Sometimes it’s difficult to wake up from the perfect dream. So why wake up? Draw your mind’s curtains and slip into a constant daydream with Suburban Living. This bedroom project-turned-band pushes pop to its most ethereal forms. Abundant with hypnotic guitar melodies and luxurious textures, Suburban Living’s full-bodied sound is mesmerizing. Yet despite its presentation, the band’s origin is surprisingly simple: a bedroom, a drum machine, and Wesley Bunch.
Bunch began writing and producing music while enrolled in a Virginia community college. The resulting EP titled “Cooper’s Dream” would eventually catalyze the existence of Suburban Living. (Fun fact: the average dream lasts 5 to 45 minutes. This dream lasts a blissful 15.) Bunch wasted no time by releasing “Cooper’s Dream” a month after graduation. Comparisons to ‘80s pop production are irresistible. The EP boasts thumping drum machines, reverb-soaked guitars, and ambient synths. Bunch repurposes ‘80s sounds to fit contemporary arrangements, although his genuine artistry outshines trendy production techniques. Skillful guitar lines accompany sensuous vocals. The resulting sound is substantial, with deep dreamy vibes.
In 2013 Bunch started experimenting with samples, styles, and songwriting. These experiments became a 7” titled “Always Eyes”, which serves as evidence of a slow transition from solo project to band. “Always Eyes” builds upon “Cooper’s Dream” with prolific use of synths and live drums. Bunch’s nostalgic motifs melt into serious tones.
This year Suburban Living teamed up with NYC-based independent label PaperCup Music to release a self-titled full-length album. The release has a definitive “full band” sound, distancing itself from solo project beginnings. Slight impressions of DIIV and Wild Nothing come to mind, although the most obvious comparison is to an ‘80s movie soundtrack. In a way, this record can be consumed as a personal soundtrack. The lyrics outline romantic subplots that are both poignant and relatable. Bunch finds a way to mix real emotion into danceable dream pop songs.
Bunch is currently working with producer Jeff Zeigler (Nothing, Sunny Day in Glasgow, and The War on Drugs). This partnership will be showcased in a highly anticipated batch of new material. We caught up with Wesley Bunch about Suburban Living, along with other important issues like Drake, Twin Peaks, and NASCAR.
ALEX PIRRO: Suburban Living is a great band name. It implies tongue-in-cheek wholesomeness – was this an intentional reflection of your music?
WESLEY BUNCH: Thanks! When I first started Suburban Living, I was living in the suburbs of Virginia Beach and that’s where the name came from. I wanted to kinda poke fun at “the ‘burbs” with the name, because I totally don’t identify with that culture & have no desire to live there, especially after moving to Philadelphia.
ALEX: Who do you think are the most influential dream pop artists?
BUNCH: It’s a pretty obvious answer, but The Cure really did change it all. Even their non-dreamy stuff from the late 70s was totally rad. Robert Smith hardly ever used his chorus pedal early in their career. That shit ruled. Cocteau Twins killed it too. So many good bands.
ALEX: In reference to Suburban Living’s sound, what musical comparisons do you enjoy hearing?
BUNCH: A lot of people were comparing “Suburban Living” to darkwave post-punk bands and that was cool, because I didn’t think the record was that gritty sounding. I definitely wanted to write a “dark” sounding record, but I must of overdone it a little without thinking haha. Oh well, I’ll take it.
ALEX: Since you DJ around Philly a lot, what are your go-to dance tracks?
BUNCH: Can’t reveal all my secret weapons but here’s a few:
The Knack – “My Sharona” ← (surprisingly goes over really well every time)
ALEX: What is the oddest gig you have ever played?
BUNCH: A few years ago we were on tour and some awesome friends offered us a last minute house show in this college town, so I thought “why not?” Turned out this was a frat house fundraiser show where all the door money was being donated to the “throwing-raging-parties fund”. Almost all the bands playing that night were living at the frat house, but I just kinda sucked up the weird vibes and played. To make a long story short, these drunk frat dudes wanted to use our drum set and I wasn’t comfortable with it (again, they were super drunk and hostile). They proceeded to get in my face and threatened to beat us up after I declined. I remember we were all running up basement steps with gear trying to get the fuck out of there as fast as we could. One of them called me a “Rick Moranis looking motherfucker”. So funny. I wasn’t even insulted, Rick Moranis is a super handsome dude. Good times.
ALEX: Who is your favorite Philly band of right now?
ALEX: How does it feel to work with Jeff Zeigler (Nothing, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, The War on Drugs) on your new tracks?
BUNCH: It’s been pretty incredible. Jeff and I have a similar taste in music so he really understands what sound Suburban Living is going for which streamlines the recording process. We’ll finish a session and be amazed at how much we got done in a certain amount of time. When I told some of my Philly friends that we were recording with Jeff, the common response was “Oh yeah that makes total sense, Jeff is perfect for you guys”.
ALEX: What was the inspiration behind the video for “New Strings”? The video seems like a bad trip. (P.S. The death cake was a nice touch)
BUNCH: Haha! Thanks! It was this collaboration between myself and my friend Arielle Green, who went to school in New York City. She found the location and we bounced ideas back and forth. When it comes to music videos, I like to get really weird and pull images from dreams or things I see and find interesting. I think she just took some of my ideas and amplified them by 100.
ALEX: What role did Twin Peaks play in the writing of the “Cooper’s Dream” EP?
BUNCH: Very little. There’s nothing lyrically about Twin Peaks on that EP, haha. It was just something I had on in the background as I was writing. It created more of a vibe than a skeleton. I honestly didn’t know what to call the EP or the title track, so while brainstorming I thought: “I’ve literally had Twin Peaks on in the background while recording demos for all these songs”. I looked at one of the episodes and it was “Cooper’s Dream” so that just kinda stuck. It’s a hat tip to the show. Now there’s bands like, making Twin Peaks themed records and sometimes Suburban Living gets lumped in. It’s a total misconception.
ALEX: If you could rewrite a score of a Brat Pack film, which one would it be?
BUNCH: The Breakfast Club. Predictable, but come on. That movie rules.
ALEX: What is the biggest “Philadelphia stereotype” that you have seen in person?
BUNCH: How intense Eagles fans are. Before moving here people would tell me “watch out for the Eagles fans, they’re super intense.” I had my windows open during a game last year and heard so many different houses next to me yelling at their TVs. It also feels like the whole attitude of the people in the city changes based on if they’re doing well or not. It’s wild.
ALEX: The Meek Mill vs. Drake beef has heated up recently, and on May 22nd you tweeted “who’s tryna have an indie rock beef with Suburban Living”…do you think you could hold your own against Drake?
BUNCH: This question rules. After seeing how Meek kinda got ripped apart, I don’t know if I could hold my own in a beef with Drake. I’m a Virgo and super passive. Oh well, maybe one day someone will come at us. That’d be tight.
ALEX: Are you a fan of NASCAR? How was visiting Charlotte Motor Speedway?
BUNCH: I love going to the races, but I don’t really watch it on TV. I went to Charlotte Motor Speedway because my dad and brother are big NASCAR fans and they were celebrating my brother’s birthday. My good friend from Virginia gets really into it as well. I’m just gonna say – don’t knock it till you try it. Everyone is super chill and just drinks beer all day and fake argues about what driver is better. No one really stereotypes anyone cause my style is the complete opposite of a NASCAR fan’s style & I had no problem making new friends. I guarantee more confrontation happens at Coachella than a NASCAR race.