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By Conor Hooley
Sometimes a band has to exploit its connections. The Sunshine House knows this, which is why they’re leaning on a few of their own in the hopes of landing a slot playing at Austin’s legendary South by Southwest Festival. But, since the upstart band is all of six months old, they occasionally have to use their collective resourcefulness just to find a place to rehearse. On the day of their Scene interview, a scheduling conflict required the band to do exactly that, so the Fort Collins-based sextet assembled in an empty dorm room cafeteria. As far as makeshift jam spots go, it’s rather ingenious – no one is there to interrupt and you get unlimited fountain drinks.
Levity aside, the group has certainly made major strides since forming last June. After playing a handful of shows around Colorado, they are currently putting the finishing touches on their debut, self-titled EP, which is scheduled for a January 29 release. That night, the group will commemorate the release by performing songs from the disc at Everyday Joe’s, with support from You, Me and Apollo and Eva Holbrook.
“Each song (on the EP) is pretty different, but they’re all orchestrally-based,” explains Phillip Waggoner, the group’s lead vocalist and acoustic guitarist. “It’s definitely folk-influenced. But we also have some songs in there that are longer and kinda post-rocky, as well as some western-sounding stuff too.”
Positivity, as the band’s name might imply, is a key theme. “There are some depressing songs,” Waggoner admits, “but they usually end with hope.”
The band’s sound is distinctly folky, often working to create melodic, sophisticated songs that reflect a diverse number of influences. These include the iconic Bob Dylan and indie legends Sigur Rós, but also include lesser-known artists such as Phillip’s Nashville-based sister Brooke Waggoner, an emerging artist in her own right.
It’s appropriate, then, that drummer Tyler Kellogg describes the process of recording the EP as “a family affair.” The group itself is practically family-sized: along with Kellogg and Waggoner, it also contains guitarists Zac Crider and Dylan Curtis, violinist Jered Lish and supporting vocalist Becky Raab – and that’s not accounting for the large number of outside instrumentalists and session players that the band works with.
Much of the band’s backstory is a series of arbitrary, and fortunate, coincidences. The sextet began as a duo, with Dylan and Phillip serving as the initial members of the band. Through a series of random encounters and mutual acquaintances, the other members came into the fold and the band set off in earnest.
Even the name came largely off the cuff. One fateful day, Waggoner was passing by a CSU daycare center named The Sunshine House, and was struck by both the name and the building’s design. It made enough of an impact for him to consider it for his own band’s moniker, and was adopted shortly after. It is one of many aspects of the band that more or less fell into place – and did so comfortably.
Check out The Sunshine House at www.myspace.com/thesunshinehousemusic .