Interview: The Sufis
Published on May 21st, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Another month, another group of Nashville youngsters obsessed with vintage British psychedelia and signed to Cornershop‘s increasingly terrific Ample Play label. Following in the wake of their friends The Paperhead, The Sufis are set to unleash their debut album and have already started working on another, so Rocksucker fired some questions over to singer and multi-instrumentalist Calvin Laporte – first, though, do take a moment to acquaint yourself with his band’s hazily sun-kissed sound…
What do you each do in the band? How do you all know each other, and when did you start playing together?
We don’t really have any fixed roles in the band. Evan, Jay and I can play most instruments, so it really varies for each track. We all sing too. Jon helps write songs and plays flute and clarinet too. He lives in Kansas where he studies and plays jazz, but he makes his way down to Nashville once in a couple of months to play on the records and tell us which tracks are good. We went to school together in Nashville, and we started recording music so we’d have something fun to do.
How would you describe your music, if pushed?
The record coming out is heavily influenced by British psychedelic music from the mid-to-late ’60s. But we’re not just a psychedelic band – we have a lot of different interests. This album came out of me being in an avant-garde/krautrock band and getting interested in pop music again. Now, I’m mainly interested in ’50s R&B and early-to-mid ’60s pop music. Most bands around town are quite content with doing the same thing over and over again. That’s just not my thing, so I hope for the music to change with every album.
You certainly seem to share a vintage psychedelia influence with The Paperhead! Are they good friends of yours? Do you perform together often?
We’ve performed together as one big group for a happening that was put together by Dylan Simon (Mass At Dawn). We’ve recorded together too.
Who or what are your primary inspirations for music-making?
We do it because we love it. We love to sing harmonies with each other. We enjoy working hard on the tracks, and pushing each other to become better.
Where can we hear your music online?
Which have been your most exciting gigs so far?
We haven’t really played any gigs as The Sufis. When we record we have to rehearse all our songs a lot to get a good basic track. We don’t overdub a whole lot since we use a 1” 8-track recorder, so we can play and sing all our songs live. We just aren’t very interested in playing shows right now. Plus, we all have busy schedules and other creative interests too.
Got many gigs or festival dates coming up?
We’ve had plenty of offers, but we’ve had to decline all of them. We’re busy recording our next album which should be out late this year. So I think we’re making up for the lack of shows!
Are there any other up-and-coming acts that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
Yeah, Mass at Dawn is a favourite of mine. Dylan put out a couple of cassettes on Native Plane Records last year that just blew me away. It’s rare to find music these days without any obvious points of reference to the past, but Mass at Dawn is just that – it’s new and very exciting to listen to. Our favourite live band in Nashville is Thee Shakes Spears – they are simply the best garage band around. Also, I have to mention my friend Jesse Roy’s Cellophane Recordings from NYC. I love his records, and I listen to them often.
Finally, if you were forced to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, but were allowed to bring the entire back catalogues of five different musical artists along to tide you over, whose would you take?
Without hesitation I would choose The Shaggs. The rest is hard, but I’d definitely go with The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan and Buck Owens. I’d probably just end up listening to The Beatles most of the time anyways!
Calvin Laporte, thank you.