Artist of the day: The Sun Society
The Sun Society -- Kathleen McGuire, vocals and piano; Shaundra McGuire, vocals and bass and cello; Joey Hedger, guitar, banjo and sax; and Ben Saylor, drums and guitar -- got to know each other as students at Keswick Christian School in Largo. Ben, Joey and Kathleen are juniors and 17 and Shaundra is a freshman at 15.
The four play vibrant, original folk pop freckled by vintage charm and beguiling quirks. They drew together through their mutual enjoyment of non-mainstream music. "We'd listen to a lot of the same music -- Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes and Arrah and the Ferns," says Ben.
Click here to listen to a clip of the Sun Society's Mountain Song. And after the jump, get Julie Garisto's full profile of the young band, including the story behind their Wes Anderson-inspired name...
Bright and civilized: The Sun Society are Kathleen McGuire, vocals and piano; Shaundra McGuire, vocals and bass and cello; Joey Hedger, guitar, banjo and sax; and Ben Saylor, drums and guitar.
What they play: Vibrant, original folk pop freckled by vintage charm and beguiling quirks.
Age of innocents: The boys and girls formed the band in July and got to know each other as students at Keswick Christian School in Largo. Ben, Joey and Kathleen are juniors and 17 and Shaundra is a freshman at 14. The four drew to one another through their mutual enjoyment of non-mainstream music and began spending their free time together. “We’d listen to a lot of the same music — Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes and Arrah and the Ferns,” says Ben.
Kathleen: “We’d go on a lot of adventures, you know, fun bike rides, canoeing trips.”
In the genes: The McGuire sisters grew up with music, Mom, Kelly, teaches piano and dad, Michael, is a guitarist. Their brothers front the Grecian Urns, a Pinellas-based folk collective.
Wes Anderson fans: Their band name came to them after watching Rushmore, in reaction to uber-extracurricular lead character Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman). “I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we could start a society at our school?” Kathleen says. “And then it went from that to starting a band ... I love alliteration, so we came up with the Sun Society, which makes sense because we’re in the Sunshine State, Florida, and it was summer.”
Uncanny resemblance: Though Shaundra and Kathleen are a couple years apart, they look almost identical. “We get the whole twins thing a lot,” says Kathleen.
Songwriting: The sisters write the lyrics to the songs and suggest the instrumentation while remaining open to input from the boys. “I’m inspired a lot by poetry of the Romantic era and nature,” Kathleen shares, “so the songs are basically like poetry put to music. ... Our goal is to make people feel rather than just to have a tune in the background. My songs are wordy, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I like to use a lot of imagery, and incorporate horns and strings.”
Shaundra: “I like the horns and the orchestration, too, and tend to write more simple lyrics.”
Joey: “We switch up instruments. I play the banjo on some songs.”
Before-their-time influences: “I grew up with Ella Fitzgerald and my mom would play the old showtunes, so that rich style of singing, that vibrato rubbed off on me,” says Kathleen.
Joey: “My dad played a lot of classic rock, Clearwater Revival and the Who. I grew up with gospel music, playing in the church praise band.”
The bio blurb says it all: From their MySpace: “We swim in the bay, we are in love, we are nostalgic, we are like ticking clocks, we are young, we are 'the Sun Society.’”
Hear them live: 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Pangea Cafe, 34 N Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater, with Alexander and the Grapes, Proud Iron Lion and Old Northeast and Hippodrome. Benefit for Invisible Children; donations encouraged. (727) 443-5040. myspace.com/thesunsociety.
-- Julie Garisto, tbt*. Photo by Stephen Hedger.