Sulek’s Animated Lucky Break
But sometimes it takes only the
slightest bit of luck to tilt the scales. When Grey Gerling, a close friend and
Hoctor’s college roommate, used the band’s homemade recordings in a number of
hand-drawn animations for his online company, BarfQuestion Films, the music dam
broke. Those who saw the videos grew intrigued by their soundtrack and began to
ask about getting a copy of Sulek’s unique, dynamic blend of pop, rock, folk
and classical music.
“He was like, ‘People are asking for
albums and stuff. Think you could ever put one together?’” Hoctor recalls. “So
that’s how the first album came about. We just pieced together all these songs
we had written for fun and never had imagined selling at all. It pays to be
involved with something else to help you grow.”
The four-man band of self-taught
musicians released Songs from the
Doctor's Office in 2008 and followed it up quickly with last year’s Believer’s Lane. Hoctor says that the
band’s homemade sound not only comes from relatively inexpensive instruments
and recording devices like 8-tracks, but also from diverse tastes in music and
having two songwriters.
“I write half the songs, but David
(Kelly), the piano/banjo/guitar player, writes the other half. And a few of
them come together as a full band,” explains Hoctor, who adds that he takes two
days for a song while Kelly takes six months. “Some songs are more folky, more
rocking, some are more like surf music. Some are based around piano, some are
more based around the guitar. So we dabble in all areas.”
It may sound like the band creates
complicated parts to make this dynamic sound, but that’s not the case.
“We’re forced to have simple parts for
everything because none of us are really masters at our instruments; if anyone
is good, it’s David,” Hoctor says. “As far as the guitar parts and bass parts,
they always have to be pretty simple, so then we’re forced to make really
interesting arrangements. We have simple parts, but when they come together
they make an interesting and exciting song.”
Some things might change for the next
album, when the band takes on an outside producer (a close friend of the band),
but the core of the band will remain the same. The group plans to record
together as a band like they did for their first album.
“It’s going to be really interesting
because we have a lot of fun recording it ourselves,” Hoctor says. “We often
write parts as we record, but we’re going to have to rehearse before we go into
the studio and have our parts down. The sound should be way up and above what
we’ve done before. It’ll be something new, but we’re still old Sulek and will
be along the lines of what we’ve done before.”
The band is gaining momentum with more
shows due to the increased popularity, but they would like to think the reason
for the group’s existence remains the same as day one.
“We go to shows with our old
instruments and people give us weird looks, but we do what we do, we have fun.
And people can tell that,” Hoctor says. “We never dreamed of being an actual
band and releasing albums and making money. That feeling has kept us true to
something. We’re in this just for the sake of music, just for the sake of
having a good time. We still have that in us, and we’re proud of that.”
Sulek plays with Ehson Rad and His Band on Thursday, July 8, at 9 p.m. at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn.