In 2015, Peter Sumic and his friend Robby Porovich started a new project called Forest Ray. The two were in college at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, writing and recording at the time, without doing live shows. After graduating and recording their first album, they moved to Seattle, which Sumic calls home, to build a live band. Since then, there have been plenty of changes in faces over the years, but Sumic has kept the heart and soul of Forest Ray consistent.
"The current iteration is probably one of my favorite lineups so far. And the band has put a lot of work into it," says Sumic.
- Courtesy of Forest Ray
- While on the road, Sumic says he likes to listen to The Kinks, The Byrds, Wilco, Kurt Vile, and more.
Forest Ray creates a mix of psychedelic rock that features doses of influence from Americana, post-punk, country, lo-fi, garage rock and, most recently, hints of folk. They record in analog and go even further with that aesthetic, shooting the band's music videos with a Super 8 camera. Read our Q&A with Sumic below to learn more about Forest Ray and their upcoming album, "Always."
Source Weekly: What are some of the biggest musical influences that you think have had the largest impact on yourself as a musician and songwriter?
Peter Sumic: Originally I was listening to a lot of '60s garage rock comps, and there's one in particular called "Pebbles." I was really interested in making a song sound like it was from a certain era. So I kind of got into analog recording from that and that sound. In general, that whole movement and era of mid-1960s psychedelic rock was a big influence on me. The sound has kind of evolved, and we've incorporated more folk instruments into our newer stuff.
SW: Forest Ray is a band, but then you also operate Forest Ray Records and recording studio. For people unaware, can you share some of the other work you do with the label?
PS: Forest Ray Records is essentially an outlet for me to release vinyl, both for Forest Ray or other bands who have recorded at the studio. One shoegaze band we've worked with in the past is Vlly. Our primary focus at the studio is analog, but we do both. That's the way the studio is geared and set-up. It's been in operation as a studio since right before COVID. It wasn't even meant to be a studio when it first started, just a place for me to record and create. Luckily, for that reason, the pandemic wasn't a huge blow. The studio was just a way for me to pivot from live shows.
SW: You guys have an album coming out this year called "Always." How does this release stand out to you in comparison with the other Forest Ray records? What makes it special to you?
PS: I think one thing in particular is, we incorporated more instruments. We bought a Rhodes electric piano. There's more slide guitar. I was listening to a lot of George Harrison at the time. So it's a lot of electric guitar mixed with George Harrison. There's a track on there with banjo, a lot of acoustic guitars. That was kind of a new approach for a record. There's pedal steel as well. We focused more on some folk and Americana influences, and blending that with the psychedelic stuff.
SW: The band has put out three really awesome single releases in preparation for the album, and "Make Some Time" is probably my favorite so far. What inspirations went into making that track, both musically and in its material?
PS: That's actually the song that featured the banjo! Which was something we've never done for a tune. I was just messing around with banjo a lot during the pandemic. There's also a cowbell that comes in during the guitar solo that started as a joke but we kept it in. And it's only in the guitar solo [laughs]. That song was really fun to make. My friend Ashlyn is featured on vocal harmonies. It's basically just a tune about procrastination and the afterlife.
SW: You're about to take off on a tour that will take you through the Northwest, the Rockies and the Midwest. What does the travel situation look like and what's life on the road like for Forest Ray?
PS: Right now we're doing it in a sprinter van, and I just have like a really simple bunk. We're doing a pretty long trip, and we'll be pretty much in a new state every day. The gas prices are a little bit of a concern, but we always have a good time. Just listen to music and talk, meet new people and play music for them. We actually only have two days off for 25 days. We have like 23 shows. I think our two days off are in Bend and Redmond. So we'll spend the most time there.
Stay tuned for Forest Ray's "Always," dropping toward the end of August or early September. And be on the lookout for the band's single. As Sumic notes, we'll be getting a fourth around mid-tour.
Tue., July 5, 8-11 pm
High Desert Music Hall
818 SW Forest Ave., Redmond