It was a slow year for everyone, but for New York City’s Sunflower Bean, a group just coming off a series of worldwide festivals and their biggest tour to date, 2020’s grinding halt felt especially drastic. Considering the fact that the indie rock trio hit the ground running in 2013 (and hasn’t stopped since), it makes sense why the shift was so jarring – after all, there’s a big difference between providing direct support for the likes of Pixies and Wolf Alice and quarantining with your parents in Long Island for ten weeks.
When the pandemic first took hold in early March, the group was forced to put their busy schedule aside, but in the latest installment of the Dr. Martens Presents: Music and Film Series, Sunflower Bean is back to doing what they’ve been doing since high school – playing shows, telling stories, and making music together.
The early days of quarantine saw them separate, with vocalist/guitarist Nick Kivlen locking down with his family in Long Island and vocalist/bassist Julia Cumming and drummer Jacob Farber staying in the city, but when COVID testing became more readily available toward the end of May, they reunited safely and kept working. As a trio of “life-long musicians,” in the words of Cumming, finding a way to continue was a no-brainer.
Over dreamy guitars, deep basslines, and backbeats that keep a pounding pulse, Sunflower Bean has hit their stride. They regard 2019 as the year it all fell into place, one spent mostly on the road playing shows across the globe, but the busyness is nothing new. For a group that started dropping singles before they could legally drink, constantly creating became second nature, but the absence of touring, they’ve looked inward and reached outward. Quarantine meant a time to reflect, dissect, and connect – pulling apart emotions they’d previously ignored and giving back to their own community amid a summer of social unrest. They traded their stage equipment for sanitizer and water bottles, packing their van with essential supplies and distributing them to marchers across New York City.
Sunflower Bean touches on how important this period was for them, citing politics as a direct influence on their feelings and, subsequently, their music. Kivlen notes the connection between the personal and the political, regarding the two as nearly indistinguishable with how heavily politics plays a role in the lives of everyone.
With infectious indie instrumentals and lyrics that are both socially conscious and self-aware, Sunflower Bean is one to watch in the coming year. Don’t miss them live on Dr. Marten’s Instagram on January 19th!