M/sunny
81°
M/sunny
Hi 84° | Lo 63°

In the moment

Dublin: Local jam band The Youngest Sun specializes in improvisation

  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.
  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.
  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.
  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.
  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.
  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.
  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.
  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.
  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.
  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.
  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.
  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.
  • The Youngest Sun is a four-piece jam band out of Dublin, New Hampshire.

Generally in music, you practice, practice again, and practice some more. When you’re ready to perform, there are usually no surprises from the musician’s perspective. Right?

Not for The Youngest Sun, a Monadnock Region band that brings its love of jamming, or in-the-moment playing, from the practice room to the stage. The local group made up of vocalist and bass-player Ethan McBrien, 23, vocalist and keyboardist Dan O’Rourke, 22, drummer Jordan Cusano, 23, and guitarist Rory Hurley, 22, have a special knack for just letting things happen with their funk-influenced rock music, whether the group of four are playing alone or in front of an audience.

McBrien talked about his band’s tendency to play in a spontaneous way, and the challenge and reward of unifying their music. “When we’re improv-ing and it clicks, that’s where it’s really at,” he said in a recent interview.

Doing things for the joy and without many expectations seems to be a theme for the Youngest Sun, which was established nearly 10 years ago when McBrien and O’Rourke recorded an album together at Mountain Shadows School in Dublin. Playing guitar and drums at the time, McBrien and O’Rourke chose to do the project as part of their “Olympic Studies,” a period during the Mountain Shadows school year designated for student-chosen studies. “It was so awesome to have that experience,” McBrien said.

Awesome enough to continue playing and start the band Flowe, which is what McBrien and O’Rourke called themselves as they kept practicing together. Eventually the two would meet Hurley and Cusano, who would complete the band, while all four were at ConVal High School. Though the band went through a series of what they refer to as “really terrible names,” that would change with each show they did, according to McBrien, the group eventually landed on the Youngest Sun their senior year of high school. The name is a twist on the fact that each band member is the youngest sibling in their respective families.

“We all had that in common,” McBrien said. He also explained that the group liked the way people could think about the name, perhaps something as bright as a new sun, or star. “We just like that image,” he said.

Though the Youngest Sun was originally more “song-y” and “poppy” in its beginnings, according to McBrien, one show at the Teen Center in Peterborough during the group’s senior year in high school signaled a change. The band was already becoming more serious and worked to play more of their groovy, sometimes psychedelic rock music, when they wondered one day what would happen if they jammed in a show like they did in practice. During the Teen Center show, the group began jamming in front of an audience for the first time, straying from a set list of songs and just improvising their music.

“Some people loved it, and others hated it,” McBrien said with a laugh. But for the Youngest Sun, they loved the experience of playing off the cuff on stage, and that show was the turning point for their music. “We thought, maybe we can do this,” McBrien recalled.

O’Rourke described the group’s method of playing without a plan as something they had admired in others. “A lot of the bands we listen to and are inspired by are these bands [that improvise],” he said. Connecting with each other and the audience while playing live then became a focal point for the band. “The experience is pretty mutual between the audience and the band. The set is not determined,” McBrien explained.

While O’Rourke described the group’s playing process as exciting, McBrien talked about the kind of efforts it takes to do musical improv on stage. “It’s a constant process of getting tighter, more unified,” he said.

Connection would be something the group would be working on in the grander scheme of things, as several members went off to college in Vermont and others stayed in the Monadnock area. McBrien described scheduling shows during that time as “a long journey,” remembering how he would bring his massive amp on the his college track and field bus, so he could go home afterward and perform with the Youngest Sun on weekends. The group has played between the Keene and Burlington areas for the past four years, usually performing during holidays at local events like the Keene Pumpkin Festival and at local venues like Harlow’s Pub in Peterborough.

Now that McBrien and Hurley, who both graduated from the University of Vermont in the spring, are back in the area, the four members of the Youngest Sun are now focusing on playing as much as they can. The group is also recording a new album, which will be the third with the band. Unlike the first two, however, the Youngest Sun is recording their upcoming album on their own in Francestown, as opposed to doing it in a studio. “It allows you to approach it with a different mindset,” McBrien said. The album is expected to be ready in the spring or summer of 2014.

For the foreseeable future, the Youngest Sun will continue what it is doing: jamming together, playing shows, and staying in the Monadnock region. Past that, no plans are in place.

“[Playing together] is a part of our life that’s going to remain central, however that takes form,” McBrien said. “Our goals are pretty much we love doing this, and we’re going to keep doing this.” Like everything else before, it seems The Youngest Sun is just going to go with what feels right, when it feels right.

And why wouldn’t they, when, according to McBrien, “It’s always a great time.”

The Youngest Sun will be playing next at Harlow’s Pub on Friday at 9:30 p.m. There’s an $8 cover charge and the concert is 21 and older.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.