck, Oh my gosh, this Danish guy in this cool band is leaving shows to make sure our album is going to sound good.

The first few times [I listened to the new album], I was crying in bed at night. I thought that it was alien to something that I had a hand in making—Are we still the same band? Is this [record] honest, because [the sound] is so clean and aren’t we kind of an awkward band, full of mistakes and rough around the edges?” Now that I’ve listened to the album many, many times, I think it still has that rough around the edges quality we’re converted, we’re sold.

Cundiff: I was just as upset as well. I felt like it was a lack of control. I had to watch videos of another bands in the studio to help me come to grips with someone taking your music and doing something that may feel foreign to you.

THEIR UPCOMING ALBUM IN A NUTSHELL: Cundiff: I know that when we were playing the songs and we recorded them, I just kept seeing the color blue.Yun: I think there’s a brightness to it, a fresh brightness. It’s not a muddy album, but it’s a dark brightness [laughs] A navy blue beam of light.

ETERNAL SUMMERS IS PLAYING AT GLASSLANDS IN BROOKLYN, APR. 11.