With rapid success and chart topping momentum, the North Carolina alternative rock quartet known as Another Lost Year is unleashing a positive and unprejudiced influence on the music industry’s immediate future. Formed in 2011, frontman Clinton Cunanan and fellow band mates have been continuously touring through the release of their most recent album, Alien Architects. The album reached #8 on the Billboard Heatseekers’ chart just shortly after its debut, which Cunanan describes as a surreal and humbling experience.
Every band and member experience unique highs and lows throughout their career, and Cunanan holds the bigger picture dear to his heart. In a recent conversation with Tattoo.com, Cunanan discusses the political nature of Another Lost Year in comparison to their home state, the beauty of loss and gain, and how his ideas of the world and his life experiences translate in his tattoo work. Take a look at what Clinton Cunanan has learned from his time in Another Lost Year.
You guys recently reached #8 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, which is certainly something to celebrate. What was your initial reaction upon learning of the album’s success?
I honestly still can’t believe that it happened, they actually had to email us a few days prior to an email that they had to dig for, Adam had texted me and said to check my email, I was honestly like whatever man, I’ll get to it when I can, after I opened it, I almost crashed the car I was driving at the time. Truly an honor I felt, and it feels cool to say that our first major release on our label charted on Billboard.
What influenced the decision to release Alien Architect in the same year as your 6 song EP The Revolution, Pt. 2: It’s a Long Way Home?
We wanted to get as much music out to our fans as possible. Music is an art and it should be created to shared with the world. Long Way Home was our first shot at really self recording and producing our own music. We honestly had no idea we were going to make a whole new album, but it happened and here we are charting and chatting with you fine folks.
The introduction to Alien Architect is definitely politically charged. How has living in more conservative state such as North Carolina played a role in your music and the messages you wish to convey?
The message is clear for us. The world is in a jacked up place, it needs help and it needs to be saved. Not just NC or the USA, we need to get back to being people and treating others like that, people. We should be working harder to expand our human race, not just our national pride. We all have the same basic needs, and we should all work together to make it that way, but yeah, I always use the transgender bathroom, or more commonly known as the family one.
Tattoos and music have evolved together is very organic ways. What personal relationship have you found between ink and rock music, and how have tattoos helped define you?
It’s funny I still have a day job when we aren’t touring, and the looks I get from corporate America crack me up. My tattoos don’t define who I am, they tell a story of where I have been. It’s great to see other people doing the same thing. There’s also this stereotype that people with tattoos can’t be successful. Well I know plenty of inked up people doing huge things. They also smoke weed too, but that’s another time and place though. On the flip side, it causes a lot of cool conversations in the most random places with middle aged women who love to stop me and check me out. I like to think it’s because I workout.
Many of your tattoos vary in style and theme, from Egyptian symbols to what appears to be a more traditional style hand mirror. What can you tell us about the history behind some of your ink?
When I first started getting tattoos, I thought I was only going to get them where I could cover them up, and then I started getting random tattoos on my arms, so it made the layout of what I wanted to do later on difficult. My upper right arm is dedicated to DaVinci, his drawings and ideas, My right forearm is for what love to pursue and the path to get home. My mom died 6 years ago and I have a pegasus that was supposed to be fully colored and while I was getting it done I got a call to play a show at one of my local spots for some deep cash. I wrapped it up and took off. Several attempts later the outline has become the story to me, it’s all about what a tattoo means in my eyes. My left arm is more about alien and Egyptian ideology. When it’s all finished it will blow my mind I’m sure. I have a graveyard on my chest and it says write your story over it. I feel our lives are open books and the pages are blank, go after everything you want.
In terms of North Carolina tattoo culture, what kinds of trends do you notice that might differ from other regions?
I see a lot of confederate flag tattoos, and a lot of more sport themed tattoos as well, I pretty much go to the same shop these days, and honestly it’s in Tennessee. My dude, Nic McWilliams, well he’s a Star Wars nerd, so he’s got that going for him. In the part of town where I grew up, there’s not a lot of creativity I guess. Most people run in and get something quick with flash art, I shake my head, I was there once, a tattoo though, should mean way more to you than some picture you flipped through off the wall.
What sort of personal growth and self discovery have you experienced from the time that Another Lost Year was formed until now?
Its an experience I have gone through. I definitely lost myself, found myself again, went through a divorce, several girlfriends, lost my best friends, and gained my best friend. It’s a sad realization when you see your flaws, yet it’s also the most liberating thing that I have ever experienced. I started this band 5 years ago, late 20’s cruising into my 30’s. I had a corporate job, the house, cars, motorcycles and none of it meant anything to making my soul feel complete, and to me that was the saddest part about all of it. Seeing people sing songs that I wrote in my darkest of times and my happiest of times is the most humbling experience, the most human need fulfilling thing I could ever explain, and I’m grateful for the experience like you wouldn’t believe. I learned that I have to be happy internally before I could ever be of use to anyone, I also made checklist, and if someone checks a box or doesn’t check a box, see ya later!