Sun God, a Philly indie rock outfit, released their second full-length LP, “Gentle Day,” earlier this month. Originally conceived by Jordan Smith (voice, rhythm guitar) and Mike Paulshock (voice, lead guitar) nearly a decade ago, Sun God showcases their daydream-laden buoyancy while achieving a more expansive sound with the addition of Will Hochgertel (bass) and Steve Kurtz (drums).
“Gentle Day” is specifically inspired by aughts-era indie rock, ‘90s college rock, ‘80s powerpop, and a healthy dose of hometown nostalgia. The album was recorded in September 2020 at the Bunk in Henryville with Matt Schimelfenig, and mastered by Ian Farmer at the Metal Shop with artwork by fellow Schuylkill County native Russell Edling.
PW recently caught up with the band to talk about its music.
How did Sun God come together? How did you pick the name?
Jordan Smith: Once I moved to Philadelphia around 2013, Mike began taking me to a ton of DIY Philly shows at venues like Golden Tee House, Ava House, and random basements. Watching bands during this time was a huge inspiration to both of us. Mike was already a musician for years, so once I learned some cowboy chords, we began writing together and haven’t stopped since. After a couple years of fiddling around, Will and Steve joined the band to create the precise Sun God order.
Around this same time, Mike was very into Egyptian mythology, so we tagged the name “Sun God” onto our lo-fi bedroom recordings. In retrospect, I’m glad we stuck with the name because our vibe of jangly/indie/beach rock has represented the name in a cool way that embodies the classic Sun God sound.
The band started about a decade ago. What have been some of the highlights of the past 10 years? What’s still on the band’s bucket list?
Jordan Smith: Truthfully, the fact that anyone listens to our music is a highlight for us! We find it super important to include our friends and community in everything we do with the band, so getting to be creative with a swath of people is super fulfilling. Recording the latest record with Matt Shimelfenig (Three Man Cannon, Gladie) at his studio, The Bunk, was a huge highlight for us. He has been a musician/producer that we’ve admired for years, and the experience was perfect in every way.
Looking ahead, our goal is to just continue to write music together, have fun, and collaborate with friends. Getting signed to a label would be dope, but honestly as long as we’re enjoying playing music with each other, that’s all that matters to us!
What inspires you to make music?
Will Hochgertel: The community of people who write, play and record music has always inspired us. It’s one of the best ways to spend time with people and share a very intimate side of yourself. Some of our friends are our favorite musicians and artists, and seeing them create beautiful music is the most inspiring thing to us.
Your second full-length LP, “Gentle Day,” dropped Oct. 1. Talk a little about how the album came together. How can people get the album?
Mike Paulshock: As Jordan mentioned, we started getting a little more serious about the band after Will and Steve began playing with us. We’d recorded and released a handful of songs with them, but as we kept writing and writing, we realized we had a full album’s worth of songs ready to go. We booked nine days to record 13 songs (11 of which made the cut) with our friend Matt Schimelfenig at his studio in the Poconos called the Bunk. We had a blast recording, but we definitely had our work cut out for us to churn out 13 songs in a little over a week.
We also enlisted the help of a friend, Ian Farmer, who mastered the album at the Metal Shop, and had another friend, Russell Edling, create the artwork for the album.
Overall, we couldn’t be happier with the end result. The album is available on all streaming platforms, and we had 200 records pressed in Philadelphia by a small-run pressing plant called Softwax. You can purchase the record at our bandcamp link (sungodpa.bandcamp.com).
What’s the Philly music scene like these days? How has the city, it’s music, its culture, etc. influenced your music?
Steve Kurtz: Philadelphia has had a big influence on our music. The DIY scene alone has helped us get our start by playing house shows and art space venues, and also beginning to network with other artists in and outside of Philly.
It’s a unique vibe here, too. There’s so much creativity and life in this city that blends together to influence us. We certainly have our style of music that we stick to when writing, but our individual experiences here over the last 10 years work their way into the writing. These days it’s a little tougher to play shows, but the scene is just as supportive as ever!
What’s ahead for you now that the new album is out? Any live performances planned? More new music?
Will Hochgertel: We just keep spending time together and writing/recording songs. Sometimes we try to push our songwriting abilities with different goals – for example, after we finished recording “Gentle Day,” we wrote and recorded the song “Obvious Music” in one day, start to finish. It was a fun way to try something new and make commitments quickly in our writing.
We’re playing at Ortlieb’s in Northern Liberties on Nov. 21 – this will be our first live show in a very long time and we’re really looking forward to it!
What are the best ways for your fans to stay connected to what Sun God is doing?Steve Kurtz: We’re on Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook, and our media handle is @sungodpa. We’re pretty active on Instagram so that’s the best way to catch all the latest updates. Also, our music is streaming online on Spotify and Bandcamp!