What’s in a name? More specifically, a band name. To many musicians, their moniker is an inside joke, a story, or just a couple random words someone spouted out on a drunken night. But whatever the origin, those words become so much more, representing this group of people’s art and passion.
But what happens when your name is “Vanaprasta” — a word with a meaning, but one you have to take time to explain (and spell) upon every new meeting?
“Our name [was] so difficult to pronounce and five years of being fed up with that kind of culminated into the name changing,” Taylor Brown confesses over the phone. And so, after a member departure and sonic shift, the L.A.-based quartet made the leap and changed their name to Sun Drug.
“Honestly, it makes a big difference not having to spend 20 seconds telling someone what your name is so you can move on to the important things.,” he says with a laugh. “And for us, it’s not really even just changing the name. We don’t really consider ourselves the same band since the dynamic’s changed and the sound has changed.”
That sound is something the bassist describes as more concise and modern than the chaotic, retro feel the band’s earlier incarnation possessed. Blending psychedelia and drum samples with their signature guitar-rock tone, and changing the way they went about writing and recording music, resulted in a cleaner sound that the band considers their finest work. But the transition didn’t happen overnight.
“With Vanaprasta, especially in the first three or four years, we always would write songs by coming into a room and jamming out an idea with guitars blaring, things soaring, and just loudness occurring, and then going from there, which is why our live show was always impactful,” Brown explains. “But things weren’t translating all the time on record, so we kind of wanted to reverse and figure out how to get things right out of the gate … What that meant was a very long trial and error process of trying to come up with the best way to write and record the songs, produce the songs.”
With the help of friend and fellow L.A. musician Rocco DeLuca, who taught them the engineering ropes, Sun Drug were able to completely deconstruct the process they had been so comfortable with for the past half-decade and re-learn the necessary tools to successfully write, record, mix and produce their own music. Half a year later, they were ready to create their debut self-titled EP on their own.
“Rocco was very instrumental in empowering us and helping us empower ourselves to become better not just as musicians and writers, but also as producers and mixers and just being in control of the whole process,” Brown gushes. “Once you give yourself that skill set it’s game over — you can do whatever you want.”
The result is a well-polished, five-track collection ranging from the fluttering, Queens of the Stone Age-esque lead single, “Easy in Your Attitude,” to the soaring, electronic-tinged “Wildman” and dark, percussive “Soaked” — songs that don’t necessarily conform to one genre or feeling, yet flow with a sense of thoughtful precision.
With a newfound mindset, the four members of Sun Drug do not restrict themselves to a certain sound or way of doing things. Like their namesake — the iconic Sun Drug Company building in downtown L.A., which has housed many different inhabitants since its erection in the 1920s — the band plans to continue its constant evolution.