Boulder-based Sunsquabi were entering one of their best years yet. But like the rest of the world, Covid-19 brought it all to a standstill. The electro-funk jam band found themselves halting a major US tour supporting The Floozies a few weeks in and had to look on from isolation as the industry gutted itself. It’s been a hard thing to watch and Sunsquabi had to make the choice; give into the darkness or get back to making the music they love.
“We were on a really great tour. We were selling out shows and playing well together, but when something like this happens and it’s a global emergency, we just came home,” says Kevin Donohue, Sunsquabi’s guitarist/synth wizard.
Not wanting to waste time, the three piece got to work producing a series of videos and streams, as well as finishing up the album they had begun before the tour. It was a big change for them: if things were normal they would be spending the majority of the year touring and playing shows.
“We’ve been getting back to just enjoying making the music. With all these things we’ve been doing there’s no audience, so we’ve just been rocking out to ourselves. It’s nice to feed off of a crowd but we had to get back to feeding off of the music,” says bassist Josh Fairman.
Recently performing in Chicago for the first time all summer at a drive-in concert, the band found the experience rejuvenating. “Looking out at all the people in their cars, I could feel their energy,” says Donohue. “We played so hard it’s crazy – my neck hurts and was all twisted. But that’s a good thing. Having all this time to play together and practice every week has been really constructive. We’re playing from the heart.”
Thanks to events like the drive-in concert Sunsquabi play on Saturday, October 10, music is happening again. Sunsquabi finds this a welcome relief, as they are currently only playing twenty percent the number of concerts they normally would in a year. And while drive-in shows are great, it’s a poor substitute for a packed show at your favorite venue. But they are serving a purpose in keeping music alive and Sunsquabi has nothing but love for the idea.
“Honestly, it’s amazing to have a real setting where we’re able to play on a real stage with real speakers,” says Donohue. “I think a lot of the same feelings get achieved because all these people come together and are feeling what we’re feeling. We get to do that together and that’s what music is there for. Obviously we want to play shows in [traditional] venues again but we’re grateful to the drive-in thing because we’ve been having a lot of fun with it.”
With Covid also came downtime, of course, so Sunsquabi found new ways to fill their time. Donohue got into updating their lighting rig, drummer Chris Anderson got into fishing, and Fairman took up tie dyeing. “I’ve probably tie dyed every shirt I own,” Fairman said with a laugh.
Sunsquabi sit in a very unique spot in the music industry. With the career they’ve had so far and the following they’ve built, they were able to step into isolation somewhat comfortably until things return to normal. If and when things do, they’ll be hitting the scene with a lot of great momentum built on the dedication to their craft and their love of the music.
“For all three of us – from the very beginning – we got into music for the long haul. This has been our passion in life. It doesn’t make it easier,” Donohue reflected, “but it makes it easier to focus on the long term goal.”