- The gang's all here: Adam Baker, third from left, leads Annuals; Kenny Florence, fifth from left, leads Sunfold.
Kenny Florence and Adam Baker lead one troupe of musicians as two bands—Sunfold and Annuals, respectively.
In Annuals, Baker, 22, harnesses the sextet's sound into a fury of colors, pushing up his elliptical lyrics and big, complex melodies with keyboards, noise and guitars. In Sunfold, which was called Sedona when the band attended high school in Raleigh, Florence, 21, allows '90s alt.rock influences to shine through in neat, well-arranged patterns. But the pair has grown up learning and loving many of the same records. We sat down with them in Florence's Raleigh home, near a shelf of books about musicians from Coltrane to The Beatles, to get their takes on some classics (and some that aren't quite there yet).
The Flaming Lips, "Talkin' 'Bout The Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues"
KENNY FLORENCE: I recognize this. I recognize the singer. Oh God, don't tell me. It sounds like some really early Flaming Lips.
INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: Exactly.
KF: Is it Flaming Lips? No shit!
IW: It's off Hit to Death in the Future Head.
ADAM BAKER: Oh wow. Yeah, that's before my Flaming Lips time.
KF: Most of the Flaming Lips we listen to is pretty recent, just because we started really getting into them around the same time. We played a few shows with them in Ireland and that really got me into them. I didn't really know much about them before that, honestly, except that I liked them.
AB: But yeah, they're my favorite "big" band, except for Radiohead of course.
KF: They're one of the only bands that I can really get into that have a lot of non-musical elements along with their band. I like the Flaming Lips as an experience and not as a purely musical experience, which is kind of opposite of my usual mindset. But they just do it so well. They are a phenomenon.
Faith No More, "Epic"
KF: [Laughs.] Faith No More! We're huge Mike Patton fans.
AB: Not so much Faith No More. I'm definitely glad this got him going, though.
KF: This song makes me laugh. I love the video. I don't know what he was thinking.
AB: It was his first opportunity to get big. From that, all his other projects got huge.
KF: It's just so weird that he used to put out stuff like this and, looking at his later work, it doesn't translate at all. Except for the eccentric voice and shit.
AB: I can get into this just because it's Mike Patton. He's just such an influence to me. And I do like the chorus. [Sings along.]
Mr. Bungle, "Everyone I Went to High School With is Dead"
KF: It kind of makes me think I'm descending into the depths of Hell with Satan's minions hammering away at some fiery ... thing.
AB: Fiery cock and balls castrated from an angel. This shit is heavy. What the hell is this?
IW: This is more Mike Patton actually. It's Mr. Bungle.
AB: Oh, this is Mr. Bungle. This is the second record, isn't it, Disco Volante? I haven't heard this record in forever.
KF: The only Mr. Bungle album I have is California, which is his best work in my opinion. Then again, I haven't heard any of the early Mr. Bungle stuff.
AB: The first Mr. Bungle ... is pretty rough.
Otis Redding & Carla Thomas, "Knock on Wood"
KF: I have a feeling that if we don't know this song, we're gonna be assholes.
AB: Wilson Pickett?
IW: Otis Redding and Carla Thomas.
KF: We all went through a huge Motown phase. Love that shit ... Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding. Yeah, this stuff is classic. I'll always say that I don't think music is as good now as it used to be.
AB: No. I mean, [studio musicians] were all playing at the same time, most likely. No, not most likely, definitely.
KF: You had to really, really have talent back then.
AB: And that's why they only had like a handful of guys that played on all of these records. Like two drummers and one bass player, who's dead now.
Beck, "The New Pollution"
AB: When I was younger, I thought Beck was a freak. I didn't really like him until I heard Midnite Vultures. I didn't know any better. I love how completely random all of Beck's lyrics are. I can't connect to his story ever.
KF: One thing that I really respect about Beck is that he puts out an album without fail like every year. He's a really cool artist, definitely. Too bad he's a scientologist because that kind of invalidates any sort of coolness you could possibly have. I'd love to meet someone who's a scientologist just so I could ask them, "Why? Can you please explain what this is all about?"
IW: If you saw Beck at a festival, would you try to engage in some scientology talk?
AB: Well, the first thing I would do is try my best to put his balls in my mouth. Then, maybe if we got comfortable, which would be unlikely after that situation.
Flipper, "Sex Bomb"
AB: That is some fat fucking distortion on that bass.
KF: Is it some punk band? I've never really been into music where melody is not really involved.
IW: It's Flipper ... Kurt Cobain was way into them, and Krist Novoselic just joined the new version of the band. This song is seven and a half minutes of this one riff over and over again.
KF: I can enjoy that for entertainment purposes but not really from any sort of musical standpoint.
AB: I like the attitude behind the song. I've always liked that punk attitude.
Weezer, "Only in Dreams"
AB: This song still makes me cry.
KF: I remember when I got this album. I was in the third grade. I put this song on repeat and listened to it over and over and over and over again. The part with the octaves at the end of the song, the dualing octave parts, that's one of the most classic guitar parts of all time.
AB: Fuckin' adore this record and song and band. I think the Blue Album and Pinkerton are some of the most important rock records, really, of all time. Definitely of our little sub-era.
KF: I also remember exactly when I saw on MTV News that Weezer broke up. I cried. I broke down in tears. I was at a sleepover with all of my friends, and we were all huge Weezer fans, and we were all like, "Oh no!" This album was one of the three albums that made me start playing music.
AB: I'll put it in the top five for sure.
IW: What were the other ones?
KF: Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream and Foo Fighters' The Colour and The Shape. Those three albums made me want to be a musician. I always wanted to be a musician, but they made me actually do it.
AB: Best build-up of all time.
KF: I'm still, right now, trying to rip this part off.
The Format, "I'm Actual"
AB: Love this fucking song. This song is a masterpiece.
KF: Yeah, this song is amazing.
AB: It still gives me chills, like every time at the end where they do the chorus and slow it down a little bit.
KF: These guys have a lot of elements of Queen, especially on Dog Problems. And you know what? His voice always reminds me of all the guys from The Never. We're actually friends with the guy who played bass on a lot of the songs on this record, Steve McDonald. But this guy can sing his ass off.
AB: Yeah, this part's classic. Classic waltz. [Plays air drums.]
KF: Adam and I are both really into classical music. Honestly, it's the only thing I've really actively listened to for the past three or four months.
AB: It's just so interesting the whole time.
KF: I'm still a jazz guy, but classical music is just pure music. There's no bullshit.
Sunfold plays Local 506 Tuesday, July 29, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8. The band's debut, Toy Tugboats, is out now on Terpikshore. Annuals plays a free show Friday, Sept. 5, for Raleigh Wide Open.