Tony Cummings spoke to Geoff Hunker, frontman of the Dream Records band SATELLITES & SIRENS
The release of an outstanding new album by Nashville's Satellites & Sirens really completes the circle of eight years of toil and creativity for the band. Right from the off they were creating modern rock that with its liberal use of loops and beats and touches of '80s synth flourishes was a perfect antidote to the increasingly stylised guitar-driven pop rock which was clogging up US Christian radio. Their digital EPs 'All We Need Is Sound' and 'Breaking The Noise' got them snapped up by CCM giant Word Records, their radio friendly songs, many penned by frontman Geoff Hunker, a breath of electro-rock fresh air.
By the time Satellites & Sirens' self-titled full-length debut was released in 2010 things were looking good for the band (for instance, in July 2010 they were prominently featured as MTV's Needle In A Haystack artist - the first time any Word Records act had been pursued by MTV) but then things went pear-shaped for the innovative music makers and by January 2011 they found themselves without a record label after a shakeup in management at Word had left them on the cutting room floor. Unwilling to accept defeat the band raised money for a new record via Kickstarter and the resulting independent album 'Frequency' got Cross Rhythms radio play.
2012 found S&S working harder than ever as they toured all over the USA and even found time to record 'The Covers' album featuring the band's radical re-imaginings of songs by Taylor Swift, One Direction, Skillet, Chris Tomlin and others with the band even putting out a video on YouTube for every song on the record. Satellites & Sirens then signed with Los Angeles' Dream Records and in between times on the road began to put together what they determined to be their best ever release. Critical response to their fourth album 'Tank' would indicate they've achieved their aim. I spoke to Geoff Hunker about his music and ministry.
Tony: It's been quite a slog to get 'Tank' completed and released.
Geoff: Yeah. It's been a longer process; we put a lot of work into everything that we did, taking songs apart, rewriting at certain points. We're really proud of this record.
Tony: Have you done a lot of co-writing on this project?
Geoff: There's a few different co-writers, one of them being a guy from Rapture Ruckus, Geoff Duncan, another guy named Josh Engler from the band Abandoned, and some people that haven't done it before, which was a lot of fun. There's a student from Grand Canyon University, Ronnie Pektovich, he was interning with us and we ended up writing a bunch with him. It's weird but really cool how God orchestrated it.
Tony: That's generous of you to give over something like that to a young intern.
Geoff: He is quite talented. I'm actually going to start working on some of his own music with him. I've been working and producing for indie artists for a while now. This is an extension of what I wanted to do. I got a chance to produce this whole last record myself, so now I'm going to continue to do that with some other people.
Tony: Critics have noted in the past that Satellites & Sirens have a strong British band influence.
Geoff: For sure. I grew up in the '80s and my brother listened to the Pet Shop Boys and Information Society. It became a part of me, so when I sit down and write music I love the synths - pulling up all that kind of stuff to build songs from.
Tony: But you have resisted having electronic drums on all your tracks.
Geoff: I never thought that I was a pop singer. I wanted to be a band, not just Hunker, so I would bring in other band members. I think our sound developed from the different tastes of all our other guys. Our drummer is influenced by Dream Theater, bands like that. We wanted to get all of those pieces into what it is that we do, and I think that's how the Satellites sound came together.
Tony: Which member writes the lyrics? Is that mainly you?
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