Sons Of The Sun
Before Matt Sonic scaled the heights of his High Times, there was a young, excitable rock’n’roller earning his crust as a surf instructor on Victoria’s surf coast. In late 2005, a chance air drumming session with fellow surf instructor Johnny Rollins in the white-capped waves off the southern Victorian coast led to a discussion on mutual and divergent musical tastes; Sonic and Rollins found a space to jam, and the two-piece surf garage band Sons Of The Sun was born. A smattering of well-received local, regional and interstate gigs, and a Dean Turner-produced EP later, and Sons Of The Sun slipped below the horizon. “It’s not like we really ever broke up,” Sonic says. “We just moved on.”
With a few local bands under his belt, Sonic had already immersed himself in the rock’n’roll performance culture; Rollins also had the music bug, but without Sonic’s practical experience on stage. “The catalyst for the band was actually when we had this random air-drumming moment in the surf,” Sonic recalls. “We got to talking about music straight away and I reckon that night we were jamming together.”
While Rollins’ musical interests tended toward what Sonic describes as “heavy emo, Blink-182, that sort of stuff”, Sons Of The Sun was very much a surf-coast band in style and substance. “A lot of the energy came from Johnny’s style of drumming, which followed his musical interests, whereas I was into totally different music,” Sonic says. Despite the existence of a vast catalogue of classic surf tunes to cover, Sons Of The Sun was avowedly an original band – “as original as you can be in a rock’n’roll band,” Sonic laughs. “We were only playing originals – we never played a cover. We used to call our jam sessions ‘expression sessions’. Neither of us would have input into what each other was doing.”
Sons Of The Sun got its first break at Geelong’s Barwon Club one Thursday evening in early 2006. “I’ve still got the poster,” Sonic laughs. We managed to get a gig on the back of someone else’s show.” Sonic remembers the set being one full of “rocketing nerves”, with Rollins particularly nervous at the prospect of playing on stage for the first time. “Johnny was completely frightful!” Sonic laughs. “I’d played in bands before so I knew about being on stage, but Johnny was really nervous.”
Despite the nerves, the set went down a treat, with Sons Of The Sun quickly gathering a foothold in the fertile surf coast rock’n’roll territory. The booker at the Barwon Club also booked a venue in Bendigo, which led to Sons Of The Sun playing regularly in the gold country. “We used to go back to Bendigo almost every couple of weeks,” Sonic says. “With country areas, if you put in there, they love to have you back, because they don’t get a lot of bands coming into town.” On one evening Sons Of The Sun was playing alongside fellow Melbourne band Killer Birds and the legendary Cosmic Psychos on a particularly eventful weekend. “That was the last gig that Robbie Watts played with the Psychos before he passed away,” Sonic says.
Sons Of The Sun eventually came to the attention of Magic Dirt drummer Adam Robertson, who spoke glowingly of the band to Magic Dirt’s late bass player Dean Turner. "Magic Dirt asked us to play with them in Ballarat one night, and that’s how I got to know Dean,” Sonic says. “We ended up getting along really well and he said he wanted to produce our record.” Turner took Sons Of The Sun into the studio and produced the band’s only recorded output, a four-song EP.
Not long after, and Rollins, faced with the harsh reality of financial security, headed off interstate to seek employment in the mining sector. Sonic had been asked to fill in for Turner in Magic Dirt, and Sons Of The Sun faded into memory. By the time Rollins returned, Sonic had formed a new band, Matt Sonic And The High Times and Rollins moved on to other musical pursuits. With the High Times in temporary hiatus while Sonic pursues a few other projects, as well as writing material for the band’s next record, a chance phone call from Rollins led to the decision to organise a couple of Sons of the Sun reunion gigs, in Geelong and in Melbourne. “I got a call from Johnny one day, suggesting we have a jam,” Sonic says. “We’re advertising it as a once-off, but the truth is that we never really stopped.”
BY PATRICK EMERY
SONS OF THE SUN play their Melbourne reunion show at Cherry Bar on Sunday July 15 with My Left Boot and King Of The North.