“I want people to find the hope and motivation to be the best version of themselves, and be OK with who they are and their imperfections and their flaws,” considers Sundressed’s Trevor Hedges when asked what he wants people to take from the Phoenix group’s debut full-length, ‘A Little Less Put Together’.
More than most, such a goal makes perfect sense for Hedges and his bandmates. ‘A Little Less Put Together’ is the story of a journey of self-discovery, of fighting demons and moving forward. Having battled with addiction – and led a life of sobriety for the past eight years – Hedges’ story makes the message of positivity that flows through every note of ’…Put Together’ all the more striking and powerful.
And this message of self-acceptance is pushed to the fore on the title track ‘A Little Less Put Together’ and its associated video. The band – completed by Forest Waldorf (guitar) and Garrett Tretta (drums) – left flyers all over their home city of Phoenix, Arizona, asking people to write their hang-ups and anxieties – the reasons why they feel ‘A Little Less Put Together’ – on a piece of paper and stick it to a board. The band also took part, using contributions shared through Facebook and Twitter. The result is one of the most insightful and powerful music videos in recent memory, which shows the power of positive thinking and sharing problems – as well as the fact that everyone has their own problems that they keep hidden from the world.
“It was fun shooting it,” conceded Hedges. “And it was interesting what came out of it. A few of the online suggestions led to some pretty heavy conversations between friends and fans. We didn’t know a lot of this stuff, and we didn’t know some of these people – so that was a pretty intense. But it was a cool – experience.
It’s this honest approach – both in the song-writing and in their approach to their fanbase – that makes Sundressed so relatable. For Hedges, this honesty and positivity is what he strives for in his writing: “It’s therapeutic to cover the stuff that matters,” he says. “I like thinking about and offering some sort of solution to getting out of those situations.
“But yeah, one of my aims is to have some sort of positive resolution. If it’s something I have been through and I want to write a song about it, I don’t want to go back to that moment in time. It’s good for me to feel those things, but it’s important for me to recognise that it’s over, I’ve gained things from it and I’m OK now.”
Sundressed have spent the last three years moving forward, honing their style and sound on two EPs – ‘Dig Up A Miracle’ and ‘The Same Condition’ – and a split single with math-rock/emo group Secret Stuff. The evolution to this point has been “organic”, confirms Hedges, but having a full-length in which to push their sound has allowed the group to build the edges of their sound, pushing beyond breezy pop hooks and killer choruses.
“I knew after doing the 2 EPs that I wanted to do an LP,” says Hedges. “We did the 2 EPs in the same year, and that really helped me figure out how I wanted an LP to come across. It feels like a long journey to get to where it is now – I mean, we spent almost a year recording ‘A Little Less Put Together’ – so it feels good to have it out there.
"Also, I think with the EPs – and especially the first one – we just wanted to write hooks and go for the catchiest songs that we could. On an EP, you’ve only really got a couple of songs to get your band across.
"On the second EP, we experimented with the guitars and the time signatures a little bit, so the backdrop changed a little bit. Then, when you suddenly have 10-12 songs to work with, you’re able to plan it out a little bit more. There are a couple of songs on there that wouldn’t have made an EP, too. So, we had one song that’s pretty old that we brought back to life for the album, which was ‘Feelings Mart’. In fact that’s one of the oldest Sundressed songs.”
This organic growth has also led the band down some very strange paths too – not least with Hedges finding himself on stage mid-set no less – with Dashboard Confessional, after Chris Carrabba beckoned him up to play a song.
“Yeah, that was pretty funny,” laughs Hedges. “A friend of a friend works for them and they were looking for a unique way to promote the Phoenix show. So they said ‘well, Sundressed are the emo band in Phoenix right now, if you post about the show, we’ll get you in.’ So that was all their people. But – and I have no idea how it happened – Chris saw the name of the band and actually listened to us and he got my phone number and texted me.
"I totally thought someone was fucking with me. But he said, ‘I’d love you to come up and play a song in our set’. I was like, ‘well, that’s pretty terrifying’. He’s been really supportive though. I showed him the record and he gave some really great feedback on it, and we still talk and stuff. We’ll probably meet up when we go through Nashville. He’s a super nice guy. It seems like he wants to use his platform and position to help young bands he believes in; I mean, he’s just done those Sorority Noise and Julien Baker covers. Maybe he’ll cover a Sundressed song soon!”
Here’s hoping. In the meantime though, your best option is to fall in love with the real Sundressed instead…
‘A Little Less Put Together’ by Sundressed is out now on Animal Style Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)