ANOTHER LOST YEAR – Coming H.O.M.E. and Hitting the Road

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Clinton Cunanan

sprung out of North Carolina nine years ago, and have seen their share of successes and hit the road hard for years. But that journey has not been an easy one and fans have also been clamoring for new music and a new tour. A new single, H.O.M.E., has finally seen the light of day and frontman Clinton Cunanan took time to speak to Screamer (the day before his wedding, in fact), to clear up some of the confusion and explain just why there has been a delay, as well as to promote H.O.M.E. and the upcoming tour.

2016’s Alien Architect was the last full release from the band, but so far only the new single has been made available, with no word on when there will be more new tunes. Cunanan explained that it has been a difficult road: “We do have an album that’s sitting there right now. I just got off of the last record label which has kind of been the holdup. The whole catalyst for me leaving the record label is I’ve had this album done for almost two years now. That’s how ready I’ve been to go and I…. I mean, I can talk about it, doesn’t really matter! I asked for financial records. They refused to show me anything substantial especially when I have verifiable numbers and things like that that I can back up my numbers with but they can’t back up their numbers. But I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this album. We know how well the last album did. Let’s talk about paying me up on this money and we’ll go forward’. I’m not asking for an advance. You know, it would be nice to get an advance but I wasn’t asking for it. I was just like, ‘Hey, pay me what’s owed to me now. I’ll put this next album out on the label and we’ll start swinging again’. And it just turned into this bloody mess and I decided that I didn’t want to tour this year. So we’ve been rebuilding a little bit, refining the sound. We’ve got a new drummer, young kid. His name’s Joey [Barrows]. He’s out of New York, he lives in Long Island. Jorge [Sotomarino] has been with me, for, gosh, five years. He started out guitar teching and selling merch for us and he lives in Santa Barbara. He works at a dispensary. So everybody’s kind of got their own thing going on but we’re definitely dying to get back out there and start playing this new music. Alex [Bulthuis] came in at the time while I was kind of recording so his flavor’s all over it, and Jorge. I want to put an album out. More than anything, I want to. And the world today is  super crazy with how people do it and the record label put a super bad taste in my mouth. It just makes me real apprehensive at the end of the day. You know, what are we doing here if everybody I know in bands is getting taken advantage of the same way?”

Cunanan continued on with more detail on why the band line-up has changed so many times throughout the years, and that if anyone thinks the band has been able to live a life of luxury, they are sorely mistaken, saying, “Up until this year we toured about 250 days a year out of the last eight years. So you know, I lived on the road. I mean, I never unpacked my suitcase. That was a tough life. I’m 37 years old now. It’s been interesting over the nine years that we’ve been a band, I’ve had probably 18 different members and the reason is because we have such a demanding tour schedule. You know everybody thinks….we’re nobody huge, I understand that. Some people they think I’m a rockstar, to others they have no clue who I am so I appreciate you taking the time talking to me and sharing me with your readers as well. So I demanded a lot. That’s kind of a weird way to put it. But when you’re on the road, we’re all trying to make something different. We’re all trying to get to a different goal but yet the same goal. People have kids, they get married, they want to make more money because despite what people think, having three record deals, they’ve been three awful record deals. We’ve made no money and I’ve had two number one’s. I was on Warner Brothers. I’ve had an album debut at eight on Billboard and you know at the end of the day, it took its toll on everybody. Because they thought we were making all this money. I own a telecommunications construction company so I just…nobody ever really felt it. I wouldn’t let us starve. There was only so far I was going to let us go, you know? And it was tough, man. No more record deals for me and H.O.M.E was my first, ‘Hey, you know what? We’re not dead.’ This is the sound, this is what we’re coming for and you know, I’ve had a lot of people having my back for all this time and they’ve still got my back and that’s just what it is.”

Speaking of those people that have had his back, Cunanan decided to pay homage to them and his North Carolina roots with the latest single and video, sharing, “So the new single is called H.O.M.E. and we’re from North Carolina- I’m from North Carolina. I’m the only one really left from North Carolina but you know, I just wanted to make a song that really accurately represented where we were from. Not saying that we’re redneck or anything like that. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t even know what that truly means but we’re just- we’re the good old boys, we’re from the country. I know we say we’re from Charlotte, but we’re from the outskirts of Charlotte. We just had a good time. It’s pretty much like hanging out on a Friday night with us, we all work hard, everybody in our group. The older I get the smaller circle I keep and it’s just for those guys, the dudes that have been there. Everybody knows it’s not just me that’s out here working hard, they all helped me kind of get to where I’m at. That’s just kind of what’s its about.”

He went on to give a rundown of what the second verse of the song is about, saying with a laugh, “And then the second verse, which is hilarious. Jason, my old bass player who actually sings on the song-the second verse is literally directions from his house to my house! That’s all the second verse is! It’s like, ‘85 north, 321’, so its Interstate 85 and you go north to Highway 321 and it says, ‘24’s where’s the party’s begun’, so exit 24 is the exit I live at. And then it’s, “3 red lights and baby you’ll find me,’ so its three red lights to Highway 150 and it says, “3 red lights and baby you’ll find me running from the law on 150’. And that’s all it is! It says, ‘I’m pulling up in the 3 series’, I’ve got a 3 series BMW. ‘Pocketful of swishers and a bag of weed.’ And that’s pretty spot on for me.” When it was mentioned that with those directions being available, he might have some random people arrive at his house, Cunanan responded with,  “That’s all right! You know what, make it on a Friday and you’ll see that everything we talk about in the song is true. We have a good time. There’s a guy rapping in it, that’s one of our friends Tyler back home. He’s got a couple car lots but he was with me that night and he raps and I was like, ‘Dude, just jump on the song real quick. We’re gonna drive down to Charlotte and write some lyrics,’ and that’s why he says, ‘I’m in the backseat, just drinking a beer’. Not that we promote drinking while driving in a vehicle but that’s all it is.”

The video itself is just a visual representation of those friendships and good times, as Cunanan added, “I went back a couple days before everybody else got there and I just literally filmed my entire week and then the culmination of it is at Kyle’s house. We’re all grilling out, having a good time, kind of hanging out. Every time I get back into North Carolina, that’s what we do. We just hang out, we make music, we do whatever we do.” 

As he stated earlier, the band has tended to spend the majority of their career on the road, but Cunanan said that this time around, they might take it a little easier, although they realize that some of their fans have been waiting to see them: “I don’t ever want to do ten months out of the year again. I’m very hip to the idea of three to four weeks and then being off for two months. And the reason that we toured so much is that we were building a fanbase and when we had to push this last tour back I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna get death threats’. There were some fans that were not happy, saying, ‘I took three days off work to come to your show’. Like, ‘Jesus I know, it wasn’t my call!’” The tour was originally slated to start in November, but due to the success of the new single, it was decided to push back the tour and take some time to prepare a little more. Cunanan said that they will hit the road starting in February 2020 along with Dark Station: “I was introduced to them through Shauna O’Donnell, who  has had a big part in our career over the years. She was my publicist at New Ocean Media and she managed us for awhile and she does publicity for me still… I checked out their music and I was digging it. I like variety on a bill as well so if the two touring bands aren’t exactly the same, they got a little bit different vibe about it, then I definitely enjoy it. I do enjoy them.”

He says the whole band is ready to get back at it: “Since Alex has been in the band, we’ve released a handful of songs and demos and stuff so it’s exciting and I know those guys are wanting to put an album out too, but again, Jorge and myself just got beat so bad on Alien Architect, where its just like ‘Man, do we really want to do this all over again?’ But at the end of the day, yes. I love making music. I kind of lost sight of a lot of stuff in the interim of three record deals. But at the end of the day I think we’re all ready. We’re in a much better place mentally and financially! That’s for sure!” [Note: Alex Bulthuis actually was a writer for Screamer for a bit back in 2013!]

In closing, Cunanan said, “These days, streaming is king, so as insignificant as it may seem, giving a band a follow on Spotify or whatever platform you use, that goes a long way, especially with downloads going away and things like that. People have to be aware, and the thing is people aren’t being made aware because a lot of people don’t actually understand how it affects artists. Everybody now has access to the same people but even at that… the power now is with the fans and they have to not take that power for granted nor take it lightly. Seek music out. Share . Share whatever your favorite band is because other people are listening and looking for music too. We definitely will be putting out new music very very very soon. I don’t know how the album game is gonna go we’re probably just gonna release a couple singles and then do a full album, just because people digest music in such a different way these days.”

And because he took time out the day before his own wedding for this interview, let’s throw in a nice quote for his new wife: “You know, more than anything I’m just excited to be able to share my life with somebody that I genuinely care about. So that is exciting to me.”

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