Exclusive Interview: Florida’s Sun Domingo Talks Prog Rock With Darrin Cappe

Prog rock and Canadian rock expert Darrin Cappe returns to Biff Bam Pop following his two part interview with Marillion, this time talking to the bands tourmates, Sun Domingo. Take it away, Darrin!

Sun Domingo are a Florida based Alternative-Progressive Rock band who have released 2 albums and have toured North America and Europe over the past several years, slowly building a strong steady following with their catchy, thoughtful and intense styles. This tight 4-piece band features Kyle Corbett on Vocals and Guitar, Edgel Groves Jr on BVox and Guitar, Daniel Gordon on Bass, Keys and BVox, and Rodrigo Velente on Drums. At times they fall into Crowded House territory and other times they are more King Crimson.

With 4 excellent singers their harmonies are fantastic both on record and in a live setting. My first introduction to the band was in 2009 when they opened for Marillion at their first North American Convention. It was an impressive set of material that caught everyone’s attention. Two years later, on Friday April 8 2011 my band Tempus Fugit played a show with Sun Domingo at Brutopia in Montreal during the afternoon prior to the first night of the 2nd North American Marillion Convention.  The band returned to Canada in December 2011 where they played their entire 2nd album Songs For End Times, as well as all of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. The Toronto show was impressive to say the least.

Following my interview with Steve Rothery and Pete Trewavas of Marillion on Wednesday June 20, 2012, I caught up with Kyle Corbett (Vocals, Guitar) and Edgel Groves Jr. (BVox, Guitar) prior to sound check as they just pass the half way point opening for Marillion on their current North American Tour. Read on after the break!

Darrin: Hi Guys. Welcome back to Toronto.

Edgel: Sweet

Kyle: Thank you.

D: I believe this is your second time playing here.

K: We were here in December at The Tranzac Club

D: I was there and it was a great show. So how is this tour going so far opening for Marillion?

K: Yeah we’re just a little more than half way through and it’s been amazing.

E: Yeah it’s surreal honestly, doing all these dates with this band.

D: How have the crowds been for you guys so far?

Both: Amazing

K: Awesome, they are always great…especially the Canadian crowds. Montreal last night was out of control.

E: Boston was amazing. DC was amazing.

D: I heard Quebec City was pretty outstanding as well.

K: Yeah there was a wave… a noise that went through the crowd during Neverland that spontaneously erupted into applause that was incredible and just kind of took the audience over.

D: There is something about Marillion fans of all the bands I’ve ever seen is that they are really kind to their opening act and very accommodating.

K: Oh yeah.

E: Too kind!

D: But you’ve got to be good though…you have to put on a show… they aren’t just going to accept anything.

E: I was terrified a couple of years ago when I found out that a couple of their opening bands had been booed off the stage. I was like “If that happens to us I don’t know if I can live with myself”.

D: But you guys have a good relationship with them now. You’ve played with them several times over the past couple of years.

K: Yeah it’s funny now to come back to our own country to play with them.

D: When you were here last time in Toronto you opened the set by playing your entire recent album “Songs For End Times” and then you did a full version of “Dark Side Of The Moon” by Pink Floyd. How did you come up with that? Why did you decide to do that in particular?

K: Well two answers…the pragmatic answer was we needed to fill up some time. The lineup was just gelling at that point and it was something we were all familiar with and something we could all make happen. The artistic side was that it seems like a companion album for Songs For End Times, which is an album about empathy and compassion at the end of the world.

D: It worked really well I have to say and there was some stuff you did that really impressed me. The Great Gig In The Sky in particular the way you handled that…

K: That was fun. That was one of those things where we all said “yeah we can do this album no problem…but how are going to do Great Gig In The Sky?”

E: I don’t think a whammy pedal has ever been so…(laughing)

D: It was something and it took me by surprise. I was really impressed by it cause it was a cool musical moment where you are surprised…as someone in the audience not expecting something like that. It is something that you know so well; a reinterpretation. It was really great.

K: Thanks. I would have sung the whole thing but there were 2 or 3 notes that I couldn’t hit consistently they were just too high.(as an aside the entire vocal was done as a mix of vocals as well as a guitar solo weaving in and out replicating the iconic vocal melody.

D: So “Songs For End Times” came out in 2010?

E: 2011, April

D: Oh right. It was just before the Marillion Convention

K: In Holland

D: What have you guys been doing since then? Have you been writing?

K: Yeah we’ve got a bunch of new material. After this tour we’ll take a minute and regroup and then start recording.

E: We have a lot of ideas floating around but we haven’t had a terrible amount of time to flesh it out. After we got done with the Songs For End Times/Dark Side tour we got back home and…life erupted for all of us in good and bad ways so with prepping for this tour, rehearsing getting ready for this we just haven’t had a moment to really write together.

D: So no specific timeframe of plan to go in and record yet?

E: No right now we’re just focusing on the tour.

D: What about the rest of the year? Any other tours planned?

E: I’m heading over to the UK to do some work with some other bands. Some drumming with another band from the UK. A session drummer thing.

D: And any plans to do anything with Marillion in the future? The Conventions or has it not been determined yet?

K: Who knows? They are so amazing we are just thankful and honoured to be a part of this tour and the other shows, the conventions. Who knows what will happen in the future?

E: They’ve been keeping us in rotation so if it happens that’s awesome.

D: It’s a big deal to tour with a band like them with such great fans…what have you taken from this experience?

K: We’ll that’s the best part…we get to see 13 Marillion shows (laughing) … apart from playing ourselves.

D: But apart from that are you watching what they do and how they play and are you drawing from that?

K: Oh yes of course. The relationship they have with their fan base is very unique. The music envelops people and I think it is cathartic for people that are fans. I mean Marillion puts their arms around them, like h (Steve Hogarth) does every night and gives them a big musical hug. For a band like Marillion they are very honest. The music is authentic and they give everything that they can  and the fans appreciate that. That reciprocity doesn’t really exist with many other bands.

D: So you’re drawing that kind of sentiment and learning from what you see.

K: Well sure its an inspiration to see Steve Hogarth on stage every night give what he gives….the whole band really. And we’re behind the scenes a bit so we can see the technical difficulties here, and this guy’s sick and there’s all this other stuff going on but they hit the stage and…

E: No BS every time.

D: You roll with those things…

E: You’ve got no choice if you want to make it in this business.

K: And also they are super nice and the British self-effacing thing but they are also very serious about their art and what they are there to do so that is inspirational as well.

D: I saw an interview you guys did on Dutch TV with a translator…

K: Actually that was our manager from Glassville Records.

D: What I found really interesting from that interview was that you (Kyle) talked about how you tune your guitar using a different type of tuning and I’m curious about that. What exactly is it?

K: It’s like a baritone tuning for guitar. It was several years ago, I’ve played guitar for so long that I wanted to find some new colours and new chords. I thought I’d tune my guitar like a cello and I kept making it lower and lower and lower till I got to Aflat. Super low tuning. It’s almost like Robert Fripp’s tuning. It’s something that has opened up everything for me. All of a sudden I didn’t know anything anymore and I was a really awful guitar player. I went out and I tortured people for a few months while learning the scales. I didn’t know how to do anything but it came around. It’s almost like playing a different instrument. For Sun Domingo we’ve been using it on this tour on two or three songs on acoustic guitar. We’ll plug it in and the sound guy will be saying “Oh my goodness what is going on?”

D: It is really interesting cause it gives you guys a unique aspect to the sound you get from your guitar because of that. So you are 8 shows into the tour with 5 shows left. Are you flying or driving?

E: We’re all driving. We’ll find some friends along the way, make some lasagna and bbq…

D: Sounds great. Well I hope you have a great rest of tour.

left to right – Kyle Corbett, Edgel Groves Jr. Pete Trawavas (Marillion), Daniel Gordon – photo by Darrin Cappe

 Check out Sun Domingo at http://www.sundomingo.com where you can pick up their new album Songs For End Times

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