–By Dariya Salmin
While At Sunset is in the middle of a long awaited national tour, I was lucky enough to chat with Harrison Kantarias about their crazy time in the Philippines, meeting Ed Sheeran, working with his band-mate and brother Andrew, and the Backstreet Boys. With their latest single Kiss Me getting more and more air play, as well as being up for a Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Award for Favourite Pop Sensation, At Sunset is a pop rock trio you don’t want to miss out on knowing.
First of all, for those who don’t know much about you, tell us about your musical journey so far, it sounds like you guys had a massive year last year?
Well I play guitar and I sing in a band called At Sunset, we’re a pop rock trio from Adelaide South Australia, and last year we won the Nova Fresh Discovery competition, which allowed us to get a single recorded with Warner Music Australia and be mentored by Ed Sheeran. So that was absolutely phenomenal, and from there we released a single and won a MTV award and yeah this year we’ve already been touring since the second of January. So we’re home at the moment for a few days before we get back on the road for the national Kiss Me tour. So it’s just been nuts these last seven or eight months.
Yeah that sounds crazy! What was it like working with Ed Sheeran? And I heard you toured alongside The Vamps as well?
Yeah yeah, so Ed Sheeran, he’s a phenomenal person, not just as a musician, because everyone knows of his music ability, but him as a person, he was just an absolute gentleman. So we were in the room, because we had to perform for Ed Sheeran, so firstly, if you had asked me that the day before, would I have ever performed for Ed Sheeran, I would have said no, that would never happen in my life, but the next day the guy is two metres away from me, as we’re about to sing for him. So that was absolutely mind blowing but he gave us some really cool advice, he was so humble, and that’s one of the things that he really wanted to express, that the way you treat others is the way that you want to get treated and just things like that. And just gave us some amazing suggestions, so we couldn’t thank him enough in that mentoring session. Then from there, performing with the vamps was absolutely awesome, they are absolute legends and funniest guys, we had a lot of fun performing with them, in Sydney and ah yeah, something that we will never forget, playing at Allphones with the band.
Yeah sounds awesome. So you’ve just released a new single called Kiss Me, so what inspired this song?
Ahh well, so Kiss Me was kind of that song that we wanted to write because it was like, lets take it back to basics, it isn’t a complicated song, and neither is when you’re falling in love with someone. You know, some people will over complicate what’s happening in that time, so the reference in the song of ‘Sandy and Danny (Kiss Me song lyrics), is then to take it back to a classic love story, where you know its an hour and a half movie where it basically sums up two different bi polar lifestyles of how they could be together and that’s basically Kiss Me, be in the moment and do what needs to happen in the moment and go in for a kiss. Just get it done.
So I saw a video of your tour in the Philippines, it looked pretty crazy, tell me about that? Was it a shock to have such a strong reaction from the all your fans there?
Yeah it was. Because we started on YouTube, so for us we’ve always been able to see where the fan base is, and it was always crazy to see we’ve got a massive fan base in the Philippines, but because we’ve never been there, and social medias not really the same in the Asian countries then it is here, so you don’t actually see just how big your fan base ACTUALLY is. You just see all the numbers; you don’t see the tweets, and things like that. And then when we got there and saw that, you know the shopping mall wouldn’t let anymore people in, like there was thousands of people, and anywhere from just walking down the street and getting recognised and going out for something to drink and you know, just going and getting something to eat, I remember I walked into a Starbucks and got spear tackled within two seconds.
Yeah it was nuts, I remember being on the phone to my dad in the hotel room and going, look we’re just going to go grab something to eat or we’re going to go explore or something like that and the second I got out of the elevator, there was probably like 50 girls just waiting for us. I didn’t even know where we were, like do you know what I mean? But it was just phenomenal, absolutely awesome; we couldn’t thank them enough for coming out and supporting us. And when we got to play in the arena with Boyce Avenue that was like next level. So yeah it was an amazing time in the Philippines.
Yeah I couldn’t believe it when I was watching the video, it was insane! Have you seen the documentary Searching For Sugarman about Rodriguez?
No, I haven’t seen it.
Aw you should watch it, it’s a really good documentary about a singer from America who didn’t know he had a massive fan base in South Africa, and then he goes over there and performs to thousands of people, you should check it out!
I will! Wicked, I’ve put it in my notes. It’s now in my to do list.
So now you’ve just started your own headline tour in Australia, how is that going so far? Because you just did Adelaide and Melbourne?
Yeah it was absolutely awesome to be honest, Adelaide was packed in the end, and Melbourne was just off sold out as well so it’s just been awesome so far, the fans have been absolutely amazing to us. And we’re playing some new songs that we didn’t think they really knew and things like that, because you know it’s going on the future album, so we were like lets test the water, play the songs, see how they connect, see how people react, and they’re screaming the lyrics back to us and I was like, how do they know this song already?
What! How did they find it?
I know! I mean like obviously when we tour, we draw maybe one of the songs when we play, we’re like ok lets put California Stars in tonight, or lets open with this song instead, things like that, to keep it fresh for us.
Um just whatever’s on YouTube must be high quality enough that they can even hear the lyrics, and it’s literally word for word getting it screamed back at you, it’s amazing. I can’t describe the feeling.
Wow that’s awesome!
Yeah we’ve been blown away with everyone and yeah the tours been a lot of fun. It’s awesome to be on your own, we can really dictate the way we want it and the way we know our band wants it.
Yeah and then at least that way you know the people are coming to see just you and not someone else.
Yeah exactly, and that’s the crazy thing, is that they’re coming to see us, and not because we’re so privileged to be on the bill, it’s like they’re there for us so it’s really cool.
Yeah that’s exciting! So what else do you have planned for this year then?
Well for the rest of this year we’re going back to Asia, so that’s one of our major, major touring spots this year. We will go into the Asian market once again, but do more than just the Philippines this time. The States is on the cards this year as well, the biggest thing for us is that we want to release an EP this year, so for us we want to make sure we get an album out there so the fans can get exactly what they want, which is the music, so we want to give them that. And then tour it. Because now that we’ve started, like I said we’ve started from the second of January, we can’t stop! Like we’ve got the touring bug. So we’re going to be doing that for the next 18 months, so yeah a lot of touring a lot of travelling, and a lot of music to be released.
So your brother Andrew is your band mate, how is that? What’s it like working together?
Umm it has its moments, generally it’s great, because we’re very similar, also as people, but similar in interests as well, so it works out when you’re on tour and you’ve got a day off and you’re like ‘what do I want to do?’ Andrew and I genuinely suggest the same thing… most of the time. But there is definitely sibling rivalry in everything we do, whether it be first person on the bus, just little things like that, or playing video games on our down time or for example, Andrew’s in an interview right now, he would have already said something really smart ass to try and pay me out and we would have gone on a tangent and you would have been like ‘oh my god, are these two serious right now’, but like its all fun and games. It is awesome because when you feel like you’re missing home, you’ve got your brother with you, so it kinda makes you feel like home.
Yeah definitely. And what advice would you give someone hoping to get into the music industry?
My advice, to be honest, is just go for it. Because that’s what we did, we started on YouTube, and putting a few covers on YouTube, and I’m a big believer in creating your own opportunities. Yes an opportunity can come to you, but I also believe you’ve got to start somewhere; you’ve got to put yourself out there. And there’s no harm putting yourself in that spotlight like that. So I would say go for it, back yourself, believe in yourself because if you do, chances are someone else will.
Yeah exactly, it’s so competitive these days; you may as well just try every avenue you can, especially online.
Exactly, exactly, and that’s the way in this day and age. Totally.
Alright, my last question for you is, your favourite album of all time?
Ooo my favourite album of all time…
I know the pressure!
I know it is! Because at the moment I’m a massive fan of 1975, the 1975 self titled album, so at the moment I would say that’s my favourite but… hmm of all time… what have I absolutely slammed? I’m not even going to lie, but Backstreet Boys Millennium, it was a big thing for me when I was growing up. You know, I really grew up with that, but it is way too hard of a decision, I could even go some progressive rock like Red Hot Chilli Peppers, something like that, but you know what, I’m going to back what I’m listening to at the moment and I’m going to go 1975. I can listen to that from top to bottom, any day of the week, so I’m going to give it to them at the moment, because they’re absolute legends, they seem like legends, their music is just awesome, and so I’m going with that.
No I love it, that’s great! It is a tricky question, I wouldn’t know what to say if someone asked me, so it’s a good thing I’m not a muso.
It’s so hard! Like I’ll tweet you tonight, I’ll have like five others that I’ll probably decide on by the end of tonight. I’ll tweet you, I’ll find you on Twitter.
I don’t have Twitter!
All right well check my tweets. I’ll just for some reason post, five albums that I can’t get enough of.
Haha alright! I think that’s pretty much it, thank you so much for your time Harrison, it’s been awesome.
No worries, thanks so much, I’ll speak to you soon.
Photo Credit: At Sunset