On a Bass with One String – A Conversation with Jon Bunch of Sense Field and Further Seems Forever
The time, 1996. The place, Wax Trax Record Store in Denver Colorado. This was where I discovered one of those diamonds in the rough, stumbling on the record Building by the California Emo flag bearers Sense Field. The band had been critic darlings with their previous record Killed for Less, but Building reached even further and hit new heights. I listened to the album relentlessly.
The band formed in 1991 from the ashes of Reason to Believe, a group that paved the way for what many would call emo core (emotional hardcore). Being signed to the Hardcore/Metal haven Revelation Records, the band had a somewhat broad base to build fans. Sense Field’s singer, Jon Bunch, had an intense and unforgettable voice. After Sense Field called it quits, Jon made his presence known as the third and final singer for the popular Tooth & Nail Records band from Florida, Further Seems Forever (ex- Shai Hulud, ex-Strongarm, Dashboard Confessional). I have been a fan of both bands as well as Jon’s lyrics and vocals for quite sometime, so it was a rush to speak with the much loved frontman about his past projects and possible future projects.
Synco: What have you been up to lately?
JB: I have been busy being a Dad to my 8 year old son, working on a History degree and working on new music. That pretty much sums it up for the time being.
Synco: What artists/bands influenced Sense Field, Further Seems Forever and Jon Bunch in general?
JB: I can’t speak for Further Seems Forever in regards to their influences. All the guys in Sense Field were a product of the Los Angeles Punk Scene. We all grew up going to the punk shows in the 1980s, that definitely had an influence on how we approached our band. Musically. When Reason To Believe ended, we wanted to start something new, we wanted to be part of a scene we could help to cultivate and contribute to. That scene was eventually labeled as Post-Hardcore and some people called it Emo back then. What I really wanted was a band that could be part of an underground scene without the violence that came along with the LA Punk Scene. So bands like Jawbreaker, Jawbox, Far, Sunny Day Real Estate, Samiam, Shudder To Think, Drive Like Jehu, and Sense Field started our own thing out of the ashes of hardcore.
Synco: What are the other members of Sense Field up to these days?
JB: Scott is still touring playing drums with various people, he is a well sought after drummer. Rodney has a band called TheYearZero and still creates art. I talk to John often, he won’t tell me what he is doing. Chris drives a mini-coup and gets into car accidents.
Synco: How about the members of Further Seems Forever?
JB: FSF has started back up with their original line-up, playing shows, recording songs. Derick is getting his Doctorate as we speak.
Synco: What was your most memorable moment with Sense field? Further Seems Forever?
JB: I have many memorable moments with Sense Field, we were together for 13 years. I really loved writing and recording songs. We played some really fun shows over the years and met so many great people who are still my friends to this day. The same goes with FSF, I love the record we did together, I don’t feel like being a third singer to a band that had two great singers before me was the best decision for me or the band. We should’ve changed the name to start a new project, but you live and learn.
Synco: What was the best tour you were a part of?
JB: I really had a blast on the Warped Tour in 96’ because I had so many friends on that tour playing. The Goo Goo Dolls tour was a hell of a lot of fun too. The Jimmy Eat World/Mineral tour was fun. Touring with State of the Nation was a blast because my friends Rob Haworth, Mark Haworth, Angry Andy Patterson. All the European tours were always fun. Japan was great.
Synco: Looking back on your career in the music industry, what do you miss the most?
JB: I miss hanging out with the band, traveling, touring, and partying with my band mates and friends. I’m relieved that I’m no longer relying on Sense Field as a career, but there certainly elements I miss and some I never want to experience ever again.
Synco: Did the bands you fronted accomplish what they set out to do?
JB: I’ll be honest, I was ambitious when we started, I knew we could accomplish a lot if we set our minds to it. We did accomplish a lot. I had some personal goals I wanted to reach in my own mind of what I thought was possible, but we definitely didn’t accomplish half of what I thought we could do as a band. We made terrible business decisions, no of us were business savvy to tell you the truth. It was hard for us to get our shit together in a lot of important ways.
Synco: What is your favorite song/record you wrote?
JB: I really liked making the first Sense Field ep, it turned out exactly how I pictured our band sounding. I liked recording the Building record a lot, that time period was the most promising for Sense Field, we came into our own on that record. I also really like the way Hide Nothing sounded when it was finally done.
Synco: Why did Sense Field call it quits?
JB: We couldn’t continue the band financially, we had personal issues that we couldn’t or wouldn’t get passed. Honestly, we were together for too long. We should’ve ended a lot earlier, but you hold on to hope that things could get better and sometimes they just don’t.
Synco: How did you fronting Further Seems Forever come about?
JB: Friends of mine Chuck Andrews and Jeremy L. Weiss both road managed Sense Field and FSF. The FSF guys started calling around to see what I was up to. I got about 4 calls from different people in the matter of an hour asking if I wanted to hear the new FSF record and possibly sing on it.
Synco: Tell us about your newest music endeavor. What can your fans expect with these new songs?
JB: I’m writing songs, writing what is inspiring me now, today. I am writing about things I’ve learned over the last 5 years or so. I’m really approaching these songs with the idea of having fun. I’m not bogged down by anything, just writing, having fun. I am writing songs that make me happy. I don’t have to worry about the monster that is the music business. It is nice to just write, put my songs out there and make them available to people free of charge. No label, no music business issues, owning my own songs for once. Just getting back to the time when I first started writing songs alone in my room on a bass with one string, coming up with melodies and words. Singing and writing feels good again, for the first time in a very long time.
Synco: Are you planning on touring or playing these songs live with a band?
I have some friends of mine that said they would go to Europe with me. I’m definitely going to back to Europe for sure. I’m only going when I have enough new songs to play a full set, as opposed to playing two new songs and relying on my old bands material. I’ll play some Sense Field stuff too of course. I wouldn’t do FSF songs though, only because they’re back together playing and it doesn’t really make sense for me to play their songs. I would love to tour the states again, I would just have to figure out a way to make it happen, but Europe is in the works.
Synco: Where can readers visit to hear these new songs?
JB: You can go here to listen and download my new songs free: http://soundcloud.com/jonbunch1970
Synco: What is on your record player of late?
JB: I really only listen my wife’s old new wave records, my old punk records, and that’s pretty much it. You tend to fall back on what you grew up with.
Synco: Any cool bands or artists you would suggest checking out?
JB: I like a band from Australia called Vices. I like The Blank Faces, and the band Aeges.
Synco: Thank you for your time. Anything else you would like to share with the readers of Synconation?
JB: Just that I appreciate all who listen to my music and come to the shows and supported all of the bands I’ve played in. Thanks.