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John Dufilho Aimed for a Black Sabbath Sound with New Band Corner Suns, and Got ’60s Rock

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Corner Suns will play Good Records at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29.

When Brandon Carr got a phone call from John Dufilho, he had no immediate plans to return to music. He’d played while growing up in Dallas, and later when living in Seattle and England. Across the pond, his band the Earlies received some favorable attention, but they didn’t gain much traction in the U.S. After going through four managers and putting out a few records, they called it quits.

“It just wasn’t fun anymore,” says Carr, who recently moved back to Texas to settle down with his family in Abilene. “But luckily, John called me out of the blue at a certain point in my life where I was ready to start messing around with music again. What better way to do that than with John Dufilho?”

Dufilho, who works out of a studio near Deep Ellum, is always writing and recording material for his handful of projects, including Cantina, Deathray Davies and Clifffs. He had worked with Carr on the John Singer Sergeant project a number of years ago, and he called Carr up to see if he’d be open to making music in a genre new to both of them.

“Originally we were going to be a really heavy band, but apparently I don’t know how to do that,” jokes Dufilho. They were initially interested in achieving a sound akin to Black Sabbath, but what they ended up with sounded nothing like “Paranoid” or “War Pigs.”

Instead, the 14 songs that make up the Corner Suns’ self-titled debut, released Jan. 13, owe a lot to ’60s rock acts like the Zombies, the Kinks and Love. Most of the songs are less than three minutes in length and have a psychedelic snap to them.

The project definitely has Dufilho’s stamp on it as he played all the instruments himself. He recorded a guide vocal for Carr to follow along with so he could learn the material. Carr would then make the three-hour drive from Abilene to sing on the tracks. Sarah Jaffe came in and sang on two songs as well.

Though the original plans for their sound didn’t come through, they say they are happy they let it develop organically. It’s easy to draw comparisons between Corner Suns and the Deathray Davies, the band Dufilho is best known for. While that band rarely plays now, they have no plans to officially break up.

“I refuse to break up that band,” Dufilho says. “At some point, we’ll release a record, but for now, it’s Corner Suns.”

Interestingly, the live lineup of Corner Suns includes multiple current and former members of the Deathray Davies, including Jason Garner on drums, Rich Martin on keyboards, Andy Lester on guitar and Robert Anderson on percussion.

Dufilho has already written songs for a second Corner Suns record, along with a second Clifffs record. Carr and Dufilho want to be more collaborative in the future, in terms of writing the music, vocal melodies and lyrics.

Corner Suns will play at Good Records on Sunday and they hope to play in Austin during SXSW. Carr loves living in Abilene with his wife and working in the Abilene Independent School District, where he is training teachers on the latest computer technology, but he’s glad an opportunity to get back into music has presented itself.

“It’s very different from when I lived in Dallas,” he says. “There are not tons of bands in a music scene. Opportunities to do this kind of stuff [don’t] get old because it’s a special thing. It’s really exciting for me.”

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