Bob Sumner

by the partae
Bob Sumner
Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?

Vancouver, B.C. in Canada. My girlfriend is a metal head. There is a thriving Metal scene. Those folks have a family. A real supportive scene. There is a real small underground scene of great songwriters in the vein of what I do, but it is small and niche to be sure.

You’ve gone solo, why did you decide to go down this path and how has the experience been to date?

I am always quick to point out that the solo thing is not a departure from The Sumner Brothers. We have spent close to 15 years making music together. There is no one in the world I’d rather make music with and we are in the studio working on new material. Having said that, I needed to step out to make this record. My brother is the older brother. He will always be the older brother. As such, he is the captain of The Sumner Brothers, I had to step into that chair to make this one.

How has the PNW affected your music?

Rain. Grey. Vancouver is a grey town. I have always said that if I wanted to write a sunny record, I’d have to relocate. That darkness takes its toll on some of us.

Please tell us about what influenced the sound and songwriting for your new record?

A whole lot of Texas songwriters for sure. Steve Earle, Townes, Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff. And then there was the Springsteen ballad thing. He always does this thing with his ballads where he uses acoustic instruments along with these beautiful Synth pads. You can hear that throughout his records, and a ton on his ballad heavy record ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’. We wanted to borrow from that for sure. Would be amiss if I didn’t also mention Phosphorecent (Matthew Houck). He makes beautiful records that to state simply, meld the worlds of country and folk while adding in a dose of Brian Eno. I love that stuff.

Where and when did you record?

We recorded Wasted Love Songs over the period of about a month, Summer 2016. The studio we recorded in is called Afterlife Van and is owned by John Raham who mixed the album. My dear old friend Erik P.H. Nielsen produced the record and did a bang up job.

Is there anything that surprised you during the album creation process?

I wouldn’t say that anything surprised me. We had a pretty good idea of how we wanted to make this record sound and we feel like we got there.
How do you usually go about writing music?

Something affects me. I read something in a book, something from a movie. A breakup, a row with my girlfriend. Recently I was in a coffee shop and I overheard a couple old timers chatting. The one said to the other, “Hell has broke open her doors again”. That’s a heavy statement. That ended up in a new Sumner Brothers tune. As far as this record, there is a lot of heartache in there. I call it Wasted Love Songs because you write a tune for a girl you’re in a relationship with and then it all falls apart, well there is a small part of you that feels that song is a waste. And then there are the nights you get wasted and write love songs, ha.

How’s the tour going?  
Incredible fun. Thus far we are mostly touring the record as a duo, myself and my guitar player Etienne Tremblay. ET and I lived together for a couple of years. We played together in the kitchen constantly. Worked out these songs pretty organically. He is a huge part of the sound, and one of my best friends. Makes the road a treat.

What do you find most challenging and rewarding about being on the road?

Money is always a challenge. It’s expensive and we’re not making a lot. That makes it tough. Also can be a challenge not killing yourself in a hurry. You spend every night in bars it’s going to be tough not to be drinking a whole lot of booze. Haven’t quite figured that one out yet.

What do you have planned for 2019?

Sumner Brothers are working on demos. Going to head to a cabin with the band for a bit just to play music, work stuff out and have a good old time. I’m just about ready to start thinking about recording another solo album too. And of course I foresee a whole bunch of touring. We’ve got plans to hit the road with our buddy Blake Berglund and his band across Western Canada in April and then we’ll be down in the South again in May. Hopefully some festivals over the summer time.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

Doug Paisley. His new record Starter Home on repeat. Been a fan for a long time and he just delivered another beauty.

What do you like to do away from music?

I love reading. Mostly fiction, mostly classics. Steinbeck, Hemingway, Ken Kesey. I love Cormac. I dream about being able to have horses and land. I’ve spent some time throughout my life around horses and we click. As it stands now I live in the heart of the city. So it goes.

Favourite food and place to hangout?

I like soup. A lot. A lot of folks claim that soup is not a meal. That’s bullshit. You can load a soup until it’ll bursting with goodness. Ramen, Pho, Borscht. I love a B.L.T. with a cup of seafood chowder. As far as a hangout, I want to hang at a bar with pool, darts, and or shuffle board. I don’t want to sit at a table all night, forget it. Bowling Alley is pretty great too. Give me a game where I can puff my feathers a bit.

Leave a Comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.