Submitted by Jolene Anderson, student journalist for Minarets Press
O’NEALS – In January of 2020, three student musicians met together for the first time, forming the band Sunroom. Starting in an actual sunroom, Jayci Coons, Evan Bethel, and Austin Bethel started rehearsing covers of songs such as “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones and “White Wedding” by Billy Idol. From there, the band shifted to producing and performing new original songs like “Wasteland,” written by current Minarets Even Bethel, the band’s drummer and lead singer. His brother Austin Bethel is the band’s lead guitarist and backup singer, a current student at Hillside Elementary. Also, backup vocals and the band’s bassist is Jayci Coons, a Minarets alumna who now attends Fresno State as a Music Education major.
Recalling their first meeting, Evan states, “We met in showband [class] actually, and Jayci played bass and keyboard for them. So she came up to us because the two of us had said something about being in a band and needing a bassist. She said ‘If you need a bassist, I’ll be your bassist.’” A few months later in early 2020, Sunroom secured their first gig at the Skyline Club and Grill in Clovis, which was where they posted their first YouTube upload and earned their Facebook follower. Austin recalls that it was the first time they got tipped.
When asked what was their favorite place to have performed, the band unanimously agreed on the Fresno Fair. Evan was quick to claim his favorite performance from that gig being Friday night because there was a lighting technician provided. Coons claimed that her favorite part of the experience was the actual drive by to the event because of all the people walking by but also because it was the first time they had their logo on a banner. In addition, Austin recalls, “They would say, ‘turn it down,’ and we would all walk up to our amps and pretend like we were turning it down to make it look like we were.”
As mentioned before, Sunroom has produced original songs of their own like “Wasteland.” Evan explains, “I wrote Wasteland, and I did some writing before that, and those took me way too long. Lyrics were definitely the hardest, but usually, I write the music then put it together.” Austin recalls how “Wasteland” was written, remembering when Coons had just played a bass part, and Evan told her to keep it, ending with a whole song (minus lyrics) composed in one day. Adding to Austin’s statement, Coons goes on to describe that her experiences writing music weren’t planned, they were spontaneous.
In addition to the constant obstacles of composing, the pandemic has also hit the band hard, taking away the opportunities they normally would have had, like in-person performances. Nevertheless, they have persevered and worked around these changes by uploading their “Social Distancing Series.” In this series, the band has uploaded some covers of songs they have performed in the past as well as held live-streamed performances on Facebook. Sunroom also has an original album in the works, signaling their continual movement forward as an up and coming band.
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