If you asked any of the three members of Sunset Voodoo what their band sounds like, they would all describe it as “alternative rock with bluesy grit and a jazzy sway.”
Influenced by bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus and Radiohead, the Tempe-based trio consists of lead vocalist/guitarist Joey Gutos, a business and entrepreneurship junior at ASU, bassist Lucas Roth and drummer Rocky Yanez. The band’s latest four-song EP, ”Sunset Voodoo EP,” will debut at a show on May 2 at the Sail Inn.
The EP took about two semesters to finish, and while the band seem satisfied with the final product, it wasn’t the original vision that they had in mind. Like any other artist or band, Gutos said they experienced setbacks during the recording process, but those setbacks became opportunities for the group to take a different direction in the EP.
“It’s our first major, legitimate release, sort of, in the music world, and we want it to resonate with people,” Gutos said.
Each summer, Gutos tries to find a new album to start his summer off with, which is something he hopes people will do with the release of “Sunset Voodoo EP.”
“I feel like it has the potential to be one of those sorts of records that gets people feeling good about school being over and just having some fun,” he said.
Gutos started playing guitar when he was in the seventh grade. He took lessons in eighth grade, and then really started to get into it. During the same year, he sang backup vocals for The Cars’s “Just What I Needed” in a school talent show. After trying to sound like he had a bigger voice than he actually did at the time, some of his friends gave him grief, which he said was the reason why he wanted to become a better vocalist.
After graduating from Marcos de Niza High School in 2011, Gutos and Roth began to jam and write music together. After things started to click between the two, they brought in Yanez, a childhood friend of Roth’s, to play drums.
“We’ve come a long way since what we first were,” Roth said. “When we first started jamming, it was kind of like just feeling everything out and figuring out what our style was and figuring out what our sound was and taking it from there.”
Yanez, who has been playing drums since sixth grade, said recording the 4-song EP wasn’t an easy task.
“It’s a lot of pressure, because you start the spine of the whole process, so you gotta be on point,” Yanez said. “But it took us … maybe two semesters worth of just recording four songs, so it’s not easy recording a little four-song EP.”
One song that sticks out for the band is “Sonoran Whiskey.” At just more than five minutes long, the upbeat, roller coaster-like track is the lengthiest song from the new EP.
Gutos said they wanted the song to have a feel good, party vibe to it, but it shifts throughout.
“And that’s what I really love about it — is that it takes you to this tip-top and you think that it’s peaked, and then it kind of comes back down but then it takes sort of a new direction that was created within this initial rising action within it” Gutos said. “It’s just like one of those emotional songs where I can just close my eyes and just jam out to and kinda lose myself in.”
Although all three members of Sunset Voodoo are currently full-time students, Gutos said he thinks the band has a future.
“This is something that I think all of us want to make happen as our main career path and goal; because we believe in what music has the power to do, not only for us, but for other people,” Gutos said.
Contrary to many aspiring artists, Gutos said he never really wanted to be in the spotlight and has always placed an emphasis on making a connection with fans.
“It’s not like, ‘Oh it’s all about me’; it’s about knowing that you’re delivering something that’s connecting with the audience and that they’re delivering that energy that enables you to do even better,” he said.
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