The sublime wistfulness of “Human Ceremony” — the debut album from NYC trio Sunflower Bean — is quite the offering from a band only three years into their career. While their 2015 EP “Show Me Your Seven Secrets” displayed infinite promise, “Human Ceremony” solidified Sunflower Bean’s ability to cohesively carry an album on their own accord from beginning to end. While it’s been reported that it was recorded in just a week, drummer Jacob Faber dismisses that statement as pure fiction.
“That whole recorded in 7 days thing is kind of a myth,” he explains. “We tracked it in a week. But we spent two or three months in pre-production, just demoing and rehearsing and things.”
Vocalist and guitarist Nick Kivlen chimes in with the band’s justification for such a quick turnaround: “We only spent a total of 10 or 11 days in the studio because studio time can cost a lot; a lot of demoing was done in our bedrooms.”
Kivlen, along with Faber and singer Julia Cumming, make it a point to write all of their songs together, but have vastly different approaches to penning lyrics.
“Julia improvises lyrics off the top of her head, but I often take notes on my phone of things I hear people say and see if I can apply it to what I’ve been writing,” Kivlen says. “You can definitely tell the difference between the songs I wrote and the ones Julia wrote; I veer toward being more conceptual.”
Kivlen and Farber remain adamant, though, about the meaning of their songs being left to the listener’s discretion. “They are open to interpretation–we want to let people think about the ambiguity of our songs,” Farber explains. “The music still sets a clear mood without it —‘Human Ceremony’ is not an album you’d put on at a party. It’s melancholy music.”
Performing said music in front of large crowds on their current tour is apparently easier for some members of Sunflower Bean than it is for others. “My stage banter is weak and needs some work — which is funny because I’ve actually been turned off by bands for that very reason,” Kivlen confesses. “Julia is actually meant to be a comedian — she’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and is great on stage. I don’t have the confidence quite yet, but you do what you can do,” he adds with a chuckle. “I’ll let you know when I actually come up with something.”