We have teamed up with Sennheiser and one of the latest editions to their family of Artists, Hundred Suns, to give you the chance to win a Free Sennheiser Wireless System along with a Vinyl Copy of their debut record “The Prestallis” and a special edition T-Shirt. While Hundred Suns may be considered a new band, all of the group’s members are veterans of the heavy style of music highlighted on the album. We sat down with lead vocalist and lyricist Corey Brandan (Formerly of Norma Jean) to learn more about how the band came together, the recording process for the Prestaliis, and to talk about the current state of Music.
Tell us a little bit about how the Hundred Suns project came together.
We all met through our other bands touring together over the years. We had all been looking for a new project. Something we could really just call our own from the ground up. It was important to us that we made something special and new and after a lot of emailing home demos and building songs out of our closets, Hundred Suns was born.
What makes the “Prestallis” record different from other music you have all released in the last few years
We wanted to make some new and different from our other projects for sure, but we also didn’t want to just throw away everything we had ever learned. I had tried other side projects that were such a stark difference from other things I was doing. I wanted to make sure I didn’t just bury all that knowledge and more expand on it at first and see where it went. After we had the first few songs we were able to venture into newer territories with songs like “December”, “Infinite Winter” and “Last Apology” to name a few. Lyrically, I took a different approach with more mature themes and overall telling a story throughout the album. The concept being a series of conversations between different characters or entities. It made it a lot more interesting and kept us separated from the anything else we’ve done.
How long did it take you to record “The Prestaliis”? What has the anticipation of waiting to perform it live been like?
We started tracking in Toronto in Oct of 2016 and the vocals were finished in February of 2017. Mixing lasted until the end of April. It was a long process but we just had poured so many years into these songs and this album that we wanted to make sure we didn’t cut any corners. As for playing these songs live, that’s all we ever wanted to from the beginning. Making the album was more a means to getting to that point of playing shows with the album on the shelf. Our first shows were the week before the record was released.
It is probably very easy for you guys get music gear these days. However, do you ever visit any music stores while on tour or during the making of a record to see what’s new.
Getting any gear can be easy, but finding the right gear is way more important. Something might seem right or even exciting at first but then you get it into the practice space or on the stage and doesn’t fit. At the end of the day, the music is the most important thing. So, going into a store and getting the right tools to me is extremely important. Being able to try the gear out, talking to someone that knows what you’re looking for. Being able to take your time and try it for yourself based on the type of music you play. That type of experience is invaluable. Plus, it’s like going to an adult toy store!
What is your favorite piece of music gear/equipment? How long have you had it for?
I can’t pick one favorite thing and I’m a massive gear geek so I have a few. As a vocalist, that’s easy, the Sennheiser e935. I immediately noticed a ton of clarity in my voice to a point that it literally helped me be better at what I do. It’s also a sturdy mic that holds up to a lot of abuse. I’ve been using this mic for about 7 years or so.
As a guitarist, the ESP XTone is my fave, I also love the Fender Tele Baritone. It’s a blacktop but it’s a great instrument. My favorite amp is the Ampeg reverberocket. They don’t make these anymore and it’s a shame because the head crushes. I’ve used it on every Norma Jean record. I’ve had it for probably 17 years or something. The other head I use is the EVH 5150 III. Seriously can’t beat this head in my opinion.
When did you start using the Sennheiser e935?
I think I got my first one in 2010. I had been using another mic previous and was really used to it by that point. The first show I used the mic was kind of mindblowing at first. I wasn’t prepared for how it was going to sound at all! I really had to focus more on what I was doing and how I was holding the mic. Now I rotate between 3 or 4 of them, switching out every night. I strongly recommend every vocalist have their own mic and for touring musicians, have 3 and rotate. Don’t risk using house mics, sounding subpar, or risk getting sick or something.
Hundred Suns is a new project for you guys. How would you compare the recording process when it’s with a new group vs when you go into the studio for a 2nd or 3rd record?
I think that’s definitely part of the learning curve with any new project. You have an initial excitement but when it comes to writing, you are creating an artistic chemistry with each other for the first time. There’s no real way around that. I think for us we were really blown away by how we worked together right from the get go but we still know that we were just getting started. I think that will only help us make a big leap from the next album.
Have the advances in Recording technology changed the music making process for you guys as opposed to lets say how you would have made a record like 10 years ago.
Definitely! That was a HUGE part of how we started writing initially. We all live in different cities and even countries so it was amazing to be able to record at home and send ideas back and forth until the song was complete. Both of the songs we released before the record were home demos and you almost wouldn’t know with how far DIY recording has come. Just one my end, the vocals for the demos we released; “Fractional” and “Bedburner”, were recorded in my closet and for the most part, nothing about those songs has changed, and we were all teaching ourselves how to record too at the time. It was nice to be able to fully complete a song that early but when it came to track, we hit the studio and made it all natural.
The “Prestallis” is being released on Vinyl. What are your opinions on Vinyl vs Digital. Are you excited to see this mini revival of Vinyl, especially with the younger generation?
Yes I love it. When we were all getting started years ago, Vinyl was a cheap way to put out a physical copy. CDs were a much more expensive route at the time which is why many bands put out vinyl in the 90s and early 2000s. The tables have turned for sure now, but the options available are plenty and it’s really become way more of a collectors item. To the point where a lot of fans are buying vinyl without even owning a record player, and I say more power to em. It’s a great investment and usually limited in numbers, and you can always listen to them down the road when you find a good record player. I love it!
What next for you guys? Any time off after the tour or straight back into your various musical endeavors.
Yes, we have a little time off but we want to start writing immediately and get a head start on the next record. We definitely want to stay busy and get back on the road as soon as possible.
Any advice for your fans that are also fellow musicians and are looking to make an impact with their own stuff?
I think it’s important to remain realistic and understand the risks and the work involved. You can definitely do it but don’t cut any corners. Make your recording great and on par with your favorite bands. Also, keep in mind that there’s someone in that project that is doing a lot of work behind the scenes. Support that person or get out of the way. It’s more than just getting along with each other, everyone is going to fight for their ideas. It just means you all care about it. Other than that, put on a show and come out swingin!
Cory Brandan (Hundred Suns / Norma Jean)
Thank you guys!
To enter by mail, send a postcard with your name, address, telephone number and email address to: Sennheiser/Hundred Suns Giveaway!, PO Box 9047, Hicksville, NY, 11802.