Vinny D of Sweet Surrender on reaching the Gozzy Rock Grand Final:
“It was awesome. To play our songs in front of judges who have been in the music industry for such a long time was very nerve-wracking. But we knew, if we nail what we have to do and just relax, have fun like we always do, everything else will take of itself. Turned out… it worked (laughs). We were absolutely stoked when we found out we got through to the finals. All of us had been waiting all morning and then to see our name announced on Facebook was so good to see. Our hard work is paying off. But it doesn’t stop there, we’ve got the final now, so more hard work to be done. We are striving for big things so we are moving in the right direction.”
Sweet Surrender formed way back in 2010, when brothers Vinny D (Vincent Douglas: vocals/bass) his brother Jimmy D (James Douglas: keyboards) and guitarist, Chris Samakovidis, started jamming together in high school.
“We used to jam all the time so we all knew in the back of our minds that we would be in some sort of band together,” recalls Vinny. “Unfortunately, our original drummer – who also went to school with us – dropped out due to some unforeseen circumstances. We went about six months without a drummer but stuck together. We knew we had potential.
“Then our manager at the time got in contact with our old music teacher and put us onto this young kid, Beau Haines. He was 15 years-old when he officially joined the band. For his age, he was an incredible drummer and still is. He gelled with us so well that feels like he was with us since the beginning. Then there is Mike Purea (producer/DJ/sound). Our final piece to our band, our family. He joined about the end of 2016 and has added so much more diversity to our sound. We are all like brothers and love the same thing, so gelling together was never going to be problem.”
Vinny says that it was obvious from the get-go that the band wanted to make music their collective life and career. Despite setbacks, they found themselves on the right track.
“Our first drummer leaving, not knowing what sort of sound we were going for and it took us a while to get traction,” says Vinny of the bumps in the road along the way. “Since Beau and Mike, things have been crazy good. We’ve found our sound and our vision for this band. We are striving to be great and more.”
Donning t-shirts and caps that pay homage to their favourite superheroes, in the live scenario Sweet Surrender are, says Vinny, “Crazy and fun. We don’t take ourselves seriously when we are on stage. We just have fun. Make fun of each other and ourselves and we love how the people respond to it. Makes them feel comfortable and entertained. Can’t go wrong with that (laughs).”
The gig front, in its varied forms, has been hard work but well worth the effort.
“It’s been an absolute whirlwind,” Vinny says. “Especially this year. So crazy, but loving it. Wouldn’t change it for the world. We have only started bringing out originals this year so we have done a handful of original gigs. We actually gig every weekend doing covers, it pays for all our gear and equipment. Music is a hard industry, but we love playing music, covers and originals… just so glad to have the opportunity to play on stage every week.”
Sweet Surrender have a debut EP due for release shortly. It’s set to be a neat encapsulation of their story so far.
“We have three new songs being released, plus an updated version of our debut single 9TEEN on our EP,” Vinny says. “We actually played them at Gozzy Rock. Gave the people a little taste. It will hopefully showcase the talent within this band – the lyrics, the music and everything else that goes into a song. We just hope all the hard work we have put in will show through our songs.”
The highlights so far in Sweet Surrender’s history include playing before 2,000 people at the 2015 Oceans Classic in Lancelin, supporting End of Fashion at The Carine Tavern and getting an insight into the Australian music industry and opening for Living Colour in front of a full-house at the Astor Theatre in June.
“Now that was crazy,” Vinny says. Playing to that many people with our own music was such a surreal experience. One we will never forget. Plus, Living Colour were so awesome to meet. Such humble guys. Getting to meet them and getting an understanding what it takes to make it in this industry. A lot of hard work.”
Sweet Surrender continue to gig all over WA each weekend and are very happy with being very busy. In terms of future plans, those are starting real soon.
“We have our music video shoot coming up in October which is being released the same day as our EP,” Vinny says. “We have new songs on the horizon which we will be releasing on what should be our full-length album next year. We also have other band comps coming up. We just made the semi-finals for Emergenza Festival so we’re looking forward to that. The Sixty30 battle of the bands as well, plus a couple of others. So jam-packed, it’s hard to remember everything (laughs).”
The 30th Anniversary Gozzy Rock Grand Final happens from 2pm on Sunday, August 27, at the Don Russell Performing Arts Centre with Sweet Surrender, Farraday’s Cage, Mitchell Martin, J.F.K, Choking Stanley and Hibiscus, with guest sets from previous winners, Young Robyn (2016) and RAKSHA (2014).