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6 Stories with 6 Themes Behind 6 Songs Off Our New Album, by Denniz Ponozzo (Sinking Suns)

Photo courtesy of Reptilian Records

I like how blunt Sinking Suns bassist/vocalist Dennis Ponozzo is about his band: “We tend to be dark and write about things on the negative side.” The dude cuts through the bullshit, doesn't he? Based out of Madison, WI, the power trio back their bleak lyrics with an aural sledgehammer of guitar, bass, and drums that recalls Pissed Jeans and Tar. The band just released a new album appropriately titled Bad Vibes, so in honor of the collection, Dennis from Sinking Suns has put together a list he has dubbed: "6 stories with 6 themes behind 6 songs off the new Sinking Suns album." 

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"Zenith"

"Sinking Suns is not a political band. We intentionally try not to inject politics into our music. We tend to keep it on the darker side of everyday life (and death). But, the 2016 election cycle brought about all sorts of political outrage and emotion to the forefront in most everyone's lives and a little of that leaked into our lyrics...at least poetically. I see that much of modern political outrage has been fueled by the rise of social media, smartphones, the 24/7 news cycle and the dumbing-down of society into soundbites, memes and emojis. Information of all sorts, true or false, is literally at our fingertips. Information bubbles. Social divisions. Finger-pointing. Close-minded anger. We are all guilty at times. All of that came together as 'Zenith.' It's a snapshot in time of where we were as a society in 2017 and a general critique of modern technology and how it's used and misused, whether intentionally or unintentionally, by all of us." (theme: the negative side of technology)

"No Remains"

"This song came about after a frigid sub-zero winter night wandering through the north woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was mid-December on the last day muzzle-loading deer season 2016 and it was nearing dusk. I had been in a deer blind since 5 am. Waiting. A buck appeared on a snow covered bank about 100 yards away and I took a semi-desperate shot at it with my muzzle-loading rifle. After a quick search for the deer I saw a visible blood trail but no sign of the buck. It was a gut shot. It was not a surprise to me considering the distance or the antiquated design of a muzzle loader. Knowing I had to track it, I drove a few miles back to my father's house to pick up my 12-year-old son to help with the search. We ended up walking mile after mile through the snow.

"Every time we thought we would see a dead buck under the next balsam patch, we would just see more blood. It was a very long crimson trail. After 5 or so miles we ended up getting turned around and almost lost. Wolves howled from a distance all around us. My son began to panic. I reassured him, but deep down I could also feel the primeval despair...the panic. We finally gave up the search and trudged back following our own footsteps in the snow. I continued the search the next day to no avail. Fresh falling snowflakes slowly covered any last signs of blood. The trail was gone and was forever lost in the snow." (theme: fear/despair)

"American Steel"

"This one started with another encounter with a wild animal though but it was much less of an adventure. While I do live within the city limits, where I live and where the band has practiced since day one, there are connections to trails and ditches to farm land and wooded areas not too far away from my home. There are rabbits, raccoon, possum among other things and even a stray coyote will wander into the neighborhood and snatch up a cat or dog every so often. One day I walked into my backyard to see a large convulsing rabbit that must have just been hit by a car. It made its way far enough from the road to squirm and writhe around in my backyard. It looked as though it may have broken its lower back. It was obviously in major pain and very slowly dying.

"I felt I needed to do something and get it out of its misery. The first thing that came to mind was to shoot it, but dispatching it in the city limits with a firearm didn't seem like a great idea. So...the next thought was...a hammer or yard tool. After a few whacks to the skull with a shovel from my garage, it was dead. This experience spawned a little story involving an animal racing to non-existent instinctual safety after being struck by a vehicle (made of American steel). It's a tale of fleeing danger. Of the flight or fight response. Of danger. Of death." (theme: animal instinct)

"Fangs"

"The theme of this song was something I had in my head for a long time. We attempted several versions of it both musically and lyrically over a couple years and finally came up with this version as we began recording Bad Vibes. The song is about the unofficial mascot of Sinking Suns...a Corgi mutt named Peewee that I found in an alley back in Albuquerque in 2002. I took him in and he was a very loyal loving dog to me, but he was a little mean bastard to anyone he didn't know. Once he got to know you over time he was cool, but more than likely he'd try to take at least a little chunk out of you if he didn't know you and you just happened to look at him the wrong way. Over his years around the Sinking Suns guys he would greet everyone as they arrived for every practice and he would sit outside the practice room door listening to us play. He did it for every rehearsal.

"By the time 2017 passed, he was mostly blind, almost fully deaf and then, at the end, he couldn't make it down the stairs anymore to greet the band. He always wanted to hang out with the guys after we played so I carried him down a few last times. We knew the end was coming for a long time as he got a little grayer and a little more frail over the years and we wanted to write a song about him. The entire 'Fangs' song process actually began in 2015. Four versions later we finally settled on a style and some lyrics. He died in February 2018. He's now gone but he had a great 17 years on this planet. Fangs is for Peewee." (theme: love and loss)

"Remember You Will Die"

"The song was actually written years ago. It was actually one of our first songs. It was a much slower plodding song back then and it was eventually shelved. We brought it back for Bad Vibes after speeding up the tempo and making a few changes to the structure. It was originally written at a time pretty soon after my younger brother died unexpectedly back in 2006. 'Remember You Will Die' came about after reminiscing about one of the last times I saw my brother. I was looking at old photos of him and remembering one of the last times we spent time together...the time we drove to a local “ghost light” (The Paulding Light) while I was visiting him in Michigan one dark breezy warm summer night. Looking at the photos all those years later I thought to myself how he was clueless in the photos that his number would soon be up. Smiling without a care. I was clueless. We all were. The song is basically a reminder of all of our mortality." (theme: death)

"Subirse El Muerto"

"This was another song that was written years ago (as a demo track) and sat collecting dust since. We decided to re-record it for Bad Vibes because it was one I just couldn't get out of my head. The lyrics were based on an experience I had while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2006. It was April and I was awoken by something. Once awake, I felt a presence in the room and happened to glance over to the dimly lit doorway. I didn't see anything. I rolled over to lie on my other side when I caught a glimpse, and then a full view, of an apparition at the foot of our bed. It was either very tall or floating above the ground. It almost touched the ceiling. My first impression was that it was a female, but it had no real features that I could make out other than the shape of its body and head with what seemed to be long hair. It was a faint grayish white in color and slightly transparent. I gasped and my wife woke up. The apparition was gone.

"Finally fully awake and able to talk, I frightfully explained what I had just seen. It was still dark in the room. And then we both experienced something. As I was describing to her what I had just seen, the fan (a tall oscillating floor-standing type) that was at the foot of our bed, near where I saw this thing, made an odd whirring noise (that I can only describe as sounding like a power surge), it then bumped against/hit the wall behind it (which could have only been pushed with some considerable force) and then it turned off. To say that we both weren't frightened out of our minds is an understatement. I immediately got out of bed, turned on pretty much every light in the house and looked around to try and calm myself. I went back into our bedroom, turned the fan back on and it worked fine. Years later I looked back and questioned that moment not knowing if it was sleep paralysis or what I still believe was a paranormal experience. The lyrics for 'Subirse El Meurto' are based on that night and the terror I felt in my bones and in my soul." (theme: the paranormal)

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Sinking Suns new album, Bad Vibes, is out now via Reptilian Records. Follow Sinking Suns on Facebook and Instagram.

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