Interview with vocalist and bassist Troy Perlman | By Janelle Jones
I first heard Sunshine State on a split with Dead Bars on No Idea Records and knew I needed to learn (and hear) more about these alums of Whiskey & Co., J. Page, Against Me!, and The Scaries. Their debut LP, Pour – out September 23rd, also on No Idea – truly showcases these guys’ penchant for creating a unique, multi-faceted brand of punk. Before the release, I speak with frontman Troy Perlman…
Stream their new track “Peace And Rain” here.
Can you get into how this all started?
We kinda formed by accident through Warren [Oakes], the drummer. He owns a restaurant called Boca Fiesta, and they had this thing called Band Roulette. Basically, you put your name into a hat and tell them what instrument you want to play. Warren, [guitarist] Kyle [Fick], myself, and a girl named Jessica all ended up in a band together, and we just kinda clicked. I had a couple songs written and we decided we wanted to keep playing. Jessica had a lot of other stuff going on, so she just slowly took herself out of the picture. I used to be in a band with [guitarist] Mike [Magarelli] seven or eight years ago, and we had a couple conversations, mostly those kind that you have at the bar with your buddies that never come true. We asked Mike to come out to practice with us to learn some of the songs we already had, and he helped write more. Here we are a year later and we have one record.
On the second-to-last song, “Young,” is that Jessica?
No. That’s our friend Samantha Jones. I had written that little part of a song and wanted to throw it in there just ‘cause I liked it. Sam was one of my early musical influences, as someone who didn’t live in Gainesville yet, but was a fan of Gainesville music and their scene. So we asked Sam to do some harmonies with me and she did it in probably five minutes. She listened to it, I told her the lyrics, and she just nailed it immediately, and was like, “Okay, see you guys later!”
Then you finish with “Peace and Rain.” Do those two go together?
They were kinda attached. I always knew after I’d written “Young,” that it’d be a prelude to “Peace and Rain.” Not that they necessarily have anything to do with each other, but the way the songs flow on the record, it made sense to us. Each song has its own little story. And because Sam harmonized on “Young” and she also harmonized on “Peace and Rain,” it kinda made sense to put them together as well.
Did you do most of the writing?
“Peace and Rain,” “Concrete World,” “Long in the Tooth” – some of those heavier, riffier-type songs – Kyle had written musically and brought to the table. It becomes obvious once you see us live who wrote what. The poppier, more straightforward punk rock songs I wrote on acoustic guitar and taught everyone, and they made them sound a lot less simple and more interesting. It’s collaborative, as far as arrangements go. Lyrically, it’s mostly me.
“Long in the Tooth” and “Concrete World” are heavier…
Well, the way I write, they seem very heavy to me. I know they’re still kind of standard. But on the flipside, Kyle also wrote the music for “Friends of the Deceased,” which is probably our poppiest song.
Oh yeah. It’s almost new wave-ish…
We all are influenced definitely by The Cure, accidentally by the Psychedelic Furs. I honestly wasn’t familiar with [them] until people started hearing that song and comparing us a lot. And I listened to it and I’m like, “Oh yeah, totally. I guess I’ve been accidentally ripping this guy off!” For the most part, we all come from the same general punk rock background, but from different angles. I guess that would explain the lack of consistency from song to song.
But I like that…
It seems like there’s so much good music out there, to just focus on being a punk band seems kinda silly to me. And honestly, I listen to punk rock, but if you get into my truck, you might find that I’ve been listening to The Grateful Dead for a month.
How do you feel about the press’ focus on “Warren from Against Me!”?
We always knew that was gonna be a thing, because that was a really popular band and Warren was just a very recognizable face. I always knew, “That’s Warren who’s in Against Me!” But one of the things that really interested me was how energetic Warren’s drumming was and how it seemed to come from a different place than a lot of punk rock drumming at the time. You could feel that kind of anarchist sense about it where he wasn’t really playing by the rules. He hit the drums so hard and it was all pretty simple, but the tones of the snare… It was just interesting. I was always a fan of his style, and I really felt the band wasn’t the same after he left. But people are gonna talk about it. Hopefully, as we get out there and play more shows and record more stuff and develop our own identity, eventually it’ll be one of those things where no one says that anymore.
Why did you choose No Idea to release your record?
We talked a lot about labels and possibilities when we started realizing that we were gonna try to be a real band to some extent, and for me, it was always hopefully gonna be No Idea. Var [Thelin] from No Idea is the first and only person who we actually approached when we were recording and playing shows. We had no idea how he was gonna react. We all had previous friendships with Var and professional relationships; Warren had put out records on No Idea, and they’re a label here in Gainesville.
Are you planning on touring when it comes out?
We’re planning on getting on the road as much as we can. Mike is a dedicated father. Warren and Kyle own their own businesses, and they’re both pretty fantastic businesses here in town, so priorities are here for those guys. We’re gonna do as much as we can when the record comes out, but realistically I don’t think we’re a band that’s gonna go on the road for two months at a time. Weekend warriors. [Laughs]
And No Idea is cool with that?
Yeah, Var seems to be pretty open to the idea of touring as much as we can when we can. We’ve been pretty active. We’ve never had too long a time where we’re just sitting around Gainesville. We try. But realistically, we are limited as to how much time we can be on the road.
Is “Long In The Tooth” just about getting old?
It definitely is about the fact that we’ve been in this town for a while, seeing all the changes as well as things that don’t ever change. And I guess it’s about getting older, maturing, trying desperately not to lose touch with the things you value. […] There’s something to be said for being older and really being part of the same crowd, not letting your age get in the way because everyone’s gonna get older. I go to shows now and I see some of the same people I saw 10 years ago when I moved here. They’re relentless. They do it because they love it, not because it was cool when they were in their 20s. There are some kids here I’ll probably see at a house show when they’re in their 50s, and that’s the beauty of living in a town like Gainesville.
About “Friends of the Deceased”… That “You will never know…” chorus…
That was probably the hardest part on the record for me. I don’t know why I wrote it in that key, because it’s so far out of my range. I’m not a trained singer by any means; I just shoot from the hip. When it came time to record that, I started sweating bullets. I wasn’t ready for it. Going into that chorus part always gives me trouble and it still will probably forever. I wrote that song about a friend of mine who committed suicide back in Georgia where I went to high school. The music for it already existed – Kyle had written the riffs – so I was just singing to the music, and it wasn’t until we got ready to record it that I realized how far out of my range what I’d written actually was.
Do you play it live?
We play it live when we’re feeling frisky. We don’t play the same exact set list every night. You never know who’s gonna wanna hear loud synthesizers. [Laughs] I feel like we’ve been pleasantly surprised with the response to that song live.
The band will be playing Fest this year in Gainesville, FL. Details on all that stuff can be found at thefestfl.com.