‘Selfmade rockstars’ – Undercover Magazine (Munich, Germany)

English translation of Raj’s interview in Munich’s Undercover Magazine.

For the German version, click here.

Undercover Magazine

Selfmade rockstars

Raj Siva-Rajah, Bob Spencer, Tom McGirr and Justin Kool are The Sunpilots. Most young bands struggle to be discovered by a label and land a contract. The Sunpilots fight hard, but by other means. They moved from Australia to Berlin, arrange their tours directly and they are giving away their latest album for free. Without management, they have created a foothold in Europe and they aren’t bound by contracts.

It’s a lot of work and endless touring, but still the four guys have fun and are enjoying their growing popularity. The Sunpilots already have 16 000 likes on Facebook and seriously engaged fans when on stage. There’s no mistaking the voice of Raj Siva-Rajah, the lead singer, who’s mother was a classical Sri Lankan singer and taught him Carnatic vocals. Music is in the blood. “I’ve been singing since I was five and always played in bands. I grew up learning Carnatic music and listing to bands like Radiohead and Alice in Chains,” Raj tells me.

The Sunpilots

“King of the Sugarcoated Tongues” is the album The Sunpilots are giving away for free on their homepage. “We want more people to hear our music,” says Raj. “And we want those people to come to concerts. By letting fans download the record and asking them to share it, we get new listeners and our shows grow.”

King of the Sugarcoated Tongues is divided into eight chapters and is about the human need for safety, and the freedoms we trade in return. Not just emotionally, but also in society. It’s easy to feel safe, comfortable and protected.

The Sunpilots are truly “independent” because Raj handles the band’s own record label, finance, management- everything you need to run a rock band. The band tour through Europe in their bus, sleeping on the sofas of many friends and sharing an apartment in Berlin… four guys in van on tour around the world. Originally The Sunpilots came to Europe in 2010 for one year, however they have been here two and with their growing success, there are no plans to go back to Australia soon.

Nevertheless, the band misses their homeland. “It’s tough!” Raj confesses, “I miss my family and friends. We have skype, but it’s not the same.” Things between the band certainly don’t seem to be too difficult. They live together. With a laugh, Raj tells me it’s a “love/hate” relationship. “We’re not friends, we’re brothers. Which is great, but you need your own space too.”

The Sunpilots will perform at the Street Life Festival in Munich on June 10th. Come out and rock with them!

Priska Nicky, Undercover Magazine