New Sun-Riser single both a pep talk and a reflection on scene's ups and downs
"I get tentative when I label a genre as 'experimental' because that means a lot of different things to different people," he said, "but in and of itself, it was a bit of an experiment. And I think some really cool things came out of it."
"We'll Figure It Out," the lead single from the band's upcoming 10-track record album "Light Years," does show Sun-Riser taking an experimental approach to its sound as it showcases the more upbeat side of the band.
"Some of these songs are going to be more poppy, like this single. And other songs are going to be a lot more gritty," Conroy said.
"As a three-piece band, our challenge is to get a really full sound. So I was trying to get the most out of my instrument. It'll be rare to find the same guitar tone on any two tracks in the album. We're still a rock band, and there are a lot of tracks where you're really going to hear that. And then there are others where it's more textured bass, a little more poppy."
Conroy said "We'll Figure It Out" was written as a nod to fellow musicians on the Chicago scene and their experiences during the pandemic ebbs and flows of the last year. It starts out bright, and upbeat with lyrics reflecting being young and enthusiastic, clawing one's way to recognition. (Something of a "Hey, you can do it!" he said.) But about halfway through, the brisk pop vibe gives way to a more somber tone, rich with a haunting melody and vibrant harmonies, echoes of the empty venues and solitude both artists and fans felt similarly but separately.
"Where have all the musicians been? How have they been feeling during this time?" Conroy pondered. "I wanted to reflect that in the song."
The band -- Conroy, who grew up in Evanston, Wilmette's Aaron Baer and Iowa transplant Jesse Kay -- has been working hard to reach that pre-pandemic momentum again. Coming off last month's Homegrown Arts & Music Festival and Friday Night Live fest in Le Claire, Iowa, the band is self-producing the "Light Years" album for an early 2022 release with friend Tyler Klivickis of the Darkhorse Collective.
Just prior to last spring's shutdowns, Sun-Riser had also made the finals of Moe's Tavern's Battle of the Bands, so they're excited to be headed back to Chicago stages.
Watch for several unannounced shows the trio has in the works as well as the video for "We'll Figure It Out," both coming soon.