“We play sun-drenched garage rock from the heat-strokin’ streets of Miami! We sound like love, explosions, bikini contests, and good times.”
Their words, not mine, but it doesn’t make the description any less accurate.
Over the past few years, the local music scene in Miami has exploded. Maybe I’m biased, but Sunghosts
might just be totally is the best local band coming out of South Florida right now. Despite only being together for a year, they have the sound and stage presence of an established, professional band. Combining the infectious energy of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the modern sound of the Strokes and an inimitable vocalist, Sunghosts are well on their way to becoming local legends.
We got to talk to the band ask them some questions about their tour, upcoming album, and life in the band:
Everybody, introduce yourselves:
Luis: I play drums and do backup vocals.
Jared: I do backup vocals and I play bass.
Arminio: I’m Arminio Rivero the Third, I play guitar and backup vocals when I feel like it.
Nik: I sing and play guitar and we all write songs together.
So, you guys are here in Sunset Place and you’re talking about the old days, playing on South Beach where nobody actually goes to shows. How were you able to secure this sort of space to play in?
Nik: Well, there’s this awesome lady named Vanessa Spatz, that is really trying to bring together a lot of the local talent here because there are a lot of good bands in Miami- it’s just we don’t really have a platform to be heard by other kids in Miami. She’s been really helping to secure a lot of shows and kind of create a presence and it really works.
Would you say it’s an increased presence compared to, say, a few years ago?
Nik: Yeah, definitely.
On their tour:
Jared: We did like three shows in one day up there, it was crazy, but I wouldn’t do it with any other guys. We went through so much stuff traveling up there, all the load-in’s and load out’s, you can imagine, it’s three times loading in, and three times loading out. And everybody was a champ about it, everybody pulled their own weight, and I think it’s sweet to go to another city like outside of our hometown and get such a kickass response.
Nik: We put a lot of hard work for it too, we busted our asses for that but it was so rewarding. Every night, we’d wind up going to sleep really late and waking up at 8, and the guys were just all right, let’s do it.’ We went to a conference and we sat through all the information and the panels and there was a lot of good info there. We learned a lot and we were all on it.
So, what are you guys recording right now?
Luis: THE album. At least ten songs on that baby.
How is that coming along?
Jared: All the songs are almost written. It’s like all the songs are almost written but again, we’re super omega indie. We’re so indie, we’re Indiana Jones. We do everything ourselves, we have more people helping us out now than ever before, which is really, really cool. We’ve got a friend named Trooper Quintana, he hooked us up with all of our art, and he’s done our website and everything, our stickers. All of our art is streamlined and it’s unbelievable. The more people that we get to help us out, the easier it is for us to focus more on the music.
So, the songs that are on this album, is it something that you’re improvising in the studio or are those the kind of songs that you’ve had in your back pocket for a while that you’re refining?
Nik: Some of the songs on the album are songs that we’ve been playing for a good long while that we need to release and then other ones are brand new songs that we haven’t even shown anybody. At their concert, the band toasted bread and gave it to audience members…
What’s with the toast?
We’re the Sunghosts with the Suntoast.
I’ve never seen a band feed the audience as they’re playing.
Jared: I was so into, well I still am, I can’t say that I’m not, into Rush. When Getty Lee, the lead singer of Rush. When he switched from using bass amps live to straight DI, it was kind of awkward, not having space on stage. Like, you have Alex Lifeson and all of his guitar amps and Neil Peart’s humungous drum set. One of [the shows] he was making rotisserie chicken, live, and while they were playing they had a chef make rotisserie chicken, and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. So, I was making breakfast one morning and I was like, “That’s it.”
Nik: And, I’m glad it’s whole wheat toast because if it was white toast, what would we be feeding our fans?
Arminio: Eventually, we’ll play a show next to the ocean and catch fish while we’re playing and we’ll cook it and by the end of the set it’s a feast.
What’s your favorite song of yours?
Arminio: BB Gun
Luis: Sweetwater Girl
What’s your biggest challenge as a band?
Arminio: I think it’s balancing the band and life. The band is the most important thing to all of us but we all also have other things going on, so we have to make time for the other things while we’re doing this.
Luis: A big challenge is that we’re doing everything ourselves… Nik books most of the gigs, we don’t have a manager or anything, but it’s good that we’re doing everything ourselves so we can develop and learn.
Nik: I feel like I know a good share of the music industry, and we’ve got good heads on our shoulders when it comes time to make decisions. Recording the songs, and writing songs and then practicing the songs, then booking shows and answering emails… it’s all us. Our creative circle is the four of us and our artist. Thank god for Trooper [Quintana.]
Arminio: We should have a song called “Thank God for Trooper.” That sounds like a good song.
What’s your ultimate goal for this band? Do you want to make a career out of this?
Nik: Three words, no four words: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That’s like six words. Essentially the path of all great rock bands. To be honest, I want to do this for the rest of my life, I want to play music and make people happy. I want to pack festivals and just have a bunch of people go out to see a band that they love… because I did that. I went to Coachella and saw the Red hot Chili Peppers headline [and I saw] Tame Impala and Vampire Weekend… bands that make me so happy that they make my life better. We’d love to be that for somebody else and just make the world better.
Jared: I think we’ve already achieved so much. We’re where we want to be, it’s just a matter of we want to bring [our music] to even more people now. We do [shows] on this kind of a scale, and people and people are like, “Dude, thank you so much.” Or, “It [your music] is so amazing.” We’re all best friends, it’s so easy to radiate this energy and positivity. Going back to when we went to Atlanta we played at the Hard Rock and at different universities. We set up these little thirty watt amps in the middle of campus and one person walked by [and said,] “I’m having a really hard time in school right now, and I just want to let you know that you made my day.” It was one person and then thirty and forty and there was a huge crowd around us and we played for a good hour before they stopped us.
Nik: We passed out a lot of stickers and now we know when we go back to Orlando, that’s where we set up at UCF, we know that when we go back there we’ll have a following. It’s about making friends and making people happy. So when you travel make people happy and they’re going to want you to come back and make them happier.
Jared: We’re having a good time. I guess it’s more than spreading music, its spreading love, its spreading positive energy, it’s way more than a band. These guys are my family.
If you guys could tour with any band, who would it be?
Nik: Red Hot Chili Peppers. If I had to make this decision I would say that.
Arminio: I’m with him, if not, The Strokes, if not, The Arctic Monkeys… Or if we could somehow open for ACDC.
Luis: I would say the Chili Peppers or my personal favorite band, Incubus.
What’s the worst thing about being in a band?
Jared: In my opinion, you leave lots of people behind. It’s a lot of traveling… you know that they’re always gonna be there but you start to miss your family and friends.
Arminio: Sometimes you meet someone cool in another city and it [makes you wonder,] “Am I ever going to see this person again?” You make new friends and then you just leave.
Luis: I agree with missing your loved ones, that’s like the worst part, everything else is pretty amazing.
Cliché question, but is there a cool story behind your band name?
Jared: If we have to think about it, it’s not that cool. We wanted to rep Florida, so we had to have “sun.”
Nik: What it means to me is that [the] sun is light and love and the ghosts is mystery. The two greatest things in my opinion, about life, are love and mystery. Because you can’t know everything, but it’s fun not to know things. And love, because it’s just love. It’s all you need.
What careers would you guys want, or what do you think you would be doing if you weren’t in a band?
Arminio: Daredevil firefighter, MMA fighter, I’d get in a cage with sharks, or I’d want to run a record label.
Jared: For an unrealistic career? Monster truck driver. Realistic career, I’d probably be in advertising. If not, I’d probably build gear. I have basses that I’ve built, I’ve built guitars, pedalboards, and amps. If I wasn’t so busy making music, I’d make the gear.
Luis: I’d definitely want to be an actor or anything in the film industry. Anything in the arts I would definitely pursue.
Nik: I would be a video game designer. That’s what I wanted to be before I did music. But then I realized that designing one game takes like three years and a bunch of people and I have ADD. I can write a song in a day if I wanted to, that’s a lot easier, so I stuck with that.
Are you all self-taught musicians?
Jared: I had some lessons but from different people, I’d like to call out two very important teachers, which were Brev Sullivan and Trey Combswas a band director from School of Rock that encouraged me to pick up bass. Amazing guy all around and he taught me a lot of stuff.
Nik: I learned a lot from Tom Lippincott, my jazz teacher- awesome guitarist. I didn’t have too many lessons for guitar except [Lippincot] and my own dad. Can’t forget that one, he plays guitar and he taught me when I was in ninth grade. He said, “Nik, you want to learn some chords?” [and I did] and one day I picked it up and played Otherside by the Chili Peppers and everything happened.
What do you feel each of you brings to the table (of the band)?
Luis: All of us bring a very high energy.
Nik: Each of us is so different [from one another] but we all contribute to the same energy it’s a force to be reckoned with.
Arminio: Everyone has their own task, some us do business stuff, if something breaks [Jared] will fix it.
Luis: Arminio is more on the business side, and Nik as well. Jared is the tech and I just tighten up the screws of the music. We help each other out in every way.
Is there anything else you want to say about your band?
Arminio: I would like to let the records show that this is my favorite band I’ve ever been in.
Jared: Going back to what we said, it’s so much more than a band.
Nik: There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing right now.
Jared: We’re a family, and we’re in for the long haul. There’s nothing else we’d rather be doing and I don’t think there’s anything else other people would rather us be doing.