At a time when the historical Sunset Strip seems to be slowly losing its nostalgic energy and the era of 80’s metal is becoming a thing of the past, along comes Florida-based rock band Gunshine. With bands like Greta Van Fleet and Dirty Honey blazing into the music scene with their classic rock sound, Gunshine is a continuation of what the world of rock n’ roll needs, and a glimmer of hope is being brought to life by the younger generation proving that the rock scene is not dead…..it may have just fallen asleep for a bit.
We sat down with Gunshine’s lead guitarist Austin Ingerman (formerly from New Years Day) and he expressed how exciting the journey has been thus far with his new band Gunshine and about putting out their self-titled debut album. When Gunshine was first coming to fruition, Ingerman was touring with a band called New Years Day, and when they were just finishing up their headlining tour in Europe in March 2020 when Covid started. When Ingerman flew back home and the whole world shut down he had already begun to compile several demos and put the music together for Gunshine. “With New Years Day, I had just joined when they released their album Unbreakable, and I was more of just a touring band member so I didn’t write or record any music with them on any of their albums and was able to use all my creative energy into building my ideas to put Gunshine together” Ingerman confessed. “After having known James Renshaw (drummer) for probably about six or seven years and we had been jamming for a long time, slowly Gunshine was becoming this vision that had always been in the back of my mind and James was a big part of that. The sound was always in my head, the vibe was always in my heart, and it was the kind of band that I had always wanted to have. It just took so many years to find the right pieces and put them together. When I started to search for singers, I would drive across the country trying out different people. Despite everything that happened with Covid, there was a silver lining because it allowed me to take a step back from touring with New Years Day and get Gunshine off the ground. During that time is when I met our singer Jordan Benson who just happened to be from my hometown in Pensacola, Florida. At the time of the tour with New Years Day, I lived in Los Angeles, but when I flew home after that tour I went back home to Florida, and it was during that time I had Jordan over and then it was just one of those things where it just kind of instantly clicked. We were intent on showing people how we wanted things to be raw and real and that is how we went into this whole thing when it came to recording the album. When it came to the chemistry between James Renshaw (drums), Jordan Benson (vocals), and I, we were all automatically on the same page. Jordan came over to start writing lyrics and our goal was to bring that fun back, bring the party back to rock n’ roll. A lot of our songs are feel-good, lighthearted, and nothing too depressing too complicated, or whatever. We just want people to have a good time and we wrote the song Wall Said To Call together in one day and the rest is history.”
Ingerman raved about working with Chris Collier who has worked with Korn, Whitesnake, and Lynch Mob to name a few and as it turns out, Ingerman and Collier have a history prior to making Gunshine’s self-titled debut album. “I’ve known Chris for about five or six years now and he did some instrumental guitar tracks with me in the past. Chris is extremely easy to work with and an incredible multi-instrumentalist, so he plays bass, drums, guitar, and sings which I think those qualities also have made him an amazing choice to mix and master our record. I think the production quality is phenomenal and he played bass on the album because we recorded right before Pat Brown (bass) came into the band. We flew out to Vegas to do the vocal tracking because I wanted him to be there to work with Jordan in person for laying down the vocals and to meet him. Once we had the vocals laid down, we went to Clearwave Studio in Decatur, Alabama to record drums and guitars.” We are very pleased with the way it came out Ingerman revealed.
As a guitar player, Ingerman was one of the lucky kids who was raised on Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Motley Crue, and Boston. But it was artists like Randy Rhoads (Ozzy), George Lynch, and Paul Gilbert who had the biggest and most influential impact on Ingerman early on. He recalled that if he was going to be a guitar player and wanted to play solos, those were the guys to listen to. Those were the guys to study and learn from. “Of course, there was also Slash and even more modern guitarists like Synyster Gates from Avenged Sevenfold who also had their impact on me,” Ingerman says. “It was important to me to get that edge out and not have a cookie cutter or formulaic sound so to speak. So, I was always around music growing up and I think I started playing when I was like 7 or 8 and I just remember there was a concert on TV and I don’t remember exactly who it was, but I just remember watching that and just being like, ‘okay, I wanna do that.’ So, I started taking lessons and it was very by the book. My teacher gave me books and had me read music and the whole nine yards and I am glad I had that foundation. As I got older, I started getting into learning songs by ear, so I was listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hendrix and Led Zeppelin trying to pick up on their sound and make it my own. Zeppelin was a huge one for me when I first started playing. I had another teacher that would just tell me to just bring in my favorite song and we’ll do it that way and we’ll just learn how to play that.
As we dug deeper into Ingerman’s start as a guitarist, we bonded over the coincidence of both having graduated from Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA. Ingerman opened up to say how his time at Musicians Institute was a major turning point in taking his guitar playing to the next level. “It was 2017 and by then I had already played in a few local bar bands to get experience. There was a huge cover scene down on the Gulf coast of Florida, because of the spring break party scene I played in front of crowds, but I hadn’t taken the time to truly learn music theory. So, when I went to Musicians Institute it turned up the heat with just learning the theory of music. The environment and being around all those teachers who were phenomenal was a great experience. I loved my time there and it added perspectives I hadn’t really incorporated into my playing before. Now, if I’m improvising or playing over something or whatever I keep the things I learned at Musicians Institute in my mind, but I don’t veer too far because I think if you get a little too mathematical about things musically, it can really take away from your creativity. So, while I take those lessons of music theory to heart, I don’t tend to use any of them when I write. For me, writing is about just entering a creative zone and hearing the sounds in my head, and putting those together. Most of the time I don’t even have a guitar on me when I’m songwriting. So, I hear vocal melodies or hear guitar parts in my head and then I just pick up the guitar and try to play whatever’s in my head. But, with that being said, I think all the tools and all the things that you learn kind of seep their way into the way you play. I think even if you only take a little bit of the technical side of music theory with you it’s still good to have the understanding but it’s more important to rely on what comes naturally.”
Ingerman recently released a solo instrumental album that he worked on with his Gunshine drummer James. We just were kind of waiting for the right time to release it. Since we were trying to get Gunshine off the ground and I had been touring with New Year’s Day and wanted to get the instrumental album out there, but not have it be confusing to people. It was important to be clear that this project came straight from the heart. In the future, I think the long-term goal is just to keep making records, touring, and continue to have a positive mindset. I don’t wanna put pressure on ourselves, but we are just trying to get this music into as many people’s ears as possible. I’m very biased, but I just feel like there hasn’t been a lot of rock like this in a while. I just feel passionate about us trying to get this out as much as we can. Seeing these stadium tours going on with Motley Crue and Def Leppard and there are people from all different ages and backgrounds at these shows. Rock n’ roll is timeless and brings people together in a way I don’t think other genres do” Ingerman concludes,” and we could not agree more. Touring with bands like Halestorm, Godsmack, In This Moment, and Buckcherry and even headlining some of their recent shows, Ingerman confessed that he didn’t think too much about it when they started Gunshine. He did want to take a moment to express gratitude and make it known he “feels lucky to have the management team, booking agent, and other key people believing in us and working hard behind the scenes to make this the reality it has become. We have more tour dates and have already started writing the next record so expect great things from Gunshine.”
Ingerman ended the interview with some sound advice for those starting out. “Just keep trying to get the next thing going, keep grinding, and don’t forget to celebrate the small victories too. You’ll get there if you don’t give up.”