By Noe Gutierrez
On June 5, 2020, the song and video for “Under Attack” by Mega Sun featuring Mikey Reyes will be released on all major music platforms! Mega Sun includes Jeremy Parsons on vocals and bass, Chris Rivera on guitar, Brad Garrow on guitar and Tyler Ontiveros on drums. The hard-hitting song highlights the valiant vocals of Reyes and delivers an ample one-two, High Desert meets Low Desert punch that is bound to open some eyes and clear some ears. You may be familiar with Reyes as vocalist and guitarist for Desert Rhythm Project or as a member of the legendary Desert Reggae group Soul Opus. On “Under Attack” Reyes takes on the role of Rock vocalist and puts a melodic and syncopated spin on a very technically progressive track.
The song was produced and written by Mega Sun and Reyes, recorded and engineered by Garrow at his Dead End Studios in Palm Desert, California, mixed and mastered by Damien Rainaud (DragonForce, Fear Facotry, Angra) and executive produced by Rivera and the one and only Mikey Doling (Snot, Channel Zero). The video was directed by Doling and David Provan (Bleed From Within).
Since 2017 Mega Sun has achieved growing success and recognition in the Coachella Valley and beyond. Their debut was also recorded at Dead End Studios with Garrow and Doling which had a gigantic sound considering the production team. “The experience was phenomenal. Mikey and Brad have been close friends for over 30 years and I love those guys. They really saw a vision for the music and took us to the next level.” Rivera stated. Ontiveros shared further, “Recording with Brad and having the opportunity to work with Mikey was an experience that helped us grow tremendously as artists and they are a true pleasure to work with.” Under Attack is an in-your-face Hard Rock song that illuminates a lot of what is occurring in the world today and Reyes communicates to you his feelings on the social divide.
Coachella Valley Weekly had the opportunity to speak with all the key players in the development and completion of “Under Attack” for this special issue of CV Weekly.
Rivera: “It’s so weird how it came about. I’m a big Mikey Reyes fan. When I first got back to the desert from Montana my first thought was, if I could make music with any two musicians, it would be Mikey Reyes and Brant Bjork. Those two do it for me. They’re artists, not just musicians. They’re fuckin’ artists! There are a lot of musicians. I consider myself a musician, but I don’t consider myself an artist like those dudes, they are the real deal, they put in the work, no bullshit, you can tell the difference. When this came about, I called him. I had talked to him about doing a song but a lot of people talk to Mikey about doing songs. I messaged him one day with the track and he said, ‘that goes right to the top of the pile’ and he worked on it immediately. About 45 minutes later, he sent back a masterpiece. My wife and I woke up to it and my kids were dancing on the bed. The contrast of it makes it rad, it’s almost like the diversity is fighting each other but in a good way. Pretty magical to do it the way we did it and for it to come out as good as it did; what an honor to perform on a song with him. He has that positive energy that makes everyone better like Mikey Doling. They elevate everyone else and I love that. We laid down a bitchin’ bed of music, there’s no doubt about it. But what he did on the top of it blew my mind. It wasn’t what we were expecting. Then he goes into this POD/Sevendust harmony that sticks. You remember it the next day and you’re humming it. If this is his first swing at Rock then he’s onto something. When you’re uncomfortable, that’s when the magic happens. Not to start any rumors, but we sent him a few tracks to see what he can do with those. Once we all can get in the same room it’s gonna be a home run.”
Reyes: “During this time of quarantine, I had the chance to collaborate with my beautiful brother and cousin Chris and the Mega Sun boys for a jam that I’m pretty sure y’all didn’t see coming! It’s the first time I ever created something like this, and I couldn’t be more stoked with the outcome! I was hyped to lay vocals over the track once Chris sent me the music. I sent it back as soon as I could and it’s dope! Big love and thanks to Mikey D. for the video! That shit is gonna be epic! And much love to the Brad over at Dead End Studios in Palm Desert for making the track sound super fuckin’ phat! I’m honored to be performing on the song and I look forward to more.”
Parsons: ““The song turned out awesome. It’s another direction we’re going. It was shocking at first. Just the vocals alone and how much it changed everything. It just made it a whole different thing, it was really cool. It was nice to be able to be just like one day there’s nothing to it and the next day the vocals are there. Normally in a band the singer will bring up the song slowly, but he was right there. With Mega Sun nothing is really set in stone. It was the first band I ever sang for. I was just kind of thrown into it. With this song, it’s nice to lay back and play the music and enjoy it. I don’t really consider myself a frontman or a singer or anything like that. It does take a lot of pressure off. I am able to enjoy it a little more.”
Ontiveros: “The final mix hits pretty hard and we had an awesome team to put this together. Honestly this was out of left field and we had no plan as far as having someone featured on the track. It kind of just happened.”
Doling: “I got to hand it to the guys. I think it’s great. It’s very cool. What Mikey did was fantastic. I previously produced “San Andreas” and “Svengali” for Mega Sun. So when Chris came to me with the song, I took a listen. I had my guy mix it. The mix is incredible, fucking world-class. You can record a great song and kill it but if the mix sounds like a demo, it just doesn’t come across.”
Garrow: “It’s really cool how everything turned out. This particular tune wasn’t even a song they were showing me. It just got sent in the mix. It wasn’t even a song, it was more a groove. Chris called me and said, ‘my cousin is really good’ they sent me this really rough scratchy version recorded on a phone, but when they sent the real version before I sent it off to get mixed I was like, ‘wow! This guy is really good’. A great turn of events. What Mikey brought to it was really cool. I’ve never met him until we did the photo shoot for the CV Weekly cover. We know so many of the same people. It’s such a small valley. Yesterday on the way home from the photoshoot I heard some of Mikey’s music, he’s super-talented and brought a cool thing to the song, I’m thoroughly impressed.”
Rivera: “When we first started it was me and Jeremy on guitar. We’re not Metal and we’re not pretending to be Metal, it’s Desert Rock and Roll. I’ve heard people call us Punk Rock, Metal and Alternative. It’s just Rock and Roll. We’re currently working on eight songs we recorded at Dead End Studios.”
Parsons: “When I got together with Chris I was considering being the drummer. It was just us and we both played guitar to write songs but in the back of my mind I was going to play drums. I’d been playing for 25 years. Then we met Tyler and Chris is a better guitar player than me so I picked up the bass. It’s whatever is necessary to get this thing moving. Now that it’s moving, it’s its own beast. It’s bigger than the players. It’s moving without us having any control, it pitches in different waves where we don’t know where it’s going. Everyone in the band is super-stoked. It’s going better than I ever could have imagined it. We’re not forcing it. I think if you try and push it too much it’s not going to happen and if you don’t push enough it’s not gonna happen, that middle is important so that we can coast with it.”
Ontiveros: “Mega Sun’s journey has been one of short sprints in my opinion but powerful ones. Mega Sun can draw a lot of attention for some reason but we just haven’t been consistent enough to keep people wanting more. Hopefully we can turn that around with this track and get people engaged again and use the momentum to keep us going.”
Parsons: “I could never have imagined when I started with Chris getting here. You couldn’t really categorize us before. We want every song to be completely different. The point is always getting to where each song leads us to not being categorized. Once we start feeling like we’re falling into a category we try and switch it up. We want every song to be unique. We try to write different stuff. Each song is 100% different than the last. It’s kind of tough when you play a song over the edge in the red and then you play a song that’s completely different. I see the crowd trying to adjust after getting hopped up. They have to adjust and that’s what I want to keep doing. We don’t want to duplicate or get stuck. There is no typical Mega Sun song. Right now we’re just bouncing around like a pinball. It seems every time it lands on a good spot. Right now we can’t do no wrong. It’s nice to be able to sit back and allow things to happen organically. It seems we’ve made no mistakes so far when we get something in our head. A lot of that has to do with the Mega Sun brand, anyone involved with us knows it’s going to be 100%.”
Ontiveros: “I’ve been holding up pretty good. I’m usually a hermit and germ freak anyway. It’s given me more time to focus on my practice routine and play way more than I would have. I definitely miss playing live shows. I wish I had the answer. Things are definitely going to change in the music community and we are just going to keep playing. We just have to hang on while these crazy times pass.”
Reyes: “I’ve been here with my beautiful lady Bryanna Evaro at our home working on home improvement stuff. We did a couple of online shows recently and we’re looking to up the production value with top class sound and a cool backdrop. We’ve been working on new music as well and look forward to releasing some new singles very soon through Desert Rhythm Project.”
Doling: “My family is doing fantastic. A lot of people on lockdown for the last two months don’t have family and they’re alone. I appreciate having my little tribe to be locked down with. We have fun, we watch movies, play video games, bike riding, playing guitar…it’s been great. I took up bike riding about a year ago because I was overweight from drinking beers and eating tacos. I started running and my knees hurt right away so I bought a bike. I lost 35 pounds riding a bike. It felt great. I got down to size 32 pants from 38/40. I put the bike away for six months and put the weight back on. Now I’m back on the bike and quickly lost 15 pounds. I just get up in the morning and get a cup of coffee and ride the bike for an hour and a half. When the sun goes down, I’ll jump on for another hour. The weight just flies off. It’s amazing.”
Garrow: “Brain Vat had two shows canceled over this. Mega Sun had at least four shows cancelled because of the quarantine. We were supposed to be playing Las Vegas and Arizona this weekend. We’re not busy at Dead End Studios because of COVID 19, some projects are on hold now. It’s been crazy, we need a solution. You don’t really hear about how COVID 19 has turned the music world on its head. You hear about restaurants and all that. Especially the music I like is more underground, it could crush these people. Hopefully we can do things online to keep people interested. I’m playing guitar all the time. I’m really lucky with the quarantine. I work then come to the studio. I’ve written songs for both Brain Vat and Mega Sun. I wrote a whole bunch of stuff.”
Parsons: “I’ve stayed busy. It’s let the chips fall where they may. You let the brand do its own thing and go where it’s gonna go. We are all so open to anything. What we all wanna do is play good music, have good shows and have fun with people. We’re not trying to be rock stars but we take it very seriously, even though we sometimes don’t act like it.”
Doling: “I’ve produced probably more than 100 records. Working with Mega Sun is different because they are family. Brad is my best friend. I’ve known Brad and Chris from the very beginning, since we were 15 years old and being in bands. We all had the same dream. Even though I went out and sold a couple million records and toured the world, I never forgot about those guys. I would call Brad and say, ‘dude, I got on a tour with fuckin’ Ozzy man, can you believe it?’ We always shared music, for 35 years. Music has kept us together.”
Garrow: “Yeah, Mikey D. and I have been buddies for a long time, he helped me all along the way. He showed me how to play guitar then he brings people over that are really good in the studio, I pick up stuff. He’s just so talented and connected so it was obvious he had to hear ‘Under Attack.’”
Reyes: “Chris and Bry are cousins and I see Chris as family as well. We’ve had plans to work together for a long time and I’m glad we finally made it happen. This is the first time I’ve sung over something this heavy but I grew up on Rock music and always appreciated it.”
Doling: “I have a story for you. Back in 2001, Brad flew out to England to meet me when I was in Soulfly. He stood on stage with me when we played with Black Sabbath in front of 80,000 people! Then he rode the bus with me for several shows. When Brad and I were walking to the stage, I was getting ready to go on, the only way to get up back to the stage were these little stairs, but Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden were there chit-chatting and in my way. Brad and I looked at each other and said, ‘is this fucking happening?’ I’m standing there with my guitar on ready to go on stage. I tell Brad to take a photo of me with these two guys and he said, ‘fuck that’ and he handed the camera to another dude and asked him to take a photo of all of us. Believe me, we had a shitload of beers that night. I had already been touring for years at that point but to have Brad sharing it with me, it was almost like I had never done it before because I was sharing it and seeing it through my best friend’s eyes and we dreamt of it at 15 years old…together.”
Garrow: “I like playing shows but when will we return to that? We’ll just keep releasing songs online. We’ve recorded other songs. The last song Brain Vat did was called “Order of the Pirates”, so it t would be rad to produce a video for that song. Brain Vat is all good; Angel Chavez (bass), Danny Fitz (drums), Sheridan Carnahan (vocals) and myself. Both Angel and Danny are in Oxnard so we play there more often and there’s more of a Metal scene. We will play anywhere we can get a show. We had to cancel a writing session right before COVID 19 hit, that’s why I’m writing by myself. Sheridan is a good thinker, he thinks outside the box. I like the way he writes and he’s just a fun guy to hang out with. We’ve done a lot of road trips and he has never got on my nerves.”
The Untold Legend of Brad Garrow
Rivera: “Brad is a seasoned veteran of the desert Metal scene and in the 80’s he and Mikey D. were in the band Solid Steel and he was also a member of Rapid Fyre. Brad later went on to form Enrage with Bert Vela, Ultralord with Gary Thornton and was in Wizenfyrebutchenkreped aka ‘WFBK’ Sheridan.”
Doling: “Brad is a desert gem. He deserves all the recognition. He built a recording studio that is insane and legit. My brothers literally helped him build it, that’s how close we are. He consistently puts music out. He’s the one who recorded all the Mega Sun stuff, I produced but Brad engineered it.”
Parsons: “Brad coming into the band was a turning point. It makes it bigger and we gained momentum.”
UNDER ATTACK (Official Music Video)
DESERT RHYTHM PROJECT