‘Sounds Under Radio’: An intimate interview

By JoAnn Jones


With a sound characterized as “Americanized British rock,” it’s no wonder this Austin-based band’s career is steadily on the rise.

The four-piece band — comprised of musicians Lang Freeman, Sonny Sanchez, Bradley Oliver and Doug Wilson — released its sophomore album, “Where my Capitalist Heart meets my Communist Mind,” in early May.

Amidst growing success from their single “Sing,” which was featured on American Idol’s promotional commercials, the lead singer, Freeman, was able to spend some time talking music with the Logos.


  Q: What made you choose to pursue a career in the music industry?

A: It was kind of one of those things that was happening for me. It was like a no-brainer. My dad was a folk singer. Music is something that I was meant to do.


  Q: How did Sounds Under Radio get its start?

  A: The bass player, Bradley Oliver, (and) I met through a mutual friend and we really hit it off. We played around a little bit with our younger projects and at a certain point, we decided that it was time to start our own creative collaborative project. The whole goal was to have a band that was super collaborative and super creative.


  Q: How is your dynamic as a group? How is it like working with each other?

A: That one is always a funny question because we have been together not only as a band but also as friends for so long. It’s like a marriage, which is the best way to describe it. We love each other on a personal level as friends as well as on a creative level. I couldn’t imagine being creative and working with any other group of musicians. It’s a pretty great dynamic, for sure.


  Q: How did the name Sounds Under Radio come about?

  A: Naming a band is really difficult. Sounds Under Radio came from this philosophy we had when we started the band. The goal was to write songs and create music, this subversive rock and pop music, that swept underneath the dark power of radio.


  Q: How would you describe the sound as a musical group?

A: In the most simple form, I would say it’s best described as an Americanized version of Brit-Rock. Our influences come from all over the place. It starts with bands like the Beatles and Led Zeppelin to other bands like Pink Floyd. We all found a community with each other based on our mutual appreciation for bands like Nirvana, Radiohead and Muse. That’s kind of the foundational mixing pool that created our band.


  Q: Aside from British rock bands, what other bands are your musical influences?

A: One of my absolute favorite artists of all time is Jeff Buckley. He recorded his album “Grace” in the late ‘90s and in the middle of recording his second record he unfortunately passed away. He was a huge musical influence on me. But we are always listening and being influenced by different bands, like Mumford & Sons.


   Q: Mumford & Sons?

   A: Yes, funny story actually. About a year and a half ago we went to this huge festival in New York. I got to see Mumford & Sons perform right before they broke out and it was the most amazing experience. They are definitely awesome.


   Q: Do you hope to have a career similar to Mumford & Sons?

A: Yeah, but the ultimate goal is to reach as many people in as many years as possible in whatever capacity and in whatever way we can. I absolutely love playing live shows and touring. Playing live shows is a big part of what we do and how we project to people.


   Q: As far as touring, how would you describe your live shows?

A: Each show is a bit different. We put a lot of time and a lot of energy into putting on a show whenever we perform live. We made a conscious effort when we started this band to do something more than just getting on stage and just playing a couple of songs.


   Q: Being based in Austin, what is it like performing in San Antonio?

A: Our home outside of Austin is San Antonio. It’s probably our second-most toured city. We always have a blast and the crowd there is so receptive. It’s our second family.


   Q: If you could tour anywhere in the world, where would it be?

A: I would absolutely love touring the United States, seeing the great American landscape from a van window. We try to spend as much time as we can exploring as many things as possible. I have always wanted to tour Europe, though, and hopefully in the next year we will get to do just that.


   Q: Of all the places you have toured, where has been your favorite place to perform?

A: New York City. I absolutely love New York City. We have played coast-to-coast all over the place, but in New York there is this energy that is very special and very unique and really amazing. I have a blast every time we play up there.


   Q: How would you describe your new album?

    A: The new record that just [came out] is called “Where my Communist Heart meets my Capitalist Mind.” The whole record hinges on the juxtaposition of opposites, on these massive moments colliding with very small, very intimate moments. Thematically, it is a record about the conflict between your head and your heart and where oftentimes those pieces agree and oftentimes, they don’t. It’s a struggle we all go through and feel. The record is sort of a discussion of that battle and how it affects us internally as well as those that are around us.


   Q: How does this album differ from your previous albums?

    A: “Cinematic” [our previous record] was written and recorded when we were really still trying to figure out who we were as a band both musically and personally. Through the process of making that record, we sort of defined ourselves and figured out who we were going to be and expanded from there. This new record is different in the sense that we sort of have this foundation of who we are as a band, this new identity. The goal with making this new record was to create something bigger and newer and different yet still in the context of what we did as a band.


   Q: Since “Cinematic,” how has your growing popularity, especially with the use of your songs in movies and television shows, influenced the band?

A: Very positively, actually. The ultimate goal of our band has always been to reach as many people in as many years as possible; and having a place in television and film has definitely heightened that. We have been very fortunate to get a positive response from it. But you are introduced to a different audience, which can be very difficult to tap into otherwise. We recently had a single from the new record, “Sing,” be picked up by “American Idol” and used in their promotional commercial work. They have an audience of millions of viewers that alone we could never tap into. On a daily basis, I get e-mails and messages from people all over the world, Europe, the UK, Indonesia and South America, so it has sort of globalized the fan base of Sounds Under Radio.  On that level and many others, it has been very beneficial to us.


   Q: What does being a member of Sounds Under Radio mean to you?

A: It means a great deal. Being in a band and taking things seriously the way that we do. Being in a band is my job but it’s tough to even consider it a job because I love it so much. I don’t wake up every day thinking, “Aw man, I have to get up and work at a desk.” I wake up thinking, “Oh man, I get to get up today and get to write songs, record songs, play my songs, tour and do all these sorts of things.” This band is my creative outlet. It allows me to say things that are otherwise more difficult for me to say. It means a great deal to me on a personal level. It’s a huge part of my life and sometimes the only part of my life.


   Q: What do you hope people get from your music?

   A: We make a real considerate effort in our band to be truthful and honest and real in absolutely everything we do, everything we say, every note that we play. Love it or hate it, we just want people to come away from the music knowing that we were honest and truthful.


   Q: Where do you see the band in the future?

   A: Continuing to do what we do now on a more heightened scale. With each step we have taken, we have progressed our career to the next level, to the next platform. The goal with this new record is to continue to build upon that, tour as much as we can and start writing and recording out next album and do it all over again. At the core, we are creative beings and songwriting is within us. It’s something that we can’t stop doing.

E-mail Jones at jajones@student.uiwtx.edu

JoAnn Jones


For more information or to hear “Sounds Under Radio” music, visit the band’s website at soundsunderradio.com.

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