Sonsombre are an exciting new goth band from Virginia.  Their debut album, A Funeral for the Sun, came out on September 9th.  Vocalist and musician Brandon of Sonsombre joins DJ Jason to answer some questions about his work.

DJ Jason: That you are from Virginia and yet have a very European/UK sound really surprised me.  Are you from the US originally?  How did you come to play gothic music?    

Brandon: Yes, I live in the DC metro area, and I am originally from the US.  I think my sound is just reflective of the records I grew up listening to. As a kid I was very into metal and punk, always looking for the darkest and heaviest music I could find.  One day a friend introduced me to Christian Death’s “Only Theatre of Pain” and I realized there was this whole scene of great music that I had been blind to.  Shortly after I discovered bands like Nosferatu and Rosetta Stone (all the old Cleopatra releases) and was hooked.

A Funeral for the Sun is one of the best new releases that I’ve heard this year.  How has the album been received?  Have you gotten much feedback from fans and DJs?  
Yes, I’ve actually been really surprised by the reception.  I had been working on this material on and off for a couple of years and just wanted it out there with no pre-conceived notions about how it would be received.  As I write this the record has been out for about a week and I have been contacted by numerous DJs, podcasts, radio shows, and people who just loved the record, so that’s great.
I hear elements of Fields of the Nephilim, Nosferatu and 69 Eyes in your material.  Who are your influences? 
Well Fields of the Nephilim are one of my favorite bands, so it is definitely fair to say I take a lot of influence from their work.  Nosferatu is another great band, and I think vocally I definitely pull from their as well as in riffs like the opening/chorus of “Calling You”.  I can certainly hear 69 Eyes in “Should I Go On”.  I would also say bands like N.F.D. that do the whole hybrid goth/metal crossover thing have inspired me too given my background.  Then of course there’s the Sisters of Mercy… After all, who in Goth hasn’t been influenced by their stuff?  I know I definitely take some cues from songs like “Black Planet” or “First and Last and Always”.  The scene is so full of great new stuff as well that is constantly evolving my sound.  For example, I’m really loving Ground Nero (Belgium) these days, so I’m sure the sound will evolve like all things and really vary from song to song sort of like on this record.

As the only person in your band, do you play all of the instruments and sing when recording, or are there session musicians?  

I do… I play all guitar, bass, do all vocals, and drum programming.

I think that your music would go over very well at Wave Gotik Treffen and it would be great exposure too. Being a one man band poses some difficulty, but also makes low costs attractive to bookers.   Do you have plans to play live anywhere anytime soon?  If so, will you add a full band for live shows?
I’m not opposed to playing live at all, in fact would be great.  You’re right, as a solo artist it does pose a challenge.  I do have some other local musicians that I work with on my metal projects that would be willing to play live with me, so I guess we’ll see what happens.

You are in a metal band also; What is the name of that band and have you had much success?  Is your personal interest in Goth noticeable in your metal band?

Well, right now I actually have three active metal projects.  I have two black metal projects as a solo act (Suhgurim and Shield Breaker).  I also am in a doom band called Wytch Goat.  I do vocals and guitar in that band.  Shield Breaker is sort of folk inspired, but Suhgurim is very dark.  While it’s certainly not Goth sounding it heavily atmospheric at times and very dark.  Through the years I’ve been in quite a few bands actually, including a Doom/Goth (think Type O Negative) band in the Boston area called Eye of the Sun and a 2nd wave Black Metal band called Lycanthropy.  Most of these have had some success either locally or internationally but certainly nothing huge.  We’ve always just done it for the music.  Ultimately, each of my projects is a reflection of an aspect of my personality, so they don’t necessarily overlap in many ways other than that they are all dark.  I will say though, that this project is really the most personally satisfying.  I’m very attached to this material and take it much more seriously in many ways.

How did you choose your band name?  Does it have a special significance for you?

It’s a compound word from the French Son Sombre meaning roughly “it’s dark” or “its sad or serious”.  I think it just keeps me focused on the aesthetic and the vibe of that I’m going for.

Is there a message, theme or ideology behind your lyrics?  Tell us what inspires your words.

Really no ideology… just ideas of pictures to paint.  As far as themes many of these songs are about depression, isolation, or religious allegory.  For example “Burn In Heaven” is my retelling of Paradise Lost.  Songwriting is different for everyone, but for me it’s usually a melody first… that then drags the lyrical theme with it.  The melodies make me think of some scene or story that I try to tell.

You mentioned that you have more material like Sonsombre.  Is it released under another name, or hiding in a vault somewhere waiting?

Yes I do, and I’m working on more all the time.  I have material from these sessions that for whatever reason I didn’t feel fit on this record, and I even have some newer material.  Currently I’m working on another Sonsombre record and I fully expect it will be out within the next year.

What goals do you have for Sonsombre?

That’s a great question in that I don’t really know the answer.  I guess my real motivation is to re-create the feelings I had listening to classic Goth records early on in someone else.  If I can do that in just a hand full of folks then I’m set.  I really just want to get the music out to fans of the scene to enjoy.  I certainly don’t care about any commercial success or things like that.  Just get it out there.

Are there any links that you would like to share with the readers?

Please check the album out on Bandcamp.  Also you can follow me on Facebook.

Any final words?

Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk to your readers and for supporting the scene!