Standing in the Sun’ was first formed in 1996 out of the ashes of a techno act ‘The Invasion’, and comprises of guitarist and lead vocalist Ric Alien, drummer Les Moore and bassist Rex Perry.

Until earlier this year, the band was little known outside its native California. The group’s inspired use of the internet and its heavy and forefrontal support of the current MP3 phenonomen in particular has, however, led them in a matter of weeks to becoming one of the biggest names in independent music. Their powerful and hybrid form of alternative guitar rock, which is coupled with a strong belief in the intelligence of its audience, has proved an instantaneous and massive success with both fans and critics alike.

Standing in the Sun’s internet site is currently one of the Top Ten music sites and collects 3500 hits a day. They have regularly reached Number One on ‘MP3.com’, ‘AMP3.com’, and other similar hi-tech sites which allow music tracks to be downloaded.

Their eponymous debut album (‘Standing in the Sun’ is also the name of one of its tracks), many of the tracks off which were previously available as samples from the internet, was released worldwide on the band’s own ‘Whole Track Entertainment Label’ on April 14th, It sold out all its initial pressing within a week, and has continued to sell dramatically ever since.

The band rarely do interviews, but on this occasion Pennyblackmusic was lucky enough to secure an interview. On September 11th Ric Alien spoke to us exclusively about the ‘Standing in the Sun’ album and the group’s sudden and meteoric rise


PB : The band first started out under the name ‘The Invasion’. How did The Invasion first get together ?

RA : I was on tour, playing acoustically as a solo act in coffee houses, and was getting offers from various bands to join them. I couldn’t really see the purpose in them though, and I had no interest in doing what they were doing, but I did think the natural progression was to get into a group. I had met other musicians along the way though that I respected, and Les was one of them, so I rang him up and asked him what he thought about us getting together and he agreed, and so that started The Invasion.

PB : How long was The Invasion together ?

RA : Almost four years !

PB : It was yourself, and Les, and who else ?

RA: We had another individual called Howard Whoose. He was on bass, and Les was our drummer, and I played guitar and sang lead.

PB : Right ! And what kind of music were you playing?

RA : It was very different than the music that we are playing now. It was more rhythm and dance-orientated, and industrial psychedelic, pretty much like what is hitting now.

PB : Which came first with ‘Standing in the Sun’ ? Was it the song title or the band’s name ?

RA : The idea came first ! Les rang me up and suggested that we name the band ‘Standing in the Sun’. I thought that it was a fine idea, so we left it that way. We were looking for a name that would make it difficult to put us in a box, and something that did not actually have an idea attached to it. We thought that name was different, and once we had originated it people liked it, so it was something we found that we could really get behind.

PB : And obviously there were changes in personnel too at this stage ?

RA : When we were in The Invasion, we spent three years touring the Eastern and central parts of the U.S., and after about three years we left that area, and moved to the West coast and L.A. We kept the name for about another year, and at that point after that year Rex replaced Howard Whoose.

Les moved onto the bass from the drums, but after we auditioned nearly every drummer in L.A, and found that we couldn’t get anybody to get an audience to move (Laughs) Les went back onto drums and Rex came in.

PB : How long has the band been together under the Standing in the Sun moniker ?

RA : Three years almost to the day.

PB : The sleeve notes on ‘Standing in the Sun’ make reference to ‘Something Wonderful in Higher Power’. Is it a religious or a spiritual record ?

RA : Only to the degree that when you listen to people talking and they express their feelings and ideas, I would say that that is actually spiritual, as supposed to singing about being in a band or how complete it would all be if someone would just give everything to us.

PB : The album seems to a take a very strong stance against anything which is going to stop people thinking for themselves, such as drugs or the media, but the same time, it’s an incredibly positive record. It seems to have great faith in the human spirit and individual potential.

RA : That’s exactly right ! These people have no answers. You only need to look around to see the mess their answers have made of things, I think that if you are going to influence something, you need to at least influence it with something that works. I hope that I am not the only one that feels that way. I don’t know that I would call it faith necessarily, but I do know absolutely though that you can achieve you can concieve of. People can be so much more than what they have been taught to be.

PB : There’s a dedication on ‘Standing in the Sun’ to ‘Ric, Les and Rex for being brave enough to keep the dream alove and for the continuing creation and courage to bring it out of the dark and into the light’. Why did you decide to put that on ?

RA : Well, more than anything I wanted to give an acknowledgement to the band for its work and sticking together. Like any group, we go through a lot to get a little and to just make things a bit better. It takes courage sometimes not to always agree or to just jump onto some bandwagon or to go where everybody is going, and also to keep on going and to get to something which you all believe in.

PB : It is a nice touch. The band’s opened for ‘U2’. Would you describe them as an influence at all ?

RA : I wouldn’t say that. Not really ! It’s probably the other way round. They are a very impressive band, and we love them, and we really got along well with them when we played together, but we had our own sound going on, and just after the tour U2 had access to facilities that we didn’t to use on their record and to go on. When their next record came out (Laughs), we heard a lot of our ideas on their next record, and it was then that we realised that it was important for us to get our own ideas out. It’s quite flattering really !

PB : What are Standing in the Sun’s musical influences ?

RA : That’s a hard one ! People get influenced every day by the oddest things, and musically and otherwise we are no different, so these things tend to find their way into the music, and into our lives.

As far though as what we listen to, either to be entertained by or to incorporate, I would say we make it important to stay up on what is happening. I am always really excited when someone reaches their goal or
reaches people or succeeds in whatever they are trying to create.

PB : The band has obviously been heavily involved with the internet and MP3. Standing in the Sun’s internet site has also won awards. Which awards were these ?

RA : We are one of the Top Ten music sites among others. I heard also that we hit number one six times in two months on one chart alone, and that we were number one in Russia on something called ‘Braveheart’. We get reports all the time. We have over thirty five hundred hits to our website each day with just downloads.

It is hard to keep track of after a while. I think what is really important though is not what front page you are on or what list you are on. It doesn’t necessarily make it more valid or deserving. The real reward for us is seeing that the music has found merit with the listeners.

There’s a person from New York who teaches music there to grade schoolers. One of her kids brought in one of our songs, and they all learnt it, and did an arrangement with clarinet, strings and shakers and the like and she wrote and told me. I thought that was great. The other guys thought that it was great also.

PB : That must have meant a lot .

RA : I just thought it was a beautiful thing. That stuff comes in all the time. There was a girl in Florida who went to an all girls’ school, and she brought the record in, and the whole school learnt all the lyrics, and they sing it all the time. We have similar things happening all over the world, which is just great. You can’t get that kind of effect by sticking to playing in a town, or a county.The outreach of the internet is just incredible like that. The whole world becomes your town.

PB : Was this why you became so heavily involved in MP3 ? Was it an attempt to bypass radio restrictions which are pretty limited, and to expand your audience ?

RA : It was definitely to expand our audience, and to play a different game. Every radio station can reach so many people, but to get onto the internet it is like a radio station with an 183 milliion people,and it is like being on the biggest radio station in the world.

The only thing is the listener gets to pick the songs, so people can become their own programmers. I think it is great that people have things in their own hands for a change and can have a little more control. I think that if they are given a chance they will make a choice which is right for themselves, instead of just being corraled like cattle.

PB : The band have proved very charitable. You have done a lot of free concerts, played on a Kosovo benefit album , and done compilations. Was being involved with MP3 and AMP3 also an attempt to give fans something back ?

RA : We like to help in any way we can. We always have. We especially liked the MP3 Kosovo refugee compilation, because it gave us a chance to fight oppression. I don’t know if you’re up on that, but there is a lot of psychiatry based concentration camps in that area. There is a lot of terrible effects that are being created on people, and through that album we were able to help combat that .

We’ve got two other compilations also happening. We’ve got one for ‘Real Networks’, and there is another fairly big site called ‘Audio Galaxy’. They are both internet compilations so those in a way are for the fans. In the end though I feel the best way we can repay the fans is to just give them good music.

PB : When was the ‘Standing in the Sun’ album recorded and how long did it take ?

RA : We recorded it at the end of 1998 and released it in the spring of 1999. The release date was April 14th. As far as how long did it take, the actual recording of the album was done in a surprisingly short time. Just a few days really ! Many of the takes were done only once. We weren’t really overly concerned about a big production, and there are no overdubs on the record whatsoever, except for on one song which has an extra guitar line on it. There are no extra tracks either. It is basically the way we sound.

PB : When you are writing as a band, do you write the songs collectively or do individual members turn up at sessions with songs prewritten beforehand?

RA : I would say collectively. We all play several instruments, and the ideas come from all of them really, but whether they come from a beat we are hitting on, or a vocal, or a bass line, or some other place we all develop it together, and determine the shape and arrangement. A whole lot of it is experimentation,and we tape everything we do, so that we can listen back from an audience’s viewpoint

We don’t necessarily go for the popular approach. I think that people with ideas outside the main deserve to be regarded also, so we don’t always take the song that you might think would be the hit, and throw it on there. We have actually kept songs that we necessarily didn’t feel strongly about, but we thought that someone else might.

PB : Which members write the lyrics ?

RA : We have always been a live band, so we all get together and put the lyrics down.It is Les and I primarily though, and as the singer in the band I tend to feel the strongest about what the lyrics are, seeing as I have to get behind them myself. I don’t think there is one person in the band that would want me singing something though that was not representative of everybody .

PB : Much of the album was recorded at ‘Whole Track’. Is that your own studio ?

RA : It is a lot of people’s really. It is basically a co-op of all the people that are involved with us. Our manager has a part of it. Mabel, our publicist, works there also. There are also several people there who you will probably never come in contact with just because they work on the internal things. There is someone who does our photography, and we have several videographers here who are working hard to put out a product now with Adam, who is our resident computer guru.

PB : The album was also recorded in part at ‘Mad Hatter’, ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Andora’. Where are they ?

RA : They are all well known L.A. studios. Brooklyn, at the time we went in, was Madonna’s studio. It was within Maverick Records at the time, and Andora was actually where Michael Jackson did his ‘Bad’ album. Mad Hatter is Chick Corea’s studio. He does his gig down there, They are very nice studios, a lot nicer than the studios we are normally used to. We loved the experience.

PB : Was ‘Standing in the Sun’ an own produced album ?

RA : Yes, it was produced as a group. Les and I were pretty much at the forefront. C.J. , our manager, was also very instrumental, and he was the executive producer, and Rex came in and he did his part.

PB : Was there anyone else involved in the recording ?

RA : Yes ! There were several people actually. Some of the people I have already mentioned. Jordan Dalessio was our number one engineer, and there were several other engineers on the project also While Les and I were pretty much left alone to decide what went onto the actual recording, one person who was very instrumental that didn’t really receive enough of an acknowledgement was Marc Francovich who operated at Mad Hatter. He was really behind us, and really went the extra mile so that we could realise the record.

PB : The album has been put out by the Whole Track Entertainment Group which is the band’s own label. Do you have any other bands on it ?

RA : There are other bands and artists. It is not just musical. Whole Track is a bit bigger than that. You will be hearing about some of those artists soon , but right now we’re not so big (Laughs) that we can get the job done for everyone. With what has been happening with Standing in the Sun, we are keeping everybody pretty busy on that, but hopefully that will flatten out a bit soon and we will be able to start to put some more time in on some of the other guys.

PB : You are now currently recording your second album. When can we expect that to be released ?

RA : It is a little soon to put a release date on it ! We will, however, be putting up some previews of songs on the internet in the next few weeks.

PB : Are you going to record it entirely at Whole Track ?

RA : For us the job in hand has always been pretty much to get the ideas down. Whatever studio we use is just a tool to be able to do that, so it’s hard to say where we will end up. Whole Track has always been great for experimentation and allowing us to go where we want to go without any distractions or other input, so it’s very likely that it may go that way.

PB : Last question ! Will the band be touring soon, and where can we expect to see them ?

RA : We actually just came back from the final for World Cup for Women’s Soccer. We played that last month in front of 100,000 people at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Americans won it in a match between the Americans and the Chinese. That was a great experience, and we got to see some of our fans out there, and to meet some new ones. We got a lot of good press and on the telly (Laughs)

There are plans on the way for more shows. We have had some offers to go out with other groups, and there are a number of other avenues too, so right now we’re deciding on which options are best for the band. We are trying to get out soon.

PB : Thank you

RA : Thank you .











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