Hailing from the quaint college town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Sullivan has
only begun turning heads in the modern rock world. After being signed by Tooth and Nail Records, the band excitedly looks forward to their promising future. On June 5th, their debut full length album Cover Your Eyes will initiate and determine that future. Vocalist Brooks Paschal, guitarists Tyson Shipman and Jeremy Stanton, drummer Phil Chamberlain, and bassist Zach Harward are hoping to “take the world by storm.”
I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with vocalist Brooks Paschal regarding their current tour, the band Underoath, and of course their new album.
RAG: In your own words, how would you describe Sullivan’s music?
Paschal: For me, the word that I continue to use to describe the band is “tension.” I think that a lot of our music has a really cool tension to it. There is underlying darkness surrounding our music, but on the surface everything sounds so sweet and happy. That’s what makes it so interesting. There is this unidentifiable tension between those two elements. Musically, it’s very uplifting, but lyrically it’s pretty disturbed and out there.
You are slated to release a new album called Cover Your Eyes on June 5th through Tooth and Nail. What can everyone expect from the album?
Paschal: I think we really came to terms with our songwriting style on this album. Overall, it’s a really dark record. It sounds pretty angry and moody. It’s also an extremely honest record.
Tell me a little about the current Tooth and Nail Tour that you are embarking on. What’s it like sharing the stage with such a stellar lineup of artists? MXPX?
Paschal: It’s been really great! Everyone is so cool and the crowds have been amazing. We’re just so lucky to be surrounded by such great bands. We are learning a lot, and of course having a great time as well.
Briefly explain how Sullivan’s writing process works.
Paschal: It’s definitely different for us. For this record, we got off tour on Thanksgiving of last year. From then on, I completely shut myself off to the world to write. I wrote everyday for about a month. Tyson, our guitarist, had a bunch of ideas that he had brought to me as well. With this record, we really learned how to work extremely well together. We bounced ideas off of each other until we had the complete arrangements put together.
Who are some of your main influences as a band?
Paschal: As a band, it’s tough. How about if I base it off of live performance? Live we are very influenced by the band At the Drive In. Looking back at footage of that band live is just unreal. I think that’s what kids want these days. They want to see something live that they can’t feel on the record. They need something special. I think we provide them with that.
You guys are from Greensboro, North Carolina. How was it trying to make it as a band in such an area? What can you say about the local music scene there?
Paschal: It’s tough there, because North Carolina is not the “Mecca” of rock. A lot of good bands have come from the area, however. If anything, being from Greensboro made us build a better work ethic. Because there isn’t that much musical competition there, it allowed us to promote ourselves more and concentrate a lot on making our music the best it can be.
At what age did you start playing music? Playing in a band?
Paschal: I was nine when I started playing piano. I was a typical high school kid that wanted to play music and be the next Green Day, you know? I started playing in a band with the guitarist Tyson in 2000. Eventually, in 2003, we started Sullivan. We have been working really hard ever since.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as a band thus far?
Paschal: This record. It’s everything that we wanted. We didn’t have to cheat ourselves and we didn’t get cheated. Tooth and Nail gave us everything we wanted and we got an awesome producer, and we got our engineer. Everything was perfect. On a personal level, it has been a great achievement staying together as a band and keeping the drive alive throughout all of the good and bad times.
Your drummer Phil Chamberlain’s brother happens to be Spencer Chamberlain; lead vocalist for the band Underoath. Do you expect any collaborations or tours together in the future, or are the genres to different to accommodate anything like that?
Paschal: We’ve toured with them a few times already, so that’s never out of the question. It never hurts playing in front of a couple thousand people every night, no matter the genre difference. We’re really good friends with those guys, so you never know what is to come. I’m sure we’ll tour again at some point.
Being in Orlando, I am obviously very familiar with the organization and “To Write Love On Her Arms” and your involvement with them. What can you say about your experiences with such a promising organization?
Paschal: It’s awesome. I met (TWLOHA president) Jamie at last year’s Cornerstone Festival in Orlando. It’s amazing that such a sweet person can do so much. The organization is exploding and I am so happy for Jamie. He put so much time and effort into it and I am glad it is starting to take off.