Sonny & The Sunsets :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

To be fearless in any aspect of one's life is a feat not easily attained. In the art-world, perhaps the stakes are even higher. As an artist's credibility and validity are, by nature, prone to scrutiny, often those who make it through the ringer are the ones capable of re-invention and whom resist the urge to be anything other than themselves.

For Bay Area native Sonny Smith, whose rich output across theater, music, and visual is nothing if not proliferate, this dedication to creating honest art is exactly what makes him so alluring. Whether backed with his band the Sunsets or collaborating with various artists, there remains a backbone to his work rooted in letting all your weirdness out, even the darkest parts. Ahead of Talent Night at the Ashram, his latest effort for Polyvinyl Records, we caught up with Sonny to speak out being a dad, transformation, and health food stores.

Sonny & The Sunsets :: Happy Carrot Health Food Store

Aquarium Drunkard: You've been doing music, film, theater, etc. for over a decade now. Do you follow any sort of daily rituals/routines to keep the mind active?

Sonny Smith: No, I don't. I've always wished I was one of those writer types that wrote from 7-11 AM every day or something like that. I just do creative stuff in between all the life stuff. I've got a notebook with me everywhere I go. I write songs in the car, while I'm at my kids soccer practice.

AD: Are you getting used to the parent/musician balancing act or is there always something new to learn?

Sonny Smith: Well, it's kind of both. You get a handle on things after a couple of years when you're  raising  a kid.  Seemed  like when my son turned five, there was kind of this plateau where I could breathe more and have a little more time. The balancing act of being a musician and raising children is crazy. They don't really fit together. It's like day to day survival. Every day is like how am I going to record this song AND get my kid from karate? My son is 10 and he's not missing an eye or any limbs or anything which is good.

AD: Sounds like you're doing alright. Having spent time in so many different mediums, was there one one in particular that  sparked  your interest in being an artist?

Sonny Smith: When I was younger I kind of wanted to be a writer. I fell for a lot of the bohemian, beat writher aesthetic. I was 17 or 18 and heavy into  Kerouac  and Burroughs and all that. I romanticized being a writer. Music was something I was doing cause it was fun and i was naturally attracted to it. But I didn't see it in the same light. I didn't see it it as serious, in the way that being a serious writer held some mystique for me. Slowly, what happened was that I was able to begin to make songs out of some of the stories I was writing.

Not to get too convoluted but if you could picture me as like a double headed person. One guy was the writer and he supplied the themes and words and ideas and the other guy was like well I'll just put this to music.   It's like a collaboration within myself. It's weird but it's how I've done it for a long time. And it always feels fresh because I'm always discovering those roles are there.

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