A sit-down with Kickstart the Sun


Jacob Beals/ Iowa State Daily

Kickstart the Sun performing during their final Kickstart the Month. 

Jill O'Brien

There is a quiet energy between Nolan Adair and Justin Kunkel, an understanding between the two bandmates and friends as they simultaneously banter back and forth and get ready to perform.

In between plugging in amplifiers and tuning guitars, Adair writes the word “FAILURE” on his forearm with a Sharpie.

Similarly, Kunkel writes the word “FREEDOM” in the same spot on his left arm.

“I’m always really scared of failure, but I want to make myself bigger than fear — there’s more to me than my fear,” Adair said.  

Kunkel explained the “FREEDOM” on his arm as “the freedom to play whatever we want without being confined, and the resistance to doing what people want you to do.”

Kunkel and Adair are two fourths of alt pop/rock band Kickstart the Sun and have been playing shows in and around Ames for two years.

Kunkel met their former bass player at Genre at Iowa State, but the four current members, including drummer Justin Booth and guitarist Rudy Miller, all came together in different ways, from meeting on Welch Avenue to tackling one another in flag football.

The common denominator between the guys is their passion for all kinds of music and bringing people together with that passion.

While the guys have different tastes in music, with Adair being influenced by Twenty One Pilots and Kunkel’s love of pop punk, they bring knowledge of various aspects of music to the table when writing and recording. Because Adair has been classically trained in piano since third grade, they combine knowledge of theory and knowledge of emotion to their music, which drives the energy behind it.

“Rudy (Miller) has a very eclectic taste — everything from hip hop to post hardcore, and Justin Booth brings the energy of pop punk and metal bands, which changes the nature of the songs,” Kunkel said. When going onstage, the guys bring that same variety of energy to each performance.

“We’re all kind of type A personalities, but onstage we bring different types of energy, the hype and the excitement,” Adair said.

The band has played shows at fraternities and sororities at Iowa State. One of the members’ fonder memories was at a show at Tau Kappa Epsilon, where the crowd stayed out to watch the show despite the ongoing downpour. The band will alsp play a show at DG’s Taphouse on April 1.

While they joke around about one day becoming famous, they aren’t in it for fame alone.

“We’d love the opportunity to do this professionally, but it’s not the endgame. I just want to share music with people,” Adair and Kunkel said. “We belong on a stage, sharing these moments with thousands of people.”