Ex-Sacramento rock band Bridges has a new name and a new EP

As wildfires burn throughout California, carpeting the skyline with smoke, Seattle rock band By Sunlight (formally known as Bridges) are in the middle of a two week long west coast tour that will bring them to The Blue Lamp in downtown Sacramento on Saturday July 12. It’s only a few days into their trip and Mike Sparks Jr. (vocals/guitar) has already made a trip to the emergency room thus leading to a cancellation of one show. Don’t worry though, he says he is OK, “I got some medication and it makes me feel like a crazy person so we’re good to go.”

With a new name and a new self-titled EP available online and at shows, By Sunlight is looking forward to a bright future. Submerge recently spoke with Sparks before playing a show in southern California.

So I read you guys recently changed your name from Bridges to By Sunlight. What’s up with that? Was it a tough decision?
It was definitely a tough decision I know that none of us really wanted to do it. Unfortunately as boring as it is there’s a band called The Bridges that put out a record on Interscope recently and it was kind of one of those things where we just felt like if we wanted to take ourselves seriously we would have to at least kind of watch that and keep that in mind. We didn’t want to get hit with some crazy lawsuit in like six months, you know?

Yeah you always hear crazy stories about shit like that happening. Bands get pissed if someone has their same name.
For sure, if you go to their Myspace page, it’s pretty funny. The Bridges are like some kind of alt-country girl band or something. They’re like the Spice Girls of alt-country or something [laughs]. We just didn’t want to fuck with it.

How do you think fans and friends are going to react? What has been the overall vibe of everyone’s reaction?
I’d say it’s kind of all over the board. To be honest with you we got a pretty fair amount of negative feedback.

Yeah and this is something that we have kind of discussed: change is kind of hard. You develop a relationship with a band, and then they do something that you aren’t immediately behind so of course you’re going to be like, “Man what are they doing?”

We put a lot of thought into it and I think that this record that we’re coming out with is probably the best thing that we’ve done. Jack [Clemans, bass] said it like, “You either have to grow with us or not.” It’s just a band name; you know what I mean?

Yeah I want to talk about the new record. Does it have a title?
It’s going to just be self-titled. We mulled around a couple ideas but I felt like it was cooler to just not title it.

Is it considered an EP or is it a full length? How many tracks does it consist of?
Yeah I don’t know actually that’s another logistical question we have been mulling over. It’s six songs, but it’s forty minutes. If it’s a length issue I think I would definitely call it an LP but if it’s a track number issue than it’s definitely an EP. I don’t know, we’re describing it as an EP. We went in with that intent and it kind of turned into something more than we anticipated.

When and where will it be available?
Yeah, we’re doing something kind of new. We’re not pressing CDs, we might press some, like 100 or something. Or maybe we’ll press some vinyl; I would much rather do that.

We’re doing this thing where you get this little card at our show for $5 and it’s about the size of an ID. On the back of it is a little code and a Web site. You go to the Web site and enter in the code and you can download all the songs in like three different formats. You can look at all the lyrics and see all the credits and all that kind of stuff.

It’s a very innovative approach. What was the inspiration for that?
There’s a band in Sacramento called Bright Light Fever that we used to work with all the time. We’ve been friends with them for a really long time. They called and said, “Hey I think this is what we’re going to do. We want you guys to jump on board and the two of us can try it and see if it works.”

That’s where the business is going. Everything is digital right now, you know?
Absolutely, I can’t see any reason not to. Especially if you factor in gas prices and pressing fucking 1,000 CDs is like $1,500 or $2,000. It’s not a little bit of cash, you know? So this way the cards will be cheaper, it just makes more sense. Maybe it will help get the music out there on a different level.

I want to talk about your move up to Seattle. How do you like it up there and how is it compared to midtown Sacramento?
That’s a good question. I think all of those counter culture heavy pockets in any city are kind of similar. I really like Seattle man. It could be something as simple as the fact it’s a lot less hot [laughs].
It’s a really music oriented city. I feel like if Sacramento had a little bit more of a chance it would be like Seattle because there is such a core in Sacramento of kids. That tight knit sense of community that there is in Sacramento is unbelievable and I haven’t really found it that particular way anywhere else. If there was something close, I think Seattle is very similar to that. Obviously though the Seattle music scene is a Leviathan man, it’s a pretty serious machine.

Were you well received up there? Was it an easy transition?
Yes and no. It was easy just because I think we were so focused on it and accepting all that change at once that it just felt really good. We’ve met some cool bands that we really like and we’ve made friends. But it feels like there is this big shell you have to crack into. There are people who have been up there in that town for 10, 15 years, you know? It’s hard. You can’t just like come in and get it. In that respect, it’s a little tough. I would say half the shows we’ve played were really, really good and half the shows we’ve played no one was there. It’s like starting over.

I read you tour blog yesterday and it seems like things got a little rough for you a few days ago? What happened and are you fully recovered?
I’m doing OK, I’m better. We took that drive down from Portland to Chico and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like that in my life. It was like 100 degrees and I’m sure you know that California is like on fire. It’s ridiculous. It was like being inside of a smoke filled oven for nine hours. So we played in Chico, and it was a great show. I love Chico. We drove from Chico to Sac that night, and I was just laying down and I started feeling really severe abdominal pressure. It got really bad to the point where I was panicking a little bit. It felt like I had appendicitis basically. So I went to the emergency room the next day.

Is your set on this tour consisting mostly of new material? Can people expect to hear old stuff as well?
We are basically playing the new EP in a different order. What we’ve done for the last couple years is we just play our set seamlessly without stopping. We have been playing those old songs for so long, like for instance “Consciously Cornering,” we must have played that song every show for like two and a half years. It’s just a rebirth; it’s something new. It’s a new EP and a new band name.

You were in the band Mister Metaphor, and now Bridges for the last couple years. Do you view By Sunlight as a third entity? Is it enough of a new direction/progression to be considered a new band for you?
I definitely don’t consider it a new band. It’s just a new labeling of the band. It’s just for logistical reasons. Trust me man, saying goodbye to the name Bridges has been really hard. Not like emotional-pow-wows-every-night hard, but it sucks. But, you know you have to at least try to think of it positively. I like the new name.

So what’s next for By Sunlight?
I’d like to make it through this tour without dying first, that’s a good goal. I think we’re going to go out for two weeks every couple months for the next six months to a year and in the interim start writing new stuff. This new EP has showed us exactly what the four of us are capable of doing as a band and we’re just gonna keep doing it!

Stay up to date on By Sunlight visit Bysunlight.com

    Jonathan Carabba

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    Find me at the bowling alley. Co-founder + Advertising Director + Marketing at Submerge. Contact: jonathan@submergemag.com