Remember the feeling on the last day of school as a kid, right before summer break? Bursting with energy, ready to soak up the summer and leave the worries of “real life” behind. This is what listening to Sun Room is like. Straight from the garage scene of the Golden State, Sun Room is sure to lighten your mood with their energetic surf-rock sound. Consisting of Luke Asgian (lead singer and guitarist), Ashton Minnich (guitar), Max Pinamonti (bass), and Gibby Anderson (drums) this four piece has taken great strides since starting as a quarantine project in 2020.
Their feelgood sound and determination landed their songs, “Crashed My Bike” and “Something That You’re Missing” on the Outer Banks Season 2 soundtrack. In 2022, the band opened for Louis Tomlinson’s world tour and recently played at Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta, GA.
FRONTRUNNER spoke with lead singer and guitarist, Luke Asgian, about unexpected success, joys and challenges the band has faced, musical inspirations, and life advice.
Tell me about the origin of the band and how you all came to meet.
The band started when I was going to college in San Diego, where I live now. I was a sophomore when we got kicked out of the dorms due to COVID. So I went back home to Long Beach, and was there for all of COVID with nothing to do. To kill the time, I started writing songs. I ended up with the four songs that were on the Sol Del Sur EP. At that point there wasn’t a proper lineup, I just kind of got some friends from home to help me record. One of my best friends from home played bass on it, and a kid I worked with at summer camp played drums on it.
When we put out the EP, it started doing really well. Which was kind of unexpected because I had been in other bands that didn’t do very well. After the EP came out, there weren’t really any permanent members, but people wanted to see a show. My friends from college kind of introduced me to the guys that are in the band right now. I kind of met them over time. Then it became us four– me, Ash, Gibby, Max and we’ve been playing together for like two years now.
What is the culture like where you grew up in Southern California?
We all grew up in different beach towns in Southern California. I grew up in Long Beach. Ashton grew up in San Clemente, and Gibby and Max grew up in Carlsbad, which is a city in San Diego. All of us played in bands before Sun Room, like several bands. It was just the thing to do growing up. So many kids would start garage bands. I was in like three bands throughout middle school and high school. It’s what we did on the weekends. You’d go to house shows and shows in people’s backyards. Tons of kids who are in the skate and surf scene all start some sort of punk, garage, or surf band.
How do you work to make Sun Room’s sound stand apart from the other bands you were in before?
I think there’s a lot more intentionality behind Sun Room than there were with past bands that I was in. With past bands, there was no definitive decision on creative direction. We just made songs super quick in the garage and put them out, we’d take a photo and boom– that’s the album cover. There was no thought to it. It was just something fun to do on the weekends. I think with Sun Room, it was really my goal to push it further, to be able to tour and all that stuff. We just grind it a lot harder than we did with past bands. Spending more time to get the sound that we want, instead of just recording something and putting it out for the sake of putting it out.
Well, this determination worked well for you because your songs “Crashed My Bike” and “Something That You’re Missing” were in Outer Banks Season 2. How did this feel and what would your 2020 self have to say about this?
It’s funny because I actually watched that show during COVID, and that was the same time that I was writing those songs. That next summer was when we were contacted by the show.
I remember I was working a construction job that summer, and I was out with my buddy when I first got the email from the Outer Banks people. It was such a trippy feeling that our music was going to be on the show. I was painting these walls at this rundown elementary school with my buddy. I thought we were going to make so much money from that. I was like, “Oh, I’m going to quit this job.” It turns out we didn’t make much at all, but it was still a really big step for us as a band and put us in front of a lot more people. I feel like the Outer Banks audience is a good audience to hear our music. So that was a cool thing for us for sure.
How similar is the band’s taste in music?
It’s pretty different honestly. There’s a lot of overlap with all of us, but me and Ash are the most similar and listen to garage rock and punk. I’m also into a lot of 60s surf music. Ashton is super into hard rock, like punk and metal. Max is super into the 80s because his dad was in an 80s power pop band. Gibby’s into some soul and a lot of folk music. It’s really all over the board. There’s also the overlap in our taste with core Southern California bands that I feel like every kid down here grew up on. Bands like The Growlers, Butter Tones, Tijuana Panthers and stuff like that. But, unfortunately, a lot of those bands are canceled now.
How does having different musical influences affect the songwriting process?
It’s hard to say exactly how everyone’s taste goes into the music. Usually, I’ll write as many ideas as I can at home and come up with the skeleton of a song. Or one of the boys will send a voice memo with a short idea, and we’ll go into the garage and explore it and see what sounds cool. Once everyone starts playing, we will try and work it out even more. But, we have scrapped so many ideas. There were so many times we went into the garage and thought, “I have this super cool idea” and then we’d play it.
And I’m like, “Oh, that sounds terrible!” and we’d never touch it again. I think most of the songwriting happens in the garage and there’s no science behind it at all. It’s just like, “Oh, maybe if you do this here, that’d be cool.” We’re just kind of winging it, there’s no set formula with how it normally goes. I think sometimes we just get lucky and land on a cool sound or something.
Obviously you all love the sun, given the band’s name. If you could live anywhere besides Southern California, where would you live?
I don’t think I’d ever move out of Southern California– at least not for a long time. I just love it here too much. We’ve been to a lot of places now, and every place we go, I think in the back of my head, “Could I live here?”
I just haven’t been anywhere I would love living more than Southern California. Between the surf here and our community I don’t think I could permanently live anywhere else. However, if I had to live somewhere else, it would be in France. I really thought France was sick when we were there. Especially the parts of France that are right by the beach, it’s so sick. Or maybe Australia. I don’t know. We haven’t been to Australia yet, but I get the feeling that we’d really dig it out there.
The “Cadillac” music video was very creative and fun to watch. Do you guys come up with your own video concepts?
We have so many creative friends here in San Diego who do something art, film, or music related. So every music video that we’ve done has one of our best friends working on it with us.
For the “Cadillac” music video, our filmmaker friend, Kelly, had that hearse parked in his front yard that he always wanted to use in the video. He’s like, “Dude, how funny would it be if we just strapped some drums on top of that thing and just drove it?” And we’re like, “Yeah, let’s do it!” So right when we got back from tour, we just made it happen. There was no more thought to it than that. We just wing all of the music videos. For the “Cadillac” video, it turned out very professional, despite the idea starting as a joke.
What is a challenge that the band has had to overcome so far?
I think one of the biggest challenges for us is when we come home after extensive touring, trying to balance work and play. It’s hard to work on new songs, film content, and come up with new ideas when our friends we haven’t seen in so long are at the beach all day. The hardest part for me is not slacking off when I get home and surfing all day. I definitely have to plan my days where I get my fair share of having fun, but also my fair share of work. The way I’ve been battling laziness is just by setting little goals. Like, “okay, I need to write a set amount of songs every month.”
What has been a positive highlight for the band this year?
One sick thing that we did l is we worked with Zac Carper from the band Fidlar. They’re a really cool punk band that we all idolized growing up. They’re another one of those staple bands down here that everyone listens to. He produced our last EP, which was super dope to be in the studio with him. That EP is going to come out in a month or two. It was super cool to just be in the studio with him and have him work with us. It was a super full circle moment to have one of my musical heroes work on a new EP with us. That was a trip.
A lot of your music is about being carefree and having a good time. Your lyrics in “Crashed My Bike” say, “One day I just might, figure all this out/ But not quite yet at least for now.” What advice would you offer young adults who are stressed about their future plans?
We just got so lucky to be in the position that we’re in, to get to do music and drop out of school. I don’t take that for granted at all because it’s wild to do this as a job. I would have just graduated college and don’t know what I’d be doing. I guess my advice is to just wing it, because it will all work out.