A Musical Journey Filled With Compassion and a Non-Passive Attitude: A Conversation with SondorBlue

Sondor means that every passerby that you see, every person, has a story just as complex as your own. It means to approach those people with compassion and understanding, knowing that I’m happy and you’re happy or I’m sad and you’re sad but the moments and experiences that it took to get us there are different, but at the root of it it’s the same thing, the same feeling,” explains SondorBlue’s lead singer and bassist, Andrew Halley, when pressed about the meaning behind the band’s name.

SondorBlue embodies a sense of complex togetherness, in part with the three incredible vocalists harmonizing as one, in part with their demeanor on and off stage. Upon arriving at Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan to see SondorBlue for the first time, I immediately noticed the quartet were all wearing dark jeans and dark t-shirts. It was kitschy, but as the tender foursome set in front of their microphones, instruments firmly in place, there was nothing cute about the scene. The performance was mature, executed as though these four men had created SondorBlue a decade earlier, although the four members had merely been alive for a little more than two decades. Halley belted into his microphone and everything stopped. The room immediately became mesmerized by some of the most impressive vocals in modern age rock music.

SondorBlue is Halley, Drew Lewis on drums, John Sheehan on keys and acoustic guitar, and Connor Hollifield on lead guitar. The band currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina, but they grew up about 90 miles south in Hilton Head. Halley and his band mates have an affinity for Charleston. They love the bustling music scene and feel immensely inspired by it.

“There’s a great music scene, they’re all touring musicians so playing in Charleston is awesome. The live music scene is very much alive,” Halley exclaims.

The group has no plans on leaving either.

“There’s no point for us to really go to Nashville or anything because everyone else is doing it there. It would kind of be disheartening,” states Halley.

SondorBlue began as a very melodic, pop outfit. Halley, Sheehan, and Hollifield originally shared a pretty equal amount of vocal duties. Each of them played a role in singing depending on the song. Now, Halley has taken on a majority of the vocals.

“I’ve taken the reins as the lead singer. That [3 vocalists] gave it that more poppy feel, but we’re straying away from that.” Halley says. “We started looking at it kind of like who is the best at what they do and how can we all contribute. Connor needed to play more lead guitar, and John needed to be more of the utility man, and be more keys and more acoustic guitar, and that meant me taking more of that lead vocal spot.”

The results? A more polished, psychedelic, heavy rock sound. The group has proven that these last few years have changed them. Touring has changed their musical influences, their artistic vision, and the way they see criticism. While recording their most recent EP, You Will Find Love On Ashley Avenue, due out mid-autumn, the band found themselves really focusing on tones and layers this time around.

The single, “Ashley Ave,” from the new EP, was released on August 18th and can be found on Spotify, iTunes, or SoundCloud.

Listen: “Ashley Ave” – SondorBlue

“We were listening to more music. We were really listening to a lot of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Tame Impala,” Halley explains.“[A]nd we got obsessed with getting the right tones and realizing that a song is just layers and the way you put those layers together is really important.”

Maybe the most imperative lesson the guys have taken away from all of this time on the road is creating their art for themselves.

“If you are an artist in any kind of form of art, whether it be music or visual or dance, the most important thing you can do is be honest with yourself and be unapologetic for what you choose to create,” Lewis muses.

“Art is life, life is art. Don’t overthink art. We make it way more complicated than it needs to be. We listen to too many people when we’re making art,” Halley concurs. Both of them echo the sentiments that they are learning to take criticism lightly this time around. Not every voice is important and not every opinion matters. Part of getting older is learning to tune out the bullshit; clearly SondorBlue figured that out rather quickly.

SondorBlue has a lot to come in the coming year; after this EP, they are focusing on their debut full length.

“We have a few songs in the works right now that we’re writing for the album,” Halley says.“The number one priority is going to be replicating the live sound as much as possible.” The group is hard-pressed on taking more risks and using the valuable lessons they’ve learned from the road, and continuing to create a bigger sound based off of that.

“The thing that’s been the best for us is playing shows and talking about what felt right and what didn’t for us and that’s helped to develop the dynamic that we have now,” Halley explains.“It feels the best it’s ever felt.”

It’s impossible to imagine that SondorBlue will continue to evolve into something better, but given the fast track they are on towards success, there is no doubt the LP will be an absolute knockout for the increasingly experimental group.

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