Album Feature, Entertainment, Entertainment Interview, Music Artist Interview, News

Artist Scoop! ~ Interview with Satellites & Siren’s Geoff Hunker

The band, Satellites & Sirens, has been in thesatellites-sirens-photo.jpg.jpeg music scene since 2006, and with each release, they are getting more heard. Their latest album, TANKS, is being released today  (you can also read the TBAP review here), and so if you’re in the mood for some good music, you can follow the buy link, and download your copy.

Also, today, the lead singer and founder of the band, Geoff Hunker, is with us on TBAP. Follow our chat below and learn more about this awesome band!

Miranda ~ Hello Geoff! Glad to have you visit TBAP today. Please tell us a bit about yourself.  Also, why did your band choose the name, Satellites and Sirens?

Geoff ~ My name is Geoff. I am the lead singer, and the one who started S&S. I am married and I have two dogs. I’m currently living in Arizona and, besides being a member of the band, I am a worship leader at Chandler Christian Church. The name, Satellites & Sirens, came from the idea that satellites are devices that send information out, and sirens get people’s attention. That’s how I see us, Christians—we have something that people need to hear and, we need to get their attention.

Miranda ~ How did you become a Christian? Tell us your story.

Geoff ~ I grew up in a Christian home. My parents always took me to church and, also, I was in multiple youth groups that met on different nights. Even though I was baptized when I was 13, it was when I moved away to college that I made my relationship with God my own, and chose to be a follower of Christ.

Miranda ~ How did your music career begin?  How did the band come together and, what led you to decide to go into Christian ministry as opposed to secular? Also, how does the band work—does each member have a special function?

Geoff ~  It started for me when I moved to Nashville. I was in bands growing up when I lived in Oregon, but when I moved to Nashville, I got involved with a management company that worked for artists/bands, and this allowed me to meet a lot of people. In that time I met Rusty Varenkamp, who wrote some songs with me, and then took a chance and introduced me to Jason Ingram and Conor Farley, who were at Word Records. I, actually, was signed before there was a band, so I went to where everyone goes to find something they need—Craigslist! There, I met drummer, Jonathan Dimmel, who was connected to the now, members, of the band.

Christian music just made sense to me. I had a conversation at the start of the band with Rusty, and he said that I needed to decide which way to go—it was one way or the other. God gave me the gifts that I have, and so I chose to use them to glorify Him. Not that you couldn’t do that on the secular side of things, but I felt called to make good music for the kingdom.

All the guys have their role to play in the band. Dave, our current drummer, is very tech savvy, so he tackles a lot of that; one guy does the road management, and the other, social media. We all have our jobs.

Miranda ~ In what way is the Christian music industry different than the secular? Do you think there’s room for improvement in the Christian music industry?

Geoff ~ This is a big question. In my opinion, I think the two are very different. I think there is always room for improvement in anything, but I would love to see the Christian industry take more chances. We have a song on our new record called Stereo, and there is a line in the song which says, “shouldn’t we be setting the trends?” I am a firm believer that as Christians, we should be the ones pushing the envelope and setting the trends. God made us creative—and I’ll probably get torn apart for this—but I don’t see a lot of that in the Christian industry and, those who do get creative, don’t get heard. I want to see that change. There is so much great music out there—creative music with something to say—and I wish there was an outlet for that in the Christian industry.

Miranda ~ How has your journey so far in music helped grow your personal relationship with Jesus?

Geoff ~ I think my journey through music has strengthened my relationship with Jesus because I can’t tell you how many ups and downs we’ve been through over the years. I have been in some of my favorite moments, and in some of the worst. And in the end, the only constant has been God—the only One you can truly rely on. In those low moments, all I could do was lean on Him to pull me through. Trials can bring us closer to God, and there have been countless trials through this journey.

Miranda ~ What has been your experience in the industry? How has it made you a better artist/person?

Geoff ~ The industry is an interesting place. First off, I think just being on the road so much, and playing so often, have made me a better musician. When you are using your craft, you can see it grow and change as you do. I also surrounded myself with amazing musicians who pushed me to be better, because I didn’t want to embarrass myself! Ha! The industry, also, has taught me how important good friends are; it is hard to make real relationships in the industry. People easily get the feeling that you want something from them, and it breeds a bunch of stand-off people. But I have come across some real genuine people that want the best for you, as much as they want for themselves. I have made some friends that get what it’s like out there, and can vent with me, pray, and encourage me along the way. That has taught me to be the same towards them and others. And, so I, too, love helping artists who are just getting started.

Miranda ~ What misconceptions do people have about the music industry, especially in regards to hard work, money, and the road to fame?

Geoff ~ There are so many misconceptions. For example, in 2014, we had our most successful year on paper. Jumpstart My Heart was number 5 on billboard. We had a number 1 in Australia, and we were on one of the big tours of the spring that sold out most dates on the tour with Building 429, Hawk Nelson, and Family Force 5. On paper it looked amazing! But that was the worst financial year for the band. Ha! The more success you get, the more bills you have to pay. People don’t really realize this. Also, we constantly have to bring it—looking, pushing, and fighting to get our music heard. It’s not easy. We literally spend tons of money and time to make a product that doesn’t sell anymore. So you have to find other ways to bring in the money. You have to live on the road, and you have to run a business in the midst of it all. It is tough, and we have slept on our share of floors eating only Taco Bell because it’s cheap! I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it’s much harder than people understand.

Miranda ~ Have you worked with any other artists/producers? Who do you hope to work with in the future?

Geoff ~ We have had the blessing of working with Jon Steingard from Hawk Nelson, on our last record. He produced a couple of songs, as well as wrote a couple with me, and then sang on the record.  Joel Vaughn also sang and wrote on the upcoming release. Jonathan Thulin helped write the title track, TANKS, and we had the opportunity to work with an upcoming artist, Ronnie Petkovich, who, by the way, is going to be an amazing artist. I am currently working with him on his new record. We also had the opportunity to work with Duncan Sparks; he produced one of the songs. So my crazy outlandish dream would be to work with Ryan Tedder. He blows me away as a writer/producer, and I would love to sit down with him sometime. I also love the Abandon Boys, and would love a chance to produce/write some songs with them. There are a lot of legit people in the industry that I’d love to work with.

Miranda ~ S&S’s latest release, TANKS, dwells so much on love. What, precisely, do you hope listeners will walk away with?

Geoff ~ There a few things I’d like people to walk away with. I want us as Christians to stop trying to be right all the time, and to choose instead, to love. We live in a hateful world, and in proverbs 25 it says, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him.” I’d love to see what would happen if we chose to feed our enemies instead of argue with them. I want to remind people of what it was like to dream—when we really believed that faith could move mountains. And I want people to see that it’s okay to be a Christian, and still write a love song! Ha!

Miranda ~ As a music artist, what advice would you give to anyone venturing into the industry for the first time?

Geoff ~ Be who you are, make art that you are proud of and, whether you do your art in the Christian world or secular, keep your focus on God. He is the only constant. The journey is going to be a roller coaster, but trust that God will do awesome things. Best advice I was given was that, God can breathe life into whatever He chooses; there is no formula. No matter what people may say, God can do what He wants. We just need to keep being focused, and keep running the race.


About Satellites & Sirens

In 2008, when Nashville-based, Satellites & Sirens singer, Geoff Hunker, was looking to start a band, he did what any person might do—put out a Craigslist ad. It was at the very first round of auditions that he found drummer, Jonathan Dimmel, who had only moved to Nashville five months prior. It didn’t take long to round out the band with guitarist, David Troyer, and former bassist Brandon Owens. Within a year of that first Craigslist ad, S&S not only had a record deal with Word/Warner Bros, but they completed their first full length record. Their self-titled debut was released in March 2010, and was a critical success, garnering two Dove Award nominations for Rock Recorded Song of the Year and Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year. In July 2010, they were prominently featured as MTV’s Needle In a Haystack artist—the first time any artist on Word had ever been pursued by MTV.

Despite their early success, by January 2011, they found themselves without a label. Due to a shakeup in management at Word, they were left on the cutting room floor. Unwilling to accept defeat, the band raised money for a new record through Kickstarter. They also found new bassist, Dave Willey, a childhood friend of Dimmel’s. In Nov. 2011, they released their sophomore effort, Frequency, to rave reviews. Taking off where their first record left off, this record can best be described as more—more rock, more dancey, more worshipful, more personal. It was again, a critical success.

2012 found S&S working harder than ever, as they toured relentlessly in support of Frequency.  Late summer 2012, they also released a surprise record aptly titled, The Covers, an ambitious cover album featuring S&S’s own arrangements and versions of major hits by artists as varied as Taylor Swift, John Mayer, One Direction, Skillet, Maroon 5, and Chris Tomlin. The record quickly became a fan favorite, as the S&S boys also put out a video on YouTube for every song on the record. The videos showed a range of creativity, humor, and poignancy that had yet to be seen from the band.

The year of 2013 can best be described as a year of touring and writing, writing, writing, and more writing. The band was determined to write their best record to date. While pulling from their love for worship, pop, and rock music, they wrote a 12-song record, One Noise, which equally represented those influences well. Teaming up with their brand new label, Dream Records, and with the help of some noted Nashville songwriters and producers, S&S succeeded in crafting a record that was sure to turn the heads of the industry, as well as the buying audience.  From the ultra-catchy hooks of Jump Start My Heart, to the mellow worship of We Are Yours, to the electronic laden Keep Running, Satellites & Sirens was sure to find a quickly growing fan base.

2014 and 2015 were years spent on the road and the studio. It all started with the We Won’t Be Shaken tour, where S&S played sold-out shows with Building 429, Hawk Nelson, and Family Force 5, all across the US as their single Jump Start My Heart climbed the Hot AC/CHR charts all the way to #5, and #1 in Australia. This led them to a tour in Australia, even headlining one of the nights of the Forest Edge Music Festival. Then came the writing. S&S had been writing for more than a year for its upcoming, fourth, full length record, TANKS.

“This record is different, but familiar. It’s fun, but challenging; it’s roll the windows down and cruise, and close the door and think,” says Geoff.

This is the band’s favorite record to date, with feel good songs like Who We Are and Waste Some Time, to the pop hooks of Old Souls and Chasing Photos, to the power and call-to-action of the new single, TANKS. This upcoming fourth record brought the band out of its comfort zone, and into another release that will make some waves in the industry.