Earlier this year, I caught up with The Dangerous Summer to discuss their latest record, Mother Nature. During our conversation, it came up what their debut, Reach for the Sun, turned ten years old this year — and I asked if they would be celebrating this anniversary in some capacity. When they mentioned they would be celebrating it, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about two things: 1) I would be at the closest show to me and 2) I would have to follow-up with the guys to dive more into Reach for the Sun.
As a listener, any time you watch your favorite records age — and specifically hit milestones like turning 10 years old — you can feel a few different things. Maybe it’s joy and nostalgia, thinking of all the great memories and what not that you associate with that record. Perhaps you start feeling a sense of dread, wondering just where the time has really went over ten years. But, what about those who create the records that we get to spend years of our lives with? “No one’s ever asked me about how it felt,” bassist/vocalist AJ Perdomo tells me when I ask him that exact questions. After pausing to collect his thoughts, he shares “It’s cool to still be doing this after all these years, and the fact that people still care. You see bands come and go and the fact that the world is still cool enough to let us be here, you know, we’re just happy.” Perdomo also mentions that for The Dangerous Summer, there’s something special about playing some of these older songs to feel them all again, stating that “It’s kind of like I just went through a renaissance in my life the past two years and learned all of this stuff, so I go back and listen to this old record and think, maybe I already knew that. It’s crazy — life is a cycle, it just keeps going over and over and over again.
During our conversation, Perdomo can’t help but reflect on the process of recording Reach for the Sun. The Dangerous Summer worked with Paul Leavitt back in Maryland, and Perdomo explains that “[Reach for the Sun] reminds me of the color red, I remember the red stairs. I remember the old studio being in the living room and shit.” During this reminiscing, Perdomo brings up the area in which Leavitt’s studio resided, describing it as an area that has definitely improved over the years, but it was also an area that was prone to windows getting smashed and other vandalism. Current guitarist Matt Kennedy was there, albeit with his prior band The Graduate, but instead of working with Leavitt, The Graduate was next door working with producer Brian McTernan. Despite all of this, what Perdomo remembers most is the attitude they had at that time. “I remember Paul Leavitt’s old studio and spending a month there, just digging deep. I mean that was our first record. I remember him saying, ‘You have your whole life to make your first record, let’s fucking go.’ It’s kind of like the one that sets the tone for everything,” he explains.
While we are looking back on what the music industry was like ten years ago, Perdomo can’t help but wonder what would have happened if streams were monetized back then. “You’d get millions of plays on MySpace, everyone would be getting paid,” he jokes. The overall sentiment regarding the changing of the industry is positive, as Perdomo mentions that the band is in a good, healthy place right now — something we will eventually circle back to. Kennedy also states that due to how streaming services has changed, it’s easier for bands to get their names out there — explaining how the whole platform of Soundcloud as being genius, whereas with Myspace, it was a little bit more of a grind for bands to get recognition.
I could write an entire article on my favorite songs from Reach for the Sun, and how each of them could rightfully make a case for being your favorite song off of the record. But, I turn that question and pose it back to The Dangerous Summer, curious where their thoughts lie on picking a favorite track from the seminal record. Perdomo pretty quickly goes to the title-track, “Reach for the Sun,” explaining that he doesn’t think that song gets enough attention, while also sharing that every song on the record holds a special place in his heart all the same. Kennedy and drummer Ben Cato both weren’t in the band at the time Reach for the Sun came out (both joined in 2012), but both express their admiration for the record and how different it was for the alternative scene in 2009.
It was a record that even got The Dangerous Summer placed in the trailer for Jennifer Aniston/Aaron Eckhart’s movie, Love Happens. Perdomo remembers the moment he found out pretty vividly, citing that their old manager worked at Universal and was able to get it placed into the trailer. “He got us a contract for like, a big amount of money — we got thrown into the trailer and we were like ‘Holy shit,'” he tells me. It’s something that, he jokingly tells me he felt gave them legitimacy to their parents. “It was really cool — I think to our parents it gave us legitimacy, like we’re actually doing something.”
The Dangerous Summer released Mother Nature earlier this year via Hopeless Records, which is the second record they’ve released since getting back together (following their self-titled release in 2018.) It’s a record that feels similar at times, but also has it’s moments that are new and fresh. At times, a song like “Way Down” feels like it could have fit on their 2011 release War Paint, but songs like “Bring Me Back to Life” and “Starting Over / Slow Down” find the band branching into a new territory. “Mother Nature is everything we wanted to write, and we were happy doing it,” Perdomo tells me. “We’re in a good place right now, we’re happy.”
If you’re wondering what it means for a band to be in a better place than past year’s, I can’t speak for every band. It’s likely to be different from artist to artist, depending now hat they are looking for out of their careers. But for The Dangerous Summer, for the band to be in a good place in 2019, Perdomo just explains the feelings of being in a band. “We’re [just] happy now, and we’re really — not to sound cocky — but we’re really smart at what we do now,” he says. They’ve been a band for so long, with Kennedy and Cato both having been musicians many years prior to joining the band as well, so they know what to do. When it comes to making music, or going on tours, these are things they’ve done many times prior, so it all comes easier. Perdomo describes the process of writing Mother Nature as finding their peace and momentum, and explaining how it was a beautiful process. “Every time we make a record we’re like, ‘Ah, we could’ve this, we could’ve done that,’ and you get to Mother Nature, and we can’t think of anything we could’ve done differently or better. It’s an ultimate freedom to hit that goodness, that good, sweet spot. We just hit a home run — I think, [we] hit the ball in the sweet spot,” he says.
With that process being freeing and more liberating, Perdomo explains that for The Dangerous Summer, they never really stopped writing coming off of the self-titled record in 2018. “There were songs kind of started to be written the month after [self-titled dropped]. I had lyrics from that, we all had different parts that came out,” he says. They went into recording Mother Nature having half of the record already done, because they’ve never felt like they were in a better creative space than they are right now. Perdomo mentions that they felt “high as fuck” coming off of recording their self-titled record for two weeks, that they just wanted to keep it going.
He also points out that “a big catalyst” to making Mother Nature was when they took an offer to open for State Champs in March 2019 and they were asked to release a new single, and they decided to go ahead and do a whole new record instead. “We spent two months [in the studio],” Perdomo explains, “Spending 15 hours a day, every day, not doing anything, just sheltered. We worked fucking hard on it. We’re having the best time, just to be able to release a record — we’re happy, we’re pumped.”
When talking to The Dangerous Summer, the idea of being happy is one that comes up frequently. They’re in a happier place, personally and professionally with their music. In fact, they’re already excited to be looking forward to the next record that will follow Mother Nature. They recognize how much the music industry has changed overt he years, and they’re ready and willing to tackle that head on with the release fo new music — even if it’s just singles, to keep the attention of fans. “Nowadays you release an album on Spotify and people consume it in days, we’re already seeing our numbers kinda slowing down, and the record’s only been out for four months,” Perdomo explains, “I want that momentum again.” Kennedy agrees, citing that the album cycle used to be 1-2 years, and now it’s only about six months. “If you’re not constantly putting out content, whether it’s a remix or something like that, then you’re kind of falling off for a little bit,” he says.
The Dangerous Summer have been on Hopeless Records for over a decade, releasing every full-length record via the label — but their contract is currently up. That’s not to say that they won’t re-up with Hopeless, but Perdomo highlights “there’s a lot of lawyers and decision” before that decision comes. “It looks like we are gonna put out a next album. We have offers on the table, so we’ll see what happens. It’s a tricky thing — like I love Hopeless, but what else is out there? We’ll see what happens, but we’re in a content place,” Perdomo states.
Before work could even begin on another album, The Dangerous Summer has a lot of international touring to do. They’ve got dates in Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and Australia, which will cap off the 10 year anniversary tour for Reach for the Sun. After that, they’ll take some time off for the holidays and go from there, whether it’s more touring or working on new music. Nothing is set in stone at this time, but that’s part of the beauty of it all – The Dangerous Summer is in a happy place, so no matter what they do, they’ll be content and excited for the next chapter.