Sommerset recorded three albums of snotty-nosed Kiwi punk before calling it quits in 2005. Singer Ryan Thomas tells Chris Schulz why they're playing a rare reunion show with Pennywise.
Sommerset broke up in 2005. How many reunions have there been since then?
Ryan Thomas: It's about the third different instance. We did a reunion tour about three years after we broke up, then a couple of winters ago we did one in Australia. This is the first one in New Zealand in about five or six years. We actually get a lot of offers. It's just about, "How does everyone feel about it? Do the logistics work? Can everyone be adequately compensated?" We've got a drummer who lives in Melbourne now, a bass player with a family. It's all gotta work.
TO: How are you feeling about playing this show?
Thomas: You've got to pick your battles with reunions. You do it too much and it becomes a bit of a drag. This time it felt like there was demand. The show makes sense.
Some of the other shows we've been asked to do are just general festivals where it would be an interesting thing to have "Somerset reunion" on it. Playing with Pennywise and Less Than Jake is a throwback, but it's a relevant throwback to what we did back in the day. It felt comfortable.
TO: Sommerset broke up in 2005. Why?
Thomas: Drummer Jay Dougrey moved overseas and that was a bit of a blow. He and I started the band that became Sommerset when we were 16. We'd been playing together 10 years and he was gone. He went overseas, Milon [Williams] wanted to do his own thing with Cobra Khan, our bass player got a girlfriend from Denmark ... it got to the point where the band wasn't enough to keep everyone together. Life stuff started getting in the way.TO:
The show's next Thursday. Do you get a chance to rehearse?
Thomas: We are basically going to rehearse the night before, which is pretty seat-of-the-pants but sometimes that's all we need. If you're going to play only one show, you don't want to over-rehearse and make it painful for everyone. The guitar playing came back to us easily. Some of the vocals took a bit longer.
TO: Which Sommerset songs will you be playing?
Thomas: The thing with reunions is you're not pushing any band agenda. We're not going to punish the audience with all our new songs that they don't know. We're just playing all the ones that were all live favourites, the ones that went down well. Keep it easy and keep it pleasant for everybody.
Where: Logan Campbell Centre, Auckland
With: Pennywise, Alkaline Trio and Less Than Jake
When: Thursday, March 6