Shotgunning Beers with Native Sun at SXSW

Last time I chatted with Native Sun back in 2017 they’d just formed and were still wobbling around on their rock ‘n’ roll band sea legs. Everything seemed so peaceful and innocent back then, talking about balancing their yin and yang and the passion they put into their music making.

Now, with a couple of EP releases under their belts, they’ve blossomed into a wonderfully messy and riotous group of serious punk rockers that are taking over the world one refrigerator-sized amp at a time. And after traveling with them and catching their wild shows—where I tend to get summoned by the band to mosh and crowd surf—I know the peacefulness is a put on. These boys are just as insane as the rest of us.

The four of them got to SXSW a couple of days before meeting me to chat and chug beers outside of the Thrasher Death Match showcase after the bloodcurdling rawness of Fontaines D.C. wreaked havoc on stage. After the set, we walked out to their van and hauled armfuls of beers to an abandoned field down the street where we saddled up to a sad-looking tree, shouted “music city, baby!” and pierced our beer cans.

“Gomez spilled like half of it on himself,” guitarist Jake Pflum said. And it was true. Half of frontman Danny Gomez’s beer ended up on his nice leather jacket. “The finest beer from Jersey, Alementary,” Gomez responded, unfazed by Pflum’s shade.

The band had been stocked with free beer for the road and the festival by Pflum’s uncle’s brewery, Alementary. That sounds dangerous for a group of rockers on the road, but these boys have learned how to control their chaos.

“It’s gotten easier, faster and also more… I feel like—can I say we’re more mature,” Bassist Mo Martinez asked.

Upon hearing that the band was being accused of maturity, drummer Alexis Castro quickly clarified, “not in the actions that we do outside of the music, just in the music.”

Pflum said that while he once struggled to get his guitar ideas across to the band, he now feels like he’s mastered it. But that confidence might’ve been the result of the magic of the moment. “I’m halfway through this jalapeno and caramelized onion hotdog and I’m just feeling a lot of spiritual things right now,” he said.

On the ride up from NYC to Austin for SXSW, they made even more stories together including an impromptu show in an empty honkytonk, drinking beers with unknown country musicians in a bus and meeting a groupie from the ‘70s armed with a machete.

Experiences like these with a group of creative musicians/genuinely kind people keep Native Sun fascinating. They’re not just a band aiming to make your eardrums bleed and face melt with their chaotic punk rock—they want to connect with whatever feelings inspiring at the moment.

Plus, chug a few beers on the way.

Native Sun is playing with Death in Manhattan on 4/21 and with Night Beats in Brooklyn on 5/11. In the meantime, tune in to this week’s The Music Meetup to hear the entire (drunken) interview with Native Sun at SXSW and hear their most recent EP Always Different, Always The Same in its entirety.