Interview: Jim Lockey of Solemn Sun


Solemn Sun Jim Lockey (4)Solemn Sun are a fairly new band, reincarnated from their previous project Jim Lockey and the Solemn Suns. I was thoroughly impressed by their 2014 debut EP, § [here’s my review] and have eagerly waited for new material ever since.

Now the wait is over. Solemn Sun have just dropped their new single, “Bloom”, an outing that shows a different side to the band. I tried to set up an interview, and despite being busy on tour with Crooks, frontman Jim Lockey found time to answer some of my questions.

Will Not Fade: Tell me about the decision to change your band name and sound?

Jim Lockey: We’d reached the end of where we could take the old band and we wanted to explore new avenues and new artistic freedoms that aren’t achievable when you’ve built a reputation that precedes you. I think we could have carried on making records like the old band but it would have been forced and false, we’ve never been about that. We need to believe 100% in what we’re doing, we love to create and constantly evolve as a band which is why we moved forward as §.

I live on the other side of the world, so have been unable to attend any shows that you’ve played in the past few years. I’ve read that you no longer play material from your previous era. So how do you manage to fill in a set when your recent release has just over 20 minutes worth of music? I can see that being enough for an opening set or festival slot, but what about your headlining tours?

We have more material than that of the EP. Things that we’ve been working on for some time now. Despite keeping a section of our previous name this is an entirely new project, it shifts between so many styles from song to song we have the opportunity to play anything we want as part of the set, this tends to include interludes of stand alone instrumental pieces as well as songs from the EP and new material.

What kinds of feedback have you been getting from old fans who liked your folky sound?

We’ve had a huge amount of support and its continuing to grow . I think if you were interested in our band before because of how that album sounded you’d feel a little out of touch with where we are now.

There was a lot of squealing guitar feedback on the last EP. Can we expect more of the same guitar heavy approach on the new release, or is it going to be more electronic sounding like on “Bloom”?

Its quite honestly shaping up to be an equal mix of both sides to our sound. We’re not too concerned with staying rooted in a particular genre for this band we just make music and if its good we put it out.

Tell me more about the new album. I’ve been following your Facebook posts, and it looks like you’ve had something in the works since at least April last year.

We’ve been solidly working on new material since the last EP. We’re very selective about the ones that make it out though and we’re In no rush to produce a full length record until its ready and we’re proud of how its shaped up. You can certainly expect drops of new music throughout this year that will hint towards where we’re headed.

Have you been trying anything new in the studio?

We like to not be your average guitar band and that’s certainly reflected in the way we produce our records. Taking a lot of influence from hip hop we use a lot of organic samples, looping and editing to give it texture as well as sound. Production can take a song in so many directions so we focus on it as much as we do writing the song.

From what I can tell, Xtra Mile are a great indie label who look after their artists. What prompted you to start istartedthefire? I assume your last EP was independently distributed, because I cannot find any info about record labels on it.

Istartedthefire was born out my want to support a number of artists that I really loved and thought weren’t been given the attention they deserved. Unfortunately the label has taken a back seat in recent years to focus on my own projects but I hope to bring it back soon with a fresh bunch of records. The Solemn Sun EP was self released and not part of ISTF.  We’re going to continue down that path until we find someone who shares our vision for the future of the band, it gives us more control over it and means we can invest more in what we’re putting out.

How do you allocate your time between the band, the label, family, work etc…?

We all work extremely hard day to day so its difficult to juggle everything all the time and still make time for the band, we’re committed to it though and use any opportunity to write new stuff and plan ahead. Its calmer now working to our own timelines, so while we’re slower to release new music than full time bands we’re fully invested in what we make and have a stronger sense of achievement that we built it ourselves.

Solemn Sun Jim Lockey (2)

You started a label to support artists that deserve more attention. Here’s your chance to plug an underrated artist that readers need to hear. 

There’s almost too many to name so I’ll choose Andy Oliveri, he’s a an amazing musician who released stuff on istf in the past. He’s been writing and recording new material for his 2nd album and its truly mind blowing, though its not planned for release until the end of the year there’s wonderful shades of early Radiohead in there that are great.

Your videos and press photos are all stark black and white grey scale. Even my vinyl copy of the latest record is a gorgeous grey/white/black splatter. How far does this black/white aesthetic extend? (Stage backdrops, instrument colours, the clothing you wear, merch etc?)

Its all black and white. Everything. It not only fits our music but it’s a good visual representation of our sound too, black and white, light and dark, mellow and heavy.

Jim Lockey Solemn Sun LP Turntable Record
Speaking of the vinyl record, the inside sleeve bears striking resemblance to Deafheaven’s Sunbather album. Is this deliberate or coincidental?

We laid our logo out that way for the inner of the EP. We hate the idea of ripping someones creativity off for your own gain so I can assure you this was an unfortunate coincidence. The logo and icon were designed by a good friend of ours who based the concept on the idea of light and dark and the casting of shadows.

You have been able to tour with some incredible bands, and even played at the Olympic opening ceremony. What are your career highlights to date?

With this band, the highlight was releasing our first EP – for all we had to give up to pursue our new direction, and the time and effort we put into making it what it was.

Who is on your wish-list of artists that you’d like to tour or collaborate with?

I think we’d most like to be given the opportunity to play with bands that reflect each side of our influences, to have the chance to play in front of fans that don’t usually see guitar bands and rock fans that don’t listen to hip hop usually would be great. Collaboration wise it would be the same deal, we feel we can take this anywhere so if there is a chance to release songs with rappers and singers from other bands we’ll take it.

What are your upcoming plans?

Currently we’re working on new material for our next release and will be touring the UK before the end of the year, with a view to return to the EU next spring.



Solemn Sun are currently touring the UK supporting Crooks.

Solemn Sun:     Bandcamp        Facebook        Instagram         Twitter


Joseph James


The best of 2014




It’s time to look back and remember some of the highlights on the year just been. Here are some of the best concerts, albums and films I saw/heard in 2014.

The year went by so fast. I was pretty busy with university assignments so didn’t always have time to write reviews. I’m sure I’ve forgotten loads of things that deserve mentioning, but here is what I do remember.



Although it wasn’t technically 2014, it was a year ago that my friend Sam and I flew to Sydney to see The Roots play at the Horden Pavilion. I was disappointed that Questlove hid his glorious afro underneath a beanie, but the show was still awesome. “Captain” Kirk, the guitarist, threw his sweaty towel into the crowd. I caught it and gave it to Sam. He keeps it as a treasured memento to remind him of the gig. We also went to the Broadway show of the Lion King and it was too good for words. I bought a CD of the songs of the show. The Australian cast I saw live were better than the recorded version, but I still listen to the CD more than anything else.

I was fortunate enough to tick three bands off my bucket list this year. I saw Nine Inch Nails in Christchurch co-headlining with Queens of the Stoneage. They were incredible. I even got to chat to Trent Reznor at the airport the following day. It was also great to catch up with school friends in Christchurch that I don’t get to see often.

I finally got to see Biffy Clyro live at the Powerstation. I was buzzing for days afterwards. I managed to get a guitar pick and an annotated copy of the set list as well. I also saw Jimmy Eat World at the same venue. I was considering going to Soundwave in Australia to see these two bands at the beginning of the year but couldn’t afford it, so I was rapt when they each got announced to play in NZ.

The Beards were a comedy band that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was nice catching up with my friend Jason from Melbourne, who was working as their follically gifted merch guy. Another funny gig was internet sensation and rapper Ur Boy Bangs, with local hardcore band Declaration AD opening. It was pretty hilarious, but surprisingly fun.

Other live acts that stood out this year include post-rock masters Jakob, pop starlet Ellie Goulding, and modern hardcore band La Dispute.

I’m seeing Shihad in a few days and I’m sure that will also be worthy of this list. I’ve seen them at least ten times in the past and they’ve never disappointed. I’m looking forward to seeing them play material from the new album, FVEY

The gigs that I’m looking most forward to in 2015 so far include Frank Turner, Gary Clark Jr, and Foo Fighters.


Albums and EPs

There have been some great new music releases this year. Here’s some that stood out for me, categorised by genre but not in any particular order.


  • Run The Jewels – RTJ2

El-P and Killer Mike stole the show at the hip-hop triple bill at the beginning of the year, and then proceeded to release an even better second album less than a year after their first.

  • Sage Francis – Copper Gone

Sage Francis continues as a veteran wordsmith wizard. Copper Gone in entertaining and thought-provoking, with great music and clever lyrics. His Wellington show was great as well.

Keith Stanfield caught my attention as a talented actor, and proved himself as a capable rapper too. A dark, tormented début EP.


Of course this album was inevitably excellent. Composer Rhian Sheehan helped to add masterful extra touches to help the Napier trio surpass perfection.

The latest release from one of my fave post-rock bands shows a softer side with great results.


A new sound, new direction and new name for Solemn Sun helped them create an alt-rock EP that leaves me eagerly awaiting their next album.

I’ve listened to it at least once every day since it arrived in the post. Sublime electro-prog-rock  arisen from the ashes of Cog.

  • Biffy Clyro – Similarities (B-sides album)

It goes without saying that any release from my fave band will get a mention.


Queens of the Stoneage – … Like Clockwork and Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways were both major disappointments. Both bands are of high calibre and had lots of hype around the new albums, but the music just wasn’t good enough to make me want to listen to the albums more than once.



I only wrote two film reviews this year, but I saw plenty of great movies that deserve a mention

Housebound was by far the stand out film of the year for me. A Kiwi comedy/horror that strikes the perfect balance. The Dark Horse was another NZ film that impressed. Forget The Hobbit, New Zealand can produce some quality films without the need to sell out to Hollywood.

The follow-up to one of my fave movies came out in July. The Raid 2 was just as violent and intense as its predecessor, but with more varied and imaginative fight scenes. The sequel was pretty long, with a more complex plot. Fingers crossed for The Raid 3 in years to come!

The trailer was bad enough to put me off wanting to watch it, but Gone Girl was gripping, albeit unsettling. This was one that surpassed expectations. It also featured a soundtrack written by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, which earns it bonus marks in my book.

2013’s The Wolverine, was abysmal, but the X-Men franchise redeemed themselves with Days Of The Future Past. I was left with plenty of unanswered questions, but it was a clever way to tie in the two timelines.

Another sci-fi that I enjoyed was Snowpiercer, a futuristic dystopian film set on a train that contains the last of earth’s population. It was incredible right until the end, when it lost momentum in the last scene.

I enjoyed Frozen, although as a trainee early childhood teacher went a bit insane because of children singing “Let It Go” non-stop. Lego Movie was fun as well, but Big Hero 6 was my favourite children’s animated film.

The major let down was Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. It was long. It was grand. But it didn’t come together in a satisfying way. I fail to understand why people rated it so highly.

I’ve been blessed to have such a good year. Since launching Will Not Fade earlier this year I’ve had people from all over the world read my reviews. One review featured at I’ve had bands ask me to review their music and I’ve gained media passes to attend events. I really enjoy doing this and I plan to continue what I’m doing.

Please let me know what you think. What did you enjoy reading? Are there bands or films you want to see me write about? Did I inspire you to listen to a new band, or watch another film? Do you have any other suggestions?

Thanks for reading. All the best for 2015!


Joseph James

EP Review: Solemn Sun – §

Solemn Sun EP Cover

Don’t ask me how to pronounce this EP title (§). I don’t know if the symbol even makes a sound. It is clever though, two S’s arranged like the new band logo.

A new logo for a new sound. Solemn Sun have previously been known as Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun. Jim hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s just that the band have chosen to undergo a full transformation.

Their two previous albums, Atlases (2010) and Death (2012) channeled a folk-punk vibe that would feature intricate acoustic guitar picking one minute and galloping punk beats the next. § is a departure, stylistically. Gone are the fiddly little break-downs, this is more of a distorted grungy affair.

Opening track “Josef” sends that message straight from the get-go. The drums sound thunderous with washy cymbals and the guitars undulate with intensity. The verses simmer violently to make the choruses sound comparatively more explosive. “Josef” delivers a punch with a message that something new is afoot.

“30:10” is quieter, but it still sounds full and moody. The time signature seems to segue between 4/4 and 6/8 to add an interesting poly rhythmic feel. “Children” and “Ruin” take the EP to its climax with more hard-hitting rock anthems.

Triumphant final track “I Saw” seems like a throwback to the band’s former sound. The drumming alternates between syncopated tribal sounding tom beats and 16th note hi-hat playing.This pulls the momentum back and allows the individual instruments to shine through in different sections. There is a lot of treble in this song, but it ends in plenty of unnecessary squealing feedback.

There are still recognisable nods to the past, and rightly so. The band has a back-catalogue to be proud of, and they can’t dismiss it completely. Although his name is no longer visible, Jim Lockey’s voice is still there to stir up memories. Just as Black Pacific always sounded like Pennywise 2.0 and OFF! sounds just like a fresher Black Flag, singers will always remind you of their most prominent band.

§ is a direct alt-rock assault. The band has adopted the grungy loud/quiet approach and coupled it with ambient post-rock. The songs sound driven because of the no-nonsense drums and bass churning out a steady throbbing beat. And although they are distorted, the layered guitars soar and complement each other well, whilst still retaining a chugging drive. The instruments are all unified to push the song forward.

Ringing in at just under 22 minutes, § provides a short but promising taste of things to come. The old adage goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but I disagree. This is a case of when a band has reinvented themselves and it has paid off.

The EP is available for pay-what-you-want download and streaming on the Solemn Sun Bandcamp page.