Apply immediately and apply often: Sunscreen are slip, slop, slapping their way into our hearts

Never have I needed Sunscreen in winter. Until now.

Fun, quirky and amusing, Sunscreen describes their sound as “beach, bangers and mash”, the perfect description for a band of mixed musicality anchored in basic Aussie goodness.

What better way to get through winter than to forget about it completely, and focus on their sweet, new single Voices, released last month on Dinosaur City Records.

sunscreen voices

Condensing summertime into rhythm, jested guitar and raw vocals, Sunscreen are quasi-Aussie rock balladeers bottled into modern day deliverance for immediate application.

Made up of Sarah Sykes on vocals and guitars, Hugo Levingston on the kit, Alex McDonald on guitar and Jett Thompson on bass, Sunscreen are reminiscent of the energetic guitar-laden tunes our nation holds so dearly, seamlessly encapsulating the essence of Paul Kelly or The Go-Betweens. Defying the progressive rock movement, the band has established a refreshing echo that remains humble, rare and enthralling.

Sunscreen are fairly new to the game, gaining popularity on Spotify and independent radio. The trio, mates before becoming band members, were frequent gig goers.

“We’d been going to gigs together for years. It dawned on me one day that we had pretty similar tastes, and I wondered why we weren’t playing together. The idea of the three of us together was just really easy and fun”.

“We jammed for a year, and played our first few shows as just a three-piece. Jett joined us last month on bass, something we couldn’t be happier about. “

Elaborating on how the band formed, Sarah revealed that showing Levingston and McDonald the songs she had written inspired a new confidence.

“I’ve never been very confident with my own music, and I just know I felt super comfortable around Hugo and Alex. There was no pressure for it to be anything specific. We were just mates who weren’t sure how how it was going to turn out.”

“We believe in Sez xx”, Levingstone added.

The band rely heavily on guitar, McDonald often instigating a riff that can be built upon, Sykes then singing lyrics on the spot. Levingston is credited with always finding the rhythm of a piece, while newcomer Thompson adds her faultless bass lines.

New single Voices was born out of Syke’s old garage, and a jam session between Levingston and McDonald.

“They started playing this insane, driving rhythm” Sarah explains, “and I began to sing over the top “it’s my head, it’s just in mine”, lyrics that would eventually become the chorus”.

“I do my best at rehearsals to play around on the guitar and come up with things that Sarah can sing and write lyrics over,” Alex interjected. “At the same time though, we are not really a ‘jam band’.”

The song tackles a more despondent realism that the melody suggests, exploring the struggles of anxiety; personal or romantic.

“The lyrics are semi-triumphant, acknowledging that things in reality aren’t as bad as they seem. But they’re also self-deprecating; about kicking yourself when you realise it’s your own mind that’s causing the problem.” 

Their shared interest in Australian music has a major influence, apart from the obvious band name. Levingston admits it was his Australian upbringing and exposure to Aussie pub rock that shaped his taste in music;

“I was always exposed to Aussie rock and pub rock classics such as Midnight Oil and Aussie Crawl. This really shaped my taste in drumming and prompted me to want to capture that barren desert soundscape in sound. It prompted me to want to capture that barren desert soundscape in sound.”

“I’ve never lived anywhere else so I can’t say”, Sarah added, “We all love a lot of Australian music, like the Go-Betweens. When Sunscreen started I was listening to a lot of Dick Diver, Boomgates, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and the You Beauty album that has just come out at the time… all these newer bands that sing in really noticeable Australian accents, but that still don’t sound forced, or put on.”

“Listening to them really struck a chord with me, and put a lot of imagery in my head I found calming and soothing. I grew up in Newcastle and moved to Sydney when I was 19, and I I named my band Sunscreen, because it reminds me of my childhood and my hometown, something I find comforting.”

You can rock along to their bangers at their next gig, playing Friday 26th May at Sydney’s Botany View Hotel, supporting Sloan Peterson.

Find all the details on the Facebook event.