By Gabe Fernandez

While most students will find themselves worrying over paper deadlines, lazy group project members and final exams, members of the College Park-based band Sungazing will also be focusing on embarking on their first ever multi-city tour.

“I’m incredibly excited to travel and play in all different kinds of places,” said Ted Gauntt, junior studio art major and drummer for the band. “I’m very excited to show off our music to audiences who definitely would not have heard of us because they aren’t in that College Park and D.C. area.”

From Jan. 9-21, Gauntt, along with his three bandmates will be travelling throughout New England and parts of Canada. John Kos, junior information systems and marketing major and guitarist of Sungazing, hopes to use this tour as a springboard to take the band to new heights.

“We wanted to do something that made our music more legitimate and solidified and doing [this tour] is a step in that direction,” Kos said.

The first iterations of Sungazing formed in November 2015 when friends Kos and Gauntt began to jam with their other friend Ben Green, a junior aerospace engineering major and singer/bassist for the band, and they realized they were generally interested in the same music. The three began jamming as an acoustic trio, which went away quickly and led to the addition of guitarist Dan Zadorozhnyy, a senior computer science major, according to Green.

“We started out playing like acoustic crap like ‘Blister in the Sun’ on repeat,” Green said. “It was goofy and we just didn’t know what we were doing, but we slowly started playing. Then Dan came along and we added a second guitar to the arrangement. It all just progressed very organically from there.”

Since their inception, the band has already gone through numerous changes in style whether it was due to dealing with equipment limitations, learning how to cooperatively piece a song together as a band or continuously working on covers. The band agrees that they’ve now progressed into a fusion of noise rock, shoegaze and alternative rock.

“I feel like the entire band is at the middle ground of writing something that is between thickly layered and pretty, while also having it be noisy and really aggressive at the same time,” Kos said.

“Sort of like texture versus punishment,” Zadorozhnyy added.

Green said the band has come out of “its middle school awkward days” and is finally getting more comfortable with their writing and play style. It’s led to more artistic unity with the band.

“What used to happen was that we would argue for months on end over whether a song should be structured a certain way,” Green said. “Now, last practice we whipped out two songs just by jamming with each other. So now it’s becoming a lot more cohesive than before.”

From that cohesion grew a desire and increasing feeling that a tour throughout most of winter break might actually be a realistic possibility. With the initiative of Gauntt and the help of Kos’s roommates, who are all a part of bands who have toured, the logistics began to fall into place.

“Even though (tour) turned out to be more work than we realized, the connections we had were solidly in place,” Kos said. “We just had to sit down, agree on dates and work from there. It was never ‘oh man maybe one day we’ll get to do this,’ it was more like, ‘okay we can do this, when do you guys want to?”

As expected with a band’s first tour, they ran into some complications, whether it was being overwhelmed with the work the initial planning took or contacts not returning calls. The band learned very quickly that successfully planning a tour is mostly about who you know.

Luckily they knew enough of the right people to get the tour dates that they did.

Sungazing’s growth in their ability to plan has really helped smooth things out in terms of writing and recording as a band. With three full-time students, one might think the workload could become too much for the band. It’s just been something the band has learned to adjust to, Gauntt said.

“A lot of it is just a consistent effort in time commitment being put in by all the members,” he said. “We all want to actually make this into a real band, and I think having a group of people who are all dedicated goes a long way to things not falling apart in the very initial stages.”

That effort has paid off, and the band is looking forward to touring, each for his own reasons.

For Zadorozhnyy, it’s to “validate all the nostalgia that I have of seeing bands and the lifestyle of the people who are in music or totally stamp it out.”

Green put his answer a little more succinctly: he just wants to “break even and not die” while also seeing the different underground music scenes in each city and meeting new bands.

“There’s a big to-do about going on tour because you get to meet all these people, connect with these bands and see all of these cities and I’m just excited to see what that’s like,” Green said. “Whether it holds up to what people talk about so much.”

The thought of going on tour has yet to hit Kos.

“It hasn’t really set into me that we’re going to do this and it probably won’t until we pack the car,” Kos said. “But for me, it’s about if we do something every day and just practice, it’ll be a lot better when we do it in general.”

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sungazing’s Facebook page.

Gabe Fernandez is a senior journalism major and can be reached at gfernandez@umd.edu.

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