Zack Baumgartner and the Huntley-based pop-punksters When the Sun Sets dropped “Transparent,” the band’s new 7-song EP, today on all major streaming services.
Baumgartner’s focus since it started has been to reach out to people, to be clear about his own struggles and to help others with their own.
“The record being named ‘Transparent,’ that’s exactly what we want to do with our audience,” he said. “To make the listener feel like they’re not alone if they’re going through the same type of stuff. They know exactly who their music is coming from … It’s genuinely more showing them who we are.”
The band — including Noah Evert, Harrison Hoffman and Tyler Dombrowski — writes fun and engaging pop-punk tunes, but there’s always a message behind the camaraderie.
“We’ve really bonded onstage and offstage, so it’s really easy to write about things that you’re dealing with in private,” Baumgartner said. “So it’s kind of easy to pick a topic and write about it because you know people aren’t afraid to talk.”
Over the last two years, a hallmark of the young band’s message has been outreach. Baumgartner in particular has been very upfront about the struggles he’s gone through, reaching out and responding to other people on social media who have been dealing with similar challenges. In addition, the band has partnered with Hope for the Day, playing shows to bring awareness for and helping raise money to aid people dealing with mental health issues.
A few years ago, Baumgartner said, a woman approached him at an acoustic show he was playing and told him about her son who just got out of outpatient therapy and was struggling with major depression.
“That kind of influenced me personally to pull the trigger on When the Sun Sets,” he said. He sat down and wrote a song as a letter to that kid, but it ended up inspiring the direction he wanted to take the band.
“Obviously all of us want to do this full time, but seeing the other guys’ faces when somebody comes up to them and says, ‘Hey you know this really helps me’ or ‘I went through that’ or ‘Can you talk to me about something that I’m doing?’ … watching their faces light up is all that matters.”
When the Sun Sets, which recently signed with the Lost Music Collective label, is poised to bring its music to a larger demographic. Even though the label is Chicago-based, its reach will allow the band to bring its message to a broader audience.
“Album-wide we want everybody to just realize that they’re not alone, that some of us go through the same thing … that other people go through these things and that nobody’s alone through them.”