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Behind the Scenes

Sometimes band practices can be fun. With a group of six busy members in a situation where nobody is being paid, it can be difficult to be regular about them. We were down a couple of members last night so we did things a little differently.

We started things off by choosing a setlist for our next show, using a modified single transferrable vote system. Here’s proof that we’re probably the most nerdy group in town at the moment:

As you can see, the first initials of the names of the people at practice, put together, spell “A PIE.”

As for the practice, that consisted of running parts of songs over and over to try and perfect our harmonies. It was nice, all of us gathered around a piano just like in the movies, only it was a synthesiser and I was only taking stills:

Iain was in a boy band back in the 90s.


I’m currently exploring new ways of writing. Or rather, new approaches to convincing my body to write. My aim is to have a good body of material ready to record the follow up to Apologiesat the end of the year. At the moment I have a few new numbers that the band have been playing, but we’re a wee way off the target as yet.

One approach I’ve taken is to sit down and record some ideas that have been floating around, or some very old songs that I’ve never recorded. Unfortunately I’m surprisingly private about this process so I tend to do it very quietly, very late at night, which colours the results somewhat. I hope to piece together bits of these and put them on the PoiseEP which I should have out somewhere in the middle of the year.

Another angle is to write or record or produce absolutely anything that comes out of me, with the idea that the process will foster writing for Sunley. As a result of that, the Yumbo project has been ressurected:

“Enough”, by Yumbo. There’s not much to this one, but I reckon if I’m having a boogie while tracking it there’s no real harm. Enjoy.

Anyway, these are a couple of approaches. Sometimes I just can’t bring myself to pick up a guitar and I really don’t know why. I’d love to hear if anybody else has any ideas on how to stimulate writing!

A Small Visit

I spent the weekend in Auckland. I had been waiting for 15 years to see Faith No More, and they didn’t disappoint. I’ll now do anything in my power to see them again. Genius.

While up there, I also caught up with Tono and opened a gig for him and Tiny Ruins at the Wine Cellar. Once again, a nice night at the Wine Cellar, which is one of my favourite bars in the country, and it was great to catch up with some of the Dunedin diaspora. I still don’t think I’ve got the hang of Auckland crowds though.

The year really kicks off for the band though in a little under a month. We have a good schedule coming together for the first half of the year with a solid band lineup and we’ll be testing out some new material. More about that soon!

New Review

I’m not sure how long this one will be up, but Tim at says:

“Sunley is actually Evan Sunley James, a New Zealand resident who has created a fine little record here with some cracked Americana. What you hear is a busted banjo, shuffling drums, dusty acoustic guitars and on top is Sunley’s yearning vocals, not completely unlike a NZ-bred Will Oldham (minus the voice cracking). No crazed warbling here just good songs.”

I must admit I’m pretty happy about that one!

Read this and other reviews at the fine Daggerzine site!

Ano Novo

Long time, no talk. My apologies. To keep things going, here’s a review of Apologies by Fleur Jack that showed up in the current Rip It Up magazine:

“There are a bunch of well crafted songs on this charming homemade album and the love that has gone in to making it is obvious. All the instruments played and lyrics sung have a laidback vibe about them, which makes for very chilled and pleasant listening. As well as being the man behind the songs on this album, Evan Sunley James is behind much of the instrumentation, and has also taken the role of producer, which means that every little detail has been approved for his own satisfaction. Anyone can make an album in a bedroom with the technology that is available these days, but making one that people want to put on and listen to isn’t as easy as Sunley makes it seem. The album is friendly, it has some love, a little bit of heartache along the way – and is all round aurally pleasing to the ear and spirit. Sunley is another of Dunedin’s diamonds definietly worth checking out.”

Thanks Fleur!

Review in NZ Musician

Another nice review of Apologies turned up in the latest issue of NZ Musician magazine. Amongst other things, reviewer Liz Barry said “there is a deep soulfulness to his music that will have you wanting more”.

Well, there will be more, I promise. But hey, do take Liz’s word for it. Check out the rest of her review here, and then maybe tell all your friends to grab the album from or iTunes. That would be awesome. Love you long time!


I’ve posted some photos from the North Island leg of the album release tour here.So many stories, erased by the days… hopefully pictures will elucidate somewhat. Maybe I (or one of the other Sunley fullas) can come up with some words to go with them soon.

In the meantime, I play my first solo show in some time tomorrow evening at the Carey’s Bay Pub, with Robert Scott, Bill Morris and Nadia Reid. Should be fun!