In May we were introduced to a brand new band from Long Island that captured our attention and made us believe that impressive new music from the suburbs of where this website was born can happen. In an era where less and less organic garage or start-up bands are happening in this country outside of major cities, and more musicians are focusing on computers and programing to achieve their sound arrives a band like Sojourner. This young five-piece fills the air with atmospheric tingles and combines it with subtle aggressive rock hooks. After releasing their impressive three-song EP this spring, we spoke to member Robbie Santos about hailing from the island that gave the world Brand New and Billy Joel and what it is like making music there now. Take a look!
Hailing from Long Island, how has the island influenced your work and sound?
I think the Long Island music scene has been a pretty significant influence to all of us. Your environment influences you in lots of ways, and I consider us pretty lucky to grow up in an area where there was always local music. We all grew up listening to local bands so I'm sure it’s influenced our sound it ways we don't even recognize.
The sound of this band is so unique, who are some of your influences?
O’Brother, mewithoutYou, Brand New, and Thrice are just a few bands we love and bonded over, but we all draw inspiration from different places.
How would you describe Sojourner to someone who has never heard of them before?
We were once described as “emotional with a sad plea of want.”
What does the name of the band mean and who came up with it?
Sojourner by definition is someone who wanders with no particular destination or home. Zac got it while reading Walden. An interesting part of our band is that we were all traveling and in different places early on, which is part of the reason why it’s taken us so long to put out music. We always had conflicting schedules and would come from different areas of long island (and upstate, at times) to jam. But one could also take a more abstract or existential meaning from the word.
How did the band form?
Zac, our original drummer, and myself started playing music together a few years ago. Mike started jamming with us on bass, then played guitar for a bit, left for a while, ended up coming back to play bass again. Adam was playing a solo set at the East Islip Lanes while I was working the sound board, Mike happened to be at the show too. We were both really into what he was doing, asked him to come over and jam, and we all clicked immediately. Bo is Zac’s brother and we were always impressed with his talent seeing him play with Sleep Bellum Sonno, he sort of fell into drumming for us. From there we reworked a bunch of the old material and things, its sort of been a long time coming to get everything together.
You just released your debut EP, is a full album in the works?
We have some other plans first but a full length will definitely be in the works soon.
What was it like finally recording your music and putting it out there for the first time?
It’s been pretty rad. Two of the songs on the EP we recorded a while ago ourselves, then they got reworked with Bo, and reworked again with our friend Bradley Cordaro while recording, so they've evolved a lot. It’s cool the see how they’ve developed and we’re happy with how they came out. People have had some nice things to say about it so thats inspiring.
Where do you see this band in 5 years?
Hopefully still making music together/thrashing/crushing life, having a good time.
What are the major goals of Sojourner?
Continue to grow, make more music, and play more often. Maybe people will enjoy it and we can quit our jobs at some point. That would be ideal.
Hailing from Long Island, you don't sound like a typical Long Island band, was that your intention of breaking the emo, post-hardcore mold?
We didn't intend on sounding like anything specifically. There’s never been a dialogue about direction, so genre never really plays a part in it. We just write what comes out or what we think sounds good.
The music scene on the island is coming back, what is it like to be a new band from there?
It’s really cool. The Long Island music scene has always been unique and special, and really quite diverse. Something that you kind of had to grow up around to really appreciate. There's lots of talented people here, so everyone's kind of inspiring and supporting one another.
What is next for Sojourner?
Gonna pull our jeans up real high and tight