Sunami: Vocalist Josef Alfonso on His Love for Bay Area Hardcore + More

Photo: Elias Jay

It’s crazy to think that just a few months ago we were bleeding from our strumming fingers, chugging warm PBRs, and jumping off side stage monitors while our favorite bands were traveling in and out of town. I haven’t felt such a reckoning withdrawal since my days as a 16-year-old line cook addicted to Marlboro Reds.

When will we be able to play shows again, safely? I had been fortunate enough to keep getting paid up until last week, but the coronavirus has forced my company to lay off most of us chefs. Between caring for my garden and recording by myself on garageband, those hobbies can only keep you occupied for a few hours a day at most. 

I discovered Sunami this past week via a post I made on Reddit and wanted to give a shot at writing something for No Echo even though I failed english most of my life. Upon doing further research and digging into their 2019 demo and this year's 4-song eponymous EP, I discovered a pretty unique collaboration between members of Hands of God, Gulch, Drain, Spinebreaker, and Lead Dream. This was the band I wanted to begin my career as a writer with. This is their story told by vocalist Josef Alfonso.

Introduce yourself (yourselves) to the readers. 

Yo! My name is Josef and I sing and handle all the social media shit for Sunami.

How did you get into playing music?

Time is such a blur but I’ve been involved and going to shows since like the 6th grade and now im 26. At some point I knew I wanted to play music or somehow be more proactive in my involvement in hardcore. Never learned but picked up a bass and started playing in some bay bands and never stopped.

What were your younger days of music like?

It was a blast, going to shows not knowing anyone was awesome. Soaking as much stuff as you can, finding out about new bands. I think I grew up at a good time, where social media is new but not really a necessity. Shows off of memory were way more violent but after looking back and thinking about it, it's so much better now.

I would always go to the same beatdown and metalcore shows. Now the music that I hear and enjoy is a little more diverse and there's so many bands to cater for everyone's tastes.

What bands influenced Sunami the most?

I wouldn't say they were influences for Sunami, but we all grew up on Hoods, First Blood, Terror just from seeing them all the time in the bay. We all listen to all types of hardcore and just music in general. So, I don't know if we try to emulate a specific band but once we hear our friends doing cool shit, it forsure influences and inspires us to write cool shit too.

Photo: Elias Jay

What is Sunami's writing process like?

Nothing crazy, Durt (guitar) writes and demos everything and if we like riffs we keep and if we dont we scrap it, and once it's all ready I just say stupid shit in the mic [laughs].

What other bands do you guys play in outside of Sunami? 

I always forget all the bands I play in since we aren't all that active, but I play in Field of Flames, Spinebreaker, and Big Boy. The other members play in Hands of God, Lead Dream, Drain, and Gulch.

There is a lot of discussion on the internet about how Sunami is a satirical take on modern hardcore. What do yall think about that?

I'm definitely self-aware of the shit I say on record and on the internet, some of it is a joke and sometimes I’m serious.

We started off as a joke band but since we have people that actually care about the band. I don't necessarily have a deep meaning or direction for the band, but I want to continue being stupid and having fun and putting on for hardcore.

Where did your disdain of police come from?

I’ve never felt safe from police and you’d be hard-pressed on finding someone who actually does. I can go on and on about this but like come on, they are not here to protect anyone but themselves. 

How do you feel about what’s going on in the world currently?

The world sucks right now, but specifically the people of the United States. People feel oppressed by wearing masks and are endangering other people for no reason. Countries are almost done with this shit and I’ll be surprised if we even get out of this by Summer 2021. I can really give a shit what people do or act but feeling oppressed by wearing a mask is some wack ass shit.

Wear a mask and commit crimes, this is the best time to do so.

What bands would you like to play with when things start getting back to normal?

Obviously the homies and Bay bands. Gulch, Hands of God, Foghorn, the Story So Far, Culture Abuse, Three Knee Deep, Dead Heat, and Pain of Truth. I'll play with any band that is sick. 

Shoutouts/bumps you’d like to mention?

Shoutout Foghorn and Eightfold Path. Real Bay Shit for Real Mother Fuckers.

What would you like to say to the younger generation?

Bring your friends cause I'm tired of seeing the same ass fools.


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