Musicians with a taste for adventure and a proclivity for the paranormal, Madison's Sunspot is back with their latest and ninth studio album, "The Strangest Frequency", a straight-ahead guitar rock record that indulges the band's love of punk, metal, and pop.
The band started recording before the pandemic, and while the wordwide shutdown might have put their official studio time on hold, they didn't let being stuck at home slow them down. Throughout 2020 and 2021, their "Thirsty Thursday" and "Paranormal Tuesday" livestreams reached thousands of hungry music fans with no place to go. The band was able to record over 50 music videos from home, everyone putting their individual pieces in and then editing them together into a "live" video with tracks ranging from Sunspot originals to ridiculous covers like "Eye of the Tiger" or "Santa Baby". During this process, they kept writing and eventually finished recording the twelve songs that would form "The Strangest Frequency".
Sounds Like: Muse, Cheap Trick
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With their uncanny lyrics, massive harmonies, and six-string fireworks, Sunspot has been touring the rock underground for over two decades. Just beyond the radio and just outside the mainstream, Sunspot performs driving electro-rock anthems that capture the fantastic and bring it back down to Earth.
After years of podcasting tour stories from their van, Sunspot branched out by creating Wisconsin's #1 paranormal podcast, See You On The Other Side. Featuring interviews and discussions of pop culture and paranormal themes along with a brand new original track every week, their latest album The Wonders of the Invisible World collects the most popular songs from the show. The paranormal inspiration ranges from weird Puritan superstitions (hence the Salem Witch Trials-related title track) to a rocker inspired by Ed and Lorraine Warren of The Conjuring fame ("The Only Faith"), a Churchillian ode to a brave psychic British cancer survivor ("Keep Calm and Carry On") to a track about the escape of an out-of-body experience ("Push").
The Wonders of the Invisible World will be released on March 13th as part of Sunspot's 2018 trek from Wisconsin to SXSW in Austin, Texas. After showcasing it on tour, they're bringing it back to Madison for a homecoming show in April.
Here is a sample of the reviews of Sunspot's last album, Weirdest Hits:
"Sunspot learned to embrace its charming weirdness... the band members are making some of the best music of their career" - Isthmus, Madison, WI
"They sound oh so, familiar and like nothing you've ever heard before." - Power Play Magazine, UK
"A PERFECT PIECE OF POP ROCK." - Get Ready To Rock, UK
Sunspot has shared the stage with Death Cab for Cutie, Andrew WK, Third Eye Blind, and Flaming Lips. The band has won the Wisconsin Area Music Industry's Artist of the Year, an honor shared with Garbage, Violent Femmes, and Bon Iver.
Disco-Metal Rockers from the Cheese and Beer Galaxy
Sunspot 2011 Bio
Rock band Sunspot has racked up a few awards and a lot of recognition during the past decade, including winning Rock Album of the Year in the Madison Area Music Association Awards for Singularity (2010) and Loser of the Year (2004). Sunspot is a symphony of guitars and voices, soaring melodies wrapped around hyper literate poetry and wicked rhythms. Male and female harmonies collide with expert guitar work and pop sensibility. Sunspot is rock music that's smart, fun, and powerful. The band has recorded six albums, a DVD and an EP, as well as over 160 biweekly video podcasts (Sunspot Road Mania), and have shared the stage with Death Cab for Cutie, The Flaming Lips, Sponge, SevenMaryThree, Hot Hot Heat, Crash Test Dummies and Sick Puppies. In 2010, Sunspot released the DVD version of their multimedia spectacle, Major Arcana. That was followed by the EP, Deus Ex Machina in March 2011. Also in early 2011, Sunspot licensed their song, "Go, Pack!" to FOX Sports for their Super Bowl coverage, with some residual coverage for the song on NPR as well as numerous Wisconsin radio stations. Their newest album is The Slingshot Effect.
Sunspot 2010 Bio
Singalong rock with big guitars, smart lyrics, and a sense of humor, Madison, Wisconsin's Sunspot is the physical impact of hard-hitting rock with the ear candy of pop music and the thoughtful words of a singer-songwriter. Think the Fountains of Wayne or Barenaked Ladies with Lars Ulrich on drums and Eddie Van Halen on guitar.
According to vocalist/bassist Mike Huberty, "Growing up in Milwaukee, the radio raised us on an overfed diet of Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and Pearljam, so we know and love the adrenaline of rock n' roll. But we also sing about Heidegger and The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, so we want you to think and laugh as well as raise your fist and yell."
Sunspot's release, Singularity, is the latest in a series of grand experiments for the band. They released a track and video every month for a year and the CD/DVD set is the whole collection. After joining forces in 1996 as students at the University of Wisconsin, they've gone on to release five albums, a DVD, a video podcast (Sunspot Road Mania), and have performed hundreds of shows all over, sharing the stage with bands like Death Cab for Cutie, The Flaming Lips, Sponge, SevenMaryThree, Hot Hot Heat, and Sick Puppies. Punk pioneer Milo Aukerman, from the legendary Descendents, has even joined them for a performance on live television.
In 2010, Sunspot has created a new kind of show. One that exists as a combination of theater, art, music, and live performance piece. It's about creating a completely new type of experience that's personal like a club concert, has the emotional weight of a musical, that's dynamic visually like a film, and has the depth of great literature. The band premiered the show called "Major Arcana" at SXSW in March and took it on a tour of 17 different states over the summer culminating in their first live DVD, which will be released in November.
Guitarist Ben Jaeger talks about the new show with pride, "after finishing the song a month record, this is easily the most intense thing we've ever done. We bring the spectacle of an arena into a club and amp up the theatricality with a storyline, live video, and interaction with the audience. It's fun and outrageous and intimate."
With only three members, everyone gets a chance to shine. Ben on guitar is an intensely physical performer, executing guitar licks and fretboard fireworks with the chops of a classically trained musician. Mike holds down the bottom, but brings in the cerebral with lyrics that have a flair for the quirky, sarcastic, and fantastic. Drummer Wendy Lynn Staats keeps the spirit alive and uplifted with her steady beats and vocal harmonies. It's only the sum of them together that makes Sunspot alternately sweet and sardonic, sharp and engaging.
Some of their biggest successes come from their most ridiculous songs. Their unabashedly geeky tune, "Scott Bakula", ended up being used by the man himself as the theme song for his 50th birthday party. Their album "Loser of the Year" went on to be named Rock Album of the Year at the Madison Area Music Awards and the next year, the band was awarded the state's biggest music nod as Artist of the Year by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry.
Sunspot concerts are a communal experience for the audience. Bringing people together is something they do extraordinarily well (there have been plenty of weddings from people that have met at Sunspot shows!) The band is about bridging the gaps in the human condition by making the show as much about the audience as it is about the band.
Drummer Wendy Lynn elaborates, "That's what our new show is about, staying connected to the people around you in a world where disconnection isn't just easy, it's usually encouraged. The medium is the message and there's something about being together at a live show that's irreplaceable. Our new show is about giving the audience a full sensory experience from music and visuals and participation, we're upfront and center, but everyone there is onstage."