Ugly Sun
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Ugly Sun

Buffalo, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Buffalo, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Alternative Garage Rock




"Ugly Sun - Contagious"

Ugly Sun has an affinity for the unbeautiful. Hailing from Buffalo, NY, the band has used their steel city edge to bridge the gap between garage punk and emotive indie.

"Rock and roll has become so shiny," explains front-man/bassist John Crook. "It used to be about the underbelly, the dark parts of society; the dirty parts," he continues. "We want to make rock and roll ugly again."

"Contagious" is one of the main songs on their Painted Post EP (due out in the next few months) to play into this sentiment. Other songs like "Keep Me Safe" maintain a brightness implying an optimism, where "Contagious" dives right into "lovely despair" - in style though. The guitars are heavy, the singing flowing between fear and anger and the production kept polished.

Ugly Sun sees 2017 as a chance to define themselves and they’re not wasting any time - Painted Post will be followed immediately by a full-length album. “The goal is to play as much as possible, in front of as many people as we can,” says Crook, “[playing live] is the biggest reason we do this and we can’t wait to play this record.” - Indie Shuffle

"15 Songs We Bet You Didn't Catch This Week"

”Contagious” is taken from Buffalo, NY-based Ugly Sun’s summer-ready new EP, Painted Post. - Alternative Press

"Song Premiere: Ugly Sun – “Keep Me Safe”"

We’re pleased to bring you the premiere of Ugly Sun’s new song “Keep Me Safe” (listen below). The track is taken from the band’s forthcoming EP Painted Post.

The band comment on the song:

“‘Keep Me Safe,’ the first single off the ‘Painted Post’ EP, is a perfect example of the marriage of genres employed by Ugly Sun. At times rollicking and bright the song lures the listener in with the promise of a feel good summer jam yet leaves them thrown into a gauntlet of hauntingly reflective choruses and a driving grungy hook. This is what a Replacements, Third Eye Blind and Mudhoney collaborative effort would sound like. The song dances itself clean as it explores shame, doubt, and suffocating love with a self-deprecating tongue.” - New Noise Magazine

"Vormerken! - Unsere aktuellen Neuentdeckungen"

Ugly Sun aus der Industriemetropole Buffalo schlagen auf ihrer aktuellen EP "Painted Post" den Spagat zwischen gut gelauntem Indierock und die Sinne vernebelndem Psychedelic. Ihre Songs starten mit beschwingten und kantigen Gitarrenriffs, die zusammen mit dem punchigen Schlagzeug auch ohne viel Verzerrung ziemlich rau klingen. Dann driften sie vor allem im Track "Contagious" mit wabernden Phaser-Effekten und zunehmend schleifenden Slacker-Vocals langsam in Psych-Gefilde ab. Das klingt so, als hätten sie vor ihrem Studiobesuch irgendetwas genommen, dessen Wirkung sich während der Aufnahmen langsam entfalten konnte. Die dabei enstandene Musik macht aber auch Leuten Spaß, die es beim in der Sonne sitzen auch bei einem einfachen Bier belassen. - Visions Magazine

"Spotlight: Ugly Sun"

Talking to the three piece garage rock band Ugly Sun on a cold afternoon at a coffee shop in Buffalo, the conversation turns to their choice of hats.

Guitarist Trey Hollowood is wearing something like a Russian Ushanka hat. Bassist/vocalist John Crook is wearing a beenie with the logo of his family’s bar in East Aurora, the Bar Bill Tavern, and his brother Harry, the drummer of the band, is wearing a retro Buffalo Bills hat—the standing red Buffalo on a white background. Harry is given the award for best hat of the day by me, and Hollowood is visibly disappointed.

“You were banking on that best hat?” I ask him.

“I mean I was hoping… it’s kind of my calling card,” he replies.

John Crook pipes in: “He has a leather bills hat,” he says, pointing to his brother.

“I’ve worn it zero times,” Harry says.

The conversation spirals further and further into absurdity until we gather ourselves and get to the reason we’re meeting today—to talk about the band’s upcoming gig at Nietzsche’s as part of the concert series The Public Presents. The gig, this Thursday, February 16, also features post-hardcore band The Slums, and new-to-the-scene grunge band Cooler.

“What we’re about to do at Nietzsche’s with The Slums and Cooler—the line up is perfect for us,” says John Crook. “It’s guys that we know and it’s our friends. And all three bands are doing stuff right now, releasing cool music. Cooler’s music is doing well on blogs and college radio, which is really cool.”

The origins of all three bands on this show intertwine in many ways. Members of Ugly Sun have shared common band ancestors with members of both Cooler and The Slums. Steven Floyd of The Slums was once in Arctic Death with John Crook. Nick Sessanna of Cooler was also in a former band, Nelson Type, with Hollowood.

Coincidentally, at this point in the conversation, Steven Floyd guitarist of The Slums and former roommate and bandmate of John Crook’s walks into the coffee shop we’re in and notices us. He walks over and gives his thoughts on his friends.

“Worst people I’ve ever met in my life!” he says. Everyone laughs and Floyd exits stage right.

“There are constant connections between us and those bands,” says John Crook.

In the beginning, John Crook and Hollowood were in the popular early 2000s Buffalo pop punk band Mandy K. After leaving Mandy K, Hollowood joined the band Nelson Type and John Crook started his band Arctic Death, which Floyd was also in. Harry Crook left to study music at Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied songwriting.

“Then we all just kinda stopped what we were doing and started working in East Aurora, and all kinda developed this cynical attitude, like fuck it, nothing’s even happening and everything is beat,” says John Crook.

For a few years, the guys kind of just gave up music.

“Then the stars aligned and we were like maybe we should just start playing covers together,” he says.

So the three of them learned some covers. They played some stuff by The Replacements, Dr. Dog, The Band, Ryan Adams, and a bunch of other bands. They also couldn’t help but write songs together too. They wrote 10 songs before they had a meeting and decided that they were officially a band.

“We always like to say we sound like the Replacements but nobody thinks that at all,” says John Crook, laughing.

Learning those covers helped the guys figure out exactly what they did and did not want to do with this band.

“What made The Replacements really cool was that the structures of their songs weren’t really tight and they weren’t too serious about trimming the fat and making a concise song,” he says. “That’s all stuff that we really care about. We like structure and really tight song writing and making sure things don’t drag out. We love how honest and raw the Replacements are so we hope that aspect transfers.”

“We all like different shit. And I think that’s what works best about our song writing,” says Harry Crook.

Now they practice at the small stage at 189, the restaurant in East Aurora known for their extensive selection of whiskeys. The band does not tap into those fine whiskeys during their practices there several days a week, however; they opt for coffee instead, since their practices usually take place in the morning before the restaurant opens.

“Coffee is necessary, all day and all night,” says Hollowood, who also indicates that he’s not really a morning person.

None of them are morning people, actually, and so strangely, that makes morning practices more serious. There’s less goofing around and they go straight to business.

“It’s beneficial because it makes us do what we’re supposed to do because we have a limited amount of time and we’re literally in pajamas, so it’s a miracle we’re even playing,” says John Crook. “If we were practicing at night or drinking while we were practicing we probably wouldn’t play any songs. We’d play ‘Detroit Rock City’ for three and a half hours and then fall asleep.”

Since forming in April the band has put out a record, their Cherokee EP, toured in a few different states, played a slew of shows locally and have just finished recording their second record.

“We’ve been slowly but surely doing more and more and more. We’re doing regional shows and renting minivans and shit, but now we’re buying a van. We’re touring down to SXSW in March,” says John Crook, before adding the caveat that they don’t actually have a show booked. Though they don’t have any shows booked in Austin, Texas, where the annual street music festival SXSW is held, they’re willing to wait on stand by.

“A lot of people tend to drop at SXSW, people just don’t show up. So if you have your gear and you know people….,” says John Crook.

That’s the beginning of the next step for the band. Their goal is to be on the road for as much of 2017 as possible. And they’re banking on their deep friendships to keep them together along the way.

“We were friends before any of us played real shows or were in a real band,” says John Crook. “So I think friendship is what has remained consistent.” - The Public

"Ugly Sun Drop Latest Single: Marble Eye"

Buffalo garage rock power trio Ugly Sun are back with their latest single “Marble Eye,” and it’s a thrilling burst of triumphant goodness. For a band keen to keep things on the rough and wild side, the deploying of both discordant and mightily sweet harmonies behind John Crook’s plaintive wail and those epic riffs takes this whole enterprise to a higher level and almost flirts with beauty. In a city with a growing list of rock bands you can believe in, you can add Ugly Sun to the list. They’ll be playing the just announced Made Violent show at the Studio At The Waiting Room with Sixties Future May 5th, with tickets going on sale this Friday. - BuffaBlog

"This Week's Public Picks"

From a few Buffalo indie rock veterans comes the new project Ugly Sun, and their debut EP, Cherokee. Released on July 16, Cherokee is a five-song collection of sometimes dreamy, sometimes spacey indie rock music. Highlights include the fuzzy title track, “Cherokee” and the record’s driving opener, “Mock Me Out.” The three piece band includes brothers John and Harrison Crook on bass and vocals respectively, and Trey Hollowood on guitar. Cherokee is now available on iTunes and Spotify. - The Public

"Ugly Sun Releases Debut Single"

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Arctic Death frontman John Crook. Since the band’s split in mid 2011, the members have held tenure in an impressive run of great Buffalo bands, including, but not limited to: Nelson-Type, Crooks, and Father Baron.

Ugly Sun is Crook’s new project, rounded out by longtime collaborators Trey Hollowood and Harrison Crook. The trio released their debut EP, Cherokee, earlier this month. Recorded with Jay Zubricky at GCR, their new single, “Mock Me Out,” is a sunny and articulate take on alternative rock. The song highlights Crook’s distinctive drawl and the band’s use of big, beautiful guitars and lush harmonies.

Ugly Sun is sure to be a fixture in the local scene this fall. You might also be able to catch them on tour throughout October. Till then, you can stream “Mock Me Out” below via Soundcloud. - BuffaBlog

"Ugly Sun Releases New Video, “Pretty One”"

Buffalo garage rockers Ugly Sun are back with another excellent video, this time for their irresistible latest single “Pretty One.” Directed by Neil Maciejewski and edited by Made Violent collaborator Andy DeLuca, “Pretty One” features some beautiful lo-fi digital photography and local ingenue Whitney Smith to go along perfectly with the the single’s tasty post industrial garage riffs and stellar vocal harmonies that have already become the band’s signature sound. They might have made their debut last fall, but with jams and videos like “Pretty Sun,” 2017 could be Ugly Sun’s year. - BuffaBLOG


2017 - Painted Post EP

2016 - Cherokee EP

2016 - "Burned Alive" (single)
2016 - "Pretty One" (single)



Ugly Sun has an affinity for the unbeautiful. Hailing from Buffalo, NY the band has used their steel city edge to bridge the gap between garage punk and emotive indie. The trio's name succinctly explains the band’s general beliefs in rock and roll. "Rock and Roll has become so shiny" explains front-man/bassist John Crook. "It used to be about the underbelly, the dark parts of society; the dirty parts" he continues, "we want to make Rock and Roll ugly again".

Ugly Sun’s latest release the “Painted Post” EP sees them continuing to explore and expand their intentions. Bright driving songs like "Keep Me Safe” and "Soil" feel familiar yet feature an undercurrent of beauty and sadness while sticking to their Punk Rock credo. Darker more complex songs like "Contagious" and opening track "Marble Eye” point to the extreme places their emotions take them creatively.

"We feel like we have found our voices through these songs" guitarist Trey Hollowood says proudly. “They feel comfortable and worn and exciting at the same time.” The band is also excited to show off the songs on the road. They have spent a considerable part of their first year together touring and aren’t slowing down anytime soon. “The goal is to play as much as possible, in front of as many people as we can,” says Crook, “[playing live] is the biggest reason we do this and we can’t wait to play this record.”

"The songs on this record have definitely shifted our focus a bit, we definitely know where we’re going from here” drummer Harrison Crook says. Crook spent the better part of the past five years studying songwriting at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA where he found himself questioning authority. He ended up leaving the school citing too much artistic restriction. Though he fought for artistic freedom he also serves as the band’s most-level head. "He's definitely the band’s pop sensibility" jokes his brother John "he reins us in a lot".

Ugly Sun sees 2017 as a chance to define themselves and they’re not wasting any time. The “Painted Post” EP due out in the spring will be followed immediately by writing their debut full-length record. "We have been writing and touring pretty aggressively. We have so much pent up energy and we’re spending it all on this project” Crook says. The band shows no signs of taking their foot off the gas. "Songs are really starting to pour out of us, we continue to push the boundaries and it’s fun to see where we end up". As long as Ugly Sun continues to push boundaries and challenge the status quo, they’re sure to keep us guessing.

Band Members