The Indie Perpetual Engine
Another Lost Year are four guys from Charlotte, North Carolina who in 2011 decided to get together and form a band after a chance meeting at a local open mike night. Lead guitarist and singer Clinton Cunanan and bassist Adam Hall met at that open mike night, and they just hit it off. To round out their new association, Cunanan and Hall recruited guitarist/vocalist Jorge Sotomarino and drummer/vocalist Nathan Walker to join their musical cause.
In 2012 Another Lost Year was signed with Mirage M’hal Records and teamed up with producer Jose Urquiza to record “Better Days,” their 2012 debut album that featured their hit song, “War On the Inside.” The album was well received by fans and critics alike, and is reminiscent of bands like Three Doors Down, Bridge to Grace, Breaking Benjamin, and Shinedown. Two years on, the band recorded and released their six-song EP, The Revolution, Pt. 1: The Other Side. The band followed up with The Revolution, Pt. 2: It’s a Long Way Home in May of 2016, and a month later with their latest album, Alien Architect. They’ve shared the stage and toured with the likes of Candlebox, Sevendust, Sick Puppies, Trapt, Hinder, Saving Abel, Saliva, Devour the Day, Nonpoint, and more.
Fast forward to now… Somewhere on the road in Colorado a few hours outside of Denver and with a couple of days off from touring before their next gig, Clinton Cunanan pulled off on the side of the highway to give me a call…
McKinny: Hey man, thanks for taking the time from driving to take my call, I appreciate it. You guys are from Charlotte, North Carolina. How was the music scene there when you were starting out? Was it a supportive scene for new live music?
Clinton Cunanan: Back home in Charlotte, we kind of started out a little later in life than most bands, in our late twenties and early thirties. We were just really trying to rely on making good music. The venues really didn’t know anything, and Charlotte’s a really tough scene. I was promoting for a while, trying to help it out, but it’s tough when you’re touring and you’re trying to make all that stuff happen. It’s cool now. It’s kind of rejuvenated a little bit, and I would like to think that we’ve helped to make it happen. It’s an interesting scene… One of our old venues, we just played it for the last time because it’s closing at the beginning of March, and it’s pretty sad to watch your hometown venues closing, but I guess it’s kind of the way things are going right now.
McKinny: I understand what you mean. A lot of places I played in the Northern Virginia/Washington, DC — the Sunset Grille, Little Italy, Sully’s — have all closed since I moved from the area. Hope it wasn’t my fault!
Cunanan: Yeah, it’s tough, alright. Really tough, but then there are other parts of the country that are really thriving now, so it’s cool. We just got to play The Whisky A-Go-Go and the Viper Room on the same day, a couple of legendary clubs that were pretty decently packed, and I was pleasantly surprised about that, especially in such renowned clubs.
McKinny: Yeah, it’s the same status as a Stone Pony or CBGB’s back East. Legendary clubs for sure, but when you get there, they’re the same dive bars as everywhere else! But then again, what makes them legendary are the bands that made their splash there, or took up residence – like at The Whisky with The Doors practicing there every Friday in the sixties, or bands like Motley Crüe making their entrance… It’s all about the history, for sure.
McKinny: So when did your band actually come together, and who started the band? I know you said that you got into the band thing a little later in life than others do, which I think is probably pretty smart because a lot of guys when they get into it, they’re just a little too young to really have a good idea of where they’re going, what they’re doing, or how things actually work in the music business.
Cunanan: Yeah, man. April will be six years old, and as it is with anything, there’s always someone out there trying to work harder than you, so we’re out there just trying to work harder than anyone else. As far as who started the band, I just kind of gathered some acoustic stuff and Adam was like the only original member that’s with me. I met him at an open mike night, asked him out on a “man date” and he stood me up, and the rest is history…
McKinny: What are some of the biggest shows you’ve played so far?
Cunanan: That’s hard to say. We just got through doing “Shiprocked,” which was a five day cruise to the Grand Turk Island out from Miami with Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach, Sevendust. There were something like twenty bands on that cruise with about three thousand people, and it was sold out a year in advance. It was pretty cool to be a part of that. I mean, these people spend a ton of money and take a week out of their lives. It’s not like driving to a show a few hours away, because most of the people are flying in from all over the world, so it’s really cool to be able to hang with them and do our shows in such a small, intimate venue as onboard a cruise ship.
McKinny: What’s your favorite part of touring?
Cunanan: Being able to connect with people from all over the country, and the fact that we get to do the stuff and see the people we get to, it’s pretty cool. Jorge, our lead guitar player has a bunch of friends and family in Los Angeles, so it’s a different side of things that we get to do when touring. It’s a good time, connecting with different people and seeing different things on tour. It’s one of the benefits of being on the road.
Editor’s Note: Insert ALY’s “Wolves” Video HERE: https://youtu.be/0qtWwrWVbgs
McKinny: Tell me about your new album, Alien Architect.
Cunanan: Our new album we actually self-recorded, self-produced, and recorded it in an abandoned house in Illinois. It debuted on Billboard at number eight, and we’re super excited. We released it on our own record label with distribution on eOne, which is really awesome.
Before we started our own label, in 2012 we were on Thermal/Megaforce Records – we had two number one hits off that album (Better Days) — we had the number one single for 256 consecutive days running, and we actually ended up knocking ourselves out of the number one spot with the second hit from that album, so it was pretty awesome. But we ended up leaving our record label, parted ways because they wanted us to do different things and we wanted to do different things, so we decided to go out on our own. We did another single deal with Warner Brothers — it was alright, but it wasn’t what we really wanted, so we started our own record label and started releasing our own stuff, and when we had the new album, Alien Architect ready to go, we got with EMT and had distribution through eOne, which we thought was a great deal, so we self-released and we did it all ourselves, and debuted at number eight on Billboard, which was pretty fantastic because Adam called me up and said, “Hey man, you should really check your email.” I was like, “Yeah, I’ll check it in a while.” He said, “No, man, you really need to check your email!” And so there was this email from Billboard asking for more information from us because it was looking like we were going to chart, and we didn’t really think anything about it, thinking “Yeah, right. We won’t chart, and if we do, it’ll be something like 200.” But when it hit at number eight, it was a pretty special day for us because we had spent well over forty thousand dollars on albums prior to this release, and we didn’t spend anywhere near that amount on this album on our own, so it was pretty fantastic.
McKinny: I’ve spoken with a lot of indie bands in similar positions who have struck out on their own, and it seems to be working out rather well for most of the ones I’ve spoken with, and are much happier doing everything on their own. It’s a little imposing at first, being responsible for everything a record label would normally handle, but the learning curve for most bands seem to be pretty small and the bands are generally up to the task.
Cunanan: True, but even with a record deal, a band is still responsible for everything, so why not cut out the middle man and the outside influences and just do your own thing. So that’s what we did, because at the end of the day, record deal or self-released, you’re still paying for it.
McKinny: Tell me about the guys in the other bands on tour with you. Who are they, and do you guys find the time to hang out together and socialize, or do the bands tend to stay to themselves?
Cunanan: We’re touring with a band called Lullwater, from Athens, Georgia, whom we’ve toured with before. They’re sort of a Seven Mary Three-ish kind of sound. And the other band on tour with us is called Never Say Die, and they’re from Canada. So we’ve got bands from North Carolina (us), Georgia, and Canada on tour, so it’s been kind of cool with the crazy kind of ridiculousness that follows on tour. We hang out when we can, you know it’s a big tour going over the whole of the US, and we got to hang out in Las Vegas, which was really fun, had a great time hanging out together there. When we get back out into the Midwest on tour, we’ll get to hang out more.
McKinny: Where do you guys go from here? What regions of the country will you be hitting next, and when/where can we expect to see more tour dates?
Cunanan: Well, when we come back we’ll be concentrating on states east of the Rockies – Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, etc…
McKinny: What’s next on the band’s agenda? Are you guys working on booking summer dates for the tour yet?
Cunanan: Well, once this leg is done, we’ll take a couple of weeks off, and then we’ll start back at it with shows starting around the first of April, and then we’ll work our way back to Las Vegas for a music festival there, then we’ll shoot back down through the southwest which will take us into June, pretty much. And then doing the summer festival circuit, doing one-off shows in between, which should take us into the fall tour. You know we’re on the road for about 250 days a year, and last year we took a little time off – not too much, we just didn’t tour as extensively as we are now. I mean, it’s already the end of February, and we’ve already played outside the country and toured coast to coast, so we’re on pace to go back and forth across the US a couple more times before the year is out.
McKinny: So is there anything else you’d like to say before you go?
Cunanan: We’re going to be releasing some new music soon – we’ve got a ton of stuff recorded and ready to go, and we’re working on even more new stuff all the time. We’re also touring all over the country, so come out and see us! If not, go out and see someone else, because we’re watching venues die all over the country, and they can’t stay open if the people stay home. So go see a show! If it’s not us, go see someone else, because the venues and the industry need you.