When long-dormant '00s alt-metal monsters Sunk Loto resurfaced last month, it is fair to say that Maniacs lost their collective minds. When the band announced a run of comeback shows, the rest of the metal world down under followed suit, snapping up tickets to the initial run faster than your average 'vinegar stroke'. When those sellouts in turn prompted extra dates to be added across the east coast, it became abundantly clear that the time for Sunk Loto to reclaim their place atop the Aussie alt-metal throne had well and truly come. Reunited after fifteen years of silence, we caught up with vocalist Jason Brown and guitarist Luke McDonald to find out why the Gold Coast nu-metal turned alt-metal icons are back, what it is exactly they've been doing this whole time and what the future holds for Sunk Loto.
Jason and Luke of Sunk Loto, you haven't done ANYTHING for fifteen years and now you've gone and sold out a bunch of shows around the nation. How do you feel?
Jason: Awesome, man. It's pretty cool! I mean, 15 years, who the fuck takes 15 years off and comes back? I don't know anyone that's done that! It's really cool to be coming back and selling out shows straightaway. It's a buzz definitely"
So why DID you decide that now was the right time to finally answer the call and reform Sunk Loto?
Luke: "For me, Brenton, I've struggled with alcohol and drug problems. So I felt that I had to kind of get a solid amount of abstinence away from that, before I felt like I could make a commitment back to the band. We had kind of been in touch and me and Jase had been in touch over the years, but every time I brought up with Sean, he kind of wanted to continue down the path of what we were doing in our new band Jails and Churches, and I think it was kind of similar with with Dibs, right, Jase?"
Jason: Yeah, I think Dane was just doing the family thing, after Sunk disbanded. He just needed to step away from it for a period of time, probably not 15 years, that was probably a bit long. Me and Dane did do a band, Electric Horse together for a bit and I did some solo stuff to fill in the gaps a bit. We did actually try to reform Sunk a few times, but it wasn't ever the right timing, now is definitely the right timing!"
So the stars just sort of aligned?
Luke: It was Sean that I reached out to and I said I had been sober for 12 months and I just wanted to see how he was going. He emailed me back about wanting to work on Jails and Churches and when we met up for a coffee, for the first time in over ten years, when I asked if he'd be interested in getting together with Jason and Dane, he said yes. Because he was so open to that I asked if he'd be interested in playing some shows and he said yes again. Then I reached out to Dane's wife and I got a response from Dane a couple of days later and then I went to Jase. I felt like if we got together and had lunch and it was like old times, it'd be natural for us to get jamming again."
It really does just sound overall like it's the perfect confluence of events. It is the perfect timing for you to be getting back together, and I don't just mean that for you as people and where you're at in your lives, I mean that in terms of the soundscape that has crept back into the popular consciousness. The metal sound of the late 90s and early 2000s is very much all the rage right now, so you really couldn't have timed this any better!
Jason: "I was saying earlier, that wasn't intentional on our behalf. It sort of just organically happened that way. We weren't like, "let's just wait till that style of music gets popular", it genuinely happened organically. But it's definitely cool! Maybe it is just because it's really cool music and that's why everyone's back into it?"
When you're sitting there thinking about what to play on these upcoming shows. Are you left with an almost existential question of whether to structure the sets to focus on Between Birth and Death or to play to the warmth of heavy nostalgia that Big Picture Lies offers?
Jason: "There's a really good balance actually have over their whole catalog in this show. It definitely leans heavier on the Between Birth and Death materialm but I think people are going to be really surprised at some of the the other stuff that we bring out on these gigs."
"Purely, I think, between Big Picture Lies, we really were sort of pushed and rushed into that record, off the back of the early success of our first release. Had we been given more time to really hone that record, it might have had a different result. But the thing is, those songs that we're playing off Big Picture Lies n the jam room at the moment, they're really stacking up and standing the test of time next to the Between Birth and Death material."
Luke:"Exactly, ultimately I believe that Big Picture Lies is great, but we didn't quite nail the production. So getting the opportunity to play these songs now, with the level of production we now have, I'm really enjoying hearing those songs come to life and I'm having a lot of fun playing that material. I think people are going to be really surprised by what we make those songs sound like today."
That sounds incredibly encouraging. I'm sure if you're anything like you used to be live when I saw you when I was a kid, and not the adult I've grown into since you played last, that we'll all be in for a blast. Are you excited to be playing your first shows back in front of a Queensland audience? I'm excited to be heading to the Brissy one with my partner, but are you more excited for the hometown Gold Coast show or the big city Brisbane one?
Jason: "Man, that's a tough question. That's like asking which one of your kids is your favourite? The Gold Coast show's gonna be pretty insane because it's a smaller club venue and it's gonna go off if it's sold out. It's going to be just chaos, but then the Triffid is a much bigger venue and will have a different vibe. I think it was a good idea for our first show back after fifteen years to play a smaller, tighter venue and not have that big stage pressure. I honestly can't say which one I'm more excited about. I'm excited about any and all shows we're going to be playing, I mean it's been fifteen years, that's quite a long wait! "
Luke: "We're going to take the roof off every single venue that we play on this tour. The band has never sounded this good, ever, so we are really going to bring it."
Now you've left a MASSIVE gap between playing in Queensland and then playing in the rest of Australia. That makes me wonder why that is. Do you have plans to record more music in that period or is this just how you're going to tour from now on?
Jason: "Nah, that wasn't intentional, it was purely due to venue availability, coming back from COVID everyone is booking venues like crazy, this was all we could fit in right now with the venue availabilities. I think it works out quite well, because we're having so much fun now that we are looking to make new music, to make a new record if we can. That big gap between the Queensland shows and Sydney and Melbourne shows is gonna give us an opportunity to work on some stuff"
Luke: "It will be the best Sunk Loto record anyone has ever heard!"
Putting the pressure on yourselves early there, Luke! I love it! Now I assume that you're aware that there are leaked demos of material that were intended to be used for the follow-up to Between Birth and Death. Is that material an indication of what you're working on?
Luke: '"We're probably going to take the best elements of every record like Society..., Big Picture Lies, and Between Birth and Death, and make it even greater, make an even better record. We'll make it more modern, more today, more now. And I'm very confident that with the way the band is firing on all cylinders, now, we will definitely make the best Sunk Loto record anyone has ever heard."
Jason: "To answer your question on the leaked demo's. There potentially could be something to come out of that. We were sort of in it at a bit of an exhausted point, at that stage when we were putting that stuff together. And the same thing sort of happened with the writing of Between Birth and Death, we exhausted ourselves, and we were on the right track. But we also needed to step back and reevaluate, and go back in and almost rewrite the album. So I think, if we hadn't had that break, from those demos and gone back, we could have actually come up with somethin really polished. Yes. But yeah, I mean, who knows, man who knows what we're going to come up with, it's just gonna have to be really good."
Is there a chance any of it might make the setlist for the tour?
Luke: "There's a song called 'Jaded' that we may play at these shows and that we may release. It's from the Between Birth and Death era and we aren't really sure why we left it off the record, because it's one of the best songs we've ever written. So I hope that people get to hear it.
Well, I'm sure it'll be uploaded to the internet on a hundred dodgy phone recordings before you get the chance to release it, so you'd better hope that live performance is a good one! Now that does lead me to ask if this is something that could be released on a vinyl re-release?
Jason: We're sort of looking into that at the moment. Looking at where the contract is sitting after 20+ years, but I believe that is a very real possibility. I think that is going to be leaning towards a yes.
Luke: Hopefully we'll be able to do releases of Society Anxiety, Big Picture Lies as well.
I think people would love to pick those up. You've got the right type of hardcore fan base for a vinyl drop and that fan base also just so happens to have things like jobs and careers now, so they've got money to burn!
Jason: "Finally! We've been waiting for this!"
A couple of things to ask before we get you on your way. Outside of music what is something you consider yourself to be a Maniac for?
Luke: "For me, boxing".
Jason: "I'm a family dude. I live out in the trees, so I like to get out in nature with my family and that's pretty much me. I'm bit of a nature boy."
I'm so glad you said 'nature boy' just now, cos this next question is inspired by the world of professional wrestling! If, like Ric Flair, you could have a song play whenever you enter a room, what song would you choose?
Luke: "The Show Must Go On by Queen, that's mine.'
Jason: "Great Southern Trendkill by Pantera."
Awesome! One last thing before I let you get back to writing the best Sunk Loto album anyone has ever heard. Are there any old-school Aussie bands you'd like to see reform to support you on this run?
Jason: Testagles! They gave us our first-ever national Australian tour. So that would be amazing.
Luke: Yes! Testeagles are a great band. C'mon reform!"
Sunk Loto First Shows In 15 Years
With Special Guests, The Last Martyr & Osaka Punch
Friday 29th July 2022, Mo’s Desert Clubhouse, Burleigh Heads SOLD OUT
Saturday 30th July, The Triffid, Brisbane, Purchase tickets from bit.ly/SunkLoto-Triffid-30Jul22
Saturday 6th August 2022: The Triffid, Brisbane, SOLD OUT
Friday 25th November: Max Watts, Melbourne. SOLD OUT
Saturday 26th November, The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. Purchase tickets from SOLD OUT.
Listen to Sunk Loto