For new duo Sundy Best — practitioners of a laid-back, DIY style of country — a lot stands out.
Based in Lexington, Ky., their unique sound comes from the core of the band — acoustic guitar and a box-like drum called a cajon. And, impressively, their hook-laden new album Bring Up the Sun is entirely self-written.
“The thing is,” says singer and guitarist Nick Jamerson, “if we write a good song, we want to keep it for ourselves.”
“It’s pretty personal, writing songs,” adds percussionist Kris Bentley. “Anyone who can just sit down and spill their heart out, I’m jealous of people who can do that. But at the same time, I’m glad we don’t do that.”
“It’s nothing against anybody else,” Jamerson continues. “We are just doing our own thing.”
CMT talked with the duo as they were gearing up for a spring tour.
CMT: This has probably been the most exciting year of both of your lives. How have you have been adjusting?
Jamerson: This is what we have always wanted to do — being busy and playing three or four nights a week. The biggest adjustment is probably just being away from home, but we’re doing what we love, and you don’t really think about it. Over this last year, we have really figured out who we are because for the first time in our lives we are getting to do what we love more than anything. It’s like you’re fulfilling your purpose — doing exactly what you’re supposed to do.
What has been the biggest difference between recording this full-length album compared to your past EPs or demos?
Bentley: I think the songs, for one. The first record was Kentucky-centric. For this one, we are still inspired by the same things but we have matured as writers. … It makes us feel how we felt listening to our parents’ old records like [Bob] Seger and [Tom] Petty and stuff.
Why did you want to update “Lily” on the new album?
Jamerson: When we first did that [on 2012’s Door Without a Screen], most of the songs we had not been playing enough to know the song and sing it. So when we had the opportunity to record it again, we both just felt it could be stronger.
Bentley: And capture that onstage energy. It’s one of his best performances vocally.
Jamerson: It was all acoustic on the first album, and now there’s some electric, the tempo is faster and the ending is different. I think that and “I Wanna Go Home” both, after redoing them, people will fall back in love with them. It’s not that the first one wasn’t good, but as artists and musicians, we did not want to be wondering 20 years from now, “Why didn’t we record that differently?”
What’s the story behind “Until I Met You” ?
Jamerson: I was lying in bed one night and had been seeing this girl — well, I’m still seeing this girl — and all the words and everything kind of came to me. I went into the bathroom and wrote it in like 10 or 15 minutes. It’s just a song about finding the one person that changes everything, and I think that’s why everybody loves that song.
What was shooting the video for it like?
Bentley: We did that in Lexington, a hometown shoot. We did it in a bar and then the bowling alley. It was all local. That’s the thing about our videos, especially that one. It’s just us.
It seems like you guys have a really good connection, musically and otherwise.
Bentley: That’s what we were telling someone yesterday. We will get some new songs out and sometimes wait to go through and play them until we’re onstage. That’s when we’re really connected, and it usually ends up turning out pretty awesome.
Jamerson: We play separately at our house, but we don’t practice together. That sounds bad. We play five days a week!
It sounds like you’re just living life together and sharing everything, so maybe you don’t need to rehearse much because you’re already on the same wavelength?
Bentley: We are continuing to grow, and we get better off each other. We have both grown so much as writers, and I really like the direction we’re going in.