Q & A With Antonio Santos of Places Around the Sun

Q & A With Antonio Santos of Places Around the Sun

Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?

We are about to release our self titled album in September. We’ve released the first single for it called “Chasing Tails” and we are about to release the second single in July.

It’s probably one the things we are most proud of, it’s an album that will always have a special place in our hearts because of it’s meaning and how it was made.

 

How long has the band been together?

We’ve been together since 2013/2014, although we only really started taking things seriously in 2017. We started with our first album and played a few shows here and there, but when we started recording and then released the second album we really started to make it a real priority because that album showed us what we could accomplish as musicians.

 

What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?

 

Personally (Antonio, lead singer) it was when I was a kid and I was a huge fan of Green Day at the time, their music struck me in a very intense way, so I signed up for guitar lessons and since then it has always been a dream of mine. I remember watching videos of them playing live and I would look in the mirror and mimic their playing thinking I was the coolest guy ever!

And the first time I ever rehearsed with a band I had those butterflies in my stomach and I almost felt invincible!

Since then it has been a passion of mine, I love writing and playing music and the feeling you get after you finish a song. Even those times when you can’t unlock that part of that song and you feel like you suck until you figure it out and get a feeling of accomplishment.

It is something that really gives me an inner happiness that is too good to let go.

What is your music background?

We all come from different musical backgrounds. Me (António) I was in a metal band when I was younger and in Madeira Island where I’m from we had a really strong community of metal heads and we all played shows together and everyone would support each other’s bands. Our drummer Ricardo is also from Madeira Island and he was in that scene too and that’s where we met. We shared stages so many different times, participated in the same band contests and all of that.

Alex (bass) and João (guitar) were in a band together, they were actually pretty good and had a bit of a following in the underground community in Lisbon, they had an instrumental prog band called Capitão Galvão, and we met during college I was a fan of their stuff. And when it came to form a band they were the obvious choice, because I knew how good they were and being friends with them made it easier.

 

What image do you think your music conveys?

I actually never really thought about that. Some of our music takes on a really Spacy vibe and in the first years we actually used a lot of space related imagery. Now in some of the most recent stuff I feel like we’ve landed on earth for a bit and took on some more upfront and in your face kind of sound. I like to think that our music conveys an image of taking on things deep within all of us and not only acknowledge and figure them out but also not taking them too seriously, somethings have the weight we choose to give them and it’s good to have a sense of perspective and look at them from a distance and have fun with it like the two singles we released “Shots On The House” and “Moon Daisy” that talk about two things about my life that took a real impact and we gave it a fun and almost sarcastic twist.

 

What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years.)

Right now our main goal is to play live as much as we can. We know that might take a minute to happen because of all this COVID thing, but when it becomes safe again to host shows, we want to travel and experience the most of playing live in different cities and hopefully countries. That’s what’s on our minds at the moment, good old simple live show sweat.

 

What are your long-term career goals?

We want to take it as far as we possibly can. I think everyone who has a band has that one dream of becoming a full time musician and being able to only play and write their own music for a living, that of course is the dream.

We aspire a lot of things for our band, but we also try not expect too much from it and just making sure we’re doing it while having fun and go wherever it can or needs to go and enjoying the ride.

 

Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?

Playing live for sure. Of course it’s great to write that song that you feel you’ve always wanted to write, but for me the most rewarding thing is to play that song live and see people dancing or even just feeling it with their eyes closed. It makes you feel like you can have an good impact in someone’s life even if it is just for an hour long show. Getting to meet people who share the same musical taste as you or even getting some constructive comments about how we can improve, to me that’s what this is all about, sharing and having fun with it.

 

What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

Our songs talk about personal development. My experiences and what it sometimes feels to go through some of the things in our lives, all the doubts and all those thoughts that creep into our minds at times. Not with the intent of preaching about them but rather using music as a releasing mechanism. Somethings might be really personal and others might hopefully relate with other people and give them that feeling of not being alone and that is someone out there going through the same things they do.

Our new album for example talks about a moment I went through this last year up until very recently with severe anxiety issues and all that comes with it. We used the Scarab Beetle in honor of how Egyptians viewed it as a symbol of rebirth and the one responsible for taking the sun beyond the horizon to set and rise again each day. The realization of the importance of the night fall so we can get down and dirty with our ghosts and come to terms with them so we can evolve and hopefuly become a better version of our selfs every day.

 

Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.

We have a really bad gig story. Looking back it’s kind of funny but at the time it was horrible. A long time ago we were getting really tired of our first album and we were still figuring things out and we knew we wanted to change our sound, but back then we were really frustrated with each other and the rehearsals were really tense.

We had a show booked in a small club with another band and in one of the rehearsals the tension got to the best of us and we argued a lot to the point we couldn’t even look at each other. On the day of the gig came, our old drummer didn’t make it in time for sound check and we were getting really mad and nervous so we thought it would be a good ideia to get drunk and not talk to each other at all. So during the show we were all drunk to the bone except for our drummer and it was the worst we’ve ever played, I spilled wine all over my guitar, forgot the lyrics to some songs and everyone was doing their own thing on stage and absolutely no chemistry between us. Even our friends came up to us after the show to tell us they love us but that it was the worst they’ve ever seen us play! It was terrible! We all talked with each other, apologized, made amends and most importantly we promised we’d never, ever get hammered before a show.

Now we remember it as a funny but very cringy story!

 

What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?

We never got one, but if anyone wants to send us strange requests, feel free, so we can add it to our catalogue of funny stories, we would love to! Get wierd with us!

 

Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?

Luckily yes! All of our parents always showed support. Helping out when we needed, questioning things and decisions we made to make sure we were doing things the right way and not getting ahead of ourselves.

They’ve been there since day one always showing interest and even in those moments when things seem too far fetched they take on a stand of “if that’s what you think is right then do it”. And we are truly grateful for them and we know how lucky we are for having them on our side.

 

What are your favorite tracks to play live?

The main one right now is the single “Shots On The House” it is usually our last song in a gig to end the show with a high energy and as soon as the main riff comes on people instantly start to dance, even if they don’t know the song. We usually enlongate the ending and have fun with it, there was even a gig people wanted us to play twice in row! It’s a song that really works live and is the funnest to play live!

Also playing our song “Bluesy” from our album Pluto, which is a song that starts of with a blues lick and everytime we start playing it people don’t restrain from showing how sexy they feel when listening to it!

We love to play any of our songs live, and each member of the band has their favorite but these are the ones we share the same opinion on!

 

Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?

The band that planted the seed of wanting to play live shows and play music in general was Green Day, their old school live videos setting the drums on fire and smashing their guitars into the ground, I always thought that was the coolest thing ever. Then I got hooked to Muse, which is a band that really knows how to build a really great show, stadium quality performances, with more lights than speakers on stage, so epic!

The Foo Fighters, Dave Grohls presence on stage is godlike! Two hours of full blown out screaming and jumping and keeping everyone on the crowd on board even if they for some reason don’t know the band.

And then Queens Of The Stone Age, the simple and straight foward love for what they do and how that really shows when you watch them play live! They are just friends playing together and having fun with everyone else.

 

If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?

 

Most definitely a tour where we would open for King Gizzard and The Lizzard Wizard, Royal Blood, Queens Of The Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures! That would be amazing!

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?

 

Probably our new album. We truly feel like we’ve got to a sound that is unique and true to us. I don’t know if that comes across as us being too full of ourselves but we are really and very proud of what we made with this album!

If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?

 

It would always have to be something creative.

Probably something design related or with video, which is something I already work on, with our music videos and logo and all that.

We are a pretty DIY band when it comes to promotion and making content.

It’s something I keep as a hobby but I really enjoy dying that!

What type of equipment do you use for live shows?

We now have the perfect excuse to use a cowbell live on our drum set, one of our new songs has cowbell because of course we always need more cowbell. Bass and guitars we need them as fuzzy as we can, we have a lot of pedals!

We have the classic Big Muff, one of my favorite fuzz/drive pedals ever the MiniFooger drive, we have a clone of the OCD from fulltone, João (our guitar player) built a few pedals for us, delay, reverb as much juice as we could ever want for the guitar and bass sound! Amp wise we have a Fender Champion 100, it has a great clean channel for all the dirt we get through our pedals and a Valve amplifier from Fender called Vaporizer which is based on an old amplifier they had back in the day and for the bass we actually use a an acoustic guitar amp that has a huge speaker and has really good low frequencies.

As for the instruments themselves, I use a Gretsch for that cool twangy desert like sound, João uses a Fender Telecaster, Alex uses an Area Bass, and Ricardo our drummer uses a Maple Yamaha drum kit with that sweet punchy sound for rock!

 

What do you think of the current music scene?

 

I think the music scene right now is more open to new bands and their music. Now any band can upload their music using a service that allows them to stream in all of the platforms there are!

And of course YouTube is a great site for any band to share their videos and build up an audience around them, so many musicians that started using YouTube and were able to build an independent career using just that!

Now anyone can share their music however they want to anyone in the world.

That’s one of the best things technology has brought into music.

Everyone now has more opportunities for sure, some of the old barriers that used to exist in the music industry that only a selected few could make it through and only with help of a major label is now a thing of the past.

Now people can build their audience a then major labels come to them and those people can choose not sign to a label and still make it.

For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?

I always say that anyone who discovers our band for the first time probably gets really confused by how much our sound has changed from album to album or from song to song.

Every time we write something new we like to experiment and further our sound so when you go to our Spotify and you listen to our discography it is extremely apparent how much our sound changed throughout the years, we’re always searching and perfecting what we want our sound to be.

 

If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?

 

Our old sound was more, Muse, Radio Headish kind of sound, very spacy, lots of reverb and some might prefer that.

Now we are more desert sounding and almost stoner rock at times with some in your face guitar riffs and lots and lots of back vocals.

Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?

 

Yes! Stay tuned, follow us in your social media of choice, just search Places Around The Sun anywhere and you’ll find us there!

We just released the first single or our new album, and we’re about to release another one in July and then in September we’ll release that last single along with the full album. So if this interview got you interested feel free to check us out and let us know what you think! We always respond to our private messages!

Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock

Thank you for having us and sharing our work! Hope we’ll talk again soon! Take care!

 

  • António Santos — vocals, guitar
  • João Gomes — guitar
  • Alexandre Sousa — bass
  • Ricardo Martins — drums