THE DAILY WILDCAT
THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA NEWSPAPER
Published Mar 26, 2019 12:00am
Updated Mar 26, 2019 1:36pm
By Jamie Donnelly RELATED STORIES
By Tyson Hudson - Contributor 10 hours ago
Lead vocalist and ukulele player, Anastasia Lopez, of band "Tonight's Sunshine" performing at the main stage for 4th Ave Street Fair attendees on March 23, 2019.
Some new bands strive for money and fame; however, Anastasia Lopez, a University of Arizona student studying Spanish, and the rest of Tonight’s Sunshine say they are using their musical talents to give back.
Lopez, along with Isaiah Kortright, Cougar Bellinger and Diego Mackean, make up Tonight’s Sunshine, a local band that’s making its mark in Tucson.
“I listen to a lot of different genres, and you can see that in my music, because every song is pretty different,” Lopez said. “We try to umbrella-term it as alternative pop rock, but some songs have undertones of reggaetón, rap or just pop in general.”
Lead vocalist and ukulele player, Anastasia Lopez, of band, "Tonight's Sunshine" performing at the main stage for 4th Ave Street Fair attendees on March 23, 2019.
Each of the members had been playing music for a while before they started Tonight’s Sunshine, according to Lopez.
“I’ve been playing for seven years now, I started when I was nine,” Bellinger said.
Kortright said he became fully immersed in music when he played in his high school’s marching band at 15.
“I was playing the bass drum in drumline, and I got to play with the mariachi and the jazz band,” Kortright said. “That experience in high school really just brought me out of my shell and allowed me to meet new people.”
Similar to Bellinger, Lopez had been singing for a long time, crediting her Hispanic heritage for her passion for music.
“I come from a Hispanic family, and growing up in the household, there was always music on,” Lopez said. “At any random moment, they would ask me to sing songs that they taught me, because they wanted to hear it. Singing is the instrument that everybody has, so I was always singing.”
The inspiration for creating Tonight’s Sunshine came after watching a live performance by Lopez at an open mic night.
"Tonight's Sunshine" (Anastasia Lopez, Cougar Bellinger, Diego Mackean and Isaiah Kortright) performing at the main stage for 4th Ave Street Fair attendees on March 23, 2019. The band performed original and cover songs throughout their set
“We met Anastasia at an open mic at House of Bards last April, and we were completely blown away,” Kortright said. “We had never heard a voice like that, so we kept in touch throughout the summer.”
After playing together, Kortright said they knew they had to pursue music.
“Everyone was really jiving together,” Kortright said. “It almost felt like it wasn’t a choice; we needed to do this.”
The name for the band came from Lopez. She had used Tonight’s Sunshine as her solo name before she was part of the band.
“It references to the song You Are My Sunshine, because that song has always been used as a lullaby in my life,” Lopez said. “I would hear it from people that I love, and they would sing it to me over the phone, and because of time differences, we could only talk at night. It was my favorite part of the day, so it was like my sunshine was at night.”
When it comes to having specific roles in the band, Tonight’s Sunshine likes to mix things up, allowing each member to play different instruments depending on the song.
“What we like to do is switch roles,” Kortright said. “For example, there’s one song I play drums, and there’s another one where I play guitar. We like to get creative and not be so rigid with instruments. Our role has just been being supportive of all material that Anastasia has brought, and it’s worked out super well.”
Tonight’s Sunshine has played at the Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair and played at Club Congress on March 27.
Isaiah Kortright, bassist of band "Tonight's Sunshine" performing for the 4th Ave Street Fair attendees on March 23rd. The band's set list included cover songs and originals.
“Cougar’s dad is our manager, and what he was able to do was put together a marketing package highlighting the work we had done and asked them if we could have a night where we not only showcased ourselves but showcased a couple of other bands,” Kortright said.
The other groups that will perform that night are Diluvio and the Dry River Band.
In preparation for Club Congress, Tonight’s Sunshine has been practicing as much as they can.
“We try to do three times a week, and sometimes it turns into more than that,” Lopez said. “We like to play together, so it’s not really like practice. We’re practicing and getting what we need to get done, but it’s just making music, having fun with it and being creative.”
Aside from practicing music, the band has also been working on their aesthetic, Lopez said.
“It’s not just the music. It has to be an entire performance that people are interested in so they’re not only listening to it but they are captivated by it,” Lopez said.
Tonight’s Sunshine’s work with nonprofit organizations is one of the many reasons their band stands out from the rest, Kortright said.
“We’re partnered with the Red Road to Wellbriety celebration, and helping those causes are really important to us,” Kortright said.
Along with helping organizations, Tonight’s Sunshine also wants to show people that they can follow their dreams.
"Tonight's Sunshine" performing at the main stage for 4th Ave Street Fair attendees on March 23, 2019. The band's set list included cover songs and originals.
“We have things to say,” Lopez said. “We do a lot of nonprofit stuff, and we’re doing things with music to bring people together and say something about a cause. I know that in my lyrics I talk about LGBTQ, my Mexican roots or having a dream in general and not letting people hold me down from trying to achieve it. I want people to feel things and see that in themselves.”
Eventually, the band members say they want to become famous and donate their money to those in need.
“Short-term, we want to record more and get our name out there,” Kortright said.
For more information on Tonight’s Sunshine, you can visit their
Instagram page, @tonights.sunshine.
TONIGHT'S SUNSHINE ROCKS 4TH AVE SATURDAY AFTERNOON. A BAND ON THE RISE AND GIVING BACK
Posted Feb 21, 2020, 2:31 am
Julie Jennings PattersonTucsonSentinel.com
Tucson youth bands play a lot of shows. As in, a LOT of shows. But when you check out a typical line-up, a certain band's name pops up again and again. Tonight's Sunshine seemingly loves to play whenever asked, especially when it's for a good cause. More importantly, maybe, the band is fun, eclectic and hard to pin down to a genre — so they more of less fit in with any lineup.
Though the band spends a lot of time opening for others, your friendly scribe decided they deserved a little spotlight of their own.
TucsonSentinel.com: For those who aren't already familiar with the band, introduce yourselves. What's your musical "origin story?"
Tonight's Sunshine: "The boys (Cougar, Isaiah and Diego) had been in bands together for some years. The winter of 2018 however, Isaiah, along with Cougar's dad saw Anastasia perform at an open mic. They exchanged information and it later led to the four-piece band now known as Tonight's Sunshine."
TS: How did you discover rock and roll? And how did you fall in love with and start playing music?
Anastasia Lopez (vocals, ukelele): " In middle school I began to religiously watch MTV all day. Not stuff like 'Sixteen and Pregnant' or 'MTV Cribs' but the times when they played music videos all day. It wasn't like the radio, confined to pop, and led me to discoveries like MCR, Paramore, Hey Monday and Fall Out Boy. Music was always in my household and I can't remember not having been in love with it always. I've been a classically trained percussionist since the age of 10 and have been singing for as long as it's been possible. Music for me is just something else. A drug, a natural high. I all but nearly ache to be in a wall of sound all the time."
Diego MacKean: "I fell in love with music at such a young age. Both of my parents were heavy music listeners. My father listened to lots of classic psych rock, country and lots of grunge, and my mom listened to a lot of Spanish music, dance and international music. I spent nearly every waking hour listening to all kinds of music just dreaming that I could do the same. I began to play when I took my sister's old guitar that was stored in the closet and just started to learn by myself. From then on I never really put it down, and it's really become part of me."
Cougar Bellinger: "I discovered rock and roll when I was kid listening to bands like Tool, Rush, and Led Zeppelin. I think the drummers in all three of these bands are amazing and it was great always having one of their CDs in my dad's truck. I started loving music because my parents would listen and dance to a lot of EDM and trance music when I was young and the rhythmic part in those genres rubbed off on me. "
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Isaiah Kortright: "My mom would place the big ear muff headphones on her belly while I was still a fetus and play an incredible variety of music. I like to say the love started at - 6 months, so I just came out ready to groove. It was in seventh grade that I got my first guitar, a cherry red Fender Squire Strat, and I spent hours upon hours at home and around the complex just strumming my new best friend. I quickly tried other instruments and just rocketed right into making music when I joined drum line and jazz band in high school; shout-out to Amphi. Can't stop, won't stop."
TS: Thoughts on recording and live gigging? What have been your past experiences? What about the future?
Tonight's Sunshine: "Live gigging is THE BEST. We wait all week long, and then the weekend comes and THEN WE COME ALIVE. Then it's Monday and we wait all over again."
"It's a pretty special experience. One where we get to become different people on a stage, or rather not different people, but instead our most unapologetic version of ourselves. We get to create an experience with each other as well as the audience and would venture to say there's some sort of lingering feeling that everyone takes with them at the end of the night."
"We've played all over town. Between house shows, the downtown scene, and community/nonprofit events,we've seen quite a lot but nevertheless are insatiable. As a new exciting endeavor, we're beginning to venture into different towns such as Flagstaff, L.A., Phoenix and Bisbee. We're pretty enamored with the newness of it all, the different sounds and culture that every city/town has, and feel pretty good to be the band hailing from Tucson, Ariz."
TS: Most memorable gigs you've played to date?
Tonight's Sunshine: "Honorable mention to one of the times we played at our home and residency at Thunder Canyon Brewery. It was a pretty late show, later still because Anastasia had become dehydrated, couldn't keep anything down and was headed to the hospital. But just shy of midnight, she returned, hospital bracelet on her wrist, and pale faced, but determinedly went through the whole set and then proceeded to fall asleep in the van..
"Our last show (Anastasia's Birthday Bash at Iron Horse Fabricators) was probably the most hype, exciting, wild thing we've done in a while. A real punk, DIY experience complete with a pop up venue, moshing, Diego playing on top of a speaker, Anastasia crowd surfing and one of the band's emerging staples in which they discard their shirts on stage."
TS: You come from diverse backgrounds and cross genres a bit in your music. How would you say that each of you contributes to the band's unique sound? Do you feel like it's important to the band to be able to blend styles and experiences and weave something new as opposed to the way that many bands have a "main" songwriter or stick to a single vision.
AL:"Out of all of us, I am the pop element. Oh, and play the electric ukulele, haha."
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"I draw from a lot of alternative pop, indie pop, punk, alt, hip hop, reggaeton and k-pop. I am the skeleton of our songs, using ingredients from the genres that I listen to. I write the lyrics and chords and provide a direction I want it to go in. However, because I am the bones, the body is left to the boys. I may provide the direction, but the destination is usually unknown. We just play and shake our heads until we feel it pull together and say 'This is it. This is the vibe and feel of the song. This feels good.' Bonus: I scream."
IK:"We kinda do both. We add the meat around Anastasia's song skeleton and have the creative freedom to add our own color, while keeping the OG vibe and feel of the song present. I aim to add groove and fill in the spaces underneath in between things that bolster the uke and guitar. I listen the most to Cougar on the drums. Bonus: I make deep 'fart' noises with heavy strings."
CB:"For the drums, I try to make beats that match the energy of the songs and the rhythms of the ukelele through my own interpretation. I think it's good for bands to blend musical styles because not only does it create a unique sound as a band, it allows us as musicians to expand our own styles. Bonus: I hit the drums for the songs."
DM:"I try to bring a hard psychedelic energetic edge to the music not just audibly, but visually too. I believe it's important to have different elements in music because it allows listeners to experience something they might have not felt before, plus it pushes us to learn to coincide with each other's musical tastes. Sometimes it poses a bit of problem because we all listen to starkly different music, but in the end we can always create something very unique. Bonus: I make heavy sounds, cause I'm angry."
TS: What have you been up to more recently, musically speaking.
Tonight's Sunshine: "Recording!!! After the long strong struggle of being poor (we are still poor but, mayhaps, a little less so) we've finally been able to raise enough money to begin recording our album. It's very exciting knowing that we're finally going to be able to have our music accessible to anyone at any time. Live performances are special in which we form an experience together, but recordings are special in which individuals can now tie their own experiences to our music in their own way. Road trip playlists, shower music, parties. It lets us into our fans' lives in a different manner."
TS: Future plans as a band? Long term and short term?
Tonight's Sunshine: "Go on tour!"
"In March we'll be kicking off our Sun-Cannon tour, a joint endeavor with our best friends Annie Jump Cannon. We'll be playing cool venues like the the Smell in L.A., the Toybarn in Albuquerque, and stopping in towns like Las Vegas, Flagstaff, Phoenix, and a special midway stop back in Tucson in the middle of it all."
"Ultimately, we want to get famous, change the world, support diversity and inclusivity and be active in changing things that we believe to be wrong. Our platform is important to us for that reason, beyond just loving music and wanting to do it as a career. We get to be a voice for lots of people and that's definitely supremely important to us."
TS: Favorite bands and musicians of all time? Influences.
AL:"HALSEY, HALSEY, HALSEY! I'd dedicate my life to finding Treasure Planet if Halsey told me to. Paramore, Hobo Johnson, the Regrettes, McCafferty, the Front Bottoms, Grandson, Twenty-One Pilots, Sloppy Jane, Phoebe Bridgers."
IK:"All time faves include Jimi Hendrix, Animals As Leaders, and Alabama Shakes."
CB:"My favorite bands are Animals as Leaders, Tool, Slothrust, Highly Suspect, and Daft Punk. Influences include: Brittany Howard, Anderson .Paak, and Steve Lacy. My most influencial bands are Tool, Rush, and, recently, Paramore."
DM:"Some of my favorite bands are Queens of the Stone Age, the Sword, Soundgarden, Jimmie's Chicken Shack, Tool, and Kyuss. My influences are, the Eagles, UFO, Mana, Hum, Psychedlic Porn Crumpets, Pink Floyd, Robin Trower, Led Zeppelin, Gypsy Kings, Cafe Tacvba, Santana and MGMT.
TS: Favorite current bands? Local ones?
AL:"I adore AJC (Annie Jump Cannon.) They belong in my veins right next to Paramore. Communal, Mattea, Blu Joy, Sad Gal Nina and Pelt are my other faves."
CB:"Currently, I've been listening to FKJ, Cigarettes After Sex, and some Suicideboys. Locally, I've been jamming out to Stripes and Annie Jump Cannon."
IK:"Annie Jump Cannon, Communal, and Psyiritual."
DM:"My favorite current bands are Fuzz, the Districts, the Dead Pirates, Slothrust, and Peach Pit. Local bands are so good it's crazy. I love Stripes and listen to them, like, every day. Same with Sad Dance Party, Annie Jump Cannon, Monks and Telepathy, and Blu Joy."
TS: So, I had never heard of Blu Joy before, but I've checked them out and I'm really digging them a lot. Thanks, guys.
TS: Moving on, though, what are some of your favorite venues to play?
Tonight's Sunshine: "Some of our favorite local venues are Ironhorse Fabricators, Thunder Canyon Brewery, House of Bards, and Boxyard. They are all incredible places with amazing people running them and we're grateful to continue playing them.
TS: Tell us about your next gig.
Tonight's Sunshine: "Our next gigs are Sky Bar on Feb. 22, MOCA on Feb. 28, in Phoenix at the Cosmic Jam Hole on Feb. 28, the Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee on Feb. 29 and Thunder Canyon Brewery, March 6.
Tonight's Sunshine plays Sky Bar this Saturday, February 22 at 8 p.m. with Dead West, Le Trebuchet and Cosmic Cowboys.