In 2022, Sundressed's frontman, lead vocalist and songwriter celebrated the Tempe-based punk band's 10th anniversary, released the group’s first new single in two years, and even got married.
But yet, with the music video for “Winner,” the band’s aforementioned new single, Hedges is looking back and reminiscing on the city that made it all possible.
The song itself is full of “aha” lines for Phoenix locals, with references to Casey Moore’s Oyster House, Zia Records, the Gin Blossoms, and the Nile Theater. The music video confirms the apparent love the band has for the Valley, with scenes in Tempe residential neighborhoods, outside Crescent Ballroom, and at the Van Buren.
“I kind of wanted it to be a throwback to just some important parts of the band,” Hedges told Phoenix New Times this week. “It's kind of about just wanting to be remembered for all that stuff and not just kind of falling through the cracks as another local band that never made it out of the city.”
At one point during the video, Hedges stops on his bicycle and gazes into an empty lot on Mill Avenue, where the band once performed their first show at The Fixx.
The entire video was shot starting in the morning of July 1, ahead of the band’s 10th anniversary show at Crescent Ballroom that night. Filming in the middle of the day during an Arizona summer wasn’t ideal, but Hedges made it work.
“We’re all older and have different jobs, so we gotta make the days off count, you know?” Hedges said with a laugh.
While some bands fracture after 10 years, Hedges and Sundressed have grown to become one and the same. His bandmates — AJ Peacox and Justin Portillo — were his groomsmen at the wedding earlier this year, and his now-wife Michelle proposed at their Rebel Lounge album release show in June 2021.
Still, “Winner” finds the band seeking that next step.
“Most days I’m bitter, wish I was a quitter / But I’ll see this thing through until I’m 6 feet under,” Hedges sings. “I just wanna know what it’s like to be a winner.”
The song features a guest appearance from You, Me, and Everyone We Know, a Washington, D.C. indie emo group that Hedges said has always been one of his favorites.
“We had always talked online and talked about doing a tour together,” he said. “I just thought the song was so perfect for [their lead singer Ben Liebsch's] voice so I just hit him up and asked him, and he sent it over — super easy.”
The single serves as a stylistic preview of the band’s forthcoming album, which Hedges said will also have appearances from Brian Swindle of Have Mercy and Malia Endres of Glacier Veins.
“I think we definitely incorporate some more modern and electronic elements on some parts of the new songs,” said Hedges, who also pointed out that listeners can expect to hear more of the anthemic choruses and “songwriter-forward” style the band displayed on “Winner.”
Some of the band’s biggest influences over the last two years, according to Hedges, include Taking Back Sunday, nothing,nowhere., and The Maine, the Tempe outfit that had Sundressed on the lineup at their 8123 Fest in downtown Phoenix in January.
“[The Maine are] always becoming a new band every record and evolving in such a cool way that their fans evolve with them,” said Hedges. “They do the coolest things every cycle, like I have so much respect for that band. Proud to be another band from Arizona.”
Since Sundressed’s last album, 2020's Home Remedy, mainstream pop punk looks a little different, as many new emo artists are incorporating elements of hip-hop and at-home production. But while some in the scene are resistant to the genre’s evolution, Hedges welcomes it.
“It’s really hard to start a band with five guys and go on the road nowadays, so kids are adapting, and they're figuring out how to make cool music by themselves on their laptop and blow up on Spotify,” he said. “That's punk rock to me: taking what you have and doing something with it.”
With “Winner,” Sundressed seems to be playing the role of Phoenix’s punk rock underdog and older brother, all at once.
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE...
Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.