Uni Tunes: Shooting Suns

Ollie Smith 7 February 2016

Few bands can claim to be more Cambridge than Shooting Suns. The group has been through multiple iterations since it formed four years ago, but the core duo of James Christie and Edward Taylor has remained throughout. The two went to school together in the city before moving to Downing and Jesus respectively. Now graduates making their way outside the bubble, I welcomed Edward back to have a chat about where their brand of pop-rock is taking them.

At the start of our conversation Edward breaks the news that singer Gabby Martin is ‘'going off to do her studies because she’s in Upper Sixth. It was always sort of expected but we needed a singer to record on the albums'’. He sounds wearied by what is the loss of their fourth band member in as many years. A recent statement on their Facebook page suggests that they are ‘'taking this as an opportunity to try some new things out. We are most certainly not finished, and we have so much already on its way'’.

Speaking to Edward, it is clear that he’s investing a lot into the band despite the recent setback. I’m impressed to hear that he comes back from his home in Bordeaux once month to work on new material with James. He also tells me ‘'we have good kit for playing live and have never cheaped out anything – that’s probably where most of my money is going to'’. It seems this is more than just a hobby.

He cites London Grammar as one of their influences and you can clearly hear this in the aesthetic of their most recent song ‘Overload 2’. He is aware of the similarity but says that he’s aiming for something ‘'not quite as dark as London Grammar but that still keeps that raw sound. We want to have just a bit more energy to it, something a bit more upbeat and fun to play’'.

The band have gigged extensively and may be familiar to those nearing the end of their degree; ‘'When Ceri, me, James, and Matt were together we were playing gigs in Cambridge pretty much every week, at the minimum every other week. We were rehearsing and gigging the whole time. We did pretty much every single May Ball possible, we did all the venues around Cambridge and a few London ones too.’'

Considering the number of gigs they were playing, I am interested to hear what the highlight was. He doesn’t have to pause for thought. '‘It was probably Jesus May Ball. It was the last time that most of our friends were around, although I had another year. For Ceri and Matt that would be one of the last times they played with us. Everyone knew all the words to the songs and were singing along. That does stand out as a highlight. There were a lot of highlights but that stands out the most because you’re playing the songs that you’ve been writing for ages and people are singing them back to you and seem to really enjoy it. That’s the most rewarding thing.'’

He speaks of the May Balls as though they were the glory days. Things are different now, audiences are no longer donning soiled tuxedoes for one thing. ‘'We don’t want to be a student band, we haven’t wanted to be for a year and a half now. That means you’ve really got to take a step up because it’s not just a group of your friends who are going to come and watch you even if you sound shit. It’s got to be really good’'. 

Taking this step up is the immediate focus for Shooting Suns. Edward recognises this and says ‘'you really have to focus on what your music is, on how you represent yourself.’' He takes a minute to reflect on our conversation and laughs, ‘'it sounds like we’re in the shit – and sometimes it feels like we are, but the you listen back to some of the stuff and realise that it’s not bad'’. 

It really isn't all doom and gloom for Shooting Suns. Making the leap from May Week to Alexandra Palace was never going to be easy, but it is a path that has been trodden before. If they are to follow the example of Clean Bandit, then they are going to have to get over the significant obstacles facing any graduate band. The first of these is their search for a female vocalist. Maybe one of you could help them on their way.