Guitarist-vocalist Nick Kivlen and drummer Jacob Faber grew up on Long Island but their band Sunflower Bean never played a gig here. All of that will change on April 20 when they headline at University Café at Stony Brook University, promoting the band’s recently released debut album, “Human Ceremony.”
“We are excited for it,” says Kivlen, 20, of Glenwood Landing. “What’s strange is that we will be driving in the opposite direction from where we typically play shows.”
The band began in Glen Head, where Kivlen and Faber would rehearse in Faber’s basement during their early years at North Shore High School.
“When it was just me and Jacob, we were very garage-rocky. But it quickly changed,” says Kivlen. “When Julia joined, it solidified our sound.”
Enter vocalist-bassist Julia Cumming from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, who met the boys on the Brooklyn music scene. She came in from the acoustic indie folk band Supercute!, causing Kivlen to hand over a majority of the vocal duties.
“I don’t have the voice Julia has,” says Kivlen. “I’m not at all on the level that she’s at. I do what I can when the time calls for it.”
This alternative rock trio went on a mission to score a record contract by playing 100 gigs a year.
“It’s kind of like flight time for a pilot. You learn how to be a band and function at live gigs,” says Kivlen. “There’s a lot of etiquette in playing shows. It takes time getting used to being in front of an audience.”
After performing at the 2014 CMJ Music Marathon in Manhattan, things began to turn around.
“We played like eight shows in four days,” says Kivlen. “Overnight we started having meetings with tons of record labels, booking agents and publicists.”
Sunflower Bean landed at Fat Possum Records, where they’ve become a major priority.
“Music is such a competitive avenue. You can’t sleep on anything,” says Kivlen. “You have to throw yourself at every opportunity.”