Fallout! An interview with Sons of Tonatiuh

SOT cover
Posted 19 June 2012   Interviews

TBR:  You guys have gone through some lineup changes since the last recording.  How did all of that come about?  Has it changed the band’s sound in any way?  

Dan:  Our creator came down to Earth in the form of a snake. It bit me on the hand. I had visions. Sacrifices were made. What was left was the three of us to carry the weight of the dirge which in the end made us stronger.

TBR:  For those who are new to Sons of Tonatiuh, how would you describe the band’s sound and approach?

Dan:  Like waking up from an eternal sleep. Looking outside and seeing the morning star. Bright, intense and destructive.

TBR:  For the folks who are already fans, how would you describe the development in the band – particularly with regards to the songwriting on the new album since the last one was recorded?

Mike:  We approached the songwriting as a band writing each song as a collective unit. It was, also, the first time we introduced my vocals into the mix.

Dan:  More time was taken in the writing process. A lot of riffs were abandoned and replaced. More dynamics and risks were taken in our sound with songs like Colors Run Red, which has vocal melodies, discordant guitar sounds and lot of space between riffs with thought out drum fills.

TBR:  Parade of Sorrow was recorded with Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk.  What was it like working with him in the studio?  Did you guys learn anything in particular from the experience?

Mike:  How to tune (our guitars)!

Dan:  We’re big fans of the Milk sound so we were interested from the get go after hearing the Black Skies recording, which Spence had done. We spent five days recording and mixing this album versus three on our first so it gave us a little more time to play with different themes that we were hearing within the studio (Kyle’s home studio). We felt like we gained some more experience working with someone who was very hands on and had an ear for what we were doing. He actually took the time to make suggestions that were extremely helpful.

TBR:  You guys have expressed some interesting concepts relating to the band’s name, Sons of Tonatiuh.  Was that inspired by some reading that you guys had done?  Documentary films?  Acid trip? 

Dan:  Haha!  Yeah, acid trip.  Sometimes I feel like life is an acid trip: Disturbing and volatile. No, I’ve actually been interested in native cultures for awhile now and was looking into a band name four years back when I came across the Aztecs and how they had different gods for different reasons. They were similar to the Hindu who worships many gods. Tonatiuh (pronounced “Tahn-ah-tea-ah”) is the Aztec’s sun god. He looked over all of the warriors that went into battle. Essentially, the Aztecs sacrificed people to this specific god. It fascinated me more so than using animal names or going with a name that sounded like a stoner rock band.

TBR:  Is there any sort of theme or inspiration behind Parade Of Sorrow?

Dan:  It’s an album inspired by death, regret and false hope. Songs like “White Wall” and “Parade of Sorrow” are about people being led blindly by media, religion and their own pride. “Season of Pills” relates to a story of one man’s fall in respect to growing up within an American tribe and succumbing to modern life as his people’s culture disappears. “Eye So Blind” is stabbing religion in the face with a blade of fire. “Fallout” is becoming my favorite. It has more to do with the end of the world than anything else but metaphorically using the concept of nuclear fallout as the basis for the lyrics.

TBR:  Were shameless gear-heads and can’t help but ask…  Did you guys rely on any any particular equipment when recording the album or when performing live?  What is your main axe and/or amps these days?

Mike:  Ampgeg SVT IV, Gibson Thunderbird Bass, Ampeg 8×10 Ultra, Boss distortion and Electro Harmonix Cathedral pedals for my live setup. When I recorded I used a Fender Jaguar Bass, Ampeg 8×10 Classic, and an Ampeg SVT, along with the same pedals.

Dan:  I play a Gibson SG (80’s version) through a Laney GHL100 tube amp that’s hooked up to an Emperor cab that’s loaded with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers. I also use an Electro Harmonix pedal for some delay sounds and an overdrive pedal. Also used one of Kyle’s VOX amps to record some of the solo work on the album.

TBR:  This is your second release for Hydro-Phonic.  What’s the relationship like with those guys?

Dan:  “Those guys” is just Travis Witherell. We actually put out our first record out ourselves and Travis picked it up and put a cd version out for it. Parade of Sorrow is the first release that he has done for us. He’s extremely easy to work with and an overall awesome dude.

TBR:  I assume you’ve been thru Grand Rapids once or twice now…  What are your thoughts on the scene up there?

Dan:  It’s more or less like any other small town. Kids up there are fiending for good music so we generally have a good time anytime we go up there.

TBR:  Atlanta has gotten a lot of attention in the last several years, but how would you describe the scene these days?  What makes it different from other places you’ve seen and heard about?

Dan:  Atlanta has pockets of decent places to play and hangout but there is not really a unifying scene that I can tell. Whenever we play here we see the same 10 ugly mugs we always see but we’re still nowhere as “big” as say Zoroaster or Kylesa so our turnouts are pretty modest. There is a pretty big garage/punk rock scene here though. For bands like the Carbonas or Black Lips…

It’s hard to get an outside perspective of this town since we’re from here but it seems to do pretty well since a lot of bigger acts are now focusing their tours around Atlanta. The funny thing is we don’t play Atlanta that often. We tend to go out of town more often than not.

TBR:  Tell us a bit about the upcoming tour and what’s next for Sons of Tonatiuh!

Dan:   We’ve got a new website that just launched today…  Check it out!  www.sonsoftonatiuh.com

Below is our current schedule but we’re also in the works of going out west in October.

TBR:  Thanks guys!! 

SOT:  No…  Thank you!

6/22 Columbia, SC ~ New Brookland Tavern w/ Humungus & They Eat Their Own God
6/23 Charleston, SC ~ The Tin Roof w/ Hooded Eagle
6/30 Atlanta, GA ~ **Album Release**  The Basement w/ USX, Hivelords, Sadgiqacea & Let the Night Roar
7/13 Knoxville, TN ~ Groundswell Collective w/ Thetan
7/14 Lexington, KY ~ Cosmic Charlies w/ Whiskey Funeral, Tombstalker & Stampede
7/15 Chicago, IL ~ Double Door
7/16 Lansing, MI ~ Mac’s Bar w/ BerT & The Jackpine Snag
7/17 Pittsburgh, PA ~ Mr Roboto’s Project w/ Vulture
7/18 Philly, PA ~ Millcreek Tavern w/ Hivelords & Occult 45
7/19 Brooklyn, NY ~ Saint Vitus
7/20 Richmond, VA ~ Strange Matter w/ Pike Possum, Gritter, Stampeded & Balaclava
7/21 Durham, NC ~ The Casbah w/ Man Will Destroy Himself & more
8/10 Hickory, NC ~ The Wizard Lounge
8/11 Asheville, NC ~ TBA
8/31 Nashville, TN ~ TBA
9/01 Memphis, TN ~ TBA
9/02 Little Rock, AR ~ Mutants of the Monster Fest
9/03 Birmingham, AL ~ The Nick