Hailing from the ‘burbs of Adelaide, three young guys have recently signed with Warner Music Australia and are currently taking the world by storm.
Harrison Kantarias (vocals), Andrew Kantarias (vocals/keys) and Tom Jay Williams (vocals/guitar/piano) are At Sunset and they are the new kids on the pop rock block.
Having won Nova’s Fresh Discovery in March, At Sunset are on their way to being up there with the likes of UK’s The Vamps and our own 5 Seconds of Summer.
But unlike the other boy-bands who are rocking the world stage, At Sunset are trying to take a more authentic approach to their music.
Speaking to The Upside News from his manager’s house in Adelaide, Harrison Kantarias says every little thing they do starts acoustically.
“Everything is acoustically driven. Before we add all the electric guitars, it starts on acoustic guitar. We write all our music, and I think other bands do too, but the difference with us is we write it organically. The others are all unbelievable bands and we listen to their music. We are all different, but it would be awesome to put ourselves in that league,” he says.
Harrison (22) and Andrew (20) both went to Kings Baptist College in Wynn Vale and Tom (22) went to Immanuel College at Novar Gardens.
After leaving school, Harrison says the guys weren’t sure what they wanted to do career wise, but luckily, music chose them.
“You go through school and wonder what am I going to be when I’m older,” Harrison muses. “I was in physio and then I went into journalism. Andrew was doing engineering. I’m not sure what Tom was doing; kind of just bouncing around, I think,” he laughs.
“But we all just took a punt and said music was the only thing we felt we were all good at, and now we have a song on the radio! To hear it spun on the radio and having your mates sending you Snapchats of them singing your song, or being in another country where someone knows the lyrics to a song I wrote in my bedroom, well that’s just crazy!”
At Sunset’s single ‘Every Little Thing’ was released recently and has already garnered over 30,000 views on YouTube.
‘Every Little Thing’ is getting plenty of airplay back home, but was written while the guys were on a recent trip to the U.S.A.
“We met up with Nash Overstreet who is the guitarist for Hot Chelle Ray. His brother Chord Overstreet is in Glee, so we met with a very talented family! We were on the way to the airport to go home and Andrew and Tom started this writing session through Twitter, which shows how amazing social media is; we had six hours to catch a flight and we spent three hours writing a song,” he says.
“I remember sitting on the plane and thinking, that’s a pretty good song! We all wondered what it would sound like once Nash produced it. Then we got home and Nash called and said it was the craziest writing session, and now it’s our single!”
Not only did the guys write a catchy new single, but they also got up to some stuff over in the States that most of us could only ever dream of.
“We dropped our bags and went straight to a theme park! Apart from that we did exactly what we’ve always wanted to do which is go everywhere and show everyone we can play acoustically. We started going to radio stations around the country. We were in Memphis at one stage, and then we were in New York, then LA. It was really cool to meet different people,” he says.
“We went to Leonardo Di Caprio’s house for a party, which was awesome; Tobey Maguire was there! It wasn’t bad that Spiderman was there! We met Nathan Sykes who was in The Wanted. He was giving awesome words of advice. We’ve taken that advice and are trying to reflect that in our own careers.”
No stranger to rubbing shoulders with the famous and talented, At Sunset also recently had a mentoring session at Carclew Youth Arts with UK superstar, Ed Sheeran.
“No words can describe it,” Harrison says. “The guy is probably the best human on the planet. We were standing there and our hands were shaking because we were about to perform for him and all the press and Nova, and the heads of Warner were there.
“Ed Sheeran walked straight into the room, ignored everyone else and introduced himself to us. A lot of people might think once you get signed to a label you sit back and let it all come to you, but his advice was the opposite. He said, ‘Now you’re in the opportunity to do exactly what you wanted to do, you have to work harder than ever. That’s how you’ll get to that next level.’”
“Andrew and I are brothers and we met Tom at a studio where we were recording. He happened to be in the next room and we became friends through that. When we were having a rest, we would play pool together and that’s how we became friends. Then we realized, because it’s Adelaide and there’s only one degree of separation, our friends were all mutual friends, so it made sense we started hanging out together,” he laughs.
“Andrew and I have been writing from as long as we could string a sentence together so we were recording songs we’d written for At Sunset and Tom was doing the same for himself because he was a solo artist when we first started.”
Although the guys came together to form At Sunset in 2014, Tom had already gained national attention by being the youngest ever top ten finalist on Australian Idol.
Sharing similar interests and musical influences, the trio have found the perfect combinations for creating their own sound.
“Our main influences are bands like Simple Plan, but Jonas Brothers would be up there because they are a three-piece who dominated the world scene with that real commercial pop-rock which is really where we come from,” Harrision says.
“I love Busted and Good Charlotte, Tom finds Nick Jonas as his inspiration and Andrew’s obsessed with Bruno Mars and his creativity. I think Justin Timberlake is an absolute musical genius; so we’ve got an eclectic range of genres we like but I think that basis comes from bands we grew up listening to which we call the College Era. I don’t know if anyone else calls it the College Era,” he laughs.
Despite At Sunset’s sudden success and backing from an incredible range of impressive organisations, Harrison Kantarias is grounded, sincere and genuinely excited about music.
Being rocketed to these heights of popularity and attention could potentially create a monster, but the young South Australian is unaffectedly grateful for the opportunities he’s been given, even if he is a little overwhelmed by it occasionally.
“We owe it to our families for keeping us so grounded but when we turn on the radio and our song’s on there, or we’re out having lunch and someone asks for a photo, we love it, because it shows our music is growing and we’re growing,” he says; and his smile can be heard through the phone line.
“We were at the airport the other day and we had a father come up to us and say, ‘You’re on my daughter’s wall, if I don’t get a photo with you, my daughter will kill me!’ so we just love it. We’re not the type of guys to shy from that at all! We’ll embrace it. If anyone sees us and wants a photo, then by all means, it’s cool.”
With a hectic couple of months, which has included TV and radio appearances, meet and greets, as well as becoming proud Port Power ambassadors, the guys are looking forward to getting into the studio to record, and then tour.
“I think the biggest thing for us is that we want to release an album and we want to tour. We’re not scared to perform in front of people; we want our music to be heard. As cliché as that sounds, we have written all the songs, so it’s not like we are going out performing songs that don’t mean anything to us. We wrote a song for the forthcoming album called ‘Forever’ about being away from home; we all wrote it as quick as we could blink because we were all feeling the same thing,” he says.
“When you get thrown into this industry, you don’t really know what to expect. We can’t explain the feeling of getting into the car and hearing one of our songs. It’s the best feeling in the world and we just want to keep taking that to the next level. The day I hear we’ve sold out Madison Square Gardens, I think I’ll do a backflip. I can’t do one, but I’ll figure it out!”
Keep an eye out for this group who are making South Australia proud.
By Libby Parker
Photos by At Sunset